Posts Tagged ‘pop stereo’

Eureka California at Pop! Stereo

As shambolic as the cover would seem to indicate Eureka California’s Versus is a crazy ride through the indie rock lexicon.  Sounding like a perfect smash up between Daydream Nationera Sonic Youth, Slanted and Enchanted Pavement, a bit of Superchunk and some surf guitarVersus is a noisy wrangled record of chaotic fun.  This is a sloppy and loud record that hits you over the head with massive melodies, geeky guitar work, and songs that are hard to forget.

Eureka California don’t necessarily write anything overly complicated but what they do write seems to be held together by some broken guitar strings, duct tape, and a bit of luck.  It’s all very messy but its simplistic nature is its greatest asset.  This is a homage to classic 90’s indie rock made with a heart the size of Texas and it’s so in love with that era it’s hard to believe this was released this year.  Versus is an awesome listen and catchier than the zika virus it’s songs recklessly careen through three minutes like a 90 year old granny backing up in a parking lot.  Rough, raw and prone to blowing speakers Versus is a shining example of how indie rawk should be played.

 
Eureka California’s Versus could fall apart at any point while it’s being listened to.  Its disheveled songs, shaky walls of noisy guitars and muddled melodies somehow manage to hold together just long enough to work their way into your consciousness and never leave.  It is almost impossible to dislike sloppy stuff like this because its organic nature is so unpolished and raw that its intentions are laid bare. Eureka California are an awesome band and Versus is a trip well worth making.

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Witching Waves at Pop! Stereo

Witching Waves’ Crystal Café is a restless record of noisy guitars, sugary sweet vocals and driving rhythms.  Sounding something like the Pixies/Breeders with a bit of riot grrl, Lush and Sonic Youth thrown in for good measure Britain’s Witching Waves create a raucous distorted wall of edginess with just enough pop sensibility to make it all memorable.  Not overly produced or even overly played, Crystal Café churns through songs in a torrent of frenzied riffs, shouts, melodies and broken drum heads.  It’s all a bit rough and tarnished around the edges but that’s what makes Witching Waves so darn good and fun to jump around to.

Crystal Café is probably the most American record I’ve heard a British band produce since Urusei Yatsura did things like this in the 90’s.  And while there are bits and bobs that sound British in their tendencies, most of the songs lend credence to the thought that Witching Waves were raised on 90’s indie rock from the States.  Irregardless of origin, the eleven songs that make up Crystal Café are all brilliant and there’s so little wrong with this indie rock gem it’s not even worth mentioning.   From the jumpiness of the guitars to the boy girl vocal trade-offs and even the subdued basslines prodding the songs along Witching Waves have stumbled on to some songwriting gold here and it all comes together to make for one heck of a thirty minute ride.  Raw, unrefined and fun Crystal Café is a modern indie rock classic and one of the best records of 2016 thus far.

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High Violets at Pop! Stereo

Five albums in and The High Violets kind of have the whole post-gazing dream pop thing down pat.  They know their way around ethereality and could sculpt a noise pop song in their sleep.  They know how to take their influences and make them their own.  These guys are good and their latest album Heroes and Halos does anything but disappoint.

While they often get compared to Slowdive, I really think of The High Violets as Saint Etienne lost in a shoegazing haze.  Vocalist Kaitlyn at times sounds so much like Sarah from Etienne you’d swear she was trapped in Foxbase Alpha.   This isn’t a bad thing in any way, shape or form and in fact, it’s all a bit endearing if you ask me.  While vocally the album has a slightly twee edge about it musically, Heroes & Halos is a blissed out beautiful trip through sheets of shimmering guitar noise.  The songs are wispy, willowy and as light as breeze.  It’s all really rather gorgeous stuff and the band create an aural aesthetic that as heavenly as the album’s name implies.   There’s so little to fault here because The High Violets know how to do this with their eyes closed and they don’t it really, really well.

 

Heroes & Halos is the latest album in The High Violets career that exceeds expectations.  In a world littered with post-gazing pop bands The High Violets have staked their claim as leaders of the new school and with Heroes & Halos it’s easy to see why; dreampop has never sounded so heavenly as it does here.  Perfection personified.

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deardarkhead at Pop! Stereo

DearDarkHead’s Mini LP Strange Weather is a six song ethereal journey into the post-shoegazing landscape.    This instrumental record is utterly gorgeous and features some of the best guitar work I’ve heard on an instrumental work in a really long time.  And while the musicianship on this record is top notch or higher, it’s one of the few atmospheric albums that I’ve heard that would benefit immensely from vocals.

