Friday, 30 October 2020

Smokescreens - A Strange Dream

Released: 30 Oct 2020
Label: Slumberland Records
Listen and Buy Here

Smokescreens, from L.A, return with their new album and it is their most wonderfully jangly offering so far. It is produced by David Kilgour of New Zealand indie band - The Clean. 

Their sound is very much reminiscent of 80s jangle pop, such as The Go-Betweens and The Bats. There is a slight Velvet Underground and Modern Lovers influence too.

It opens with 'Fork In The Road' which is highly melodic and catchy. 'Working Title' is more of the same. The guitar work is superb and it has that sparkle of jangle bands from the 80s, the Flying Nun label e.t.c. 

'Nighttime Skies' is a stripped back ballad, with some nice vocal harmonies. 'I Want To Know' is sweet and heartfelt, the melodic hooks are still prominent. 

The standout here is the closing song 'I Love Only You', a beautifully sentimental ballad. It strongly brought to mind Jonathan Richman with some of the spoken parts. The chorus is just lovely, making this one of my favourite songs of the year so far.

A really enjoyable listen, full of songs which will stay with you. Highly recommended.

Tuesday, 27 October 2020

mylittlebrother - Howl

Released: 30 Oct 2020
Label: Big Stir
Listen and Buy Here

mylittlebrother of Cumbria, UK, are back with a new album and their first for renowned Power Pop record label - Big Stir. 

Their sound is very much indie with 90s/mid 00s guitar pop vibes. They reminded me of The Late Pioneers (signed to Subjangle) so if you liked them, or any other melodic indie pop for that matter, this is well worth checking out.

It opens with 'Play Hard', which is gloriously anthemic, reminiscent of British Sea Power and other mid 00s bands. 'Janey' is the standout song here and has hints of Americana. The chorus has some wonderful harmonies and is instantly memorable. I can imagine this getting a lot of radio airplay, here and in the USA. 

'Goldmine' sounds more 70s funk, the chorus is a series of oh's which I wasn't too sure of at first but it is an enjoyable listen.  'Howl' is another favourite here - a catchy love song with a lot of charm and lovely melodies. 'Responsibility' is a simple yet quirky song and will have you singing along.

'Chicago' is epic and quite long at over 5 minutes. The theme is wanting to move away from 'little England' to be with a loved one in Chicago. The song has different sections and reaches an impressive ending, which is heavy and angry in tone. 'Time Of Our Lives' is a big emotional ballad of the highest standard. 

A superb album, full of memorable anthems and great melodies. Highly recommended.

Monday, 19 October 2020

Tugboat Captain - Rut

Released: 16 Oct 2020
Label: Double A-Side Records
Listen and Buy Here

Tugboat Captain, from London, are a fairly new band and this is their debut studio album, although they have had more lo-fi DIY releases before. It is full of memorable and melodic indie pop anthems.

It opens with 'Check Ur Health' which is epic and even has an anthemic singalong towards the end.

'If Tomorrow's Like Today' is the standout here and quite upbeat with melancholic wistful lyrics. It is wonderfully produced and mainly piano driven which is unusual for this sort of music. There are fuzzy guitar solos, trumpets and superb vocal harmonies too. It has a lot of charm and never seems too overcomplicated.

'No Plans (For this Year)' is another highlight and very reminiscent of later Beatles, such as Hey Jude. Again, the production is rather epic.

Other highlights include 'Come Dig Me Out' which is quirky, both lyrically and melodically. It raises issues such as unemployment and behind the upbeat melodies, it is serious and sad. 

'Rut...Waking Hour' starts off as a melodic ballad reminiscent of Elliott Smith. There are lots of changes throughout the song, like with 70s prog. The electronic parts brought to mind ELO. The album ends on 'Day to Day' an anthem about living in poverty with some pretty hard-hitting lyrics.

A superb album, which is unique both in sound, and lyrically. Highly recommended.

Sunday, 11 October 2020

Professor Yaffle - Moments of Clarity

Released: 9 Oct 2020
Label: _
Buy Here

Professor Yaffle, from Liverpool, is back with his third album. I have been aware of him since his debut album (Cosmic Lullabies) which is full of beautiful songs, including 'It Was Always You', 'Sometimes' and a wonderful cover of Michael Head's Newby Street.

