I’m falling behind, but endeavoring to keep it going here. Who knows? April’s top 10 could be posted next week!
Star Party – Meadow Flower
I feel compelled to lead off this month’s top ten with a Seattle duo that has me stoked. Star Party do it up nicely with lots of Vivian Girls, Dum Dum Girls, Shop Assistants and Black Tambourine vibes. I’m a sucker for fuzzy guitars and heavy reverb on the vocals which this has in spades. It’s also got a few sneaky heavy metal and punk vibes on You & Me and Shot Down that adds to their DIY maelstrom. Meadow Flower’s eight songs blasts by you in less than 20 minutes, giving you some serious whiplash. This more than delivers on the promise of their 2020 demo EP. If you missed that one, be sure to check out their killer cover of Dylan’s All I Really Wanna Do.
Doe St – Doe St
I heard Doe St over on the still ripping Did Not Chart blog. It’s only Q1 2022 and he’s over there getting all frothy how this is album of the year. And it could be for Boomgates and Twerps fans of which I count myself. Side one, track one Race to 25 is a total dandy of a song, and honestly they could retire after just this one and go down as one hit wonders in the obscure indie-internet-??? No need though, they’ve got more in the tank and deliver the rock and roll on all seven songs on their first LP. I often question whether or not I really need a physical artifact of music that I like, but when I turn up Doe St to high volume I am unable to resist an temptation that music this good creates when sharp object scrapes across a flat disc.
Theon Cross – Intra-I
Theon Cross’s second LP came out at the tail end of 2021, with the vinyl finally trickling out in 2022 due to the great vinyl production backlog. Cross is a Tuba player, a member of Sons of Kemet, and worked with Makaya McCraven. Reasons enough to give this a listen. Add the insane album cover, and someone like me cannot resist temptation. I suppose this could get slotted into the jazz bin or even the electronic bin. It’s got so much going on and all of it mind blowing and infinitely interesting. Throw in some dub, ambient and hip-hop and you’ve got a record that defies category and beguiles at every turn.
Charlotte Adigéry & Bolis Pupul
On her first two EP’s Charlotte Adigéry was solo, on her LP, she’s got a partner to share the spotlight, Bolis Pupul. She’s also loosened up showing a sense of humor that allows her to address sensitive political topics in an friendly manner that isn’t off putting or preachy. Tropical Dancer walks a tightrope of the political, provocative and propulsive.
Mo Dotti – Guilded Imagery
The second EP from LA’s Mo Dotti is mini shoegaze/dreampop masterpiece that seems to be inspired by two of my favorite things: classic first wave shoegaze of the early 90’s by the likes of Lush, Boo Radleys and Moose and the American version DIY inspired by that UK scene that popped up soon thereafter in bands like the the Swirlies and Veronica Lake and Lorelei (all three found on the One Last compilation). The first song Loser Smile has classic written all over it. They throw in a cover of the 6ths’ All Dressed Up In Dreams for good measure which also links them to the One Last Kiss compilation, as Stephen Merritt’s other band Magnetic Fields was on that comp as well. Serendipity?
Sob Stories – Fair Shakes
Go old fashioned power pop never goes out of style (because it never was in style?). There are loads great records in this underappreciated style where sweet guitar hooks and melodies are delivered in rapid fire succession and every song sounds like a hit. Why are they not international stars? I wish I knew. I do know that this album from Oakland’s Sob Stories will grab anyone who owns those Rhino DIY Powerpop compilations by the ears and force their purchase of it as soon as they hear it.
Ex-Vöid – Bigger Than Before
Ex-Vöid are Ex-Joanna Gruesome, at lease singers Lan McArdle and Owen Williams are (Williams also teams up with another former Joanna Gruesome teammate in Tubs). This album has been a long time coming. Ex-Void released their first sing in 2019 which raised some expectations that more was in short order. Well, patience pays off because Bigger Than Before is fully baked and super tasty. Its full of short, sharp, jabs of pop songs. The press kit says that it’s inspired by the Byrds, Big Star and Teenage Fanclub which I hear, but they add a fuzzy sheen to it that evokes Dinosaur Jr and Sebadoh too.
Destroyer – Labyrinthitis
The latest album from Dan Bejar’s Destroyer continues on a similar trajectory that started around time of the Kaputt album in 2011. He’s slowly morphed from Bowie into New Order, Prefab Sprout or the Dream Academy. Labyrinthitis which is a condition where the inner ear becomes inflamed causing vertigo and hearing loss which Bejar apparently is affected by may explain why this album isn’t as strong in the melody department as previous efforts, or maybe it’s just intentional. Many of the songs are built around delivering a general feeling instead of impacting the listener with the usual Behar vocals eccentricities. Don’t fret, Bejar still has some great lines (Been meaning to wear my hair like this for ages, and the band don’t need a singer, the band needs needs a helping hand). It’s a different Destroyer album, but built around similar scaffolding.
Mick Trouble – It’s Mick Trouble’s Second LP
Hey, it’s record number two from the slightly less mysterious Mick Trouble. Back when his first single and album came out, people were a buzz about who this guy was. Was it some private record from the early 80’s that someone dug up? Who was this Mick Trouble guy? Now we know it’s Jed Smith formerly of My Teenage Stride. Even though the fun of the mystery is gone, the second LP is no less alluring. Smith/Trouble has a knack for writing punky, powerpop ditties that sound like well worn classics.
Model Zero – Little Crystal
This single from this Memphis group channels rubber city rockers Devo along with some Idiot era Iggy Pop. Both songs channel good-time vibes and feature just the right amount of electronic sounds and guitars peppered with super catchy choruses. Totally fun single!