 

If you ever wondered what the Stone Roses would sound like without Ian Brown, Strange Weather answers that question.   It’s a crisp record that jangles, jumps, jams and shimmers in the sunlight.  The songs are memorable, danceable, and ready for a vocalist to take them into the stratosphere.  Not really post rock, not really ambient, not really anything related to anything similar DDH seems to be a band that simply couldn’t find a vocalist.  That being said, if they ever were to find one suited to their tastes DearDarkHead could be a band with an arsenal of killer singles and world domination at their feet.  Until then bliss out to Strange Weather and enjoy its post-shoegazing atmospherics.

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Moon Types at Pop! Stereo

The Moon Types single Know the Reason is a perfect slice of indie pop neatly served on a 7” platter.   Beaming with west coast vibes, radiant horns, and mellow melodies this little record is a bit of heaven via Sweden.  The siblings Klein (Jesper and Josefin) know their way around a pop song and manipulate all the tricks within one to create rays of jangly, jolly jubilance that’s as firmly rooted in 60’s pop as it is modern indie.
Know the Reason is a near perfect record that’s unfortunately short at twelve minutes long.  For those twelve minutes, however, indie pop bliss is all ours and it’s lit by the glow of the moon (types).  It’s been a while since Swedish indie pop was all the rage, but The Moon Types haven’t forgotten and they clearly Know The Reason why it was to begin with.

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Antlered Aunt Lord at Pop! Stereo

The oddly named Antlered Aunt Lord is as shambolic and weird as their name might imply.  Led by the one and only member, Jesse Stinnard, AAL is a crazy chaotic mess of a solo project.    Stinnard is a hap hazard artist who cranks out songs as if doing so was as involuntary as breathing.  I’m not sure if he’s really all that good overall but he occasionally hits a sweet spot and comes up with something that perks your ears up.

Stinnard’s solo effort, Ostensibly Formerly Stunted, is as loosely put together as his musical ideas.  Consisting of 19 tracks much of this record comes from a backlog of songs AAL had laying around and it kind of sounds like it.  Ostensibly Formerly Stunted runs together as if it were his stream of consciousness let loose in a recording studio.  As a result the album is truly all over the place musically and covers more genres of indie than I could count.  Guitars are wrangled, drums broken, voices strained and through it all Ostensibly Formerly Stunted is as lo-fi as lo-fi can be.  I’m not sure if my tolerance level for all this messiness is high enough for repeated listens, but there are some special moments on this slab.   For example, the second Stinnard finds a keyboard magical things happen songs worth hearing ooze out of the record.

Ostensibly Formerly Stunted isn’t necessarily a bad record from a songwriting standpoint (Stinnard has some great ideas) it just pivots from production qualities faster than sub genres.  And while the production is lacking AAL has some tunes worthy of listening to and given $10 and a DAT recorder they might make for a nice sounding record.  Unfortunately, this entire record is so all over the place that it tested my sanity a bit too much.  If you like crazy lo-fi/no-fi pop off of Adderall you’ll absolutely flip a wig for this but if you enjoy hearing things in a somewhat structured manner…you’ll lose your mind.  Antlered Aunt Lord’s Ostensibly Formerly Stunted sounds like a demo committed to vinyl and I’m not sure that’s a good thing.

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Marshmallow Coast at Pop! Stereo

Despite the exceptionally cheesy cover art for Marshmallow Coast’s new album, Vangelis Rides Again is really quite good.  This former member (Andy Gonzales) of Of Montreal and Music Tapes has always brought some fantastic stuff to the indie pop table and this album is no different.  And while the record looks like some sort of Scooby Doo rejected storyboard art, the music contained inside is pure lo-fi indie pop bliss.
Vangelis Rides Again sits somewhere between an easy-listening record, Of Montreal and a sad creepy pop record recorded in a basement.  It’s a fragile record that’s loaded with hooks and melodies that while not overly produced or overly jolly does some significant ear worm damage anyway.  As if to prove that point, the fact that Andy weaved, “On Broadway,” into an indie pop tune is simply something that has to be heard.   It’s probably my favorite moment of the record and it shows Marshmallow Coast to be adventurous and fun while sounding like he’s broke indie pop down to its respective elements.  Other songs have this ambient and dreamy like texture to them that sound a bit 80’s-ish as they wash over you.   Just listen to the downtrodden synths of, “Forever,” and you’ll hear it for yourself…it’s almost depressingly cool.
Vangelis Rides Again is an intriguing little pop record that feels lo-fi, dreams of more, but knows those dreams will never be.  Slightly weird with a hint of sadness Vangelis Rides Againmay not be the feel good hit of the summer, fall, or winter but it is pretty darn good and shows that Marshmallow Coast still knows how to write a decent record.

