Archives for posts with tag: bedroom pop

Warrington sunrise Cropped Extra ThinLow-key Auckland woozy-pop artist/ band These Early Days return with another dream-like song; “Again”

“Again” seems a clearer, more in-focus recording, but all the favourite parts are there – the elliptical shuffling repetition of the drums, the loping time signature, and blurred guitar strumming we’ve come to know and love from These Early Mornings.

“Again” is like opening the curtains on a misty sunrise in a strange new place and being lost in contemplation for a moment before the weight of the day settles upon our shoulders.

A few years on we still don’t know much about These Early Mornings, but there’s now a developing collection of gloriously understated DIY pop goodness assembled on Bandcamp under the name These Early Mornings.

Too Tone NZ Music Month

NZ Music Every Godzone Month! sign from Too Tone Records in Dunedin.

Our New Zeland Music Month day #24 song is a recent single from Auckland bedroom pop musician Lucky Boy^ called “Turn Off That Light”.

Lucky Boy^ is Auckland resident Simeon Kavanagh-Vincent and there’s a small treasure trove of recent recordings uploaded to Bandcamp this month. The “Lo fi” and “indie” Bandcamp tags tell us everything and absolutely nothing.

If you have a head full of music like I do, the crunchy fuzz’n’compression bass part here may remind you of the style of Chris Squire’s bass part from “Starship Trooper” by Yes. The drum machines bludgeon out unrestful patterns in a style similar to what once anchored the intoxicating sonic mist of early Cocteau Twins songs. The guitars provide woozy, languid amorphous shoegaze/ dream-pop atmospherics akin to the odd dream-like textures on A R Kane’s “69” album.  The vocals are melodic and soulful yet held in the middle distance with reverb and light distortion.

Annoying as these kind of random, un-connected references to music you may never have heard of may be, it’s just me trying to make sense and find some order to explain what is a highly effective approach to music-making. I doubt any of these are influences or inspirations at all, just coincidences. It may be “lo fi” and “indie” and DIY bedroom pop but it’s in a different league to most of the music flying that flag of convenience.

If you like (love) this single, be warned there are three (THREE!) albums uploaded by Lucky Boy^ so far in May, each one offering a different sonic approach but a similar kind of approach to this single.

“Running Out of Money” here, with its captivating Beta Band styled stoned groove and odd time signature, is from a recently released album from These Early Mornings.

These Early Mornings is/ are from New Zealand. The only named to be gleaned from the Bandcamp page for the self-titled album released on 7 October 2016 is one Jim Gaunt.

Whatever and whoever, this is a uniformly warm and weird collection of tunes. It starts with the brief and beguiling lo-fi not-quite rock steady groove of “Visa” before wandering with rhythmic abandon through other not-quite folk idioms in looping, lurching time signatures.

The eponymous third track is fractured stoner folk which might be imagined as an out-of-it Beck playing tribute to Harvest era Neil Young if it were not for the lo-fi recording and seriously off-kilter guitar solos and noise-reprise.

Overall it’s the loopy, grainy minimalism of the songs and the time signatures which makes this such a great collection of odd-pop. The closest thing to “Usually Waiting” and “Unco” for example is This Heat, and there’s a whiff of a folk Swell Maps to “Who Knows Nothing”.

This is the kind of album people will discover in 25 years time and an obscure boutique record label in the USA will re-release. Why wait that long? Get it now!

 

 

doubleu-quit-bandcamp“Quit” is the title of a fine 6 song EP from mysterious Auckland musician Doubleu. Here’s the opening track “Hero”:

Next track “Red” is equally impressive in its skillful minimal guitar layering, the subtle oddness of the backing sounds, and hushed melodic vocals. And the title track “Quit” after that. And… each following track, so stick around for the whole 12 minutes of this EP thanks.

It’s ALL pretty damned beautiful in a very understated and uncertain way, as if Doubleu doesn’t quite have the self-belief that these songs are in fact just right.

