When I want to know what is cool in Sweden, I look to labels like PNK SLM and Rama Lama Records. The latter just agreed to work with Malmo artist Talking Flowers, releasing a double single to celebrate the signing. The release is a great way to get introduced to the songwriter Astrid Lagerstedt; it’s got two sides to her songwriting, both which I’m definitely enjoying today. “Storytelling” is a smoky soul number with Astrid scrawling her vocals across this funky mix of electronic sounds and a rolling bit of drum work. “Bedroom Wall” is more of a songwriter’s piece, a light strum working with the power of voice; it’s something you’d likely find on Keeled Scales here in the States. Give it a listen, and let’s celebrate this beautiful partnership.
The work of Finnish outfit Ghosts on TV can be disorienting, particularly if you let the beat of this tune distract you from the track’s meaty core. Drums are hit furiously, creating the blastbeat effect that makes you feel as if your speakers are torn. While I’ll admit it takes a moment for your ears to adjust, the song eventually opens into this beautiful stretch of shining pop. That, too, eventually fades, as the group continue on midtrack to explore a more post-rock territory, with thunderous drums meeting cascading guitar notes as they jettison off into the horizon. The group will release their self-titled LP via Soliti Music on April 14th.
Rolling drums immediately introduce you to the latest single from Vancouver’s Tough Age, but don’t get too comfy, as the song quickly evolves from a nod to Aussie casual to classic power pop. A steadied groove is established by the rhythm section, building a nice foundation that allows the vocals to ride the crest created by the jangling guitar notes that hang out in the air. Honestly, when I listen to the way the guitars and vocals mix up, I can’t help but think this is just a prettier version of classic Lemonheads hit “Into Your Arms,” and I don’t mind that one damned bit! The group will be releasing Waiting Here via Bobo Integral on June 16th.
What the hell are they funneling into the water in San Francisco?! Marika Christine is another artist from the Bay Area whose craft is totally fascinating. On the surface, Christine’s vocal is the star, as that’s utilized to lift the song up and down, providing movement as it goes. But, that being said, I’m captivated by the various styles that are being brought in and out of the tune; you get little hints of bossanova, little hints of jazz and dabs of electronica, all of which gets spun around a pop centric little circle to enjoy. This tune will be on Marika’s new album, a reminder to push your pop music!
During the week that was SXSW, I caught this band Bedlocked with Team ATH; I remember talking to RayRay about how it was like a slowcore version of Appleseed Cast, which we both enjoyed. So, here I am combing through my email stuff and I hit this new War Strings single recalling a similar emotion. The fuzziness on the song’s edges is totally there in this single, albeit with a little more urgency so the track hits a little more quickly, giving off that instant emotional release. In the vocals you get a little more presence, adding to the whole vibe as it gives off another texture to appreciate here.
While I was busy running around town last week, some tunes certainly slipped through the cracks that are definitely worthy of mentioning. One such track is this new one called “Cotton Wool” from Nottingham based outfit Cucamaras. It is definitely a bit of reserved yet poignant garage rock with clear inspirations from Arctic Monkeys or even some of the slower ballads from The Strokes. The progression of the song from start to finish is simply lovely.
Cucamaras will release this track as part of a new EP entitled Buck Rogers Time coming in May.
As a fan of good old fashioned indiepop, I will admit that every time I get a new single from Holiday Ghosts, I get a a little overexcited. Listening here, you can hear exactly why as they’re executing the tried-and-true pop sound; the guitars jangle in the right spots, though with this circular rotation that matches up with the thumping drums. But, you couldn’t have a great pop song if the melodies and vocal harmonies didn’t intertwine as they do in this single below here; it sort of just gets stuck inside your head and begs you to, begging for you to throw down a few dollars and pick up the band’s new album Absolute Reality, out on April 21st via FatCat Records.
It seems one cannot go through a single week around these parts without getting into something rad coming from San Francisco, like Black Thumb. While I can hear the sonic similarity, particularly in the way the song’s pace works out, I think one thing I really love is that there’s this natural clarity that comes through in the songwriting. The synth/organs hang behind the mix, while the guitar seems to operate in unison with the drums, both giving the tune a bit of foundation for the voice. I love the added textural layer of backing vocals near the song’s end, perfectly encapsulating all my pop dreams in one closing moment. The band release The Flying Propeller Group on April 7th via Dandy Boy Records.
During SXSW I was fortunate enough to catch several bands more than one time; in some instances it was accidental, but in the case of RVG it was very much purposeful. They’re phenomenal live, with Romy’s passion on full display. Today, the band share their latest single, “Squid,” which offers a glimpse at the brooding darkness that courses through their new album. This song seems to beg listeners to avoid looking in the rearview mirror, albeit from the perspective of Vager as a squid. The band played this during their sets here in Austin, and it was definitely, like the recorded version, a powerful display that delivers a wallop to the listener’s ears. I still say the band is making indispensable pop music people will discover and discover again, years down the road, so don’t miss out and be sure you’re ready to grab Brain Worms when it releases on June 2nd via Fire Records.
I love a good upbeat number, particularly when the band is drawing inspiration from the art-punk scene of the 80s, like what’s at play in the vibe from 87 and the Toys. On this single, the band squirm right into this writhing punk pogo, jittering around the room as they belt out distinctive syllables. The playfulness of the band comes right through that screen too, with a really great performance from drummer Hana bringing in that huge set of pipes to really sell the band’s sound. They’ll be releasing their latest effort The Smile Room on March 31st, and with that release, rumor has it that they might be moving to Austin too, so hope you local readers keep an eye out.