Tag Archives: jangle

Check Out the Phenomenal Debut from Brooklyn’s Rips

Rips, Rips (Faux Discx; Wharf Cat)

Rips is a four-piece based in Brooklyn.  According to their bio, they’ve developed quite the following through “virtuous melodies and sheer ferocity amidst an endless flurry of shows” (crikey!).

Not situated in the Tri-State area, I had not run across the band until hearing their self-titled debut, and was hooked from the off.  It’s fantastic, start to finish, showcasing a host of styles and incluences – the ‘artier’ end of the early CBGB days, post-punk, 70s power pop and rock, 60s via 80s jangle, 90s psych-slack – blended in such a way as to make them new again.  “Break” is like REM covering Tom Petty; “Malibu Entropy” a woozy elegy to a relationship; “Save Room” as instantly familiar as the proverbial open road.  The arrangements are sharp and taught, vocals recalling, to these ears, Love Battery’s underrated Ron Nine or Pete Doherty in their ability to seem both plaintive and beyond caring.

While much seems to have been made of the NYC/‘downtown’ feel of the band’s compositions, using as exhibit ‘a’ the involvement of Parquet Courts’ guitarist Austin Brown as producer, it rings too limiting.  For me, the funneling of disparate eras and sounds into something so cohesive and, frankly, catchy gives Rips the feel of one of those ‘lost classic’ platters missed by many and later held up as a landmark.  Let’s not wait.

Rips is out now, courtesy of Faux Discx (Wharf Cat handling distribution in the US).  Follow along with the band Rips on fbook and their site, where you can find their current slate of upcoming gigs.

Highlights include: “Malibu Entropy”, “Save Room”, “Vs”, “Psychics”.

Revel in the Indie Pop Bliss of “Dream About You”, the New Single from London’s The Fireworks

The Fireworks, “Dream About You” (Shelflife/Opposite Number)

London-based trio The Fireworks recently shared a new 7”, “Dream About You”, the first to feature the vocal stylings of new member Beth Arzy (formerly of Trembling Blue Stars and Aberdeen, amongst others).

The single’s three tracks breeze by in a bit more than 8 minutes but, like real pyrotechnics, need but a moment to make a lasting impression.  Close your eyes and you can still hear the brilliant bass countermelody underpinning the title track’s delirious jangle; feel the drum wallop in the candy-colored psycho closer (see what we did there?), “We’ve Been Wasting Time”.  For my money, middle child “Better Without You Now” is the gem, a droll kiss-off backlit by a shimmering, Murmur-era guitar hook.  Fans of JAMC, early REM, Kinks, Shop Assistants, C86, Manhattan Love Suicides and/or well-constructed melodies, look no further.

The “Dream of You” 7” is available now courtesy of two fantastic labels – namely, Opposite Number (in the UK/EU) and Shelflife (everywhere else). Surveil The Fireworks on fbook the twitt and their site, and peruse their back catalogue on bandcamp.  While you’re at it, have a look at the video for “Dream About You”, which premiered over at The Big Takeover.

Check Out the Debut EP from Boston’s Blau Blau

Blau Blau, S/T EP (self-released); “Glassy Eyes” (from Ladyfest Boston 2017 mixtape)

Blau Blau – a new four piece hailing from Boston, MA whose members have featured in bands such as Mini Dresses and New Highway Hymnal – released their hugely confident debut in January.

Short and sweet, it’s four tracks coming in with a runtime of ten minutes (give or take), it packs quite the ear punch.  Dream pop, indie jangle, psych, swirly shoegaze – deceptively simple melodies that will be jammed in your brain.  Opener, “No Heaven”, veritably gallops out of the gate – a rollicking jangly track that shows off both the band’s cohesion and the vocal range of singer Lira Mondal, who goes from whisper to wail and everywhere in between.  It’s hard to pick a favorite but, if forced, I’d have to go with the last two:  “Harm”, which has a bit of a kaleidoscopic, Banshees feel to it, and closer, “Kiss Kiss”, which comes off like a harder punching Sundays, all quiet rainy afternoon until the chorus crashes your reverie.  “Glassy Eyes”, the band’s contribution to a mixtape celebrating the Boston edition of Ladyfest, picks up where “Kiss” leaves off and is a wonderfully atmospheric track worth checking out.

The EP is available now, via Blau Blau’s bandcamp site.  The fantastic Ladyfest Boston 2017 mixtape can be purchased here – proceeds go to benefit Boston-area charities, so it’s good and good for you (read more about it here).

Follow the band on fbook for tour dates and to see how many times they can copy/paste the words “blau blau” ad infinitum, Jack Torrance stylee.

