Inside Mammoth Penguins

mampeng

You may remember Emma Kupa from Standard Fare who released two fine albums of polite indiepop and called it a day two years ago. Since then, Kupa has switched from bass to guitar, found some new band mates and started a new band called Mammoth Penguins. Their first album is called Hide and Seek. Of course it has similarities with Standard Fare and if you aren’t the inside baseball type of indiepop fan you could be forgiven for thinking it’s a new Standard Fare record.

For you inside baseball folks, Mammoth Penguins excel more in fuzzy and rawkus guitar licks than their forebearers and they also seem like they’re having more fun. Heck they’re even game for throwing in some 60’s girl group style ooh-ooh’s except it’s they boys doing it.  Some of the reviews I’ve read lament the fact that Mammoth Penguins sound a little less polished, but I like things a little unhinged in places. And not to worry, everything is held down by Kuppa’s easy voice and her great lyrics. She has a way of making fractured relationships and social anxiety sound fun and romantic. She also has a keen sense of what it’s like to be in your late 20’s having an early mid-life crisis. The record has elements of Courtney Barnett, the Lucksmiths and Comet Gain easily switching between sweet and sublime to shouting and rocking the while keeping you on the edge of you seat with the lyrics.  I’m not sure why they’re called Mammoth Penguins and you’re sure to get an odd look if you recommend them to friend. Hopefully your friends won’t be put off by a few over sized penguins.

Mammoth Penguins’ album Hide and Seek is out now on Fortuna Pop!

Neighbors and the Unseen Power of the Picket Fence

More Seattle goodness, this time from the friendly neighborhood Neighbors who are about to release their second album on Lost Sound Tapes. The easy reference point of Neighbors is Pavement, and I’m sure the band intend it, but their new album John In Babeland is not just paint by numbers. Pavement weren’t created in a vacuum, and Neighbors have more than just one single influence. Since I don’t personally know them I couldn’t tell you what they are, but bands like Firehose, REM, Camper van Beethoven, Neutral Milk Hotel and Hefner all come to mind. John In Babeland is their second album and vastly improves on their first record Puros Exitos, which had some good moments, but was really a young band kind of feeling its way around.

The album is named for their now departed bassist and a sex shop here in Seattle. Besides sex, the album exudes an easy confidence. Its 12 songs are quirky and immediately likable. Sometimes you think they’re punks, sometimes they’re arty smart-asses and other times they give the impression that they’re crusty hippies. Those three things (plus the sex) of course, are the main ingredients of most of the great bands throughout rock history.

mp3: Neighbors – Black Angel (from John in Babeland coming soon on Lost Sound Tapes)

You can hear a few more songs from the album over at Neighbors’ bandcamp page.