Thursday needs jangle like Sunday needs a weekend extender. It’s something to brighten your just-past-midweek spirits, put a little sparkle in your step, and turn up the corners of those pursed lips.
The Maureens emerged from Utrech, Netherlands in 2015 with an amazing record, Bang the Drum, a album brimming with catchy tunes slathered in delicate harmonies. Last year the band teased fans with bimonthly single releases that promised even greater things. Now what is probably my most anticipated album of 2019 has arrived and it is nothing short of stupendous! Something In The Air kicks off with the three 2018 singles, definitely a solid start, with “4AM” and “Twenty Years for the Company” both vibing a strong Teenage Fanclub jangle. But I also hear an older set of influences on tracks like “Turn the Page” and “Something in the Air,” very Crosby Stills Nash and the Byrds respectively. Other highlights for me include the bittersweet “Valentine,” “Wake Up,” and the ear wormy “Can’t Stop.” But drop your needle anywhere on this record and you won’t go wrong. This is a band in full control of their ouvre.
From the moment I heard the fat jangle anchoring “Nervous Man” from the rather mysterious The Boys With The Perpetual Nervousness I knew I was on to something special. Now that we know that TBWTPN is Andrew Taylor from Dropkick and Gonzalo Marcos of El Palacio de Linares the song’s quality really is no surprise. Dead Calm is their first full length release and it delivers on the promise of that first stellar single. Jangle permeates every inch of this record, perfectly showcasing some strong songwriting. This is evident right from the start with hooky, guitar-run heavy “TBWTPN,” which cleverly re-uses the song title from The Feelies that inspired this band’s own name. From there it’s one very pleasant tune after another: “Anything At All,” “Close the Doors,” and the more country-ish “Southern Words.” This album’s a let-it-run-through soundtrack of good times.
Jeff Shelton’s The Well Wishers have a new two-sided single out that contains a killer original song and an impressive cover. Check out the ringing guitar hooks on “Feelin Fine.” Folks, this is the Matthew Sweet single we’ve all been waiting for! Jeff’s spelling might be spotty, but his ear for candy-coated hooks is spot on. Meanwhile for the B side Jeff decided to cover Fleetwood Mac’s “Second Hand News.” Ouch! That is one tall order as Buckingham’s vocals alone are nearly impossible to match or replace in any listener’s sense of what the song should sound like. But Shelton manages to pull it off, mixing just enough ragged DIY charm with his professional chops to give his version its own identity. Is this a teaser for a fab new album? We can only hope so.
Chicago’s The Embyros lean heavily on a Teenage Fanclub/Byrds sound on their new extended singles project, Singles Club Volume 1, particularly “Wasting All Your Time.” The two other tracks here will also delight jangle ears. But why stop there? The band’s 2018 album Open the Kimono is chock full of indie pop rock treats. “Circleville” has an unpolished indie charm while “Wake Up Screaming” reminds me of that smooth California sound the Popravinas have going on their recent records. I love “Bad Old Days” with it’s country-ish Beatles crossover feel. And then the band delivers a nice melodic rock and roll ending with “Eleven Forty.” These guys are a real tuneful diamond in the rough.
Jangle is as much a state of mind as an actual character of sound. The Maureens, The Boys With The Perpetual Nervousness, The Well Wishers and The Embyros can all keep you in that state of musical non-suspended animation. Click on the band names and sign up for a direct hit today.