His sound is mostly indie but has hints of ambience, electronic, jazz and folk. The new album opens with 'Time To Change', which is laid back and has some lovely melodies with hints of country. 'A Moment of Clarity' is an epic soundscape at over 8 minutes long. The sound is reminiscent of Spiritualized.

Other highlights include 'I Guess That I'll Be Fine', a beautifully melodic love song, with some superb trumpet playing. 'Turning Fear into Ecstasy' is quite moody and has Pink Floyd vibes. It is still chilled out, making this the perfect album for late evening listening. 'You Turned My Light On' is a short but heartfelt ballad, more reminiscent of the songs on the first album. 

My favourite here is 'Sail Away' which has hints of jazz and brought to mind Shack - Hey Mama. It ends on the stripped back 'It's All Over Now', which is very subtle and moving.

A beautifully arranged and orchestrated album, with wonderfully chilled out vibes. Highly recommended. 

Wednesday, 7 October 2020

Sunstack Jones - Golden Repair

Released: 9 Oct 2020
Label: Mai 68 Records
Listen and Buy Here

Sunstack Jones, from Liverpool, are a band I have liked for a while. Their sound is mainly indie but also includes elements of Psych and Shoegaze. Their new album is excellent laid back listening, perfect for Autumn evenings. It was recorded by Simon Jones (The Verve) and mixed by Paul Den Heyer (whose solo album from last year is a favourite of mine). 

It opens with 'Where You Gonna Go' which is an epic start to the album at over 7 minutes. It doesn't feel that long when you listen to it. The sound naturally brought to mind The Verve, especially A Storm In Heaven era, mixed with hints of Americana. It goes into a 'jam' at the end with plenty of great guitar solos. 

My favourite here is 'How It All Went Down' which is a superb pop song with some great vocal harmonies. It still has that shoegaze distortion. The guitar riff brought to mind Oasis.

Other highlights include 'Glass Boat' which is surprisingly anthemic and quite energetic. 'Distill' is a delicate ballad and more stripped back, proving this band aren't a one trick pony in only doing shoegaze heavy distorted tracks. 'Seams' is another favourite and has quite a hypnotic groove to it, like many of the songs here.

Well worth a listen, though I like the melodic indie side to them more, the shoegaze tracks create a glorious 'wall of sound'. Highly recommended.

Tuesday, 6 October 2020

KEYS - Home Schooling

Released: 21 Aug 2020
Label: Libertino Records
Buy Here

Welsh indie band - KEYS are a fairly recent discovery for me. Their new album is a really enjoyable listen with Lo-fi and 60s Psych vibes. It was home recorded during the Lockdown. 

The songs are very well-written and their sound reminded me of Ultimate Painting, Teenage Fanclub e.t.c. 'This Side Of Luv' is a wonderful opener and has the timelessness of 60s Soul, and hints of The Beach Boys. The melody will stay in your head for a long time to come.

'Phases' is the standout song here, a heartfelt ballad of the highest standard. The lo-fi production really adds to the charm, and its simplicity is very effective.

'The Strain' has some fantastic harmonies and really brought to mind Teenage Fanclub's most melodic output. The melody vaguely recalls Procol Harum - A Whiter Shade of Pale. 'Cargoes' is very Psychedelic and heavily Syd Barrett influenced. 'Trick of the Light' is more Velvet Underground and another great melodic pop song. 'Your Name Across My Heart' is a beautiful song and again it sounds like it could be from any era.  

A wonderful listen, and the songs are so great, you will be playing them on repeat. Highly recommended.

Saturday, 3 October 2020

The Pierce Kingans - Pierce De Resistance

Released: 2 Oct 2020
Label: Boat Dreams from the Hill
Listen and Buy Here

The Pierce Kingans are from Vancouver and this is their latest EP. I had very high expectations for this as their earlier 'Rona Sessions' one is a favourite of mine (coming to Subjangle as a cd soon). 

The new EP opens with 'White Phosphorus' which has hints of 60s Psych and brought to mind Shocking Blue's Is This a Dream. It sounds very different to the last EP which was more vocal harmony rich with Beatles/Everly Brothers vibes. The melodies are still gorgeous though, like the rest of their music.

'Opportunity Opus' vaguely recalls the melody of The Beatles - Only A Northern Song. The chorus is superb and there are a lot of changes which still make this unique.

'Entropy 2' has hints of The Strokes and is so enjoyable and upbeat. 'Proximity Pity' has Rolling Stones vibes and sounds more like his old band The Prettys who are well worth checking out too. Highly recommended.