Hello Moon

Hello Moon are from Dublin,Ireland and love chiming bright guitars. The band is set to release their debut album entitled Only Count the Sunny Hours next month on Any Other City Records. It treads a line between jangly twee songs that bounce along like they were from some forgotten Post Card single and wintry atmospherics that march through the driven snow like tiny toy soldiers. Maybe it’s an Irish thing, but Hello Moon excel in balancing their sensitive twee side with their bigger dramatic side. Only Count the Sunny Hours is a record that can put a spring in your step and a smile on your face and tug at your emotional side too.

mp3: Hello Moon – Vanity (from Only Count the Sunny Hours coming soon on Any Other City)

Surf Punk Goes For the Pop Jugular

Moonheart and Ty Segall collaborator Mikal Cronin is set to release his first solo album and it’s a stunner. It’s not quite from out of nowhere, but the quality here surpasses anything he’s done previously. Here’s my track by track take on this very good record.

Is it Allright – Beach Boys oohs but with crunchy guitars and a flute freakout courtesy of John Dwyer. A grand statement for the first song that sets the bar high.

Apathy – To say that Cronin sounds like his sometimes collaborator Ty Segall is stating the obvious. Listen closer and you notice that Cronin’s voice is sweeter and mellower, plus he knows how to use a saxophone to great effect.

mp3: Mikal Cronin – Apathy

Green & Blue – starts out with Tomorrow Never Knows drums and then a huge soaring riff swoops in with the vocals arriving buried in the mix. This isn’t so much a song, but instead one mega-giant riff.

Get Along – Two favorite parts in this song: 1) Cool backwards guitar solo in the middle. 2.)Near the end he strips away the noise and it’s just acoustic guitar and Cronin singing “I’m not thinking about you”

mp3: Mikal Cronin – Get Along

Slow Down – slow mood piece that reminds me of Hollow Life by Frankie Rose. Where Hollow Life was the lead track to set the mood on Roaes’s album, Cronin puts his in the middle to give you a rest from the intense first half of the record and let you know that the second half is going to be something of a different beast.

Gone – few records these days put the best song as track one on side two, but in the current vinyl resurgence we may start seeing more of this again. A huge bassline in this one bubbles up out of the depths and a huge chorus to match it. Gone is the go to track on the record.

Situation – How do follow a giant pop song? With another one of course. This minor key hook that is quite sublime. A two minute pop song with no fat on it.

Again & Again – I like how this album progresses it seems to mellow. Less distortion and reverb here and Cronin is all the better for it. Again & Again has a hook that may or may not have been swiped from Steve Miller.

Hold On Me – The mellowness continues. Hold On Me is like a lullaby that conjures a hallucinogenic version of Buddy Holly. Complete with whistled outro. Sweet.

The Way Things Go – Epic final song. It’s like the Electric Light Orchestra where The kitchen sink gets thrown in an it nearly works until Cronin seems to purposefully fuck it up at the end. It’s as if he’s saying yeah I could do this, but I’m gonna warp it into something unlistenable because I don’t want to make the perfect album….yet.

Mikal Cronin’s self-titled debut comes out 2o September on Trouble In Mind.

People, People, the Small Reactions

About a week ago Atlanta’s Gold-Bears let it be known via their Twitter feed that people should check out fellow Atlantans Small Reactions. I follow Gold Bears for a reason, so I clicked the link. Cue cracking songs with buzzing guitars and big hooks (I’m such a sucker for this kind of thing). I’m hooked and a nascent super-fan after one song.

