I've spent the weekend at Nottingham. Cheap food, cheap booze, the National Video Game Association nerdout, record store scouring - it's been fun. A much needed escape from the 'big smoke' of London. And with a fresh spring in the step and music in the ears, let's see what the inbox has for us this week...
I thought I would kick off by throwing back. Brooklyn trio Dead Stars have in new track 'Calm Punk' gotten their Dinosaur Jr/Weezer/Local H/insert 90s guitar punk-pop band here on. Simple fuzzed out riffs, slightly reedy vocals with simple understandable lyrics and chorus, glorious rumbling bass, a Pixies-indebted solo towards the end - its a canvas that is easy to see, to replicate, to enjoy. I'm saying this in complete reverence too - 'Calm Punk' is exactly what it states it is.
Phoenix trio Strange Lot aren't that much of a strange lot. They are a blasted reverb-drenched garage rock band though, gloriously adrift from sense and reason. Their album Another Night is wonderfully warped, akin to early Growlers or Crystal Stilts fare, drenched in whisky, buried in the dirt, lost in the shadows. Loose, ragged, rad.
Negative Scanner hail from Chicago and inhale trouble. Strange Lot could belong on the Trouble In Mind roster - these guys already are. Their self-titled album is a clusterbomb, seesawing from post-punk precision and atonal abandon, pockets full of power punches and grit flung into your eyes. Playing straight but fighting dirty. They name check Total Control, Sioux & the Banshees, The Fall and Wire, taking the leanest pinches, taking no bullshit. The dull-eyed, broken-mouthed girl on the cover is Rebecca Valeriano-Flores, whose vocal tenacity entrances and lacerates. Nuff said. Pre-order it here.
Could anyone have expected us to end up at Bandung, Indonesia today? Me neither. But the excellent 60s blasted psych swirl of Napolleon is far too amazing to pass up. Their eponymous four-song EP is a real killer, blasting the cobwebs off, injecting some proto punk riffs, getting the sweat dripping off the walls. They are a fidgety bunch too - all bar last track 'Erasable Eraser' finds several sonic slipstreams to slide and slither around in. They are infused with the psych rock gods and aren't afraid to use those powers as much as they can. Get excited.
There are a number of things to love about Melbourne-based band Redspencer. Firstly (and some would say most importantly) they have spun gold out of plaintive, slight, melancholic tunes, nestled in between the hubris of the country and the hustle of the outer suburbs, all under the cover of dusk. The kind of vibes you ride out the day to. The perfect first spliff and cold one after a rough day music. But secondly (and what I would say is most importantly) the trio originally come from the central NSW town of Glen Innes. I drove through there once in 2012 and had one of the best meat pies and a cheeky cold one of my own as the sun set. I wanted to book into the local pub and drink the night away, but my girlfriend wanted to push on back to Brisbane - and this was the last high point until we reached the lights of that city. Maybe this is rose-tinted, maybe not; but their connection to the place adds a sense of rustic mystery to Redspencer that I intend to indulge in for some time.
Let's finish off with a breezy, woozy, psych-tinged blissout, shall we? Sydney brothers Plastic Birds offer a lysergic counterpoint to the bucolic expansivism of the Tame Impalas of the world, a warped, off-kilter vocal like a melted cassette played under shallow water, before a show-offy guitar solo comes along and manages to sound tinny, massive, faux-serious and kick-arse all at the same time. Its a strange trip these guys are intent to take us on - but we will get there...in time...
Happy Sunday everyone!