A Marshall Crenshaw turn of phrase gets our solid-week-of-singles catch-up underway. The backlog of songs was never going to get posted without some serious melodic triage so every day this week (barring week-ends) we’re busting out the tunes in 45rpm increments. First stop: Östersund, Sweden with a track from The Tor Guides new album, Backwards in Reverse. A great deal of this record is tuneful mellow town, which is why “Always Somewhere Else” stands out for me. It’s a bit more peppy with wonderful Rickenbacker guitar accents all over the place. Next stop: Nashville, where punk and pop collide in the indie supergroup Vista Blue. There’s more than a little Beach Boy harmony on the blissful opening to “Big Stars” before the song settles into some guitars-to-the-front poprock. But don’t stop there. The band’s new EP Hit the Floor! has two other beachy hook-loaded tunes. Up north Montreal’s Elephant Stone turn up the psychedelia on “Hollow World,” a single from their upcoming 2020 album Hollow. Dreamy without entering the sleep zone, the song has the band channeling a seemingly effortless 1967 Beatles vibe. Last stop: Bowling Green, Kentucky with Dan Luke and the Raid on “Disco is as Disco Does.” The song is a bit of departure from the rest of their recent LP Out of the Blue, taking their fuzzed out poprock sound and adding some spooky keyboards before breaking out into a great neo-1950s chorus. But the whole record is pretty solid.
New finds and fresh music from old favourites in this edition of breakings news, with an accent on unusual band names.
Freedom Fry keep turning out great singles. The combination of Parisian-born Marie Seyrat and American Bruce Driscoll produce a sophisticated brand of dreamy poprock, full of hooks. We previously highlighted “Stop, Stop, Stop” and their remake of Serge Gainsbourg and Brigitte Bardot’s “Bonnie and Clyde,” as well as their holiday single “Oh Santa (Bad World).” Now they’re back with a fresh, swinging slice of easy-going, car-driving, breeze-in-your-hair poprock called “Strange Attraction,” also the title track from their to-be-released EP. This song bodes well for what is to come.
Thrift Store Halo have a great name, great artwork and a great story. And their music is pretty good too. Dial back the time machine to 1998 and TSH appear on the verge of breaking with an album in the can, major label interest, and a possible national tour with an up and coming band called Train. A few bad decisions later and the band split, members heading for law school, a lucrative art career, and home renos. And that was a shame because their only full length album, World Gone Mad, is a lost treasure. Personal fave tracks include “Crashing In” and “With You Here.” But the lure of rock and roll proved too strong and now the band is back after a near 20 year absence with a snappy new EP, Pop-Rocket. The new album sound is a bit leaner, reminding me a bit of Ike in their prime. Stand out tracks: “Get Over You” and “I’m Not Through.” Get Over YouI’m Not Through
Sophie Allison is Soccer Mommy, a one-woman, bedroom-recording, Bandcamp phenomenon. Up to now her songs have been defined by their spare, stripped down intimacy, but on her new EP Collection Allison strikes up the band to give some old material more life and new material a decidedly more polished debut. “Out Worn” is new song that nonetheless adds to Allison’s litany of despairing lonely relationship songs but check out the languid guitar lines and sibilant hooky vocals, sometimes drifting to the dreamy side only to be righted with some great background vocals. Repeated plays definitely brings extra benefits.
This blog loves Dropkick so there is no surprise we think the new Andrew Taylor solo release, From the Outside Looking In, is pretty special. All the Dropkick strengths are here: driving rhythmic guitars, layered lead and background vocals, and hooks a-plenty. “Someone” takes off and never quits, propelled by a strong rhythm section and some pretty sweet vocal harmonies. “Who We Really Are” channels just a hint of Teenage Fanclub with its loping pace and earnest, sweet sounding vocal delivery. “Standing Still” is a swinging dollop of country poprock. Another should-be hit album from a key member of Scotland’s most under-appreciated melody makers.
Rounding out this entry is a band I just saw open for Declan Mckenna at his great recent debut on Canadian soil: Dan Luke and the Raid. Who? Exactly. I’d never heard of them and I don’t think most of the audience had either. But from the moment they got started, they had the audience in the palm of their hand. Bowling Green, Kentucky’s latest find played a strong set of catchy tunes, most of which are still not available anywhere. So for the time being, check out “Black Cat Heavy Metal,” an ever so slightly psych-poprock number. I do look forward to the EP release, if only to hear the wonderful “Tragic Symphony” again.