Small Reactions have been around for a few years but only released their first single (self-released) late last year which you can download for free over at their Bandcamp. Single number two is set to be unleashed in August and it’s another corker. The A-side, Nerve Pop starts surfy and then gives way to jangle and then to a big payoff chorus. There’s no mistake, this is pop done right. On the B-side they let loose, starting out in a noisy maelstrom that morphs into a groove that would make the Eddy Current Suppression Ring sweat. Wow these guys can bring it. Line up at you local record shop (if you still have one) for this one.

mp3: Small Reactions – Nerve Pop

Do the Mash Potato on the Gravy Rainbow

You smoke pot and you’re sleeping in, mid-afternoon with your friends down in parliment…
You want to be a writer, but you’re not very good…
You went on a tour with a band. I had kids I’m a family man…
You fill your house with the records you own. That sounds kinda sad…

Lil’ Chief Records, the lil’ label down in New Zealand that brought us Ruby Suns, Reduction Agents, Brunettes, Voom and Lawrence Arabia among others have just release the first EP from Wellingon’s the Eversons. They are four guys that sound like they know their native pop history and cleanly sprinkle it with chunks of pavement. In addition to their impeccable pop hooks, they’ve got a sense of humor that is reminiscent of the Pooh Sticks and Art Brut. What’s not to like especially if your an awkward kid with a sensitive side and a strange trainspotter sense of humor?

mp3: The Eversons – Gravy Rainbow

mp3: The Eversons – I’m a Conservative

Make sure you head over to the Lil’ Chief Bandcamp page to get The Eversons EP.

Singles of the Year Countdown: 40-31

I bought way too many seven inch singles this year. I’m not trying to brag. It’s a problem really. The seven inch is like crack to the record geek, a fleeting moment of pop perfection and then it’s off to either flip the record or put on another one. This was a daunting task this year and I feel like I left out a lot of stuff, but a top 60 would have been too much and limiting it to 40 makes you have to really decide, what were your favorite singles of the year. Here are numbers 40-31.

31. Mirah – Don’t! (Mississippi)

I admit that I hadn’t paid much attention to Mirah in recent years, but I do pay quite a lot of attention to Mississippi Records, so that led me to buying this record.  The song Don’t appeared on the compilation The Old Days Feeling in a different version, but that version didn’t prepare me for this Patsy Cline inspired beauty.  It has a warmth that you might not have thought that records could have any more and the b-side The Tears That Fall with its strings and horns is no slouch either. This record makes me pray that she’s planning a whole album in this style.

mp3: Don’t

32. Sourpatch – Deli Dream (Happy Happy Birthday To Me)

San Jose’s Sourpatch owned my record player for a good part of the year and just as I had properly killed their album Crushin’ they go and release this single to take over my record player again.  They called the sides to the single This side and Other side, but I call them Tiger Trap side and Small Factory Side.  In my little corner of the basement where the record player sits that is as close to perfection as it gets.

mp3: Deli Dream

33. Aias – Aias (Captured Tracks)

Every band should have a self-titled theme song and Barcelona’s Aias do just that with their horn laden song Aias.  These ladies put a twist on the girl group, C-86 phenomenon by singing in Catalan.  Note to old people who always say it’s a lovely tune but I can’t understand what their saying: Uh, yeah.

mp3: Aias

34. Yuck – Georgia (Fat Possum)

More 90’s sounds in this year’s countdown, you will quickly figure out that this is a recurring theme.  Georgia first appeared on the split record Yuck did with Cleveland’s Herzog on the Transparent label.  Fat Possum  new a good thing when they heard it and smartly released it as an A-side themselves.   The guitars remind me of Teenage Fanclub from their Bandwagonesque heyday, but Teenage Fanclub never had the secret weapon of  girl harmonies.

mp3: Georgia

35. For Ex-Lovers Only – Coffin (Magic Marker)

This Orlando, Florida band lay down a slab of white noise in Coffin.  A melody carefully buried underneath six feet of squalling guitars that does their namesakes proud.  I wonder if the Magic Kingdom has a Black Tambourine ride yet?

mp3: Coffin

36. Heavy Times – No Planes (Hozac)

For a second I thought BOAT picked up and moved back to Chicago.  No, it seems that Heavy Times just mine the same vein of sloppy, but friendly sounding pop.  Like BOAT, Heavy Times’ sound is steeped in the 90’s and these two songs will make you nostalgic for Hale Bopp, Boris Yeltsin, the Wonderbra and umm, Grunge.

