Archives for posts with tag: jangle-pop

Dumb Things

What is it with the endless and effortless supply of gloriously melodic, slightly wonky, low-key-charming, guitar pop emanating from across the ditch in Australia? Just when you think it can’t be possible to discover another band better than the one you found last month, there’s a band like Dumb Things waiting to make you fall for their understated brilliance. It’s hard to pick just one song from their just-released second album to share, but here’s track 7: “Fade Away” to introduce their new album.

Dumb Things are Pat, Maddie, Adam, James, Andy. We will have to guess at their surnames* because they are so low-key I can’t find anything about the band. Maddie takes the lead vocal on half the songs, and I’m not sure who out of Pat, Adam, James or Andy takes the lead vocals on the other songs.

Of course there’s hints of all the other Aussie jangling guitar-pop bands old and new that you love in here. But there’s also a lot on the album “Time Again” that reminds me of US band The Feelies as well.

Maybe it’s because there are three guitarists, two usually doing a slightly different strum texture, rhythm and tone, panned left and right, while the lead guitar picks a simple-but-intricate pattern through the song, and the bass and drums provide momentum without fuss.

And then there’s the vocals, alternating between the aforementioned blokes and Maddie, which are a kind of reserved Australian equivalent to Stephen and Katrina of The Pastels.

No-one sings like they’ve ever had a lesson (thankfully), and everyone sings like they’d rather not be the one who has to do it, which I like a lot. But Maddie can certainly hit, and hold, some ace high notes in those lighter than air harmonies and chorus melodies.

In each song there’s something pleasantly unexpected. On “Fade Away” once you’ve been mesmerised by that intricate woven pattern work of the lead guitar and the gentle rise and fall of Maddie’s vocals, the chorus does that gravity defying descending repetition of “Fade Away” which still catches me by surprise each time I hear the song, lulled in by it’s gentle invitation to eavesdrop.

In other songs on the album the overcast day monotone melancholy of a verse will be miraculously transformed by some angelic chorus vocal harmonies (usually from Maddie) bursting like sunlight through the storm clouds.

There’s a kind of effortless and unfussy busy-minimalism to the way the songs are performed, and arrangements are crafted, and the way the album has been recorded and mixed. It’s more honest than polished, and that suits the songs, the subject matter, and the voices. The songs on the album album also convey a sense of place, and of a time of life for its creators, and of overthinking in the humid heat-induced suburban ennui of sub-tropical Brisbane, Queensland.

It’s all quite wonderful and “Time Again” is an album I’m looking forward to playing a lot this summer.

[*Further sleuthing has revealed the band let their guard down recently and revealed all in a recent interview.]

Seablite 2019Seablite are from San Francisco and have just released a melody-packed album called “Grass Stains and Novocaine” on Emotional Response Records. Here’s “Heart Mountain” to introduce you to the album:

Seablite describe themselves in their Bandcamp tags as fuzz-pop jangle-gaze. The combination of jangle-pop, shoegaze and fuzzy guitar pop sounds like a kind of obvious merging of related and sometimes overlapping styles, yet I’m struggling to think of another band who have pulled it all together with the aplomb shown by Seablite on this album, who get the stylistic mix and the variety in their songs right.

A distinctive feature is the bass playing which sits an octave above where you might usually expect the bassline to sit which gives the songs a strong clear pulse of rhythm and melody through the fuzz and jangle, tethering the weightless harmony vocals to earth.

Seablite are Lauren Matsui (vocals and guitar), Andy Pastalaniec (drums), Galine Tumasyan (bass and vocals), and Jen Mundy (guitar). The album will appeal to fans of Lush and Velocity Girl, among others, and, if you like Seablite, head over to the Emotional Response website to discover a treasure trove of other releases to explore.

jeanines1-headerAnything released on California label Slumberland Records is worth checking out. Not everything on Slumberland jangles like crazy, but a fair chunk of the catalogue celebrates the jangling vibration of guitar strings. Jeanines have an LP coming out and here’s the ultra-jangling opener “Either Way”

It’s one minute and 44 seconds of pure pop. With its simple, effective drumming and classic, hook-filled melancholy melodicism it brings to mind the work of late 1980s Edinburgh band Shop Assistants – who added a bit more buzz-saw fuzz to their jangle – and Stateside contemporaries Black Tambourine.

Jeanines are from Brooklyn, NY. and are singer and songwriter Alicia Jeanine (guitar) together with multi-instrumentalist Jed Smith (bass and drums). Their 16 track self titled album is released by Slumberland Records mid June on LP, CD and Download.



