Category Archives: mailbag

January 16, 2018 — “Tea-Soaked Letter” by Anna Burch

Anna Burch

If you only listen to one song today, make it “Tea-Soaked Letter” by Anna Burch (2018, from the forthcoming album Quit the Curse).
Anna Burch is an indie pop singer-songwriter working out of Detroit. Years ago, she was the front of a band called Failed Flowers, and she had been in other bands, but she took some time away from music to go to grad school. After that, she moved to Detroit and started a solo career. She got a big break when she was spotted by fellow Michigander Fred Thomas, who was once a member of His Name is Alive, and was also the front of the indie pop band Saturday Looks Good to Me. Thomas has also put out a few solo records and contributed to dozens of albums across many genres. As the story goes, he sent her demo to Polyvinyl Records with a note that said “This is not a drill. You need to hear this”. They liked it, and they quickly signed her. Her debut album Quit the Curse will be out on February 2.
This has all happened very quickly. Thomas sent the demos in the summer of 2017. She had a bunch of songs written, and she had also caught the ear of Collin Dupuis, who has mixed records by Angel Olsen, Mynabirds, The Black Keys, Grant-Lee Phillips, and many others. He helped her fine-tune those songs, and the end result is Quit the Curse. Only six months passed from the time Thomas said “listen to this” to the time Polyvinyl said “We’re putting this record out”. They announced the signing in late October and started promoting the album in November. I’ve been getting emails about a couple of the songs, and with the release date just a couple of weeks away, it’s time.
Some say she sounds like the brilliant no-fucks-given mid-90s indie rock of Liz Phair. Some people say she’s like Courtney Barnett. I get that, but I hear other things like the precision, power and punk-lite beauty of That Dog combined with the gritty and angular but silky smoothness of Julie Doiron. Boil all of that down, add a dash of Mitski, and I get Anna Burch. I love all of her songs that I’ve heard, but I love this one the most:
“Tea-Soaked Letter” by Anna Burch

I love it. And I love that it’s just a song about raw emotion. It’s not about romance and all that stuff: it’s about sex. Or wanting someone really badly. There’s one bit about not playing the game of trying to be wooed

I forgot to fake
the way that I was feeling
I guess it’s too late
All my cards are showing

and then the other bit about again accidentally-on purpose putting the ball in her own court:

No you can’t come up
Who am I kidding.. I would drag you up

But then there’s the bit where the other person might not feel the same:

What was that you said
That I don’t exist inside your head

Ouch!

There’s also some line about making a fool of herself in the interest of getting with this person. It may be to no avail, but she takes it in stride:

So I made a scene
I can think of things more embarrassing

Of course she really lays it on the line at the end:

You’re all I wanted
You’re all I wanted

Everyone understands these kinds of emotions. Everyone –well, mostly everyone– has given their unrequited love before. It sucks, but it’s not the end of the world. See also: “Your Best American Girl”.

There’s also a video of the song, and the video is another thing that makes me think of Julie Doiron.

Quit the Curse will be out on February 2, and you can pre-order it via Polyvinyl here. There’s a cool “pink/white starburst” vinyl in a limited run of 300 as well as a green vinyl, cd, cassette, and digital versions.


January 10, 2018 — “Sleepy Jane” by Corniglia

Corniglia

If you only listen to one song today, make it “Sleepy Jane” by Corniglia (2018, from the album Corniglia).
Corniglia is an indie rock/psychedelic/dream-pop duo from Perth. Matt Irwin is the primary songwriter, while the Italian-born Chloe De Paoli is the singer. They just released their self-titled debut album yesterday, and I got a thing in the mail bag about it. The great Australia-centric indie music magazine Happy has also really been pumping their tires a lot, which drew my attention even more.
To be fair, the email promised “psychedelic infused shoegaze”, which got me really excited. There’s a lot of wonderful shoegaze coming out of Australia these days, and I thought this would be an addition to the ever-growing list. I’ve listened the whole album, and there just isn’t much about this that makes me think of shoegaze. I like it a lot, but it’s dream-pop at best. I definitely get a lot of psychedelic and some ethereal vibes. Classify it however you want: it’s still pretty damn good.