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Bunnygrunt at Pop! Stereo

I have to admit when the new Bunnygrunt album showed up and it looked like Black Sabbath’sVolume 4 I was really, really hoping they did a twee pop cover record of the metal classic.  I wasn’t disappointed that they didn’t because the songs that actually make up their version ofVolume 4 are pretty darn strong on their own without the hand of Ozzy overseeing it.  While not Sabbathy in the least Bunnygrunt crank up the guitars, fire up the twee and bash heads with indie rock on this romp through jangly guitars, cuddle core choruses, and a whole hell of a lot of fun.
What I found most interesting about Volume 4 was just how indie rawk these guys have become.  This isn’t Jen Fi in any way shape or form and the whole thing kicks butt from start to end.   Regardless of what direction they take on any of the songs here, each of them are as catchy as the flu and have that wry sense of humor the band has always had.  I mean the first song is called, “Gimme Five Bucks,” how can you not chuckle at songs like that especially with a giant Ozzy cat on the cover of the record.  Throw in sugary sweet girl/boy vocals and you have a record that’s just about as perfect as lo-fi can be while not taking itself too seriously.  I think this is why I’ve always liked Bunnygrunt; they’re seemingly goofballs who still have incredibly awesome tunes.
While Volume 4 is a 100% Sabbath free, it is filled with 100% awesomeness that straddles the line between indie pop and indie rawk with superb balance.  The record is a harmonious ruckus and is a solid notch in Bunnygrunt’s legacy of indie pop goodness.  Now if we can just convince them to do a tweepop version of “Supernaut,” that would be amazing.

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Knowlton Bourne at POP! Stereo

Mississippi born and bread Knowlton Bourne isn’t your typical singer songwriter. Sure the guy sounds a bit country but he’s definitely not as buried in the roots of the Deep South as being from Mississippi would seem to indicate. Oh no, Knowlton sounds more like his long lost brother is Richard Ashcroft and he’s spent his whole life in Wigan as opposed to the US. His album Songs from Motel 43 is a soaring psychedelic trip through the cosmos in the back of a F-150.
Songs from Motel 43 is a fantastically airy record that lets Knowlton’s vocal stylings sweep over the record like a great Condor coasting on a breeze. The record is vast and expansive and leaves his countrified influences in the dust for a more spacey intergalactic feel. The songs have their ups and downs and a few dirt road twists and turns but at times the whole thing seems rather heavenly and angelic. I’m not sure how Knowlton stumbled onto all this deep in the heart of Mississippi but it’s pretty amazing that he did. Songs from Motel 43 is fragile, beautiful, and so much more than the sum of it’s parts.
Bourne has taken heartbreak and isolation and painted a splendid picture of it that’s as stark and intriguing as the album cover that graces Songs from Motel 43. I really didn’t think I would like this record but it has totally won me over through it’s Verve-ish vibes, sweeping songs, and sense of starkness. This is quite possibly the best record to come out of Mississippi in the last 20 years and as such should be in your collection.

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Presents for Sally at POP! Stereo

You know you’re old when you’ve lived through a movement long enough to see kids fascinated by it and decide to imitate and embrace it wholeheartedly. Such is me and the case of Presents for Sally. This band so encapsulates the Oxford and Leeds shoegazing scenes from the 90’s that it makes me feel like a proud parent. The scene that celebrated itself 20 or so years ago has had kids and they’re taking after their parents and that’s well pleasing.
Anyway, Presents for Sally’s album Colours & Changes is an amalgamation of everything that made Ride and the Pale Saints fantastic. There’s enough hazy vocals, phase shifted guitars, floor staring, and epic riffs that stretch on to infinity to make any fan blush. Colours & Changesis a brilliant album that layers harmonies upon harmonies, processes guitars into the stratosphere and leaves things just rough enough so that it all seems like it was recorded shortly after 7am on a Monday morning. Presents for Sally have really done a great job of embracing the past and fondly trying to make it sound like something different. They succeed for the most part as certain aspects of this record seemingly want to venture into US indie rock territory while firmly utilizing enough effects to reign in the bombast.
From the opening waves of, “We Fought Lucifer (And Won)” to the epic psychedelia of, “Softly Spoken/Outside Honey,” Colours & Changes is a gauzy treat of sonic bliss. I know bands like this are a dime a dozen now days but so few are honest and sincere in their approach; Presents for Sally are sincere and it shows on how each of the songs here rings true. They may be called Presents for Sally but the real gift is us being able to enjoy Colours & Changes.

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