Big Quiet_Unblinking Ear RecordsMy friend Dean has for many decades referred to musicians of particular note as Gods or Goddesses. I’m assuming he is referring to the Greek classics, wherein the Greek Gods were considered deities with dominion over certain aspects of nature. I have no hesitation in declaring US musician and producer Mitch Easter the God of Jangle. As if to prove his dominion over that art-form, and that his powers remain undiminished into his 5th decade, here’s the Mitch Easter produced Big Quiet with “Interesting Times”:

Mitch Easter’s production credits started in 1978 with The Sneakers, and, in the early 1980s, included R.E.M. releases up to their classic “Reckoning” album, his own exemplary band Let’s Active, and also Game Theory, Windbreakers,  Australian bands The Someloves and Hummingbirds, and Velvet Crush, Dot Dash… a who’s-who of jangling power-pop since the 1980s.

“Interesting Times” by Big Quiet fits in that ‘Paisley Underground’ lineage perfectly. It’s the title track from a new album out 3 May 2019 on NY label Unblinking Ear Records.

It’s all here: the strum & jangle, the pounding reverb drums, the guitars that sound like sitars, the powerful vocals and big chorus hooks… phew. Big Quiet are Marisa Cerio (Rickenbacker & vocals), Chris Matheson and Pete Smith, and the Brooklyn, NY based trio’s jangling power-pop is dialed up to 11. Stunning.

The album “Interesting Times” is available to pre-order on Bandcamp now. Why wouldn’t you?




Dot Dash“Unfair Weather” is the opening track on the new-this-year sixth album from Washington DC band Dot Dash. The song – and the whole album “Proto Retro” album – is jam-packed with jangling power-pop.

“Unfair Weather” reminds me of a couple of favourite 80s guitar pop bands from the US who were from the mid-west or east coast during the “Paisley Underground” era. One such band was The Windbreakers, with their twin guitar jangle and melodic rush. Another was Windbreakers producer Mitch Easter’s band Let’s Active. And coming along a little later in the 1990s was Velvet Crush… who also shared Mitch Easter as a producer.

That said, Dot Dash’s “Proto Retro” album also sounds as fresh as this years crop of jangling power pop bands like The Beths, or Snail Mail or Waxahatchee. So whether it’s for the retro nostalgia or the proto zeitgeist, this Dot Dash album is a winner either way.

William DaymondDay 2 of NZ Music Month comes from The Winebox Inquiry, which is the name for the solo music of William Daymond, also of Wellington band Terror of the Deep and formerly Christchurch trio The Pickups. Here’s the gloriously jangling “What A Day” to brighten up your Monday.

Following on from the ‘tax haven’ theme we started with in yesterday’s post, The Winebox Inquiry name comes from a tax evasion/avoidance chapter in NZ’s history twenty years ago.

“The Winebox InquirySets Sail!” is a fine album demonstrating perfectly William’s deep abiding love of psychedelic guitar pop, specifically the music of The Monkees and The Clean and everything in between.

The songs are strong and beautifully recorded, with requisite musical contributions from jangling 12-string guitars and chiming keyboards. It’s an eclectic mix of weird and wonderful and creates a delightful, eclectic musical jumble-shop tribute to his musical inspirations while sounding fresh, odd and original rather than a pastiche of anything.




Photo: Georgia Schofield

Photo: Georgia Schofield

Auckland DIY band/ artist Wormstar has just released one of the albums of the year via Bandcamp. here’s the perfectly brilliant “Whatever keeps You High” from it.

If you liked what Alex G has been releasing in the US this is several times better for me. There’s a beautiful woozy fuzz and jangle combination going on with heart-ache melodies.

The songs channel as much of the charming hesitancy of The Pastels – So Stale (You’re The Icebreaker) a good example of that – as they do the DIY splendour of Alex G or the more angular American pop convolutions of Pavement or Speedy Ortiz.

But the songs also fit within the weird-pop universe inhabited so wonderfully by my favourite Australians The Stevens. On early listens it’s up with “History Of Hygiene” for catchy and quirky earworm jangling pop. For example – “Spring Steps” here:

This is the kind of album some enterprising label ought to be bringing to the world in all formats pronto. It has the character to travel far and make a lot of friends. Give it a listen and some love and “hold on to whatever makes you high”

Listen to a short inteview with Alex of Wormstar here on Radio NZ Music 101.

Mercury Girls

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.



Day 15 of this unofficial Aussie Music Month trawl through the op-shop pop of the Australian pop underground returns to Melbourne for some loose jangle pop from Twerps.

Twerps released their self-titled debut LP on Melbourne’s Chapter Music back in 2011 but it took a while for it to filter down to me here in Dunedin, NZ. Once again there’s a lot of early Clean in the DNA of Twerps. How many bands and songs can trace their origins back to The Clean and, in particular, their “Anything Could Happen”? Well, here’s another anyway. I’m not complaining.

Twerps are guitarist/vocalist Marty Frawley, bassist Rick Milovanovic, guitarist (and vocalist on this particular song) Julia MacFarlane and drummer Alex MacFarlane. There are rumours of another album on the way too so hopefully it wont take me 3 years to discover the next one.

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.