Sunday, 29 March 2020

Big Baby - Fizzy Cola

When I listen to superior pop music like this Big Baby tape, I remember Game Theory’s Scott Miller saying: “There's nothing really impressive about any mystique that I have. I'm just...it's just pop. And that's kind of hard to sell sometimes."

What would make Big Baby’s songs - and they’re really very good, you know - sell? If Pretty in Pink 2 gets made, then the power pop and fragility of String Of Pearls beats any fist pumpin' soft rock to pull the emotional levers.

Any of those Netflix dramas about love and self loathing and teenage dreams - all improved by a song off Fizzy Cola. Selling pop music to me is easy - I stockpile it whatever the climate - but I feel certain that with exposure and a bit of luck these immediate songs would win many new fans no bother.


Saturday, 28 March 2020

Beach Bunny - Honeymoon

Name a song by Snail Mail? Thinning, right. Now name a song by Mothers. It Hurts Until It Doesn’t, right. What about Soccer Mommy? Nope, you got me there.

But what if any of those bands wrote nothing but hits? Well, you’d have Beach Bunny who keep the emo on the down-low, open the windows on their bedroom music and let Best Coast’s sunshine pop stream in.

Honeymoon elevates suburban boredom - heartbreak, restlessness and disaffection - to the state of celebration by matching it with instant hooks and fuzzy guitars. If you liked All Of Nothing by Remember Sports, Honeymoon will rock your socks off.

Biographical detail? They’re from Chicago. Honeymoon is their first album. There’s an ep Prom Queen. You need both of these records.


Tuesday, 10 March 2020

Pop Crimes - Debuts

Goes is 2020’s first true classic pop song - guitars set to jangle, the big box marked ‘tune!’ opened and the foot slammed on the fx pedal. Seasons & Storms isn’t far behind if you’re looking for the second true classic pop song of the year. Then listen to The Sun. You’ll very quickly get the idea something special is starting to happen.

They sound like Ride when they got it right all those years ago, first album Pains of Being Pure At Heart, exlovers frenzied noise, and the addictive, biting snarl of the Boo Radleys on Everything’s Alright Forever.

No idea why they’ve either named themselves after a Roland S Howard album or think they’ve in fact committed crimes against pop. Neither of these things ring true. But these songs? This band? Time to get very excited.


Wednesday, 4 March 2020

PGX - Naive

This is worth the entry price just for the pagan tribute to the titular Peter Gutteridge.

PGX aren’t the sound of Dunedin, or even Christchurch. Maybe they looked to Gutteridge’s words for inspiration on their first 4 songs: “I like certain sounds. Certain rhythms. I’m interested in drone music as well as melody.”

Their spoken word vocals put them in league with Black Country, New Road, developing repetitive rhythms and oblique tunes on songs like the excellent Chocolate Factory.

Lead track Mopeds tips more to the recent LA punk stylings of Daddy Issues and Shit Bitch, and I’d love to see them on a bill with Breakup Haircut.

That’s a lot of ways to go, right? Well, apparently they’re “not sure what sound they’re going for but are finding their way with distortion”. Whichever way they go - and I secretly hope Speedy Wunderground have opened their chequebook - PGX are a band to watch out for.


Friday, 28 February 2020

Algara - Enamorados Del Control Total

Imagine The Fall holed up in a Soviet bloc crack den. They’ve shoved their last coins in the electricity meter and have just minutes to record 4 blistering songs. All the needles are on red. Someone might be holding a gun to their heads.

Fragmented, shattering, desperate, howling. I don’t know what they’re singing (they’re Spanish and I’m a monolingual dolt) but they sound like they’re pleading for their lives. Or they just got dumped. Love can be vicious and its wounds bloody.

Sunday, 29 December 2019

Flying Fish Cove

Each year I make a compilation, rather loosely claiming to be 20 great new acts, or more accurately the ones that have excited me most. And each year I leave out something that really, if I paid more care to compiling the songs, should have been included. No matter, it's just a bit of fun. But never have I made such an egregious error to exclude a new band of the promise and excitement and excellence of Flying Fish Cove.

What can I say? Apart from sorry, of course, I can say that At Moonset is one of 2019's finest albums. It combines The Unicorns' melodic madness, Elephant 6 exuberance, Magnetic Fields' resigned tenderness and Heavenly's joyfulness in romantic despair. I love how they dip into My Bloody Valentine on Dangerous Words - this is a pop band who experiment. That keyboard sound is an omnichord, you know.

They're catchy and kooky enough to hook into the next Alvvays support slot and on the strength of their album and ep my money's on 2020 seeing them on everyone's best of lists.

Saturday, 28 December 2019

2019 in 20 songs by 20 new acts

I'm not sure exactly what happened in 2019, but here we are. There's so much going on it's impossible to impose any sort of order on the year in music. So much exciting music from Gothenburg, for example, but genre boundaries are their least concern.

The UK's DIY scene is thriving again, but there's no link between Breakup Haircut (tough and tuneful) and Pynch (mutant disco). And there wasn't room for Black Country, New Road (the sound of Slint) although if anyone gets big next year, it'll surely be them.

Australia is disproportionately over-represented, but again I can't really see a scene.

The sequencing lacks a little cohesion simply because of the variety and adventure on offer. And, yes, that is an 11-minute song at track 3. Born Stoned is the best song from one of the year's best albums. And I know Possible Humans didn't, like a couple of other acts, debut this year, but this year is when I loved what they did and bought them for the first time.

I'll send a download to a few friends, one of whom always buys a few things (hi Paul!). Which is sort of the point, as JJ Ulius of the mighty Skiftande Enheter points out:

The money I have made from selling these records is definitely not a huge sum but enough to actually create new creative opportunities that would not exist otherwise.