The last track “Words” offers a slightly different palette of sounds. The same shy, delicate and restrained songcraft but with more of an electronic sampled backing and playful sonic weirdness going on.

Everything about this 6 track EP by the mysterious Doubleu is intriguing. In it’s own quiet bedroom-pop-symphonies-in-miniature style, it’s a bit special. Don’t quit please.

Swampy Summit Panorama

Dunedin. No pony. Unfazed.

Day 27 of NZ Music Month is a home-recorded mumbled masterpiece from Dunedin’s reclusive Fazed on a Pony, called “Palz”

I’m often reminded of Sparklehorse when I listen to Fazed on a Pony.

It’s not that the music sounds particularly alike, but it shares that sense you sometimes get from Sparklehorse songs like they are an intimate confessional from a close friend going through a difficult time.

The DIY recording, unusual ideas used in the arrangements, the general woozy melodicism of the songs and that can’t-quite-make-it-out vocal delivery all conspire together to draw you into the recording.

“Palz” is from a now sold out 5 song cassette EP called “Hunch” released last year by UK cassette label Fox Food Records.

Fazed on a Pony

Day 17 of may Month of Madness marathon for NZ Music Month comes from invisible Dunedin DIY artist Fazed on a Pony.

“Spares” is a recent single release, paired with the brief & exploratory “4-23”. It’s perfect bedroom lo-fi self-recorded underground pop magnificence.

Explore back through the Fazed on a Pony back-catalogue on Bandcamp and you’ll find more great music. The noisier stuff has a bit of a Sparklehorse feel to it and the quieter stuff is beautiful washed-out solitude, as if recorded inside a large ball of cotton-wool.

Invercargill is the home of Shunkan – my latest favourite local lo-fi bedroom pop magician. That is no real surprise to me. Invercargill has produced much musical talent over the years and promptly exported it to the nearest centres of civilisation. I say that as someone brought up there who forged my own musical identity as a teenager in the front room of a pale-blue weatherboard villa on a windswept cabbage tree lined street and played in a band to no-one in an empty hall over the road from the prison.

I first heard Shunkan (there’s a whole EP of glorious and extraordinary bedroom fuzzy lo fi pop like this) via Art Is Hard Records in the UK. Inexplicably they’d received a demo from Shunkan and liked it enough to release it (limited edition cassette).

‘Wash You Away’ is just one aspect of what’s on the EP. I heard enough reference points in all the songs to wonder how Marina Sakimoto (who is Shunkan) could absorb such a range of diverse possible influences and then turn them into something so distinctive and original. There is some great sonic experimentation going on in the other tracks which reminded me in places of the wooziness of early My Bloody Valentine and the rapture of Sigur Ros but also the quiet reflective spaces and dreamy wonder of our own Dear Time’s Waste. But that’s what can happen when an imagination is left in relative isolation with a guitar and a microphone and something to record the results on.

Rush hour Friday in Invercargill

Rush hour Friday in Invercargill

I think I owe the credit for the discovery of this absolute gem of an album from Ginnels to Unpopular music blog (one of the most reliable sources of new underground pop music tips and monthly mix compilations).

The striking cover image caught my eye and, upon closer inspection of the sounds via the Bandcamp page, the contents were just as colourful and attention-grabbing. Hearing this gives me the same buzz I had when I first heard Guided By Voices Bee Thousand album. Home-baked DIY jangling pop with more hooks than a Pirate convention.

So, I ended up buying the LP. With a cover & songs like this why wouldn’t you?

Jorge, from Madrid based label Tenorio Cotobade will send you the LP carefully packaged, registered mail. Turns out the world of small labels specialising in underground pop is small. He loves Dunedin, NZ jangle-popsters The Prophet Hens and wants to know if that is available on vinyl (it’s not). He also knows of Males from their ill-fated Manic Pop! Records single non-release… which Dunedin label Fishrider Records is rectifying shortly with a 9-song mini-album/ double-EP (on 12″ 45 rpm vinyl) of existing and brand new material, called ‘Run Run Run/MalesMalesMales’. And he loves Trick Mammoth too. Yes, the International Pop Underground is still alive & well.

