Former Dirty Projectors bassist Angel Deradoorian has been operating as a solo artist since 2013, releasing her first solo album “The Expanding Flower Planet” in 2015. “Find the Sun” is an intriguing new album, released a month ago. Here’s the hypnotic locked-groove motorik exploration of “Corsican Shores”:

“Corsican Shores” has the feel of a hypnotic Can groove from Tago Mago, the understated vocals of Young Marble Giants and the esoteric melodicism and otherness of early Stereolab.

There’s a refreshing organic minimalism and simplicity to the album. Three musicians – Angel Deradoorian (vocals, guitar, synth, flute), drummer/ percussionist Samer Ghadry, and bassist Dave Harrington – have created songs that sound fresh, mysterious, and with space for the music to breathe.

It’s the ethos of keeping things simple that makes this Deroodian album sound like nothing much else, while also throwing occasional reminders of the above-mentioned Can, whose experimental Ethnological Forgery Series mode is an additional reference point (ie: “The Illuminator”, a lengthy drum & flute & electronic sound piece, which also evokes the spirit of Sun Ra for good measure).

There are also moments of transcendent kosmiche-folk (“Monk’s Robes”, “Mask of Yesterday”), high-flying psychedelic folk-rock (“It Was Me”), minimal lounge jazz-funk (“Devil’s Market”), and all manner of individualistic goodness in between, often layered with Deradoorian’s mesmerising vocal incantations.

For something crafted by a trio from such simple and under-stated ingredients, the album is a rich exploration of sounds, and a deep dive into the infinite cosmos of Deradoorian’s imagination.

Asta Rangu guitarist/ vocalist/ songwriter Richard Ley-Hamilton has taken the crafted guitar-pop of his previous band Males, and twisted it to darker, more intricate and thrilling shapes and shades, injecting subtle layers of noise and mayhem, but retaining the pure heart of golden pop, as “Thin Air” here shows…

“Thin Air” is the closing track of Asta Rangu’s “Plasticine” EP (or, at 24 minutes, is it a mini-album?). It’s a hybrid of elements of shoegaze, atmospheric noise-rock, and jangling guitar pop, all laced with an intriguing undercurrent of Fripp-ish guitar sonics experimentation.

“Plasticine” was originally released in 2017 on cassette tape format by emerging Dunedin label trace / untrace who say: “melodic and angular, asta rangu laces jarring riffs into fidgety pop and hook-laden wordplay. a sonic trip into the noisy, intricately layered world of imaginary figures.

Now “Plasticine” has another physical format re-release on the unfairly maligned/ side-lined Compact Disc format, a more economically viable, sustainable, utilitarian, easy-to-store-and-mail, and, well, compact physical format than vinyl. CDs have the advantage of having the tactile and visual qualities of an LP record sleeve in miniature, and this one has a sleeve which has been lovingly hand-crafted in Dunedin by a team of trace – untrace records artisans.

The CD release is available in NZ record stores, and at any shows they play (like tonight’s show at Dive in Dunedin supporting The Beths)

Terrible Signal are from Perth, Western Australia and “Retire” is a runaway truck of a song, all jangling thrashing guitars, weedy keyboards, thumping bass and drums and totally-wired rapid-fire Antipodean vocal delivery. No idea what it’s about but New Zealand gets a mention.

The song is from a brand new album “The Window” out on Ballarat label Heart of the Rat. There is an LP version… pre-orders open now.

Terrible Signal mine a similar vein to The Chills, sometimes with a side serving of The Clean (check the next track “Half The Person”), or Able Tasmans (“Day”). It’s a great mix, a bit ramshackle, fizzing, and sometimes with unexpected complexity pulled off with give-it-a-go-mate cheek.

They describe their sound – presumably tongue-in-cheek – as “Saccharine Aus-Nostalgia Pop”. Despite the NZ stylistic connections perceived or perhaps imagined, it’s definitely Australian, in a let-it-all-hang-out DIY-with-ambition kind of attitude. And in the story-telling manner of the lyrics and occassional use of the talking vocal delivery. And in the way it is mastered by the ubiquitous Australian DIY guitar pop sound engineer Mikey Young.

