by: Matt Buga
Jeremy Jay-Splash [K]
Clever songwriting within the structure of stripped-down indie pop with 50s pop color tones on a canvas of the mellower side of 70s punk n roll. Plus points for the excellent chorus on "Just Dial My Number."
Television Personalities- A Memory Is Better Than Nothing [Rocketgirl]
I'm a huge sucker for bands who are fronted by one of those singer-talkers, especially those with an accent. So that's why I love this new colorful release from this Dan Treacy-lead cult-UK post-punk-pop outfit just passing three decades of age. Somehow, this old British man, gone through three overdoses, some prison time and self-loathing, makes such earnest, sensitive, and innocent music. Art-damaged pop litmus test for the emotionally-damaged sweeties. Give it a chance, there's a lot of variety on this so you should be able to find something you like and AT LEAST one lyric that'll get stuck in your head. FYI MGMT even wrote a song about Dan Treacy.
Blk Jks-Zol! [Secretly Canadian]
These South African rockers come back in a slightly new direction with this diverse EP. Overall its a lot more melodic, and way more rhythmic on the bass and drums plus extra African influences, but still on base with modern post-punk guitar riffage. Energetic but smooth. Apparently these guys are gonna be opening up for the World Cup!
Sleepy Sun- Fever [All Tommorow's Parties]
Well, this Californian boy-girl fronted band does sound like a sleepy sun. Through a scorched bluesy Americana lens, the album explores the dream pop spectrum through folk songs in the woods on a warm day to loud reverb-drenched ballads with the occasional dip into low-key subtlety. Sort if you wished Earth listened to more My Morning Jacket, or vice versa.
Gemma Ray- It's a Shame About Gemma Ray [Bronzerat]
A cover album of classics like Mudhoney, Gun Club (!!!!), Sonic Youth, and Buddy Holly as if you heard them by a sultry babe on a candle-lit creaky wooden porch on a dark Louisiana night. But believe me, these are totally re-invented songs with new moods rather than just some canon tracks re-done on a acoustic steel guitar. Sexy at times, spooky at times, sometimes both. I actually much prefer her version of Mudhoney's "Touch Me I'm Sick."
Karen Elson-The Ghost Who Walks [XL Recordings]
I have mentioned "sexy vocals," but Karen Elson is actually a model in real life (as opposed to fantasy)! Anyway, we got a swell Jack White-produced folk album with big Americana and dark southern influences. The tracks all over the place with all sorts of traditional and modern styles.
Damien Jurado-Saint Bartlett [Secretly Canadian]
A big beautiful album. I feel like its grounded in folk, but gets away from just acoustic business with loud and big arrangements.
Active Child- Curtis Lane [Filter]
Ethereal synth based jams highly influenced by 80s synth pop ala New Order and Tears for Fears. Icy and cool.
The Black Keys-Brothers [nonesuch]
More soulful rnbrocknroll from these indie superstars. Still has the classic guitar licks, and everything, and its all good mang.
Cobalt Cranes-In Media Rez [Antic]
An excellent EP to add to yr garage rock repertoire. Half of the tracks are more straightforward barnburners ala The Reatards, but the other half are sultry down-tempo boy-girl vocal lead with reverb-laden guitar riffage with a dark gothic lean. If I didn't know better I might've assumed it was two different bands.
The National - High Violet [4AD]
This band is apparently kind of huge. They just put out an album that placed #3 on the Billboard Top 200 (albeit coinciding with the weakest music sales week of the year). I remember one of the first albums I heard at KUCI was their "Alligator" album. I thought it had some pretty good and memorable bellow-voiced indie rock anthems. This is teetering on the edge of the mainstream, but I don't feel like it will be on KROQ anytime soon...
Dash Jacket - Romance [Life's Blood]
Orange County's #1 power-pop boys, playing really well-written pop songs under a slight sheen of tape noise. This is a feel-good record.
Trash Monsters-Self-titled [Heap o' Trouble]
Good ol' fun poppy punk with some ol' school flavoring here and there. Definitely on the more up-beat side, but I really dig the more ballad-y ones.
Coconuts-Coconuts [No Quarter]
Gothictribalpsychdrone by Australian transplants to Brooklyn with an unfitting name. Sometimes its hard to review an experimental album but we'll start off with that improvised compound word. This is mainly driven by hypnotic slow bass lines followed by dream-y chant vocals peppered with searing guitar washes, tricks and effects to cover the high end of the audio spectrum. All together it makes an ethereal minor-key (not necessarily depressing) drone-rock album of uber-swell quality. BONUS POINTS if you're a big music nerd and dig this: If Om decided to release the bats.