We’re really happy for our friends in Big Bill who have released their debut LP Stand By Your Bill into the world today. Long favored by Austinites in search of something different in their punk rock, the band step up their game with their best collection of songs to date; I’d buy this LP for the opener alone. But, they’re not a one-trick pony, as songs like “Baby Go Wah” illustrate, offering up a slow burning homecoming dance number. If you’ve got a minute, give it a spin or two or three!
We’re at that point of the year when music slowly starts to fade as people scramble to tell you what you should have listened to in 2017. I’m guilty of it myself, but a release that’s still fairly fresh, and still getting constant play, is the new Mammoth Penguins (& Friends) LP, John Doe. It’s a concept album centered around the title character, told through various characters. But, don’t get lost on the idea of what is or isn’t a “concept” album; sit back and enjoy the dedication to the songwriting that’s prevalent throughout. Think of it as a great pop record for people who love to read books! If you haven’t gotten a copy, you can grab yours from WIAIWYA.
Monday’s are always the hardest days for many of us, so why not kick things off by listening to Fight Fair, the brand new LP from Dream Version. The Chicago outfit touches on all sorts of influences, and in doing so, they capture your musical hearts. Just look at the first three tunes for diversity; “I Wanna Be Angry” is clean garage fueled power-pop; “Fight Fair” is bouncy no-punk; “I’m Still as Spoiled as the Day I Was Born” is this weirdo synth-driven blend of Violent Femmes and Talking Heads. That’s just the first three songs, so imagine what lays in wait for you! Go ahead, listen.
Ottawa’s Skytone don’t really fit into a neat little package for consumers, but that’s precisely why I love the group. Sure, their brand new album Jangle Waves has the aforementioned jangling, but there are also moments that lean towards swinging croons like in “Second Hand Shops.” They almost adopt a beach vibe with “Missing You” only to move into dreamy pop territory with the following tune, “Lonely Holiday.” Throughout the listen, you’ll likely find yourself enveloped in warm harmonies reminiscent of the sun you’re trying to avoid outside your window; it’s the power of pure pop at its best, and it’s available now so go grab it!
I can’t really say enough nice things about the new record from Zebra Hunt that just came out on Friday. I’ve long been a fan of the band, but there’s an apparent maturity from the very first track that plays through your speakers. They still nod to some of the janglier moments that make their music perfect for pop fans, but they’ve also move into a territory where the Replacements meet Flying Nun Records. “What I Want” is the band’s big single; we’ve previously covered it, but I’m stuck on “2005.” It has a slight bounce and a yearning sensation that has become part of my daily listening rotation. It’s great to see a band with such promise rise to the occasion and blow you away. Not convinced? Stream for In Phrases yourself.
There’s something brewing here in Austin. That something seems to be the evolution of soulful rock n’ roll rooted in a punk rock ethos. The latest act to get up in the game is The Reputations, who just released their debut Begging for More. But, while their might be some similarities to fellow locals, Sweet Spirit, I think there’s a whole lot more here that owes to the purity of classic rock and doo-wop. My favorite track of the moment is “My Baby’s Back,” which features a stomp to collide with the perfect unison of male/female vocals. The upbeat shimmy of “Up and Down” isn’t too shabby either! Give it a stream, and enjoy.
It’s a shame that great art sometimes stems from personal pain, which seems to be the case with Finland’s Astrid Swan. After a battle with cancer, she got back to work, constructing a brilliant collection of the tunes that make up From the Bed and Beyond. It’s apparent in the lyrics that she’s had to confront and overcome some demons coming with such an ordeal. But, in seeing that, and delving deep into the record, you find that there’s an aura of positivity that arises from overcoming fears. I’m partial to the album’s closing number “Whos the Witch Now,” which seems to encompass the feelings mentioned above. The album will be available worldwide from Soliti Music.
Talked and hyped up Chew about as much as one man can, but now it’s time for you to take matters into your own hands. The Paperhead have expanded their sound, making some softer tunes that exhibit a strong dedication to the songwriting on this effort. I’m still stuck listening to “Over and Over” on repeat, but, as per usual, I’m happy with anything they’ve got out. You’ll be able to get that record from Trouble in Mind come this Friday.
Man, the opening song from Lower Plenty‘s new LP plays constantly in my brain; it’s the casual anti-pop that I’ve grown to love over the last decade or so. But, Sister Sister is full of great tunes that are equal to, or better than the opener. For the most part, this is a mellow affair, which might shock those who’ve followed the members other projects, like Total Control or UV Race. Still, give a listen to “Run Run Run” or “Cursed by Numbers” and try to tell me you’re not totally lost in what they’re doing. Looking for an album full of beautiful escape, then look no further. The LP is released by Bedroom Suck Records this Friday.
More people should make music like this. Period. I mean, I’d probably adore anything from Slumberland Records, but you should be playing this Real Numbers album all day long. It’s got this exuberant undercurrent that runs through out, though there’s enough polish lacking to let you tell your friends how cool you are for discovering their favorite new band. We live in a world of singles, so it’s refreshing to bounce along to something for a good thirty minutes of your day (then bounce all over again). If you grew up jamming to punk rock, then decided it was way cool to fall in love with pop songs too, then you’re just going to play this all day long. Look for Wordless Wonder in stores this Friday!