The Bellamys’ Debut EP is Jangly, Lo-Fi Goodness

The Bellamys, S/T EP (Odd Box Records)

With their self-titled EP, Cardiff trio The Bellamys (though one member now resides in Vancouver), have crafted an indie pop winner.  Opener, “Motorway”, sets the tone nicely – chiming guitars cling and clang over an urgent drum beat and synthesizer that sounds a bit like the droning of a hurdy gurdy, as boy-girl harmonies and counter-melodies delve into the delights of well, driving.  Apex, “Best Friend”’s punk jangle underpins a wistful diary entry describing a would-be companion (“but you don’t notice me/you look right through/me/you think you are so cool/that’s cause you are”).  Closing ballad, “For You to See” conjures Super 8 quick-cut images and is quietly affecting without going full twee.  An absence of artifice makes this a charming, hand-hold of a listen; like having a conversation with an old friend over a beer – hopes, dreams; weighty stuff made to feel less onerous.

That press release accompanying the digital recommends the EP for fans of The Pastels, C86, Tellulah Gosh (I’d add The Vaselines and Thee Headcoats) and, erm, Slayer.  Sly, and (very) thinly veiled Haunting the Chapel references notwithstanding, this is a damn fine, lo-fi indie pop record.  Get on it.

Odd Box Records (which, with a roster boasting such artists as City Yelps, The Manhattan Love Suicides, T.O.Y.S., and Nervous Twitch, has quickly become one of my favorite labels over the past few years of doing this) will release the EP on December 2.  Here’s hoping The Bellamys continue doing their thang, in spite of the geographic separation.  Check more on the band on fbook and delve into their earlier catalogue (the demo from February is also great – paricularly, “it’ll be ok”) on Bandcamp.

Laurie Spector’s Debut as Hothead Hits All the Right Notes

Hothead, S/T (Sister Polygon)

Hothead is the solo alter ego of songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Laurie Spector, who has played in DC bands like Gauche, Foul Swoops and Chain and the Gang.  Her Hothead debut (released on cassette by the fantastic Sister Polygon) contains seven tracks, including a cover of “You Should All be Murdered” by Sarah Records sly indie pop titans, Another Sunny Day.

The cover choice feels apropos, since standout tracks here like “How It Goes” conjure up the same emotions, with jangle perk offsetting the more acerbic lyrical aspects.  Spector’s Hothead arrangements, though, are less wide-eyed, with each track smothered under a heavy cloak of reverb.  Spector sings withering kiss offs to “disaffected pseudo intellectuals” (“Rocco”) and and those for whom she “feel[s] nothing in love” (“Inside Loop”) at times  with a kind of drunken snarl, her voice buried deep in the mix (even when accompanied solely by acoustic guitar on the strummed ballad, “Marilyn”, her voice sounds like it’s coming from a different room).

Musically, in addition to indie jangle-pop, there’s shades of 70s AM rock (which, in turn, brings in aspects of folk and bluesy country) and power pop.  Add in some playful ornamentation (“Hothead” (the closing track) features what sounds like a recorder(?); “Rocco”, handclaps) and some eye moistening melodies – seriously, we double dog dare you to listen to the chiming guitar leads in “How It Goes” or “Inside Loop” without a wistful smile filling your face – and what you have is an immensely satisfying listen.  Is “lo-fi power pop” an oxymoron? Maybe, but who cares when it’s this good.

The self-titled album is out now, and is available digitally on Bandcamp (tapes are sold out).  A tour is also imminent (though, sadly, not near us *sniff*), so go say ‘hello’ if you’re in the area – dates here.  There are also some great discussions with Spector on the ideas and processes behind the album, courtesy of Impose Magazine and WAMU’s bandwidth.fm.  Check ‘em out.

Highlights include: “Inside Loop”, “How It Goes”.

Check the Snide Jangle of “Around the House”, by Chook Race

Members of Melbourne, Australia's Chook Race, at rest.

Members of Melbourne, Australia’s Chook Race, at rest.

Chook Race, Around the House (Tenth Court/Trouble In Mind, 9/2/2016)

Chook Race are a three-piece hailing from Melbourne, Australia (fun fact: “chook” is, according to my online sources, an Aussie slang term for a hen, a woman or the sound made to call the former).  Around the House is the band’s latest long-player, and it’s a fantastically catchy collection of sharp, lo-fi pop.

