Tuesday, December 29, 2020

Analog Radio returns!

What a bunch of fresh-faced young fellows!
Earlier this year Analog Radio resurfaced after a loooooong hiatus (don’t call it a break-up!) and launched a Bandcamp page with a very precise bio:
Chicago/Portland-based power pop quartet. Back together after 16 years, although we haven't told either of our fans yet.
This is a fact—they didn't tell me, I had to stumble across it myself.* I haven't told their other fan yet either, so let's just say this is that. Hello, other fan!

Back in the early days of the new millennium I would book these fellows as much as possible because I loved their smart, lo-fi, bedroom power-pop. Most of the band also loved Sloan, so we always had something to talk about during soundchecks. 

Ultimately Analog Radio put out a few albums that I wish they would re-release on band camp so y'all can hear how terrific those were, and how they deserve the attention of more ears than those of their two longtime fans. 

Until then, I recommend you curl up with these two nuggets of sunshine they released earlier this year, and hold out hope that their promise of a new album in the works reaches us more quickly than, say, the next Wrens album.

*This may not be true. Dann may have actually mentioned it to me at some point this year, but I don't trust my memory. So I'm sticking with this version of events!

Monday, December 28, 2020

Revisiting Imperial Drag ... and discovering you now like them!

I never got into Imperial Drag back in the day. I remember borrowing their debut from a friend—because even though I loved Jellyfish, buying CDs still required more money than I often had at the time—and being less than impressed.* Part of it was because I loved Jellyfish and, to my ears, Imperial Drag only seemed to retain the characteristics of that band I found the most frivolous portions of their predecessor's music. 

Of course the actual answer is that I had moved on from the technicolor attack of Jellyfish and fallen under the sway of the more obtuse and exploratory sounds of indie bands at the time, so Imperial Drag's simple injection of additional glam into the power-pop formula that worked so well for Jellyfish might not feel as vibrant to my ears in those days. 

I think the song shared above was a "hit" at the time, but I barely remember it, and definitely do not remember the video, which is just about as mid-'90s as you can get. But recently I revisited their self-titled debut and discovered that whatever didn't speak to me back then was cranked up loud and clear now. Yes, some of it is obvious, but it all makes more sense to me know, and is engaging on its own terms.

So, there you go. Let's all groove on this one together until I find something else totally random to try and entertain you in this final week of a most terrible year.

*It just occurred to me you may have no idea why I would be writing about Jellyfish and Imperial Drag, if you don't know that when the former imploded, two of the members went on to form the core of the latter. If you didn't, now you know!

Thursday, December 17, 2020

The supergroup you didn't know existed, with the holiday song you didn't know you needed.

Charly Bliss and Pup have teamed up to create a new soon-to-be holiday standard. Watch the just-released video above, and stream or buy (it's only a buck!) the track below.

Ho ho ho! Happy holidays, y'all!

Wednesday, December 16, 2020

Live your "Best Life" with Cheekface!

Cheekface has an album coming out next month, and I just noticed they already have one of my favorite tunes from the album available as a single, so I see no reason to keep its gloriousness to myself.

In my notes, while listening to this originally, I see I described this as "on the quirkier, goofier side of indie with lots of talk-singing and jokey lyrics that sometime hit a little too close to home for comfort but still leave me laughing." I stand by that! For example, on the tune I'm sharing today, "Best Life," it was at this spot that I almost spit my coffee all over the place:
in the future, everyone will be my friend for 15 minutes / and we'll look amazing when we're in portrait mode / we are writers! creatives! we work remotely! / i am furiously Juuling™ on the coffee shop patio!

Nailed it!

So, yeah. Enjoy!

Friday, December 11, 2020

Foxy Shazam's new album 'Burn' is absolute fire.

Foxy Shazam is back! Of course they chose the worst year ever to return, and a release date that has been completely overshadowed by Taylor Swift / Kid Cudi / [redacted] / and all the other last-minute album drops anyone and everyone seems to be trying to squeeze in before the end of December. But they're back, nonetheless, and I am incredibly happy they've returned!

The band has been silent since just kinda dumping their last album GONZO online for free in 2014, and the group has done nearly nil as far as explaining their reemergence or talking about their new album the came out today, BURN. While GONZO eschewed the more complicated theatricality of their previous releases in favor of a straightforward rawk approach, BURN splits the difference and brings back the glam while retaining the more down-and-dirty studio sound.

AN ASIDE: Has anyone else noticed that when you look back at 2020 releases there is an unusual amount of disco and glam rising to the top of the pack? I'm not complaining.

Anyhoo, if you're done flocking to all the midnight releases everyone has been talking about over the last 24 hours, I suggest you make some room in your ears for BURN, since it may stick around in your soul longer than most of those other albums. And I'm not just saying that because we were one-time kickball teammates.*

*I almost made it through the whole post without mentioning that for once—as if they have any recollection of me at all—but I just couldn't resist!

Tuesday, December 08, 2020

The Lemon Twigs 'Songs For The General Public' deserves your ears (and maybe your heart).

