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Sunday, August 13, 2017

Discoverer 157: 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...

Friday, August 11, 2017

The Bloodbuzzed Jukebox Week 157

Despite we are counting down days for our deserved and longed holidays (hoping that the strike at El Prat Airport ends and we are able to fly... or, at some point, we are going to start thinking we are jinxed) we are here still proposing you new tunes at our TOP TEN Jukebox! This week we bring you an old gem thanks to The Siddeleys, but also plenty of new discoveries like the jangle-pop proposal of Verandan, the Summer vibes of Walter Etc or the indiepop from the Singaporean band Sobs. A lot to discover and enjoy in this new round of our playlist!  Take care and remember, all songs are available at our Soundcloud. (Join Us!)

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

The Indie Anthology 80: essential songs

Let's keep with the recovered pace, so here comes another one for the Indie Anthology! Today we move to Essex, to pay our modest tribute to a very beloved band of the Blog (that his mighty leader David Callahan took his time to answer our questionnaire is among the "achievements" I'm most proud of). One that is very well "alive and kicking", in what, in my humble opinion, easily ranks among the most exciting comebacks in music history. Jangle-noise (what?) courtesy of the pack from Romford!

Song: Magic Triggers 
Artist: The Wolfhounds 
Year: 1990

It started, of course, with me downloading (Audiogalaxy folks, pure Pleistocene era) the über recurrent C-86 compilation. A bunch of wonders (Close Lobsters, Bodines, Shop Assistants and McCarthy, to just name a few), but also quite an amount of fillers (being polite). And then, others with a big question mark on it. Discovery, promise, or just one hit wonders? 'Feeling So Strange Again' was in that category for me. But not for a long time. Not when you discover a blasting tune like 'Anti-Midas Touch', or a record like 'Unseen Ripples from a Pebble'. It was jangle-pop, sure, but there was also bite and lyrics to dig in. And the following discoveries were asking me to dig deeper, more consciously, in that rage and social commentary, while the noise and experimentation kept the group interesting. Raw indiepop. with thorns in every side. What was not to love? Like McCarthy, The Wolfhounds were a group for me. So, to choose just one tune has been excruciating. The aforementioned 'Midas', the perfect combination of grit and mellowness of 'Me', the stormy, sonicyouthesque 'Blown Away', the incarnation of The Fall's gloom in 'Another Hazy Day On The Lazy "A"', or more recently, the mesmerizing melodic urgency of 'Divide and Fall'. Any of them could have gone here. Why the choice of 'Magic Triggers' then? I guess it has to do with the "take no prisoners" upbeat start, or the pressing, contagious immediacy of the tune, or the desperate vocals delivered by David, or the manic guitar halfway of the piece, or the tension, the constant threat between melody and fury. Sums pretty well all the reasons why I love The Wolfhounds and why I think they are among the most criminally underrated bands. Period. Here I rest my case.

Sunday, August 6, 2017

Discoverer 156: new indie findings

August is a month of recoveries, so today is the turn of our discoverer series. And we do so with three stunning proposals (look for some of them at the end of the year lists) with some of the latest bands that have gotten us excited. Indiepop all over!

Eyelids. Supergroup alert, supergroup alert! This collective (the regular cast is a quintet) hails from Portland, Oregon and includes current and former members of (take a deep breath, this is ridiculously stunning) Robert Pollard's bands as well as Guided By Voices, Stephen Malkmus and The Jicks, The Decemberists, Elliott Smith, Sam Coomes of Quasi, Jason Lytle of Grandaddy, Loch Lomond, Damien Jurado and even Peter Buck solo adventures! Main songwriters John Moen and Chris Slusarenko started "making waves" in 2014, but the first, proper release of the combo arrived in 2016 with the 7" 'Seagulls Into Submission'. It was followed by the debut album '854' a month later, plus the 'Eyelids' 12"EP. And now, after another EP, it's time to celebrate the arrival of sophomore LP 'or'. What can I say? You hear Flying Nun, Paisley Underground, Big Star, Teenage Fanclub, an Athens band that might be familiar to you (guess who produces the record)... If you are a little familiar with this Blog you should know this is not just another discovery. THIS IS A MUST!!!