On Around the House, Chook Race channel the energies of 80s and early 90s purveyors of jangle pop, caustic lines delivered by vocalist/guitarist Matt Liveriadis – at times in ‘boy/girl’ harmony with drummer Carolyn Hawkins (who takes on lead vocal duties on several tracks) – ‘neath the glint of ringing guitar tones and vibrant drum and bass.  Liveriadis has the kind of deadpan voice which recalls folks like David Gedge and Eugene Kelly, perfect for withering lines like “sometimes, I get tired/oh and sometimes, I get sick/…of you” (“Sometimes”).  The tossed-off, charmingly ramshackle sonic touchstones are warmly familiar, and include bands like The Vaselines, The Clean, The Pastels.  Album highlight, “Lost the Ghost”, has a riff that kept pinging around in my brain until I decided it sounded like early REM – or maybe something by The Only Ones – I couldn’t decide; but I was too busy bopping along to care.  Standing on (sloped) shoulders they may be, but the tunes Chook Race create are undeniable and worthy of repeated listen.

Around the House is out now, courtesy of Tenth Court (in Australia, New Zealand and Japan) and Trouble In Mind (everywhere else) – or straight from the band on their Bandcamp page. Catch up with Chook Race (sorry) on fbook, on tour, and peep the indie pop aerobicise on disply in the video for lead track, “Hard to Clean”, (below).

Highlights include:  “Lost the Ghost”, “Sometimes”, “At Your Door”, “Hard to Clean”

New Music: Trust Punks

Trust Punks, “Mother’s Veil”, “Leaving Room for the Lord”

Two new(ish) tracks from Auckland, New Zealand’s Trust Punks, each showcasing a different side of the band’s sound.

“Mother’s Veil”, released in November, shows a softer, wistful touch.  Narcotic, dreamy jangle psych-pop, reminiscent of the band’s Flying Nun countrymen, up through the quieter moments of Brian Jonestown Massacre and maybe even first album Shins.  Strummed guitars, an airy bassline and what sounds like tape hiss weave a lucid dream, sadly interrupted by the feedback alarm clock ending.  Heavenly.

Newer track, “Leaving Room for the Lord”, exudes a brasher, more dissonant and, er, “punker” sound.  Shades of early Killing Joke and PiL, plus some Jesus Lizard noise finds the band in a similar lane to Ireland’s Girl Band on this one.  Jagged, clamoring guitars, roiling drums and shouty vocals stagger and crash into each other drunkenly, setting a combative tone.  Satisfyingly brutish.

According to a post on the band’s fbook page, “Leaving Room” will feature on the band’s upcoming album, entitled “Double Blind”.  No further details at this time but, in the meantime, explore their earlier releases, including great 2014 release “Discipline”, on bandcamp.  Sadly, we missed that one first time ‘round, but are having fun playing catch up.

Album Review: Froth, Bleak

Froth, Bleak (Burger Records (CD, vinyl); Lolipop Records (cassette), 5/19/05)

New record from L.A., by way of El Segundo band, Froth.  While I missed the boat on their debut release, I stumbled across this one and, well, I really like it.  There’s some cool history of the band – which only formed in 2012 – out there.  Since it’s pretty easy to find on the interwebs (like, here), I won’t repeat it in detail here:  suffice to say, the band (by their own admission) started off as a bit of a “joke”, then remixed a song from their first record for Yves Saint Laurent’s fall 2014 men’s fashion show (which is likely why they are discussed in (en?) Vogue).  Oh, la la!

Froth cranks up the psychedelic edge of dream pop and shoegaze, calling to mind similar efforts by bands such as the Brian Jonestown Massacre (think songs like “Evergreen” or “Swallowtail”).  Lead singer Joo Joo Ashworth sings in a kind of dazed croon, sounding a bit like Donovan or, more obscurely, Al Stewart.

Bleak‘s nine tracks glide, swerve and swoon by in around thirty minutes or so, during which time the band blends elements of ‘60s psychedelic pop, garage rock, shoegaze and dream pop.  Familiar elements are collected and mixed to great effect:  the jangle-tinted psych pop of the title track; the BJM meets My Bloody Valentine of “Postcard Radio”; the “Be My Baby” beat in ballad, “Nothing Baby”; the psych stomp of “Saccharine Sunshine”.  Album highlight “Turn It Off” combines all of these into a swirling, glorious, tilt-a-whirl head rush of a track.

Bleak is out now and available for download on the band’s Bandcamp page.  Check them out, as well, on Facebook.  In August, Froth will be on tour supporting The Drums on a jog through the wide open spaces of the Western United States – tune in and drop out with them if you’re in the area.

Highlights include:  “Turn It Off”, “Bleak”, “Postcard Radio”.

Review: Flesh World, The Wild Animals In My Life

Flesh World, The Wild Animals In My Life (Iron Lung, 6/2/15)

Debut long player from San Francisco-based Flesh World, a fave of thegrindinghalt.com (check out our review of their mini-lp here).

