Aüva hail from Boston, Massachusetts, in the US of A and “Glitter & Weed” is from a recently released 3 track EP available for free download. It’s wonderful, so go forth and discover it and the rest of their back-catalogue too:
It’s one of many great indie pop songs (mostly available via the artists’ Bandcamp pages) discovered via this an excellent playlist “How Did We Make It This Far?” from The Shadow of the Wall music blog.
Aüva’s “Glitter & Weed” reminds me of Canadian band Alvvays. The music is chiming synth-backed guitar pop, packed with sing-along melodic hooks and wonderful lyrics like “Glitter and weed and LSD / All of my friends moved in with me.”
The combination of the dolorous voice of Jack Markwordt (I’m assuming he’s the male lead voice on these) and the brighter, lighter voice of keyboard player Miette Hope also gives the song (and the rest of the EP) a nice kind of human contrast, particularly combined with the wry, articulate lyrics in these “sweet and sad songs about friends and lovers” (according to their Facebook page bio). It’s the kind of literate pop that fans of Anthonie Tonnon, Jens Lekman, and the above-mentioned Alvvays should instantly appreciate.
Very cool to see an artist first heard over a year ago and featured here a few times since then now has a 7″ single coming out on Fat Possum Records. Here’s Jay Som with “I Think You’re Alright”.
Back in March 2015 PopLib featured “Forget About It Kid” – a track appearing on UK label Beech Coma’s “Vol.3” cassette compilation.
“I Think You’re Alright” is more of the distinctive DIY pop-craft with magical instrumental arrangements that is Jay Som’s trade-mark. This one is more noise-rock than the DIY 80’s shoegaze pop sound of previous songs but it continues the ultra-melodic leanings which made those earlier songs so compelling.
“I Think You’re Alright” takes a slightly darker lyrical theme, on the surface a woozy love song. But soon the initial understated adoration seems to build an undercurrent of strange obsession perhaps. Always love a song presenting multiple possible layers of meaning.
Hopefully this single is a sign Fat Possum have also seen the potential of young Californian Melina Duterte (as Jay Som, now a live band) and we’ll see an album by next year.
Dunedin trio Males have made a surprise release of their first album proper today. It’s called “None The Wiser” and it’s all kinds of wonderful.
It’s hard to pick one stand-out track from an album of 9 standout tracks but here for your listening pleasure & examination is “Chartreuse”:
It immediately proclaims the new order here. It’s just as melodic as anything Males have done before, but the cartoon pop is now a bit darker, angrier, and the sugar a bit dirtier and stickier. It’s as good as anything on a classic early Spoon album “A Series of Sneaks” if you are familiar with that US bands’ catalogue.
The album crackles with the kind of sonic energy of their live show. The songs are more expansive and adventurous, mixing squalling garage guitar mayhem (“Go!”) with more progressive post-pop elements and lyrics addressing the existential dilemmas of living in “this city” right now.
Males are guitarist/ vocalist/ songwriter Richard Ley-Hamilton (who you will also hear in action in Space Bats, Attack!) and bassist Sam Valentine (also drummer in short-lived jangle poppers Trick Mammoth) with Paul “Pipsy” McMillan on drums.
Ley-Hamilton is the most technically gifted guitarist of the new generation of Dunedin guitarists and he uses that skill in tasteful, creative ways throughout the album.
Males released a debut LP called “Run Run Run/MalesMalesMales” in 2013. Strictly speaking, that 21 minute 45 RPM LP was a ‘double EP’ as it combined an earlier self released EP, a single and a 4 song EP of new recordings at the time.
This proper debut album was recorded at the end of 2014 by legendary recording engineer Tex Houston (The Clean, 3Ds etc.), who Sam had worked with on the Trick Mammoth album and the subsequent 7″ picture disc single released as part of UK indie-pop label WIAIWYA‘s 2014 singles club.
Treat yourself to a download now and play it loud and often.
“Shade the Shadows” from Glasgow’s unrefined Vital Idles is a refreshingly under-produced slice of poppy no-style post-punk with some of the angles and inflections associated with early Wire recordings.
“Shade the Shadows” leads off “DEMOS II” which, as the name suggests, is a collection of unvarnished guitar, bass, drums and vocals songs, recorded simply with realism and honesty.
