Big Brain Rock

When Baltimore shoegazers Wildhoney decided to up and relocate to the west coast, I guess that slightly upset the applecart. Sometimes a change of scenery can change your perspective on many things. In this case, for a few of the Wildhoney folks after mixing with some new blood they set their sites on extending their comfort zone and trading in some dreaminess for droniness. This new group go by the name Dummy and their social media bi-line states that “making music should not be fun.”

Could have fooled me. This five song EP certainly leaves the impression that they’re having fun. Wading into similar waters as the new Peel Dream Magazine LP, both Slacker Mask and Angel Gear deftly combine elements of My Bloody Valentine and Stereolab generating amazing results. Things take an interesting turn with Folk Song which does a really cool Nico/Electrelane thing and then for their final trick, Touch The Chimes takes an eight minute ambient exit into the beyond. Lots to like here. Can’t wait to see where Dummy go next.

The EP is Back!

So far this year, the best, or at least the most interesting stuff seems to be coming out in the extended play format, also known as the EP. Perhaps this is the best length for a release in 2019? A single is so fleeting, and who has time to sit through a 10 song LP?  The three to six song EP just might be the future. The EP takes many forms: the download, a cassette, a CD and even sometimes vinyl.  There’s something on each of those formats in this roundup of  2019’s EP highlights. Endeavoring to be format agnostic blog, I revel in the diversity of formats and make no claims of the superiority of one over another. Just make sure you have a computer :-/
Sydney’s Display Homes have been teasing a new EP for a month or two now. E.T.A. sees its release date keep getting pushed out. It was February, now it’s March 22. The band have made two songs from the four song available on their bandcamp. This cassette release follows up 2017 hit single Climate Change and has some high expectations to live up to, at least for me. Even if it’s 50% as good, it’ll be more than good enough.

Most bands giving away their music on the internet do it because no one will buy it. Seeds of Doubt are clearly doing it wrong. I would pay for this sort of thing and I bet a few others would too. the Band is moniker in which Chris Hopkins records under. He’s sort of like a modern day Cleaners from Venus in that he seems to just want to get his music out there. No complaints here as this four song EP is great and features Lerryn Whitfield as guest lead vocal on one song Big Boss which may be the high point of this EP of many highs.

Beauty Parlor are from Fort Worth, Texas and sound like they could have been on  February’s Mojo magazine cd which featured the likes of Prefab Sprout, Marine Girls, Orange Juice, Felt, and Microdisney. Fall In Love is a four song EP that is steeped in 80’s indiepop magic minus the horrible reverb heavy drums that were so prevalent.

The first thing that Baltimore’s Corduroy bring to mind is the way the singer sings slightly off key in an endearing way similar to some of those classic Pastels records. Comparing them a little to Tullycraft wouldn’t be unheard of. They also aren’t afraid to employ a little REM jangle to this six song EP that comes in download and cassette. A quick skip across the country over to Seattle and the Regrets and their energetic Endless Desire EP. The singer has powerful delivery that sounds a little like D. Crane of Boat and the playing is tight in a kind of fey-powerpop tilt, which in my opinion is a genre that needs to be created if it hasn’t been already. Sensitive powerpop for socially awkward types who like to rock. there’s a ton of us out there and we could really get behind a band like this.


You may remember Charlotte Adigéry‘s EP from a couple years ago. She’s back with another one called Zandoli. Its five songs see the Belgian-Caribbean singer giving us a better idea of her individuality. It’s less synthetic and icy sounding and more organically funky sounding as if she’s melting a glacier right into the Orinoco. I hope and LP is in the future after this pair of promising EP’s

Over in England, there’s a great label, Market Square Records that released the first single from the Cool Greenhouse. I love the Quietus review where they ask, “How much irony and repetition can we take? Really quite a lot, when it’s as good as this”. Part Yummy Fur, a good dose of Mark E Smith and enough repetition to send you into and endless loop of endless loops.

It’s curious how the internet treats geography sometimes. The Vapour Trails, purveyors of 60’s inspired jangle rock seem to be from Aberdeen. Aberdeen, where? Washington, Kurt Cobain’s hometown? I doubt it and am assuming it’s Scotland, but a cursory look on the old internet and your guess is as good as mine. Regardless of a sense of place, there is a strong sense of the Byrds and the Church and a healthy dose of good songs. Ok, it’s an EP so it’s only three songs, but there’s not a clunker in the bunch.

Some Good EPs from 2015

The extended play record never seems to get enough credit. Few do a year end list of EP’s, and if they do it gets ignored. So what better reason to do one, right? Does it get ignored? Check. Does nobody do one? Check. Does anyone even listen to EP’s? There must be a couple of you out there, right? So here’s a grouping of my favorite ones from the past 12 months. If it came out on 10″, 12″, cassette, or was a download only of 8 songs or less then it qualified for this list.

