Archives for posts with tag: guitar pop

Salad BoysChristchurch guitar trio Salad Boys released their second album “This Is Glue” in January. Here’s “Under The Bed” from it:

Salad Boys is led by guitarist, vocalist and songwriter Joe Sampson, once of noisey Christchurch trio T54. Salad Boys is the more reflective side of Sampson’s considerable guitar-playing and songwriting talent, though the album still packs plenty of over-driven riff-rock (check the opening “Blown” Up” and then “Psych Slasher” for high-octane thrills).

Anyone raised on a steady diet of chips, beer and guitar bands over recent decades will recognise the compass points locating their sound. Much has been made of their local influences from that cold damp city 5 hours drive south of their quake-munted Christchurch home. But as much as you can maybe hear a bit of The Clean/ Great Unwashed in the strum and jangle I’d be inclined to pick another Dunedin band Bored Games as a better local touchstone when the amps are cranked here.

But even that is still a red herring I reckon. The varied guitar styles and noisy pop hooks comprising much of “This Is Glue” is actually much more in the style of North American bad boys like The Replacements and their ilk. As a result they sound more like they belong among the current crop of fine Australian guitar bands (The Stevens, Twerps, Woollen Kits et al.) who also seem to have assimilated that same perfect odd-combo of ’80s kiwi drone jangle and more polished North American guitar pop.

Either way, this is a cracking album with a fine balance between visceral riff rock and delicate reflective folk pop (refer “Going Down Slow” towards the end of the album). Recommended to track down in its vinyl LP format too.

 

 

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Agua VivaMoving gently away from ambient instrumental soundscapes but still staying in outer space, here’s some top-drawer “Pop misterioso y tropical”  from Beunos Aires, Argentina. Hard to pick one song from this but the opening track “Menino do Rio” is as appropriate a place as any:

The mysterious and tropical pop of Agua Viva’s album “Piece of Water” is almost entirely performed by Josi Arias who plays guitar, keyboards, electronic drums and sings.

“Menino do Rio” (river boy in Portuguese) here is vaguely reminiscent of the kind of dreamlike woozy psychedelia explored on Connan Mockasin’s “Forever Dolphin Love”

This opening track is not fully representative of the whole album so give the whole sequence of songs a listen as there’s some fine noisy psychedelia throughout – like this Paisley Pop standout “Hardly Move” –

[Thanks to The Autumn Roses music blog for the discovery!]

Autumn London“We try to articulate that change in the air that happens when autumn comes. But it’s not a verbal thing; you can’t really express it properly with words. You can express it with music and atmosphere.” Alasdair MacLean – The Clientele

The Clientele are one of my favourite bands. Although I learned the other day they are in fact an art project rather than a band in the traditional rock and roll sense of the word. I thought they had split up several years ago after releasing “Bonfires on the Heath” (2009).

But they’ve found their way back from making a living as normal people in the real world, parenthood, gardening in suburban London allotments, and all that stuff, to make another album. “Music for the Age of Miracles” is out on 22 September and here’s “Everyone You Meet” from it:

Like everything The Clientele have done there’s an autumnal element to this song, which augers well for the new album. Autumn features a lot in the songs and the lyrics.

The Clientele has always seemed to me to be like a musical way of representing personal experience and feelings about the natural and human environment, ghostly imagery of landscape paintings, old photographs, literature and poetry, in the form of contemporary pop songs.

Here’s what songwriter, guitarist and vocalist Alasdair MacLean had to say about The Clientele in a 2015 interview  in answer to a question about refining the sound of The Clientele over 5 albums, which some listeners may view as rehashing old songs:

“I think that I completely understand why people would say that about The Clientele, as they’re viewing us in 2015 as a Rock ‘n’ Roll band. The kind of rock band that has to focus on reinvention, this Miles Davis or Picasso styled reinvention. But in 2015, Rock ‘n’ Roll bands don’t mean anything and The Clientele isn’t one; they’re an art project. Again I know that sounds aggressively pretentious.

What it is it’s a refinement of a certain idea and it’s something that’s lasted a couple of decades and a lot of people have contributed to it. So you shouldn’t expect a Kid A from us or a Screamadelica. That’s all bullshit now anyway. I don’t think it matters now, I don’t think it has any meaning anymore. What we’re doing is just rumbling on with this art project that’s been going on since the ’90s.

Our whole aim and our whole methodology is separate from what they’re looking at, what their expectations are. We don’t have that idea of the difficult third album, that’s foreign to what we do.

When The Clientele stopped making music, around Bonfires on the Heath, it was because I felt like it had gone out of control. It had gone from being this interesting, heartbreaking art-project to starting to threaten to sound like a normal band and I really didn’t want to be a part of that, so we stopped it. That was just one of the many reasons.

For me it has to not sound like a normal band, it has to go back to the vividness and the inspiration of before. And actually what we’ve done does sound like we have that. So as long as we carry on having that, we’ll carry on and make another record. If not, we’ve made five records and five records is enough for any band really. Unless you’re Robert Wyatt.”

SachetIt’s been a while since we checked in on Sydney underground pop label Strange Pursuits. Turns out there’s a log jam of snappy punk-edged melodic garage-pop waiting for our ears. Here’s the thrilling staccato blast of Sachet with “Melted Wires”:

It says “First ‘single’ from debut LP ‘Portion Control’ by Sydney outfit Sachet. LP due August 2017 on Strange Pursuits.”  On the strength of “Melted Wires” that Sachet LP will be top of the PopLib shopping list come August.