Ginnels recordings appear to be the work of just one person – Mark Chester. The songs are perfect and infectious, and the sound of the tape-recorder (or whatever these were recorded on) being switched on at the start and then off at he end of songs adds an almost voyeuristic intimacy to the collection.

I’d write some expository words of my own but they’d end up being a re-write of these from the Bandcamp page, so… here they are:

“Plumes” compiles a selection of tracks from Ginnels’ three releases so far plus other online-only tracks, and it’s the first time these songs are available on vinyl. They were all recorded and mixed entirely in Chester’s living room, built up from layers of guitars, vocals, “cheap keyboards and other assorted detritus”.

The approach and sound recall the wonderful jangle pop legacy of the Flying Nun label, Crooked Rain-era Pavement and Elephant 6 bands like The Apples In Stereo. Over the whole album, from fast-paced tracks such as ‘Heathwaite Wood’ and ‘Great Fall’ through to more minimal, reflective moments like ‘Friends Are Dead’ and ‘Champs’, Chester’s knack for delivering really strong, memorable melodies never fails to shine and astonish.”

Yes, indeed.

Timothy Berry

While we are on a roll of NZ bedroom pop genius posts, here’s another name to add to your Bandcamp wish list – Aucklander Timothy Berry and his deliriously melodic ‘shambling sixties twee’ as demonstrated by ‘Dandy’ here:

The whole of the 7 song ‘Dandy/ Spit It’ mini-album is pretty cool – familiar landscape to me from that bedroom Syd Barrett/ Eliott Smith lo-fi aesthetic I know and love so much.

But Berry adds some ambitious arrangements and flourishes on ‘Dandy’ that hint at both White Album Beatles and Sparklehorse and elevate this economy-setting Power Pop tune into a perfect psychedelic miniature.

Lontalius_CaLH_Mirror
Here’s day 7 of my 31 days of May New Zealand Music month Bandcamp purchase marathon. I actually bought this back in February… but if I hadn’t already I would’ve today, OK?

Lontalius is the music identity for a shy 16 year old Wellington school kid. I didn’t believe that at first, particularly as it was the 7th EP release on Bandcamp since 2010. But I’ve met ‘Lontalius’ now, and saw him play live in the ‘Renegade Room’ at Camp a Low Hum back in February, so I can attest to his age (though maybe he’s all of 17 by now?).

Once you work your way past the grainy lo-fi of these recordings you will hopefully discover these are some powerful and extraordinary pop songs. ‘Whisper’ – my favourite here – is full of heart-crushing melodic beauty.

It’s the sort of song I can imagine on an early Sparklehorse or Neutral Milk Hotel album and all the better for the fuzzorama production, the low-key resignation of its vocal delivery and 1 minute, 45 second economy.

The other standout song in this consistently excellent 11 minute 6-song collection is ‘The Same (Drum Version)’.

Listen carefully for the delicate pizzicato arrangement in the background of the fuzz-fog to hear what I mean. It reminds me of the sort of arrangement The Blue Nile would add to a song (after a few obsessive-compulsive years in the studio). As indeed does the pervading sense of sweet melancholy.

What sets these songs apart for me is that elegant arrangement of simple instrument parts and the equally understated vocal delivery that conveys so much from so little. Sure you need some tolerance for a bit of ‘lo-fi’ distress to relate to this. To my ear though, this is well crafted bedroom pop of the highest order.

It’s understandable that we tend to focus on a carefully packaged and marketed bedroom pop eccentric from overseas like Ariel Pink and overlook greater potential talent in our own back yard. But with Bandcamp (and Soundcloud) as a facilitator it is now a bit easier to discover it amongst us if we take the time to explore.