Monthly Archives: March 2018

Spike Vincent’s Self-Titled EP is Well Worth Settling Down With

Spike Vincent, S-T EP (Burger; Dinosaur City)

Spike Vincent – pictured above with a glorious coiffure exuding an Italia ’90 Rudi Voller or Hard Target-era Van Damme vibe – hails from Hurlstone Park, Sydney, Australia. After releasing a couple of 7” singles on local label Dinosaur City Records, Vincent recently exhaled a self-titled EP chock full of shimmering, emotive indie guitar pop.

Where previous singles were self-produced, the EP sees Vincent backed by a full band as part of a live, in studio recording. The intimate, unpolished “live to tape” process serves as the perfect setting for the bruised romance of the EP’s six tracks. Highlights abound: “Lie in the Dust” swoops and darts – but never quite alights – like a long-lost The Church single (Vincent’s tone, particularly in the lower register, calls to mind that band’s Steve Kilbey); “Get Over It” is a luxurious internal monologue debating the merits of a relationship’s ‘next step’; closer, “I Like You” a somewhat tortured love note with a sing-along chorus and lines like “if I like you/will my soul turn into gravel/…will my life start to unravel”.

Vincent’s self-titled EP is available now, via Dinosaur City and Burger Records in the US. You can grab a copy on his bandcamp while having your data pilfered on fbook (too soon?) and instagram.

Prick up your ears and listen to some of the music we’re loving right now!

An inexact science, the playlist, but submitted for your approval are two containing some of the bands and tracks we’ve covered, listened to ad nauseam or are just generally obsessed over for the last few months here at  Enjoy and share!

London’s Snob demand your attention on their self-titled, debut LP.

Snob, S-T LP (La Vida Es Un Mus)

Snob are a London quartet.  A bit difficult to find much info on them, as they’ve chosen the deep underground route (no fbook, &etc.), but it seems Snob features members of other bands we heart, like Good Throb.  To date, the band have put out two long-form 7” (i.e., not just a-side/b-side singles), as well as a track for an issue of the Another Subculture cassette magazine – all available via their bandcamp page – and recently released an excellent self-titled debut long-player.

Snob (the LP) is a fine dose of old school (UK ’82, anarcho) hardcore; that familiar wall of noise as potent a message-bearer as ever.  Here, the ferocity of the playing is further enhanced by the vocal tone, which veers from sneering disaffection (“Lycra Daddy”), to (barely) restrained contempt (“Punisher”), to outright desperation (“Stuck”).  The lyrical sardonicism – the etymology of which may trace as “curling one’s lips back at evil” (at least according to wikipedia, and I’m going  with it, since it seems apt) – is no more potent than on album highlight, “Sex Contract”, where the lead singer’s almost earnest tone while delivering lines like “my guy’s so smart/he suggested I give/consent via an app/so I don’t change my mind/and make accusations…/he’s so sensitive/I’m so respectful” makes them cut deeper, as much tear- as rage-inducing.  It’s this kind of album that draws me back to this kind of music – not because it makes me feel younger (I wish), but because the issues covered are ever-present, many in arguably more insidious forms, and this kind of inspired raging is still needed.

The Snob LP is available now, on the ever fab La Vida Es Un Mus – buy it here.  Snob also appear to have a show coming up in London on March 31 – deets here.

Highlights include:  “Sex Contract”; “Jeremy Kyle”; “Punisher”; “Stuck”.

Check out “Pictures”, from London, ON’s Never Betters

Never Betters are a new (to me) quartet from London (the Ontario one), who self-describe as “pop punk”.  In the interest of full disclosure I must admit, as a crusty old hardcore kid, that the proximity of “pop” and “punk” in the same sentence often makes me run for the hills, but it was worth overcoming my phobia to check out the band’s new track, “Pictures”.

Taken from the band’s half of Guns + Roses’ Roses, the mouthful of a split EP with local cohorts Grievances (both bands share members), “Pictures” is a storming, 90s/early 2000s-inflected indie rock swagger fest.  Never Betters come on like a rougher-hewn version of fellow Canucks, Alvvays, a less angsty Maktaverskhan, a less stoned Dinosaur Jr. (check the closing guitar freakout), a less English Ned’s Atomic Dustbin (?!), April Romano’s sung-wailed vocals trailing back through the open windows of a car passing by at speed.  It’s the kind of jam we could envision playing in The Bronze, while Never Betters’ bio proffers the song as the “theme song for some high school drama tv show” and the band as prom headliners – we can dig it.