Hideout. Based in Manhattan, NY, singer-songwriter Gabriel Rodriguez, alongside drummer Cory Stier, who is based in San Diego, began his recording & just for fun project on the road, as the two longtime friends are part of Cults (happily back after what can qualify as a hiatus, by the way) live band, tracking the tracks that would become debut album 'Rookie', out via Thrill Me Records in November 2014, there and there, as the tour kept going. Now, in this 2017, Rodriguez has come out with his sophomore release, mostly cooked at home and again with the help of Stier, 'So Many Hoops/So Little Time' is due out February 3rd 2017 via Small Plates Records. A rich second take of unabashed, very diverse (from jangle-pop to glam-rock) and emotionally charged (heavy stuff inside, dealing with a tough loss) indiepop tunes. It might have been hiding, but we have found a pop master craftsman here...  

Rat Fancy. And we end in Los Angeles, CA, to meet this trio of effervescent twee punk. Formed just a year ago when Diana Barraza (a former Sweater Girls) and Gregory Johnson recorded some tracks in their bedroom. The duo quickly recruited friend Gavin Glidewell and the completed band was ready to debut live at at 2017´s SXSW. Songs have been surfacing online during the year, but since late May the group has its proper debut release, the EP 'Suck a Lemon', out via our dear friends at Happy Happy Birthday To Me Records. A small yet very promising collection of six indiepop tunes, with enough sugar and catchiness to knock you out immediately, but also an edge, a sharpness, and a sourness (very apt title) that endures and demands for more soon. Check them out! 

Friday, August 4, 2017

The Bloodbuzzed Jukebox Week 156

Another stressful week on Touristland... sorry I meant Barcelona, the land of radioactive sunshine, ugly and overcrowded beaches, artificial sand and cheap do-as-you-want tourism. Sure I'm painting broad strokes, and there's a vast majority of people visiting Barcelona for all the good reasons, behaving as they should, but 'our' city is becoming an ultra-expensive, annoying and dreary amusement park instead of a nice place for living... and it really hurts. Sorry for the rant, whatever the case, we have managed to skip the suitcases, skaters, bikes, segways and drunks to bring you another chapter of our TOP TEN Jukebox. This time we have prepared an eclectic playlist, mixing some recurring bands like Star Tropics (do not miss the album, straight to be among the best of the year) or Beaches, plus new proposals like Dama Scout or The 94' Knicks. Tunes for all tastes to start the weekend as it deserves. Have fun and remember, all songs are available at our Soundcloud. (Join Us!)

Thursday, August 3, 2017

The Indie Anthology 79: essential songs

This section has suffered another unfortunate, unwanted hiatus (hard for me to find the time to write) but that's about to change today! So, in order to return to form in our Anthology I just have chosen a blissfully gorgeous tune from a very dear band of mine, and connected (or at least I'd like to think so) with this humble Blog. Let´s go to back to Scotland with The Hermit Crabs!

Song: Correspondence Course
Artist: The Hermit Crabs
Year: 2008

Time flies! Almost a decade since Mel Whittle and Co. penned this melancholic indiepop gem (ten years since the band appeared with the lovely 'Feel Good Factor' EP. Can't lie the Belle and Sebastian and Camera Obscura comparisons drove me to them... but these shy & melancholic crustaceans were about to make their own space in this blogger heart. A close call between 'About You Before', the glorious, infinite guitar work of 'On the Spectrum', I finally opted for 'Correspondence Course'. I guess it's because of the lush arrangements, leaded by the mesmerizing violin and the tricky distorted, warped, fragmented guitar. Or, the knockout chorus. Or the quirky and, let´s face it, considering Mel's honeyed voice, pretty adorable lyrics including band name-dropping and flirtation around playing music, and yet a hint of reflection, dare I say disappointment towards the end. Like my dear The Very Most (the connection between Mel and Jeremy has provided us many amazing tunes) or Monkey Swallows the Universe (sadly extinct, but Nat Johnson keeps doing music wonders quite regularly) to just name three, The Hermit Crabs (or Melanie Whittle) are one of these modest, not putting any airs on them whatsoever, even unfairly sidestepped bands, that you can always rely on.