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Sunday, August 13, 2017

Discoverer 158: new indie findings

Last round of our happily recovered discoverer series before our holiday break! Guitar driven pop in all sorts of moods: sunny & expansive, but also gloomy & reflective. Three proposals to make your summer soundtrack exciting. Check them out!

Zebra Hunt. We begin in Seattle, Washington, with this quartet formed in 2012, initially as the trio composed of drummer Mitch Leffler, bassist Erik Bennett and singer/guitarist Robert Mercer, quickly delivering their debut EP, ‘Beaches’, out via Manic Pop in 2013. The single ‘Only Way Out’/ 'Get Along' followed that same year, being the first partnership with the always reliable Spanish label Tenorio Cotobade. Tours supporting superb bands as Twerps, Allo Darlin’ or Eternal Summers came before the group released first LP, 'City Sighs' in 2015. In that subsequent tour Zebra Hunt added Aaron Sheedy to the line-up as guitarist and keyboard player, entering the studio a year later with this new formation. The result is 'In Phrases', out since this May, a stunning and hyper-addictive sophomore album, in where jangle-pop meets the immediacy of garage pop, and where you can hear the echoes of our much beloved Antipodean psych-pop, as well as their closer Paisley Underground moods. Melodies, guitars, energy and good deeds. One straight for the 'Best of year lists' folks...


Stutter Steps. Quick jump to Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, to meet Ben Harrison and his musical project. In the Fall of 2012 Harrison, who works as as the curator for performing arts at The Andy Warhol Museum, decided he wanted to pen his own record after some DIY recordings in the past (he was part of the short-lived indie-pop trio Tourister during early 00's). Inspired by Dean Wareham and Britta Phillips, with whom he collaborated in the multi-media adventure the '13 Most Beautiful Project', he assembled a group of local musician friends the following year, locked in an isolated cabin in the woods. along with stellar guests like Wareham or Jeff Baron of Ladybug Transistor. The result, a self-titled album out via Blue Arrow, was a hidden gem of 2015 and happily, now has a follow-up in 'Floored', an EP of six delicious jangle-pop tunes, with inviting warm guitars, flowing vocal harmonies and genuine knack for melodies in the vein of Luna, The Feelies or the quietest moments of my dear The Bats. Not stutter at all, this are giant pop steps...

Agent BlåAnd we cross continents to end in Gothenburg, Sweden, in order to meet this extremely young quintet (all teenagers!) formed around 2015 after a Joy Division competition mic night (do not tell me that Sweden is different... for all the good reasons). The terrific debut 7″ 'Strand' appeared that December in their country, and since this June we can enjoy their self-titled debut album via Luxuy (they are in a roll lately) and Kanine Records (always reliable). And what a blast of an LP this is! Unstoppable post-punk with hints of goth-rock and dream-pop, fuelled by urgency and intensity, and propelled by the fierce vocals of Emilie Alatalo. It's been a while since a debut record on the dark side of indiepop got me that excited. Surrender to the agent blue...

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