This turn around the dial provides a blast of Americana in various forms, with just a dash of melodic British 1960s-influenced psych-rock.
Matt Whipkey’s Best New Music may just be. His 2017 release is a solid album, sprinkled liberally with melodic rock influences that range from 1970s to the 1990s. The most likely single, “Aliens,” kicks off with a killer Byrds-influenced guitar introduction, but then shifts to a nice country-infused lilting number a la Wilco in hit mode. “Danielle” is another song with a great roll-out introduction, this time exuding a more Springsteen vibe. “Amy You Are Everything” has a familiar diminished chord progression that attentive listeners will recognize from so many songs (for example, Lennon’s “Happy Xmas”) but melodically pulls on the more pop elements of Springsteen’s 1980s work, with some nice jangly lead guitar. And there are many more highlights. Whipkey has an enormous back catalogue which you can purchase from Bandcamp right now super cheap (though you should pay more – he’s worth it).
New Jersey’s The Mylars hail from that state’s Union City and named their debut album after the local record store, Melody Records. It makes sense because the record is an updated homage to that great period of American poprock, circa 1978-83. The band even offers up an inspired cover of the Cars’ “Let’s Go,” just in case you didn’t catch on. It all comes together on the debut single and video, “Forever Done,” with its wall of surging guitars and hooky, sibilant vocals. The single has a great AM radio-friendly rock and roll sound c. early 1980s, though without sounding derivative. In fact, the whole album is eminently listenable and would undoubtedly sound great live. There’s no protection from this kind of ear worm, thankfully.
Austin’s Quiet Company have always provided more adult fare at the poprock table, adding just a bit more depth and complexity to the three minute problems that conventional singles typically handle. Though lately they’re becoming a bit darker and noticeably less quiet. 2017 witnessed the band release two EPs rather than a more conventional album, each offering up a harsher sound and seemingly harsher view of human relationships and the world they exist in. It’s Not Attractive and It Changes Nothing came out in April and its opening track “Celebrity Teeth Poacher” sounded deceptively typical of Quiet Company, at least at first. Nice acoustic guitar and melodic vocals open the song but things turn a bit more discordant in the chorus. “On Single Moms” is a nice pop single, with some great horns appearing here and there. By August Your Husband, the Ghost arrived, featuring more complex, harsh textures and messages. Melody is still there, particularly on the epic “We Should Go to Counseling,” but the listener has to work a little harder to feel the hooks. This is a band going somewhere, though they’re honest enough to admit they don’t really know where.
Crossing the pond with our final spin of the dial, The Keepers mine that particular vein of British poprock that stretches from late 1960s psychedelia through a variety of 1980s and 1990s indie sounds. Their new single “Here Comes Spring” is a delightful mélange of 1960s organ and fuzzed out guitars, a decidedly more slick and radio-friendly sound than their more garage rock sounding (though no less delightful) debut album, 2015’s No Exit. How this fits into a new album is not clear yet but the single is very promising. While waiting for more new releases, check out the band’s catchy remake of the Fine Young Cannibals’ “Good Thing” on Soundcloud.
New releases require new fans to really take off. It’s an age old equation in popular music. So start clicking through the links provided to Matt Whipkey, The Mylars, Quiet Company, and The Keepers to help turn this new music into a hit song or two.