Some of my favourite albums of the past year have been from unsung Australian bands like Terrible Signal that I had never heard of before a chance discovery on Bandcamp. You’ve read about The S-Bends and also Dumb Things here, albums I still regularly play. This is another cracker that will probably fly under the radar. Don’t let that happen. Open “The Window” and let the wind blow.

Na Noise return with a 7″ single featuring two blistering new tunes warping old-style 1960’s beat-group-pop through their distinctive stylistic blender and time-machine into the 21st century. Here’s “Open the Door”:

Na Noise colloborators Yolanda Fagan and Hariet Ellis have also worked together on BOZO, Vincent H.L, Echo Ohs and Thee Crockettes, so their synchronous combination here of guitars and twinned vocals and exclamatory yelps is as natural as it is compulsive.

“Open The Door” and “Dance With Me” both continue the Na Noise tradition of being musically and stylistically all over the place and totally great. Both songs on this single are timeless fuzzy ye-ye beat-pop garage-rock goodness, with deep wells of surf-guitar reverb, and quivering Electric Prunes toned lead guitar solos, blasting over irresistible hypnotic dance grooves.

They say: “have a rascally take on traditional song — with their new-old songs, the band introduce a new-old sound. Joined by multi-instrumentalist Christopher Varnham who provides organ, drums and various other percussive elements, the three have cultivated a dark sound that is more carnivalesque than it is psychedelic.”

So good I ordered two of the 7″ singles. One to play until it wears out, and the other a back-up spare.

Back to Melbourne for some melodic, wistful, and gently sublime guitar pop goodness from Low Key Crush, a duo that has just released a 4th single, “Been Waiting”:

“Been Waiting” is an existential reflection about life and love. Waiting – and that sense of boredom but anticipation – is a universal existential theme, even more so in this year of lockdowns, forced isolation, lives on hold, uncertainty… and especially for Melbourne, and state of Victoria residents in Australia right now.

Low Key Crush is Tim Haines (vocals, guitars) and Taycian Lord (drums), who have been playing together since 2018.

“Been Waiting” is not like most of the guitar pop PopLib features from Melbourne, which tends to the more ragged garage rock/ so-called “slacker” guitar pop. This is a subtle, and – yes – low-key contemporary take on classic Australian shimmering melodic popcraft (thinking of the likes of The Stems, and The Someloves in the late 1980s in particular) but with a bit of more recent US West Coast guitar pop in the mix.

It’s the kind of song that bears (many) repeat plays, and if you are looking for more of that contemporary classic Australian guitar pop on Bandcamp from unfamiliar names, check out Sydney’s Allan Smithy as well.

Saint Severin from Bristol, UK is a new collaboration between Paul Pascoe (Beat Hotel) and artist Siena Barnes, delivering a big, crunching rock and roll riff monster of a pop song in the form of this first single “The Knife”.

“The Knife” is reminiscent of the kind of Big Guitar rock-pop of Danielle Dax around her great “Blast the Human Flower” (1990) album with a bit of “Automatic” era Jesus & Mary Chain motorik sonic assault.

This version of “The Knife” is one side of a Double A side single on Super8SinglesClub out next week. The other side (AA side) is a remix of “The Knife” by Barry Adamson (Magazine and Nick Cave and the Badseeds)

Who knows whether the name Saint Severin was inspired by the Church in Paris of that name, one of several saints over the centuries to bear that name, or the character from “Venus In Furs” immortalised in the Velvet Undeground song of that name, although that particular Severin was no saint at all. Whatever the inspiration, let’s hope there’s more to come from Saint Severin.

Wellington 4 piece shoegaze/ psych rock band Earth To Zena return with a new single “Mirrors” ahead of their third EP following “Transmundane” (2018) and its semi-unplugged/ part-ambient companion EP “Transmutations” (2019):

“Mirror” doesn’t stray far from the ambitious blend of shoegaze-inspired dreamy guitar+synth pop along with heavier sonic space-rock blast and psychedelic rock overtones the band introduced on the “Transmundane” EP.

