In honor of slackers everywhere, here is my April top ten just before June is about ready to start.
Savak – Human Error / Human Delight
Usually bands five albums in don’t have much left in the tank to surprise you. Hell, most bands don’t even make it to album number Three. New York City’s Savak defy all of these unwritten rules and deliver their best record yet. Named after the Iranian secret police that terrorized that country under the Shaw, Savak do not fear controversy and exude melodic and intellectual confidence. Human Error / Human Delight expertly meshes post punk and classic rock into a nearly perfect album. The group has two singers and songwriters – Sorab Habibion (Edsel, Obits) and Mike Jaworski (Cops) that keeps the record balanced between dissonant grooves and more classic sounding rockers. Side one is nearly perfect, blasting off with No Jazz, No Blues lays down the gauntlet for change both for themselves musically and for everyone else socially and otherwise. Cold Ocean thrills with its brilliant Television like guitar lick and the numbing droner Set Apart. Side Two nearly keeps up with both quality and surprises making this one of my top records of the year so far.
Loose Fit – Social Graces
When I first saw the name Loose Fit, I thought that they might be a Happy Mondays cover band. They’re not. Though like the that Manchester group, this Australian group’s is pretty good good at laying down the grove. Their debut record is a mover, pretty much guaranteed to get you going if you’re into the jittery grooves inspired by groups like Pylon, Public Image Limited and more recently French Vanilla. Every song builds on quality dance rhythms peppered with jagged guitars and bits of saxophone. Anna Langdon’s deadpan vocals take the party to the next level with her pithy barbs and zingers.
Charley Crockett – Lil G.L. Presents: Jukebox Charley
Charley Crockett nonchalantly pumps out one or two records per year. Since I’m still playing last year’s Music City USA and Lil’ G.L. Presents 10 For Slim I didn’t think I needed another Charley Crockett record just yet, but what the hell. This one is made up exclusively of covers including two from late Tom T Hall. Hall’s Lonely In Person is a highlight here. Another highlight is Dennis Linde’s “Where Have All the Average People Gone” which was made popular by Roger Miller. He swaps out Average with Honest, since the average people are everywhere, to make it more timely
Seatbelts – A World Inbetween
James Madden and Ryan Murphy of Hooton Tennis Club started this new band with Abi Woods and took a jaunt up to Scotland to record some of their songs with Edwyn Collins. The group had been letting songs trickle out on the internet to tease folks. A World Inbetweeen plucks the best of those familiar songs and adds some newer ones. Opener Citylines is lush and lofty evoking groups like Prefab Sprout and Pulp. Another Passing Day is nearly as good and the playful Hey, Hey Tiger is silly and fun. Woods’ songs provide a good juxtaposition and add some grit to the album. Her Super Stardom merits the Go-Betweens comparisons that the band have seen sent their way and Inspiration for Robots sounds inspired by Neil Young and Patty Smith.
The Hazmats – Empty Rooms
The Hazmats are some dudes from hard core groups Chubby and the Gang, Game and Big Cheese. Surprise! They’re also Wedding Present fans. This two song single jangles with indie charm that might surprise you. If Fucked Up can cover the Shop Assistants and Another Sunny day then big tough guys showing a penchant for more melodic fare shouldn’t come as such a surprise.
Lime Crush – Timewaster
Austria’s Lime Crush follow up their 2018 LP with this three song single. It’s nice to know they’re still a band and still ably working in the minimalist stripped down punk rock line of things while employing jagged guitars (similar to Lewsberg) and a dissonant melodic touch that keeps things on the tightrope without crashing down.
Wet Leg – Wet Leg
No sooner than when this album came out, it seemed like the backlash started. The duo’s Chaise Longue single from last year was nearly able to achieve the feat of crossing into the mainstream hence the pushback from certain corners. Soooo, if you haven’t given Wet Leg a chance which seems pretty unlikely, you could do a lot worse. The album is packed with punchy, drole numbers that are hard to not like. They employ the best parts of the Breeders, Elastica and Pavement and do it while adding in their understated irony to it all.
Jeanines – Don’t Wait for a Sign
Queens indiepop phenoms are back with their second record. The first one sort of came out of nowhere and I instantly fell for it. Don’t Wait for a Sign doesn’t have that same element of surprise, but it sounds more confident and wiser. Continuing to collaborate with Jed Smith (Mick Trouble and My Teenage Stride), Alicia Hyman excels at creating an autumnal jangle of longing nostalgia akin to the Bats and the Mamas and the Papas. On their best songs like That’s Ok, Dead Not Dead and Got Nowhere To Go where they combine the light and the dark, being upbeat and sad at once is where the Jeanines are at their best.
Neutrals – Bus Stop Nights EP
Oakland’s Neutrals slip back into our collective consciousness with this four song seven inch single. These DIY jangly songs are sure to connect with fans of Television Personalities and Emotional Response labelmates Mick Trouble. The stand-out song Gary Borthwick Says is an ode(?) to that friend or relative that everyone has probably experienced at some point in their lives who stretches the truth and exaggerates their connections, qualities and achievements. I appreciate how good they are at identifying everyday scenarios and making memorable songs about them. A gift for certain.
Stiff Richards – Stiff Richards
This one is a reissue of the 2017 self-titled debut from these Australian punkers. All of Stiff Richards albums seem to fly off the shelves as soon as their released and go out of print. I’m guessing this reissue will go out of print again soon. The lightening in a jar quality of these songs is so visceral that folks can’t stop themselves from forking over their harder earned cash. Employing bits of the Saints, Eddy Current Suppression Ring as well as the Damned. The record is all killer. Strung Out, Little Creature and Brainwashed are all classic punk songs that would fit nicely on a mix tape of that sort of thing and maybe even overshadow some of the older classics.