mp3: No Planes

37. Talbot Adams – Jack and Jesse (Douchemaster)

Guided By Voices with Beach Boys Ooohh’s is probably all that needs to be said about this former Black and Whites front man who became a dad and turned down the volume and intensity.  What he left out in those two areas, he more than made up for in pop hooks.  This single contains four songs all under the two minute mark. It’s  like a cliffs notes for pop songs. Who said taking  the shortcut never paid off?

mp3: Life is Good When Cinematic

38. Math And Physics Club – Jimmy Had A Polaroid (Matinée)

Math & Physics Club don’t get out much but when they do they make the most of it.  Jimmy Had a Polaroid was the first single from the band’s second album and not a huge departure from their previous output, but when you’ve got a timeless sound and the ability to evoke bygone nostalgia that makes you ache for those days of really awful photos that faded to nothing a week later, then why mess with a good thing.

mp3: Jimmy Had a Polaroid

39. Fungi Girls – Doldrums (Hozac)

Sometimes it’s not the A-side of a single that grabs you, hell the Smiths’ How Soon Is Now? was a b-side.  Doldrums tucked away on the flip side of Turquoise Hotel has this great little riff that gets stuck in your head like glue.  These youngsters from Cleburne, Texas have quickly learned the art of seduction and Doldrums is prime evidence.  Looking forward to full swoon when album number two comes sometime next year.

mp3: Doldrums

40. Proper Ornaments – Recalling (Make a Mess)

Named after a Free Design song, the Proper Ornaments make warm, plaintive and fuzzy psychedelia.  The Ornaments are two dudes who are no strangers to the seven inch single having been in the Sexy Kids and currently also in Veronica Falls.  This is quiet and seductive music that is like a warm blanket on a cold night.

mp3: Recalling

[40-31] [30-21] [20-11] [10-1]

White Laces Getting Their Game On

Bombastic music from Richmond, Virginia has got me putting off my list making another night.  Use to be that this sort of music didn’t get made on this side of the Atlantic, but the world turned upside down  a few years ago and now Americans are making big sounding shoegaze music.  White Laces seem to have an innate ability to meld the hazy sounds of Seam with the prog grandiose of iLiKETRAiNS and the muscle of Swervedriver. This is big music that chimes, pummels, wrenches and soars.

After a couple sold-out cassette releases the four-piece band have unleashed a slab of wax.  It’s a five song EP that you can order from their Bandcamp page.  You may have to wait for the mailman to get your vinyl but the band provide an immediate download of the songs if you don’t have anything against the mp3 format.

mp3: White Laces – Sick of Summer

Tunabunny: Swimming, No Hopping In the Face of Fashion

Portrait by Julia Kay

Being an old curmudgeon, if I don’t like a band’s name I won’t give them a chance.  After all musical taste is all about aesthetics and if I don’t like the name, chances are I’m not going to like the music. There are tons of bands that reinforce that rule:  Crash Test Dummys, Vampire Weekend, Hoobastank, Deathcab for Cutie, Gay Dad, Dogs Die In Hot Cars, and the Cherry Poppin’ Daddys to name but a few.  Of course there are exceptions to the rule like Cats On Fire, Weedhounds, Prefab Sprout, and The The.  I would like to propose adding Tunabunny to my list of exceptions.

The Athens, Georgia band have just recently released their first album on their hometown label Happy Happy Birthday To Me. At first listen it was a dissonant and difficult record, but like the grumpy old guy in the movies, after you get know him, he turns out to be a sweetheart, well a sweetheart with thorns and burrs hidden about him.  What I’m trying to say is that it’s a grower.  Once you get used to the treble overload the songs begin to seep in.   Sometimes they kind of sound like hometown heroes Pylon at their most raunchy, or tender and scary like a Helium song, or freaked out in distortion like Boyracer, or just plane weird like little known LA pop freaks Charles Brown Superstar. It’s never obvious and you won’t immediately be in rapture, but if you give it a chance, the onion will peel which could result in stinging tears, something tasty, or both.

mp3: Tunabunny – Gasmasks

Order up a copy of the album on vinyl or cassette (what is this 1982 again?) from Happy Happy Birthday To Me.