However the song adds even more hard crunch to the loudest parts of their quiet-loud-even-louder dynamics, flexing rhythmic and time-change muscle. The added complexity comes without loss of any of the emotional intensity of Earth To Zena’s epic transmissions from the deep space of the heart.

All roads lead to Bandcamp. Reflecting earlier today on a treasured 7″ acquired in a record shop on cobbled Cockburn Street, Edinburgh, summer of 1980, by …and The Native Hipsters, called “There Goes Concorde Again” and find it is included on a compilation of their works released 21 years after the event, then loaded to Bandcamp. Here’s another song from the album, called “Stuck”:

…and The Native Hipsters originated from a duo – William Wilding and Nanette Greenblatt – adding Robert Cubitt and Tom Fawcett by the time they recorded their landmark chart-topping avant-garde experimental post-punk realist/surrealist/dadaist performance art single “There Goes Concorde Again” in 1980. Their home recording was self-released in the finest post-punk DIY tradition on their own Heater Volume Records on a 33 1/3 rpm 7″ with stamped labels, and a sleeve assembled by the band out of bits of old posters, meaning every sleeve was unique.

The song was played a bit on John Peel’s influential BBC radio show and the initial pressing of 500 they sold out. They re-pressed it a couple of times but continued to hand-craft the sleeves, even as the single reached #5 in the independent singles chart in the UK. According to wikipedia they declined an offer by Bowie/ T Rex producer Tony Visconti (!!!) to re-record the song, fearing commercialism.

The album is a mixed bag (in the best possible way) of 20 years of assembled avant-garde oddness. “Stuck” seems crafted from the same vein of quotidian observational weirdness as “There Goes Concorde Again”:

“Stuck my head through the railings of the park last night/ Don’t believe in the fire brigade so stayed there all night”

The sound collages on the album are a mix of cut’n’paste sound collages and baffling-strange storytelling. It’s not everyone’s cup of tea. This kind of thing annoys the hell out of some people. I love it.

It’s clear that for all the anti-art deconstruction of music, there are some very clever unconventional artistic minds here. The words and situations have disconcerting familiarity, but twisted into bizarre nonsense and delivered with an eery innocent childishness and menacing detachment at the same time.

Halfheads_LiveHalfheads are a Melbourne band returning after a decade-long hiatus to deliver three digital singles in quick succession in 2020. “Diamonds” is the most recent, from July.

It’s yer classic Australian guitar pop. It’s too frenetic to be called ‘slacker’ but does feature that glorious ramalama strum of almost-in-tune guitars, a growling bass, thumping drums, and yelping vocals.

“Diamonds” is cultured stuff though, re-purposing a bit of F Scott Fitzgerald imagery to describe a dandruff problem, throwing in a reference to Aussie basketball legend Andrew Gaze, and generally reflecting on the vicissitudes of the middle years of life.

Or, in Halfheadspeak: “Born among a rubble of red cans in North Melbourne circa 2009 and emerging from a mist of vase smoke and dirty nappies a decade later, the Halfheads are twitchy middle-age spread rock gone sour. Teeth rotten, cruising for a bruising and thinking about what is for dinner, the band recorded a handful of cracking songs in a Brisbane basement in 2019.”

Onya, mate.

Parsnip 2020

Continuing with our theme of celebrating Melbourne musicians in lockdown who could probably do with a bit of Bandcamp download appreciation is pop-tastic Parsnip.  Parsnip released a 4 song 7″ EP called “Adding Up” in May and it’s a keeper. Here’s the scrumptious “Treacle Toffee World”:

“Treacle Toffee World” is a delightful contemporary re-imagining of the kind of whimsical psychedelia usually associated with Syd Barrett-era Pink Floyd, with a bit of The Creation‘s fuzzy guitar style thrown in for good measure. [post-script: it’s a cover of the b-side to UK psychedelic band Fire‘s first 1968 single… pays to read those Bandcamp release notes very carefully rather than skim-reading them as PopLib is prone to do.]e. 

Each of the songs on the EP takes a different approach to quirky rejuvenation of 1960s psychedelic garage pop, mixed with a bit of 80’s New Wave edge, all made from simple ingredients – guitar, bass, keyboards, drums and voices – and assembled with winning melodies and a bucket-load of off-kilter charm.