Sachet are Lani Crooks and Sam Wilkinson of Day Ravies along with Nick Webb and Chris Anstis. “Melted Wires” continues in a similar vein to the compulsively melodic earworm guitar-pop template perfected by Day Ravies on their fabulous “Liminal Zones” album, but now stripped back to barking guitar, sparse keyboard, crunching drums and voices.

It’s cracking stuff – the guitar in the verses evokes the spirit of Dr Feelgood’s Wilko Johnson and the song charges along with the feral energy of an early Fall 7″ with Crooks delivering a crisp and threatening vocal.

Perfect as all that sounds, the chorus flips the song into lush melodic pop with layered vocal harmonies. Add in an instrumental bridge pulling post-punk shapes and angles, and you’ve got the kind of inventive bittersweet garage-pop genius which makes you hit ‘repeat’ again and again. Can’t wait to hear more from Sachet.

 

 

Fazerdaze EP and LP 2017

Top left – the orginal hand-made CD-R EP (2014), lower left – the full CD ‘re-issue’ of the EP (2015), along with the “Morningside” LP (2017).

Day 12 of the 31 Days of May New Zealand Music Month madness is a track from the just-released debut album “Morningside” by Fazerdaze. Here’s “Friends”

“Friends” takes the Fazerdaze template of brilliantly simple ingredients: layering guitar melody over a bass-line, and adding introspective lyrics. What happens next is uncharacteristic but exhilarating; engaging hyper-drive with a sonic chorus blast of fuzz guitar and soaring melody.

That kind of 1, 2 punch from quiet to euphoric loud with lashings of melody is something late 1980s/ early 1990s Flying Nun Records label-mates The JPS Experience used to excel at too. In fact “Friends” would fit comfortably among the songs on their final album “Bleeding Star”.

PopLib tends to champion the underdog and you’d have to be hiding under a rock to not have heard a Fazerdaze song or seen an online article or review about the Auckland musician’s debut and current UK tour, such is the interest in the debut album. So this post is less about discovery of an under-appreciated musician as celebrating the achievement of someone championed here for the past 3 years.

PopLib first featured Fazerdaze back in 2014 when the first EP had it’s initial hand-made CD-R format release. It was clear right from the start that Amelia Murray’s low-key and personal music made a connection with listeners. By staying grounded, trusting her instincts to keep things understated, and focus on self-recording her perfect introspective guitar-pop, she’s created a wonderful first album that retains the essence of that first EP.

Fazerdaze EP and LP 2017

Top left – the orginal hand-made CD-R EP (2014), lower left – the full CD ‘re-issue’ of the EP (2015), along with the “Morningside” LP (2017).

wurldseries_2016_ben-woodsChristchurch guitar-botherers Wurld Series are back with a full-length album called “Air Goofy”, fittingly available on cassette. Here’s the second song “Rip KF” for you:

It’s ‘fittingly’ on cassette because it was recorded on cassette, via a Tascam 424 4-track cassette recorder, staple of a generation of bedroom DIY artists in previous decades, and it seems again today.

As we’ve heard from previous tunes and EPs and songs like “Orkly Kid” and “Rabbit” which are both included here, the spirit of early rough-genius Pavement is undeniably strong in Wurld Series at times – twisting fuzzed out guitars and stream of unconscious life lyrical flights.  But so is the spirit of the 3-Ds from closer to home, who arguably influenced Pavement with their eccentric lead guitar shapes and angles atop lurching fuzzed out guitar skronk-pop.

If “Rip KF” – complete with shared lead vocal between guitarist/ vocalist Luke Towart and guest vocalist Tyne Gordon – represents the more middle-of-a-rough-road-to-nowhere melodic guitar pop side of “Air Goofy” then there’s much variety on either side of that median. Check out the thrilling “LT’s Struggle” for an alternative example.

Another great addition to both the Wurld Series and the Melted Ice Cream label catalogues. Don’t just take PopLib’s word for it. UK music blog Did Not Chart has also been singing the praises of this rough diamond.

 

 

the-sunday-leagueThis may well be my favourite song from the other* Hobart music compilation called “7000 – The Pick of Hobart Independent bands”. And “Monday” is a perfect song for a Monday naturally. Even though Monday in NZ is still a Sunday in some parts of the world, it’s still a perfect song because it’s by The Sunday League.

The Sunday League take me back to the likes of The CannanesThe Lucksmiths and The Steinbecks; all chiming perfect hollow-body electric guitars, earnest melodic vocals and lyrics reflecting on the everyday things of existence in suburban Australia. Like rubbish collection day and overgrown Pittosporum trees.

It’s music so familiar you’d think you should have heard enough of it already. And yet, something like this can breeze along, with those ringing guitar notes, quivering Australian voice and honest band-in-a-room recording, and it’s just perfect for dreaming and escaping to imagine watching the bin collectors work their way down a tree-lined street you’ve never been to, in Hobart, Tasmania, postcode 7000.

* check out the “Community 4” Hobart music compilation on bandcamp for more Tasmanian underground pop goodness.