Brisbane Radio, Daniel Wilcox, jangle, Joe Emery, Modern Day Idols, Songs From Another Life, Stephen's Shore, The Boys With The Perpetual Nervousness, The Vapour Trails, Underneath Tomorrow, Will Courtney
It’s been a while since we’ve jangled Thursday so to make up for it today’s post features two heavy hitter album releases and a spate of other good things. Secure the good china because the heavy reverb here is definitely gonna make things shake.
In one of the most anticipated albums of the year, The Boys With the Perpetual Nervousness defy the sophomore slump with a drop-dead gorgeous collection of new tunes. If anything, Songs From Another Life is even better than the band’s outstanding debut Dead Calm. The sound is a bit edgier, the feel a bit more urgent. It’s all there on the album opener, “I Don’t Mind” with its muscular jangle hooks and earworm melody. When the sweet sweet instrumental break kicks in at 1:11 it’s like a shot of adrenaline. And then it’s over all too soon! The obvious musical reference points here fall somewhere between the Byrds and Teenage Fanclub, particularly on “Play (On My Mind)” and “How I Really Feel.” But there’s a bit of the duo’s previous incarnations – Dropkick and El Palacio de Linares – lurking here too on tracks like “Rose Tinted Glasses” and “In Between.” And then the band go in totally new directions on songs like “Lethargy” with its hypnotic synth adornments. Personally, I can’t stop hitting replay on “Waking Up in the Sunshine,” the should-be hit single to my ears. If you need something to lift your spirits, something to make your heart soar, then proceed directly to this long player. I may be calling it early but my gut says Songs From Another Life is the feel good album of the year.
Another jangle band that never fails to impress and delight are The Vapour Trails. Their brand new EP Underneath Tomorrow is no exception. These guys hit all the 1960s marks but always throw in a host of original twists. Sure “Tommy’s Tune” sounds so Byrds but there’s a bit of CSN&Y there too. Title track “Underneath Tomorrow” has lovely jangle and great background vocals, with some inventive instrumental interludes. And there’s “That’ll Do It” with its killer Monkees-reminiscent, lead-line opener and addictive pumping organ drawing you in. Man, what hooks! But it’s not just the great retro feel of the album, the songwriting is up to the band’s reliably strong standards. Check out their turn in a more Beatles direction with “Autumn and Spring” or a British 1960s blues vibe on while “Strange.” The only real limit to the EP is that everything ends far too soon.
There’s something so beach dreamy about Stephen’s Shore, you can practically feel the sea breeze coming off the title track from their new EP Brisbane Radio. At just 12 minutes long the release is perhaps more like a maxi-single but, hey, I’d argue it’s a short time well spent. The lovely lilting lead jangle guitar carries us through “Up To No Good” and the mostly instrumental “Midvert.” Meanwhile “Skogen” sounds more like what we might expect from a new album. It’s a song with a bit more complexity and a melody that captures the darker vibe of late 1960s folk rock. Compared to the band’s earlier work, 2016’s crisp and hooky Ocean Blue, this new material sounds more organic and less in a hurry, though no less melodic and endearing.
Last up on our jangle-heavy feature, two singles that showcase the breadth of the genre. First, Will Courtney teams up with two members of the Ugly Beats, Joe Emery and Daniel Wilcox, to take on the Byrds’ classic “Here Without You.” The original is pretty hard to improve on so the boys wisely decide to take it in a slightly new direction, distorting its traditional jangle and countrying up the vocal delivery. The result is a refreshing, exciting reset to an old fave. By contrast, like Tom Petty and Greg Kihn before them, Boston’s Modern Day Idols demonstrate how jangle can be woven into the very core of modern poprock. MDI have a great song with “Not the Only One” from their recent self-titled album but the jangle lead guitar just adds that extra dimension of bliss. I’m liking their whole LP – it’s all eminently listenable – but this particular song just won’t vacate my short term memory.
In these dark times jangle is the musical light glinting from the far reaches of our ‘isolate in place’ tunnel. Click on the hyperlinks to hear more.