It’s indie pop at the punk/DIY end of the indie spectrum. As well as the occasional echo of Wire, there’s a bit of the spirit of The Fall in their earliest form (refer “This Is Real?” here) and of course Glasgow’s The Pastels.
Some will find the songs on “DEMOS II” to be a bit amateurish I suppose. Rudimentary guitars and an untrained voice often play fast loose with the over-valued mainstream music concepts of being completely in tune with themselves, each other and the songs. The drums are also simple but keep the train on the tracks and on time, and the bassist gives it some musical propulsion with cheerful melodic runs.
But these attributes are exactly what gives Vital Idles and “DEMOS II” it’s character and appeal. Ideas are what counts, the execution of those ideas is a mere detail. This collection has the ideas. So much substance, but without the artifice of style.
Although… of course, no-style style is still style of sorts…
Don’t know how many bands in the history of forever have been called Flowers but I’ll bet there’s been a few. Possibly not quite as many as the number of bands playing indie-pop strictly following the C86 Purity Laws* of unadorned guitar, bass, drums and vocals.
But this Flowers and this song “Pull My Arm” pretty much grab you by the scruff of your neck and demand your undivided attention.
“Pull My Arm” features a clarion call of a lead vocal so effective at cutting through and grabbing attention Flowers could warn shipping away from a dangerous reef in dense fog.
Rachel Kennedy is the owner of that wonderful voice. Her bandmates are Sam Ayres (Guitar) and Jordan Hockley (Drums).
The minimalism and strum’n’churn of the guitars does invoke the likes of The Wedding Present or Heavenly perhaps. But on the quieter tracks it’s actually NZ’s The Bats who come to mind in the guitar and even some of the melodies. These are all fine touchstones for any band happy to fly the ‘indie-pop’ flag – as Flowers clearly are.
But it’s rare to find a voice as assertively confident whilst still retaining the unaffected purity of tone required classic for indie-pop. Adding to the fun and the fury, the guitar here also packs a bit more of a power when the buzz-saw fuzz/ distortion is engaged, transforming it into something altogether heavier at times.
There’s plenty of variety and texture from the relatively limited ingredients making up Flowers’ sound. Indie-pop this may be, but on steroids and capable of heavy lifting when it matters.
Flowers have a new album “Everybody’s Dying to meet You” out this month on Fortuna POP! in the UK and Kanine Records in the US.
If you wish to go on an archival dig you’ll find an early EP and some demos on Flowers’ Bandcamp page.
[* I made up ‘The C86 Purity Laws’… they don’t exist. It was just a throwaway hook-line for effect to get your attention. Relax.]
A few month months ago PopLib featured a debut song “Moon” from a young Sydney band EGO. They’ve just released another song, called “Better”. Can they repeat the magic?
“Better” gets of to a quiet and unremarkable start, acoustic guitar & solo voice. But it quickly starts to assemble all the elements that made their first song “Moon” such a winner.
There’s the layered vocal harmonies, the 70’s soft-rock stylings on a home-recording budget, and then, at 1 minute 30, that breakdown into the reverb-delay-soaked soft-psych guitar instrumental break before the euphoric wordless vocal outro.
At 2 minutes 45 seconds it’s pretty much pop perfection. There’s a lightness of touch here that almost seems to channel a hint of the clean-living 70’s easy-listening of the likes of The New Seekers (if anyone remembers them) into the type of classy contemporary melodic indie-pop created by bands like Avi Buffalo in recent years.
Anyway, there’s so much promise here I’m (still) looking forward to hearing more from this band as they develop even further. Keep following those instincts EGO.
Postscript 30 October 2015: Ego have a video for “Better”
There’s a whole jangle-pop corner of the universe I didn’t know about called Philadephia… “Golden (Demo)” is a perfect sugar-rush calling card from Mercury Girls ahead of a debut single on (naturally) Slumberland records.
Not sure where I first came across Mercury Girls, but they are part of a tangled web of Philadelphia guitar pop bands past and present.
Members are shared with the wonderful Literature for example, or the heavier (in an excellent Speedy Ortiz kind of way) Little Big League and the defunct PET MILK, all of which are internet rabbit holes I recommend you disappear down if you are that way inclined.