I was listening to the latest episode of the Dig Me Out podcast this morning, and musician Ryan Allen mentioned his love of The Lemon Twigs, which spurred me to realize that aside from their live album from earlier this year, I completely forgot to sing the praises of the actual album Songs For The General Public they released in August!

The brothers that lead The Lemon Twigs look as if the year 1973 made love to Steve Perry and these two popped out of the glitter-colored inter dimensional pod that union created. And they sound like aliens from the planet Glam took over our terrestrial radio waves to suffuse them with outlandish yet accessible tunes that run the gamut from rocking' ragers to theater kid laments.

It's fucking fantastic.

My biggest regret about this, aside from Songs For The General Public being released in the midst of the musical black hole the pandemic has created in 2020, is that the band wasn't able to tour behind the album. The Lemon Twigs live is truly a unique experience, propelled by the weird tension and energy between the two brothers. In a flip of expectations, in this case it's the younger brother that is the wildest wild man, though don't take that as any intimation that the elder Twig is less "weird." They're both bonkers, but the kind of bonkers that only genuine earth-shattering talent can support without becoming absolutely annoying. And there is zero annoying about Songs For The General Public.

Sample a few tunes below and then follow my example and buy the dang thing!

Monday, December 07, 2020

Sonny Falls' latest release has been a slow rollout, but it's finally almost done!

This was gonna be a "checking in on how we're all doing" post but with the temperatures dropping and the nights growing ever longer and the COVID infection rates are rising ever higher, I have a pretty good notion of how we're all doing—not awesome.

So I'll keep it simple today and just offer you something to look forward to next week when Sonny Falls finally releases the rest of their double album All That Has Come Apart​/​Once Did Not Exist. The band has been dispensing the album's 16 tracks to public ears in batches over the last year, and on December 15 the final couple of songs will find their way into the world and we can all luxuriate in listening to the whole thing. I actually held off downloading it after buying it because I wanted to experience the entire album at once, but I grew weak and snagged what was already out for a preliminary listen and did not regret it one whit. So consider this your advance notice of good music that will whet your appetite and give you something to look forward to as the work completes next week.

I am also amused and a little delighted that the band is sticking with a Tuesday release date, since I admit in my own brain Tuesdays were "new music" days for 40+ years.

Friday, December 04, 2020

When the b-side wins we all win.

Gentlemen Rogues just released a new single with their new song "Do The Resurrection!" on the a-side, and it's a lovely high-charged little rock and roller. But the gold is in the band's mash-up on side b, merging Superdrag with The Lemonheads and My Bloody Valentine so seamlessly the average listener would never know the true roots of the track. Not that that would matter. It's a kick ass song no matter what your background.

So, enjoy "Bloody Rudderless (in Ursa Major)" and I hope you ave an amazing weekend!

Wednesday, December 02, 2020

Carly promises everyone some Christmas tears, and I am so happy about it.

When news of a new Carly Rae Jepsen holiday tune broke last month, a friend texted me, expecting an excited reply. I admitted I was not hopeful, given how hollow most contemporary holiday music feels to me, and that I'd be happier if new Christmas music had to include sleigh bells, it was in a form of a remix by the band Sleigh Bells.

I still think that remix idea is golden, but I also admit that once I heard "It's Not Christmas Till Somebody Cries" I realized I might have another "new" song to place into my personal holiday rotation of "classics." And now that Jepsen has released a video for the tune, maybe I'll slot in a few viewings of this between stretches of burning Yule logs displayed on my television screen.

Tuesday, December 01, 2020

Drakulas trade in their punk rock roots for new wave sheen.

Photo by Jon Weiner from the band's Facebook page

Drakulas list Austin as their hometown, but I’d argue the beating heart of the band got its start in Denton. I spent some time in Denton as a kid—one of my uncles lived there for a spell—but at the time my pre-teen brain had no clue the town would become a musical hotbed. Then again, Texas may not quite be the alien landscape I knew as a kid, but it is still certainly conducive to creating pockets of musical resistance to the mainstream. 

I say this because the voice of Drakulas is Mike Wiebe of Riverboat Gamblers, born and bred in Denton, TX. The Gamblers' run of albums from 2001 through 2006 was both solid in approach and stunning as far as showing growth, before starting to bend more towards commercial wills than the frantic weirdness that sparked their earlier output. But their live shows we're always absolute fire. Just *chef's kiss* so much fun.

When I heard of Wiebe's involvement in Drakulas I was cautiously excited—I missed his voice but wasn't sure if a project steeped in new wave roots would be the right fit. But really, all Darkulas does is take its members' punk rock pasts—the band also features another Gambler and a member of Rise Against—find the melodic mindset that connects them all, and then send it through the New-Wave-O-Matic to churn out sharp little glistening cubes of pop stippled with bootprints and mud. You can add gloss to the rock, but you can't remove the grit at the core that helps everything stick together. And what you're left with is Terminal Amusements. Thank god!