Cruising – Cruising (Tough Love)
Buy | Listen

Cruising come from Ireland and are made up of members of Girls Names, September Girls, Sea Pinks and Logikparty. Singer Benni Johnston has a piercingly cool voice that reminds me of Siouxsie and it fits perfectly with these dark, grimy punk songs.  This EP left me in the dust.

Wildhoney – Your Face Sideways (Top Shelf)
Buy | Listen

As if releasing one really good album this year wasn’t enough, Baltimore’s Wildhoney follow it up with an EP that goes for the shoegaze – noise pop jugular. This EP reminds me of the 90’s UK indie scene when bands like the Boo Radleys, Ride and the Pale Saints with a seemingly endless supplies of great songs would knock off amazing EP after EP.

Clap! Clap! – Simple (Black Acre)
Buy | Listen

Italy’s Cristiano Crisci is back with the follow up to last year’s epic Taya Bebba LP. Simple is more of the same if not a better mix of jazz, tribal beats and experimental techno dots and loops.

Tuff Love – Dross (Lost Map)
Buy | Listen

Tuff Love duo Julie Eisenstein and Suse Bear seem to effortlessly make crunchingly good guitar rock. With a nod to 90’s greats like the Breeders, Elastica and Sebadoh their Dross EP is a head bopping delight.

Tahitian Sons – Manchester Based Band (Self-released)
Buy | Listen

Confusingly Tahitian Sons are from Manchester. To clear things up they called their second EP Manchester Based Band. The singer kind of sounds like someone’s granddad, but in a cool way. Their low-fi pop recalls Felt and the Fall on Quaaludes. Lullabies for old punks and indie kids who thought the world passed them by.

Colorworks – Joyla Red (Self-released)
Buy | Listen

This is the first release for Seattle’s Colorworks, but their form of 60’s psychedelic pop is so accomplished that you might think it’s some long lost Elephant 6 band. Joyla Red evokes the sounds of Elephant 6 influences like the Zombies, Byrds, and the Kinks in its sound, but it’s not just a hollow homage. They’ve got the songs to match the sound.

Red Spencer – Red Spencer (Deaf Ambitions)
Buy | Listen

Red Spencer’s self-titled debut is one jangle filled mellow vibe. I could probably throw out the Flying Nun descriptor and not be too far off, but they have an element of the Brewis Brothers’ Field Music to them as well. Melbourne brothers Dave and Aiden McMillian deal in timeless pop no matter what you hear as their influences.

Frida & Ale – I Don’t Like to See Others Having Fun (WNBB)
Buy | Listen

It was so good to hear Frida from Rough Bunnies back making a record. On this EP she teamed up with Ale of Italy’s Le Man Avec Les Lunette. Together they made a wonderful understated acoustic record about self-destructive girl friends and Bryan Adams songs.

Flyying Colours – ROYGBIV (Shelflife)
Buy | Listen

Even in the internet age releasing EP’s doesn’t merit the same attention a full length album does. Case in point is Australia’s Flyying Colours who have two masterful EP’s beautiful shoegaze noise under their belts, but seemingly few accolades. Well, here’s one. Go get this amazing record, or better yet they’ve released a CD version containing both EP’s which ends up equaling one super amazing record.

Diet Cig – Over Easy (Father/Daughter)
Buy | Listen

New Paltz, New York boy girl duo Alex Luciano and Noah Bowman make a cute little ruckus that has it’s roots in 90’s US indiepop bands like Courtney Love, Small Factory and Tiger Trap. They’re like a breath of fresh air in this present day overwraught indie world.

Day Ravies – Under the Lamp (Strange Pursuits)
Buy | Listen

Sydney, Australia’s Day Ravies continue their streak with this four song EP. They seemed to shed some of the shoegaze leanings of their debut for a more straightforward approach to their songs. It was no less affecting, with songs like Sleepwalk and Perennial that kept the flames alight until LP number two which followed later in the year.

Alpaca Sports – When You Need Me Most (Elefant)
Buy | Listen

Swedish indiepop duo follow up last year’s debut LP with more catchy light sounding pop with nary a dark or ill thought. This is innocent, virgin, pristine pop.

Bitchin Bajas – Transporteur (Hands in the Dark)
Buy | Listen

Chicago instrumental outfit Bitchin Bajas deliver a great set of music that veers from motorik zone-outs to Eno inspired ambiance to ethereal Oldfield-seque ditties.

Mommy Long Legs – Assholes (Self-released)
Buy | Listen

Seattle punks on the same team as Childbirth, Tacocat and Wimps put out two EP’s this year. I picked this one because I think it contains two of their best songs. Assholes decry’s the establishment as well as anything has in the last 20 years and Weird Girl celebrates shoplifting at JC Penny and watching TV. Mommy Long Legs are the right combination of weird and pissed and funny.