Archives for posts with tag: indie-pop


Hot on the heels of an excellent 2019 album by Brooklyn jangle-pop outfit Jeanines comes a 4 song EP called “Things Change” on UK indie-pop wonder-label WIAIWYA. Here’s “Been in the Dark” from the upcoming (mid-March) release of the 7″ EP:

Jeanines are Alicia Jeanine (guitar/vocals) and Jed Smith (bass/drums). The fast-paced jangle-pop of “Been in the Dark” is adjacent to that 1980s style of the likes of Shop Assistants and Dolly Mixture, mixing DIY post-punk ethos with classic sixties pop pop-craft, and delivering it with the same kind of rapid-fire nervous energy of more contemporary janglers Veronica Falls.

But there is also just a hint of early Magnetic Fields in the way the song blends sunshine with melancholy, as the lyrics appear to reflect on identity anxiety while the song fills every second of its galloping 2 minute length with majestic melodies and frantic propulsive action.

PushpinPushpin are a youthful South London based band mixing together an intriguing genre-confounding combination of music styles. None more genre-confounding than the opening “Sea Song” here, which opens a recent album collecting together their songs released to date.

As they explain a little misleadingly on their Bandcamp page Pushpin “bring together a love of Grizzly Bear, Sigur Ros, Bjork, Led Zeppelin and far more. Expect chunky riffs and grooves combined with weird soundscapes.” 

It turns out the only thing you can reliably expect from this album is that no two songs will sound the same. Some songs – like the opening “Sea Song” posted here – sound like several different songs crafted together with decorative precision, like a kind of musical marquetry. 

Back in the 1970s this was called “Progressive Rock”, usually abbreviated to Prog. Not sure if that’s what it is still called today, but it is certainly not a far stretch to consider “Sea Song” alongside something like “A Plague of Lighthouse Keepers” by Van der Graaf Generator in spirit and ethos.  

“Sea Song” opens the imaginatively titled “Vol. 1” which Pushpin explain “is not really an album. it’s a collection of our releases up to this point. sorry if the flow is weird. it’s not meant to flow. it’s more of a gliding affair.”

“The flow is weird” is a perfect description for Pushpin because “Vol. 1” album features conventional (in a good way) indie-pop along with the more wild hyperactive progressive rock like “Sea Song”. And some which careen madly back and forward between the former and the latter. 

On the more conventional side are standouts like the synth pop smoothness of “Smooth Plane” and the glorious “Marble Star” with it’s shades of Super Furry Animals chorus (before things get a bit angular and abstract), and the big emo piano ballad of “Ferry Meadows”, which ends with the atmospheric interference of an electronic soundscape. Even the hyperactive progressive side is approachable, melodic, convincing, and willfully different just as starts to sound familiar. These songs may require a few listens to begin to reveal all their secrets but it’s worth the investment of your time.

If you want to hear more from Pushpin, and want to follow the journey this most intriguing and ambitiously musical fledgling band has started, then follow them on Soundcloud

MelenasMelenas are a guitar/ bass/ keyboards/drums band from Pamplona, Spain and “Mentiras” (which translates as “Lies”) is from their fabulous self-titled debut album of jangling psychedelic garage rock which is well worth exploring in detail… and then buying.

While some will hear the spirit of Look Blue Go Purple in that robustly rhythmic guitar strum, it reminds me more of the perpetual nervousness of The Feelies’ guitar sound. In recent years the only other band I can recall to evoke those same touchstones so well was Veronica Falls, who also shared a fondness for driving songs along with a heavy floor tom beat as Melenas do.

However, the songs here are also just as likely to evoke the spirit of the classic late 1960’s era of proto-psych-pop garage-rock fuzz, jangle and melody (as compiled on the “Pebbles” and “Nuggets” LP series) as they are any possible ’80’s influence. There’s a lot going on; from simple propulsive drums to a solid mesh of rapidly strummed 12 string guitar, soaring vocal melodies with layered backing vocals and a winning way with keyboard flourishes providing the sonic icing on Melenas’ psychedelic pop-tart.


Suggested Friends.jpgSuggested Friends describe their sound as ‘tweemo’ and, while this is no doubt tongue-in-cheek, it does indeed combine some noisy emotional punk pop with the kind of perfect melodic songcraft that would’ve fitted perfectly on Sarah Records in the 90s. Here’s 1 minute 51 seconds of their perfect melodic songcraft:

Suggested Friends are from London and comprised of Jack McGinn, Kirsty Fife, Faith Taylor, & Christabel Williams.  “I Can’t Roll My Eyes That Far (Back)” is almost impossibly melodic and bounds through so many twists and turns in a short time – including a glorious fuzzy 12-string guitar solo – that it fair takes the breath away.

It’s on their self-titled album, which is out on LP format on Cardiff’s Odd Box Records.  Give it a whirl and while you are there check out the other releases on this enterprising DIY label.

birdieA new song from UK duo Birdie is a cause for celebration. So here’s “Bowling Green” from their 7″ single on the 7th and final year of WIAIWYA* 7777777 singles club release.

Birdie are not exactly the most prolific of outfits. When PopLib first (and last) featured a song from them it was 4 years ago and it was a song recorded 20 years prior to that.

They said of that Birdie song “Spiral Staircase”: “Birdie are Paul Kelly and Debsey Wykes, guitarist and backing vocalist with Saint Etienne. In 1996 Alan McGee paid for them to record a demo. McGee was too busy claiming 18 Wheeler and Heavy Stereo were the next big thing to listen properly to Spiral Staircase. What an addition Birdie would have been to Creation then! Spiral Staircase is a miniature masterpiece of Left Banke psychedelia and Laura Nyro pop.”

“Bowling Green” is another slice of low-key beautiful psychedelic pop. Simple and utterly perfect, and that’s clear even before the trumpet and baritone guitar instrumental break kicks in.

*Where It’s At Is Where You Are is WIAIWYA, a legendary London indie pop label with an exquisite design taste matched only by it’s taste for exquisite pop music. It has only featured one NZ band – Dunedin’s short-lived Trick Mammoth. Their “Candy Darling”/ “Doll” single was included in WIAIWYA’s 2014 7777777 singles club.


AuvaAüva 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.

Jay Som.jpgVery 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.




Vital Idles

“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.]