Guns + Roses’ Roses releases March 16 through fellow apostrophe enthusiasts Grooves Records’ Records, and is available to pre-order here. You can also shadow all Never Betters’ online movements on fbook and the twitt, while checking out the video for “Pictures”, here.

Portland’s Lithics Sign to Kill Rock Stars, Have New Album Coming, Share “Excuse Generator”

The venerable Kill Rock Stars label recently announced the addition to its roster of PDX-based quartet, Lithics.  The band’s forthcoming new album bears the mental-image inducing title of Mating Surfaces, and they’ve shared lead track, “Excuse Generator” (listen below).

The track is a delicious soft-serve swirl of punkier, art-pop new wave and post-punk, seamlessly blending the insouciance of the former with the jittery agitation of the latter.  Kicking off along a “Teenage Lobotomy” intro, vocalist Aubrey Hornor recalls Patty Donahue if she fronted Bush Tetras or a more restive XTC.  This push-pull of the melodious and the discordant makes for an intriguing whole, placing them amongst the best of the current crop of bands that includes Omni and Shopping.

Mating Surfaces is due May 25 from KRS, pre-orders up here – get psyched for release day.  Lithics are also going on a US tour starting later this month, supporting aforementioned tgh faves Shopping on the west coast, followed by a swing through the midwest and east coast supporting Stephen Malkmus and the Jicks.  You can also follow the band on instagram.

Fire Records Announces “Ecstatic Arrow”, New from Virginia Wing. Listen to “The Second Shift”.

Over the course of their discography, London-based duo Virginia Wing have shown a dexterity for teasing a richness and warmth not always associated with psych-pop/motorik, Broadcast-style compositions, no less so than on 2016’s stellar Forward Constant Motion.  Tracks like that album’s “ESP Offline” and “Grapefruit” were musically expansive and shot through with a sunlight and playfulness not always associated with an oeuvre more icy stare than wink.

With the announcement of a new long-player, Ecstatic Arrow, and sharing of album track, “The Second Shift”, this expansiveness continues.  Opening along a sprightly, Ethio-jazz sounding saxophone melody and snappy rhythm not a million miles from ‘Dance Hall Days’(!), vocalist Alice Merida Richards sings of sharing the “key/hidden in my whole body”, while cosmic synths and almost raga sounds swirl in the background.  It’s beautiful, and more than whet’s the appetite for Ecstatic Arrow, due June 8 from Fire Records and available for pre-order here.  Virginia Wing will be on tour through February and March in the UK and EU with Hookworms – dates on their fbook.

Fayetteville’s Ten High Announce Debut Full-Length, “Self-Entitled”

Ten High, Self-Entitled (Rare Plant Records)

Ten High are a new (to me) four piece based out of Fayetteville, AR.  To date, the group has released three EPs, played shows will tgh faves like Aquarian Blood, and have name checked as inspiration several others, including the Blind Shake and Ex-Cult.  Recently, drummer/vocalist Devan Theos was kind enough to pass along a link to their debut full-length, Self-Entitled (get it?), and I’m glad she did.

Self-Entitled finds Ten High tearing through an eleven-song set chock full o’ straight up r’nr, hints of psychobilly, 60s beat, hardcore, garage, psych – basically anything that sounds great played loud – all chewed up and spit out on a platter.  Primary vocalist Cat Owens’ shredded pipes recall Reverend Beat Man’s gruff screed, pairing like a fine ripple with the jagged-edged guitar and short/sharp drum and bass combination of Theos and Aaron Smith (as a former – terrible – bassist, I love the thick, rubbery bass sound).  Theos takes the mic sounding like a young Kate Pierson on the stomping “Skin Crawlers”, which comes off like a psychobilly take on Walk Among Us-era Misfits.

As with the best of so-called ‘noise’ rock, these tracks come based on infectious melodies residing dead center in the maelstrom.  “Royal Blood” employs a bit of blues boogie, while “Fakers” had my brain checking to Three Dog Night, for fuck’s sake.  Brilliant, even though I blame them for having “Mama Told Me Not to Come” for a full day…bygones.

