Friday 28 October 2016

Freschard - Sunday Night

Freschard writes songs with a longing and profound disquiet that ache. They're songs that worry about being stood up (Go Out), friendship (Me & The Boys) and, of course, drinking wine on Sunday Night.

You know that line in Fran├žoise Hardy's Tous les gar├žons et les filles? "All the guys and girls my age know how it feels to be happy, but I am lonely, when will I know how it feels to have someone?" That line. Freschard's mixture of being in the thick of things yet somehow outside reminds me of it.

More than anyone, she reminds me of Jonathan Richman, particularly the Having A Party With Jonathan Richman album. Not quite having a party but observing it and writing smart, gauche, wistful songs about it.

As part of the Hangover Lounge club, I put Freschard on at the Union Chapel almost 2 years ago. She was great. She got far more money than she was expecting. In the pub that afternoon, she was on a mission to spend it all.

She bought lots of rounds. With each round of drinks she also bought plates of cheesy chips. Maybe that's a French thing. It was a very welcome thing. We were drinking a lot.

A couple of weeks ago, Freschard played a bookshop in East London. She was great (there's a theme to her gigs - you must see her if you get the chance). In the pub afterwards I reminded her of this. After the pub shut, we went back to the bookshop.

Some time later - don't ask me when, a lot of beer was involved - Freschard sauntered up to our table with plates of cheesy chips. I've no idea where she got them from or how she managed it at that time in the morning.

Everyone has their price - mine is very low - and I can be bought for some chips when I'm drunk. But Sunday Night is a great record, chips arriving unbidden to me or not.

Lesser musical acts (that's most of you): I'll review your record positively for something more than cheesy chips. Apply for bribe levels by email.

Sunday 23 October 2016

Small World Experience

One of this year's crucial vinyl reissues is Small World Experience's Shelf-Life, originally a CD from 1994. Jangling discord and ragged garage rock as miniature masterpieces. Its closest contemporary was possibly Neil Young's Sleeps With Angels.

There was a much smarter album, Side Projects, on Chapter in the late 90s - stoned melodic charm, controlled chaos, roughhouse bass riffs and frazzled noise. And then fuck all.

Small World Experience are back and unsurprisingly they're on Tenth Court, Australia's most exciting and interesting label of the past few years. There's one song now and an album in 2017. It sounds like they've picked up where Side Projects left off. So it sounds great.

Friday 14 October 2016

Heavy Pockets - (Don't Wanna Be) One Of The Boys

(Don't Wanna Be) One Of The Boys is this year's Archie, Marry Me. A huge riff, crashing chords and a tune so big it will last as long as people are listening to pop music. If John Hughes were alive he'd be writing a screenplay just to have this song on the soundtrack.

Heavy Pockets are from New Hampshire but they sound like they're surfing the same wave as Philadelphia bands like Radiator Hospital and Little Big League.

There's an album due, Mopeless. Watch out if you buy this on bandcamp - you only get the one song (I thought I was getting the album). Yeah, it did cost a fiver. So does a pint of beer. I know which one makes me happier. And believe me, I fucking love beer.

Tuesday 11 October 2016

Real Numbers - Wordless Wonder

You remember Real Numbers. In the US DIY garage rock scene which peaked around 5 years ago they were pretty much the only band doffing their caps to the Television Personalities. Yeah, most of those Brooklyn bands back then were paying the TVPs their dues, but the Real Numbers were in a different world.

A world of raw minimalism, Messthetics compilations, crash pop and chaos. I loved them and then forgot about them because they stopped making records and other things caught my eye. That's pop music.

What wasn't meant to happen is that Real Numbers are back and they've made their best record. Yes, score-keepers, better than the Tear It In Two/Pinckney St single.

Wordless Wonder isn't that different from Real Numbers' back catalogue, but it's that much better. There's hook-laden powerpop, chugging bass and new wave melodic smarts. There's slapdash pop-art pop. And there's a statement of intent in the first song, Frank Infatuation.

This is surely a celebration of the short-lived label that was home to the 14 Iced Bears and The McTells. The real influence - there's no escaping this, possibly because of the singer's adolescent adenoidal whine - is the Television Personalities.

How else do you explain a song called This Happy Sadness (surely a nod to the TVPs' This Angry Silence)? And Public Domain sounds like a close relative of the TVPs' King and Country.

I'm not complaining. The TVPs are one of my favourite ever bands. And Wordless Wonder has enough invention, vitality and immediate pop to be one of my favourite albums of 2016.

Saturday 1 October 2016

Unity Floors - Life Admin

This is more like it. Life Admin is Unity Floors getting closer to making an album that's end to end as strong, gutsy and brutally tuneful as their Womens Golf ep.

If their debut Exotic Goldfish Blues was too much too soon - they didn't quite have the songs for a whole album - then Life Admin is a band throwing everything they've got and daring you not to like it.

I love it. They open with Moving To Melbourne - we've always known that's these Sydneysiders' spiritual home - then they inject the slacker rock (are people still calling it dolewave?) with fresh pop and raw rock'n'roll.

This record is as much emphatic noise from the classic USA underground as it is Melbourne, though. Check the Sonic Youth style art rock in Cost Of Living and the furious Dinosaur Jr riff in Such A Star.

I can't let this post pass without mentioning that the title track has the year's worst lyrical pun in "I've been swimming in the river of denial". No small achievement if you've paid attention to The Goon Sax.

But this is Unity Floors freer and more confident. It suits them. They sound great.