In the proud tradition of bands like TSOL, Lords of the New Church, 45 Grave, The Damned, Siouxsie and the Banshees, The Flatmates, Savages – bands grafting elements of other music onto a musculature of punk – on The Wild Animals…, Flesh World continue to push and prod at the edges of their sound:  goth, rough C86-styled indie pop and shoegaze shiver and shake together over rumbling punk and hardcore undercurrents.

The title track adds a glaze of shoegaze swirl atop Scott Moore’s jangly guitar line.  “Just To Tear Me Down” starts like a ramshackle take on “Under the Milky Way”, then morphs into a buzz saw goth/punk rocker, vocalist Jess Scott channeling Morrissey as she sings to someone who wants to “tear me up just to tear me down”.  “Strawberry Bomber” sounds like Dance With Me-era TSOL fronted by Mikyi from Lush.  Personal fave “Poolside Boys” recalls the JAMC covering “Everyday Is Like Sunday”.

Comparisons only go so far though – these songs live and breathe as a result of the band’s great sense of melody, pacing and energy.  Earworms abound here for the digging.  Dig in.

Gloomy and glorious.  Check the stream above and support the band here.  Also, be sure to go seek out the band at one of their upcoming shows (sadly, the halt exists in lands outside the current itinerary – *sniff*).

7/30 New York              Baby’s All Right
7/31 Philadelphia          Philamoca
8/1 New York                 Williamsburg Music Hall
8/2 Baltimore                Windup Space
8/3 Richmond               Strange Matter
8/4 Washington, D.C.  Black Cat

Highlights include:  “Poolside Boys”, “Strawberry Bomber”, “Shaved Head”, “Your Love Is Like a House”.

Album Review: The Fresh & Onlys, House of Spirits

The Fresh & Onlys, House of Spirits (Mexican Summer, 06/10/2014)

The Fresh & Onlys are a four-piece out of San Francisco.  Their latest, House of Spirits, is their sixth full length (the band has also released a couple of EPs). On prior releases, the band honed a sound including elements of psychedelia, garage rock, 70s SoCal country-tinged pop, and a bit of Paisley Underground and Brit-influenced 80s indie rock.  House feels like an attempt to broaden this sonic palette further, introducing more drone and ambient textures and hues to broaden the scope.

For this review, I thought I’d try something different and attempt to share my (slightly cleaned up) initial reactions to the each track on the album. Here goes:

“Home is Where” – opens with church organ; crooning vocals over piano, then morphs into a steady rocker – kind of reminds me of Doves.  Retains updated 60s via 80s sound. The dreamy, reverbed vocals once the song harken back to the days of “college radio” and import singles from some great UK band.

“Who Let the Devil” – intro bass/drum line sounds like Lords of the New Church a bit (probably just me…). Dreamy guitar arpeggio laces around muffled, Tim Cohen’s underwater vocals – ‘who let the devil walk into my house/ when i was born dying’.  Something about the melody reminds me of a Neil Young song, but I can”t figure out which one – it’s driving me crazy.  Is that a zither? autoharp? in the chorus?

“Bells of Paonia” – strobed guitar drone, ambient textures over pulsating bass line and lyrics about the effects of a pill.  Druggy, Spiritualized hushed gospel feel overlaid with Warm Jets-era Eno. Invites repeated listening to peel the onion.

“Animal of One” -“the point of forgiving/is so you forget/that being forgiven/is all in your mind”.  Seventies, SoCal country-tinged pop vibe.  Song (quietly) explodes into an absolutely lovely chorus around the 2:30 mark.

“I’m Awake” – to be honest, this song didn’t really grab me.  Was a bit disappointed by the chorus after an encouraging opening melody.

“Hummingbird” – an out and out rocker.  Chugging bassline and straight ahead drums bring echoes of 80s brit/indie – maybe a less dramatic Icicle Works? Interplay between the lead guitar and vocals is great.

“April Fools” – sweet, airy vocal melodies over chimey guitars – not a million miles away from San Francisco psychedelic pop legacy.  Love the guitar line in the chorus.  Could use a bridge/transition somewhere, though.

“Ballerina” – country infused.  A road trip through somewhere flat, where the reference points in the horizon never seem to get closer.  Vocals (here, I believe, by guitarist Wymond Miles) evoke a world weary Roger Miller.

“Candy” – opens with a playful, swinging beat. A slow grower.  Would be nice of the guitars were pushed more to the fore to bring the chorus out of it’s shell a bit.

“Madness” – (closer). intro reminds me of the beginning to “Disappear” by INXS (this is not a bad thing).  Similar in feel with “Bells” – a more languid, ambient arrangement crashes against a rocky shore of heavily distorted guitars.

Highlights include: “Bells of Paonia”, “Who Let the Devil”, “Animal of One”.