Self-Entitled is available digitally and on cassette on April 5, courtesy of Rare Plant Records.  Ten High will be on Greenway Records’ upcoming showcase at SXSW, for all you lucky mallards heading to Austin.  There’s also a few dates before that, as well as a west coast US tour planned for the summer – check out the Ten High fbook for the dates.

Highlights include: “User’s Choice”; “Skin Crawlers”; “Fakers”; “The Trouble”.

Mr. Airplane Man Announce New Album, “Jacaranda Blue”. Listen to lead track “I’m in Love”.


Mr. Airplane Man, beloved crafters of garage-blues finery, returned to the scene after a multi-year hiatus in 2014, clearing out the vaults to release two fantastic album’s worth of unreleased material (Lost Tapes and Bits and Pieces), a live EP (Geneva Session), and playing shows all over the US and Europe.  The promise of new material has hovered for a bit and, happily, the duo recently announced brand new long-player, Jacaranda Blue, due for digital release March 16.  This announcement was preceded by a single – “I’m in Love” – which also serves as the lead track/taster for the album.

“I’m in love” shows Mr. Airplane Man returning no less smoldering than when they left.  A trippy take on blues, sashaying along a slow-burn, ‘Baby Please Don’t Go’ kinda groove, the track has a way of expanding and retracting in your head.  It’s a long-distance phone call to a love through a whiskey-induced fugue state, a rapturous profile in the glowing embers of a cigarette drag.  Margaret Garrett’s vocals – punctuated here and there with otherworldly coos and moans – emanate from somewhere down the other end of the line, faintly tethered by the gossamer light drumming of Tara McManus.  It’s a dizzying, seductive cut.

In addition to the digital release, which you can pre-order here, look for Jacaranda Blue on vinyl, courtesy of the mighty Sympathy for the Record Industry in the US, and on french label Beast in Europe.  Mr. Airplane Man – a live force not to be missed – have a few upcoming dates as well, which you can find on their website. You can also wander the woods with them on fbook.

Girl Ray Return with New Single, “The Way We Came Back”

Girl Ray, “The Way We Came Back” (Moshi Moshi)

Girl Ray are Poppy Hankin, Iris McConnell and Sophie Moss. We’ve previously genuflected in their general direction before, and here they go making us bow and scrape again with a new single, “The Way We Came Back”, to compliment last summer’s full-length debut, Earl Grey.

An early composition described by the band as, er, “[a] plump cow that needed to be milked”, “The Way We Came Back” bears the same well-worn elegance that has become a signature of the band’s short catalogue.  Quirky rhythmic changes jostle the more straight forward chord progressions.  Hankin’s wistful vocals, delivered with a resonance that makes her sound a less-Teutonic Nico (the timbre and accenting always has me thinking they’re Welsh), float over butterscotch smooth harmonies.  Lovely.

Watch the video for “The Way We Came Back”, below, and catch Girl Ray on tour in the US for the first time through the end of March, ahead of their first UK headlining tour beginning in April – all dates here.  The single arrives April 20 as a limited-edition 7”, available for pre-order from Moshi Moshi or the band.

Wharf Cat Records Announces ACLU Benefit Compilation – Preview Two Tracks Now

ACLU Benefit Compliation (Wharf Cat)

Artwork by Emma Kohlmann

I often view compilation records in the same way I view most festivals – too often, you need to wade through so much flotsam to enjoy the treasure.  When the tracks on the compilation in question are culled from the roster of a label like Brooklyn-based Wharf Cat, however, they are well worth the effort.

Happily then, Wharf Cat recently announced the April 20 release of a compilation benefitting the ACLU ($30 from every $32 double-LP sold will go to the organization) — an ever-worthy cause, and no more so in these times of heightened, and increasingly naked, race baiting and attacks on civil rights under those tired dog whistles of ‘law and order’ and ‘national security’.  Or, as the label puts it, the “ongoing assault on the Constitution”.

The bands on offer include tgh favorites like The Men, Snakehole, Profligate, Trust Punks (represented by Joe’s new band, Cheerleader – can’t wait to hear that one) and Psychic Blood, as well as a host of other notable acts.  Wharf Cat has shared two tracks to whet your appetite (check them out, below):  the freewheeling ruminations of “Too Sensitive” by Dollar Band (featuring members of Gun Outfit) and the glistening psych-wave of “Hourglass”, courtesy of Alice Glass.

The ACLU Benefit Compilation is up for pre-order now, via bandcamp or the Wharf Cat site.