Tuesday 31 July 2018

Massage - Oh Boy

If a band was going to rejuvenate The Twerps’ sound then the clever money would be on an Australian band doing the honours. Massage, though, are from California.

There’s a freshness and light to their jangle pop that suggests sunshine, but is rugged and sprightly enough to recall The Feelies. It fits in with bands re-energising indiepop like Young Scum and it’s no great leap to imagine they might have heard Allo Darlin.

Oh Boy is a very impressive debut. It probably doesn’t hurt that they number Pains of Being Pure at Heart alumnus Alex Naidus on guitar. There are moments, though, when I long for the style to evolve: the songs are pretty much even from 1 to 12.

That might be because they’ve got a garage rock background (I really don’t know if they do) or they might be going for a sustained aesthetic like If You’re Feeling Sinister or 16 Lovers Lane.

They’re very nearly there. And there are at least 5 songs that are 24-karat gold, way more than most bands manage, never mind at their first try. Here’s one of them:

Monday 30 July 2018

Tony Molina - Kill The Lights

Bobby Gillespie was once asked why Velocity Girl ended after 90 seconds: “Because it’s finished.” Tony Molina’s brevity is even more impressive: the 10 songs on Kill The Lights pack in 60s 12-string jangle, orchestral psych and woozy folk-rock in 14 minutes total.

If Molina’s musical year zero is The Byrds’ C.T.A. 102 its aesthetic is Guided By Voices - short, sharp songs, no compromise, that do pop, punk and psych like the Buzzcocks playing The White Album, then quit.

Molina’s quality control levels are set higher than Bob Pollard’s - chances are Molina wrote enough songs for an hour-long album but threw most of them away. What remains is the very best.

Saturday 14 July 2018

The Barettes - Stand Up Straight

This is straight-up soul saturated in Brill Building pop that couldn’t be any more snappy, simple and effective. File Stand Up Straight next to Denis by Blondie, the Grease soundtrack and Cee Lo Green’s Forget You.

It’s modern girl group pop like those Pipettes and Pepper Pots 45s, a collection of floorshakers, footstompers and tear-stained ballads. There’s even a song in French to meet your ye-ye needs, perhaps unsurprisingly because The Barettes are two American women based in Paris.

In case you weren’t clear about their intentions, they lift the piano melody from I’m A Believer for Swim On Boy and are inspired by the gossipy intro of Give Him A Great Big Kiss by The Shangri-Las for Keep On Drivin’.

Monday 2 July 2018

Slumberland - 30 years of hits part three

The last instalment, only this is really year 29 in the Slumberland story. I haven't got the new Smokescreens album yet which is a contender, and the forthcoming Wildhoney 7" would surely make the list.

Year 30 has every chance of being a classic. I keenly anticipate a showcase tour doing a lap of honour around the globe and stopping off at London.

The moral of this story is that Slumberland remains a window to watch since it started in 1989. Some feat.

Allo Darlin - Europe
Robert Forster and Grant McLennan each rued that The Go-Betweens’ even-numbered albums were their best. Allo Darlin seemed to be on the same path, but they split before that case could be made conclusively. They left us wanting more. Europe shows they were the best indiepop band since Belle and Sebastian.

Golden Grrrls - New Pop
When one of your favourite record labels picks up your favourite new band, you know you’re doing something right. When that band also covers Look Blue Go Purple you know they’re doing everything right. Their originals were even better.

Joanna Gruesome - Sugarcrush
How do you make people overlook your terrible band name? With sonic terrorism and menacing melodies to make the best British (the Americans had been having a go for a few years) response to My Bloody Valentine in the 21st century.

Withered Hand - Black Tambourine
My footnote in the Slumberland story is that in 2012 I put up the impoverished minstrel Dan Willson at my flat after a London gig. He asked me if I knew Pam Berry. I did. I put them in touch and they made an album, New Gods. I could have chosen any song from New Gods, but this one is about Pam’s - and Slumberland boss Mike’s - old band Black Tambourine. Dan and Pam are now millionaire rock stars and don’t talk to me any more. I’m cool with that. I just wish they’d make another record.

Real Numbers - Frank Infatuation
They took all their cues from the Television Personalities - tinny, trebly, adenoidal, absolutely classic pop - with enough of their own wit and invention to steer clear of pastiche and make their own classic pop.

Gold-Bears - For You
The Dalliance album plays the same trick as The Wedding Present’s George Best - fast, loud, furious jangle full of lust, envy and rage.

Lilys - Claire Hates Me
About 20 years before bands from Brooklyn decided My Bloody Valentine inspiration was the right way to go, DC’s Lilys grabbed the squalling guitars and bent notes and claimed a deserved early victory.

The Bats - That’s How You’ll Find Me
If you’d started a label inspired by Flying Nun, you’d release a Bats record. There aren’t enough Bats records. This is a particularly good one.

Brilliant Colors - English Cities
Remember when a load of American bands discovered the Shop Assistants? Happy times. Brilliant Colors did it better than most.

Dum Dum Girls - Bhang Bhang, I’m a Burnout
More Shop Assistants style fuzz pop. This would fit in to the Narodnik label’s back catalogue very nicely.