Saturday, 30 May 2020

Night Heron - I Heard You Dreaming

Released: 29 May 2020
Label: Subjangle
Listen and Buy Here

Night Heron is the work of Michael Telles, a Teacher of Massachusetts. This is a wonderful compilation comprising of the best songs from his large back catalogue on Bandcamp. 

His sound is beautifully subtle and ambient, with hints of Elliott Smith and The Byrds. It does have a lot of elements of Dream Pop, which is not a preferred genre of mine, but this was surprisingly enjoyable.

Opening song 'Only in the Summer' is really laid back and chilled. The layered vocal harmonies are very effective and the production is quite raw and DIY. 

My favourite song here is '3 A.M. Again' which has an ethereal quality to it and just takes you to another place.

Other highlights include 'No Such Thing' which is more guitar pop and reminiscent of early Teenage Fanclub. 'I'll Get Back To Crying' has vague Americana vibes and has some lovely melodies and wistful lyrics.

'Committed' is probably the catchiest song here and the likeliest 'radio hit'. 'So Unlike Me' is another favourite here and more Folk in sound, bringing to mind Nick Drake.

A fine collection of Ambient sounding jangle, perfect for Summer. Highly recommended. 

Tuesday, 26 May 2020

Honeywagen - Halfdog

Released: 2020
Label: Kool Kat Musik
Listen and Buy Here

Honeywagen from Kansas City are another great new discovery for me. There are many bands around creating 60s style guitar pop but the strength of the songs here, proves they have the edge over many.

'For Love' is a fantastic opener with superb harmonies. So good it will stop you in your tracks, and have you hitting 'repeat' when it ends. It really has 60s/70s vibes, and heavy guitar riffs at the beginning, with hints of Big Star. There are some brilliant guitar solos at the end. 

Other highlights here are 'Anywhere the Wind Blows' which has a lot of Byrdsian charm. 'On The Beach' is the perfect summer anthem, quite simple with memorable hooks. Again the guitar work is impressive.

'Once Again' shows a more sensitive side, and is a beautiful gentle ballad. 'All the Little Things' is more uplifting guitar pop of the highest standard

A highly recommended album, and the song 'For Love' especially stood out for me. Well worth checking out.

Wednesday, 20 May 2020

The Corner Laughers - Temescal Telegraph

Released: 5 June 2020
Label: Big Stir
Listen and Buy Here

I have been aware of Californian band The Corner Laughers, for a while. This is their fifth album and their first for the renowned Power Pop record label - Big Stir.

Their sound is a blend of Indie Pop and Folk, with a range of influences from Fairport Convention to XTC. They are led by Karla Kane (one of the few Women in the guitar pop genre) whose unique voice and ukulele really sets them apart. 

Opener 'The Calculating Boy' brought to mind Nonsuch era XTC. A charming and simple pop song, with strong hooks.

'The Accepted Time' is the standout song here. Bold and anthemic with heartfelt and wistful lyrics. - 'I hold your hand and hope you'll understand I need to, feel your fingers wrapped around mine too. Guess I know that life means letting go but I will hold on just a little longer.' It is a really moving song and features some great guitar work too.

Other highlights include 'Sisters of the Pollen' which is more upbeat and fun, with some catchy melodies. Their quirky folk style is still prominent. 'Goodguy Sun' (written by Martin Newell of the band Cleaners From Venus) is a beautiful song with 60s Beatles vibes. The instrumentation is perfect with a mixture of piano and ukulele.

'Wren in the Rain' is another standout song and has themes of Nature and Life which is a recurring topic on this album. The two closing songs, really draw from their traditional folk influences more. 'Skylarks of Britain' is wonderfully melodic and a timeless lullaby. 

An exceptional album which has a lot of charm and magic.  Highly recommended.

Friday, 15 May 2020

Pelicat - The Other Side

Released: 12 Apr 2020
Label: _
Listen and Buy Here

This is such a gem of a song. I have had it stuck in my head for the past few days, so it made sense to write about it here!

Pelicat are an Indie pop band from Norway. Although I was quite sure they were American when I first heard them, due to their overall sound. 

'The Other Side' was written and recorded during the 'Lockdown' and is such a perfect and happy song, it provides much needed joy. Although it is musically upbeat, it is quite sad lyrically, about a complicated relationship.

The sound has hints of the 60s (The Beach Boys) in the harmonies, and also more modern vibes of The Shins. 

I'm not too familiar with their previous work but their song 'Tell Me I'm Wrong' from last years self titled album also stood out for me. Another marvelous pop song and very catchy.

'The Other Side' could well end up as one of my songs of the year. Highly recommended.

Sunday, 10 May 2020

Sunshine Boys - Work and Love

Released: 1 May 2020
Label: _
Listen and Buy Here

Sunshine Boys, from Chicago, are another great new discovery for me. This is their second album and its full of melodic guitar pop gems, perfect for summer. The three members have all been in other bands - Freda Love Smith was of the College rock band Blake Babies.

Their sound also has vibes of 80s College rock. 'Infinity Girl' is one of the strongest songs here, anthemic and recalls R.E.M. and Tommy Keene.

Other highlights include 'No Showdown' which is quite dark and about a troubled relationship. The lyrics are raw and honest - 'I know I'm pushing you away, all the while I'm begging you to stay.'

'Moonrise' is also superb with a big chorus and memorable hooks. 'A Ghost at Best' is beautiful and uplifting.  As is the lovely closing song 'Right Where You Need It', which is guitar pop of the highest standard.

Music which may not be breaking any new barriers but the songs here are strong both lyrically and melodically. Well worth a listen.

Tuesday, 5 May 2020

Astrid - Storm Sessions EP

Released: 4 May 2020
Label: Wee Studio Records
Listen and Buy Here

Scottish jangle pop band - Astrid are a fairly new discovery for me. They have been around since the 90s, making harmony laden guitar pop. They seem to be largely underappreciated, and I'm not sure why. Musically, they are close to fellow Scots - Teenage Fanclub. 

'Storm Sessions EP' consists of acoustic re-workings of some of their best songs. It opens with 'Distance', which is so beautiful and filled with lovely harmonies. The violins give it quite a folk feel as well. A perfect, summery pop song. 

'Falling and Flying' is a Country song and a cover of Jeff Bridges' classic. Again, the vocal harmonies really lift the song. 

My favourite song here is 'Modes of Transport', which is another of their own. This version offers a more 'Folk' take on it and works just as well as the guitar pop original. It is quite a simple song and melodically strong, especially in the chorus.

It ends on 'Poison Reaction' which is an Acoustic version of a song from their latest album from last year. This one is also more Country sounding.

A hugely enjoyable EP and I'd highly recommend checking out their albums 'B Sides' and 'Play Dead' to start with too. A superb, yet somehow overlooked band.