Friday, August 04, 2023

Bandcamp Friday is here! Need a few recommendations? Check out Skating Polly, FOOTBALLHEAD, The Criticals, and Tamar Berk!

Skating Polly
Chaos County Line 

Skating Polly is a power trio grounded in Oklahoma comprised of Kelli Mayo, Peyton Bighorse, and Kurtis Mayo. Their first album in five years, Chaos County Line, is a spawling and unexpected double album that hops genres and production but feels so adventurous it never feels bloated and I never got bored. Keeping in mind I already dropped that loaded term of "double album" I think the constant engagement it offers is key to the unstoppable rush of pleasure I felt as the record skipped and adventured through every interesting sonic left turn they felt like taking. All the while, this trio is giving it their all, and it sounds / feels like it!

Overthinking Everything

While FOOTBALLHEAD began as a solo project, Ryan Nolen has since teamed up with Adam Siska and the Chicago duo's first full-length Overthinking Everything sounds like the product of a full band, allowing a much fuller sonic palette in which to play. There album leans primarily towardstraightforward, hook-filled, chugging rockers, but a few tunes take a turn toward the delicate ... and, yes, occasionally dips into full-on emo territory (which is not all that surprising given the make-up of the group). In the end Overthinking Everything is a quick sharp blast that's over too soon, and leaves a lot of room for future explorations from the group.

The Criticals
Front Door Confrontations

Hailing from Nashville, The Criticals specialize in that gusty brand of rock that plays equally well in sweaty, small bars or hipster-filled small clubs. Its roots rock with a power-pop vibe, rolled through just enough grit and grain to roughen up the edges and make the tunes stick in your head. One note I also took while listening was that The Criticals sound "like looooong-distant cousins of The Features," so if you're familiar with that group (or saw my recent piece about them) it might hep you connect the pieces even faster. 

Of course, the fastest way to connect the pieces would be to give it a listen and pick up a copy for yourself.

Tamar Berk
tiny injuries

O.K., so this album isn't actually out for another two weeks, but I've heard it and can heartily endorse it as a Bandcamp Friday pre-purchase. (The vinyl in particular is quite lovely!) I plan on doing a more full review closer to the release date on Third Coast Review, but tiny injuries continues Tamar Berk's return to her "sonic roots" of super-hooky guitar rock after years exploring other avenues with different projects. That's led to her last three albums uniform excellence, and tiny injuries is perhaps the best, and most fully realized, effort from her yet. 

I've always known Berk had "it," but I'm super excited to see she also finally seems to to believe that as well, understanding and embracing the personal power of her talent while being unafraid to explore it. (In my humble opinion) I think Berk finally trusts herself enough to embrace that bright spark of individuality I saw in her eons ago in her original band Starball.) Pre-order tiny injuries now!

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