Thanks to the organs/synths and the delay on the vocals, it’s a little hazy and a little cloudy. It may be Australian summer, but this song doesn’t make me think of driving around with the windows open, the birds singing, and the sun beating down on my shoulders. This makes me of driving around at night with only the moon and the stars above. It it makes me feel good.

“Sleepy Jane” by Corniglia

I’ve just listened to this song a few times in a row, and I like it more with each listen. Chloe’s vocals remind me of someone, but I can’t quite figure it out. No matter what, I like it and I’ll look forward to more from this group in the future.

You can buy a download of Corniglia via Bandcamp here.


January 8, 2018 — “Petal” by Hovvdy

Hovvdy

If you only listen to one song today, make it “Petal” by Hovvdy (2018, from the forthcoming album Cranberry).
Hovvdy is a slowcore/bedroom pop/”pillowcore” duo from Austin, Texas. Yes. Another band who uses a “double-v” in their band name in lieu of a “w”. Will Taylor and Charlie Martin, who are both drummers, met in 2014, and bonded over their love of downtempo pop music. They recorded some stuff in bedrooms and living rooms, and in 2016, they released their debut album Taster via Sports Day Records. That album was re-released by Double Double Whammy Records last year. Their sophomore album Cranberry is due out on February 9 via DDW. They’ll follow the record release with a mini-tour that features three shows in Texas, two in Mississippi, two in Tennessee, one in Louisiana, and one in Brooklyn.

I had never heard of the band before I got something in the mail bag about them. As everyone knows, I love DDW Records, and the email had a bunch of alluring press clippings. After giving a quick listen to a few songs, I really like what these guys are doing. There’s something really familiar about their style, and it took me a while, but I ultimately decided that they sound like Matt Pond doing early Built To Spill covers. Today’s song is my favorite of the three that I’ve heard, but they’re all great.

This is that song.
“Petal” by Hovvdy

Whichever one of the guys who does most of the singing has a nice falsetto that reminds me just a little of Doug Martsch out of Built to Spill. This guy sings better than Martsch, though. The song structure is a little like a lot of Built to Spill songs. Specifically, I’m thinking of “Car”. Except it’s slower-paced and much prettier. Like the way it might be if done by MPPA.

You can pre-order a digital copy of the album via Bandcamp here. You can also pre-order physical formats including a “cranberry red in milky clear” vinyl via the DDW web store here.

You can also see the beautifully shot video below. Bicycles. Pickup trucks. Dogs. Tree-lined streets. It’s got everything. Plus it’s got the band playing the song.


January 5, 2018 — “On a Sunday Morning” by Dead Vibrations

If you only listen to one song tonight, make it “On a Sunday Morning” by Dead Vibrations (2018, from the forthcoming album Dead Vibrations)
Dead Vibrations is a noise pop/shoegaze/psych rock quartet from Stockholm. They’ve been around since 2015, but they just released their first EP Reflections last year, and they’re all set to put out their eponymous debut album on January 26 via Fuzz Club Records.

The band has already been getting a lot of good press, and this new album should push them to the front of the Scandinavian shoegaze scene. I had never heard the band before, but I got something in the mail bag suggesting a sound reminiscent of Jesus and Mary Chain, Spacemen 3, and the Seattle grunge scene of the 1990s. In today’s song, there’s a small bit that absolutely reminds me of “Nearly Lost You” by Screaming Trees. Painted with broader strokes, today’s song reminds me more of Swervedriver than of the Mary Chain. On other songs, there’s a more viscous texture, and I’m reminded of Sonic Youth. And these are all fantastic things to be reminded of.

“On a Sunday Morning” by Dead Vibrations

The part where the drums come in at 0:32 up until where the vocals come in at 1:20 is the bit that reminds me of that Screaming Trees song. Then it gets noisy and has me thinking about Mezcal Head. There’s a bridge that’s a little Sonic Youth-esque, then back to that drumbeat at around 3:40.

I like this a lot. And I love the rest of the album. The rest of the album is a little sludgier and packed a little tighter. They don’t breathe very much, but that’s okay. This is meant to be sweaty and beer-soaked.

Look for the album on January 26. You can pre-order the vinyl here. It might be kind of fun to play that record with the pitch adjusted down to make it even sludgier. Pre-order the digital version here.

You should also check out the video of the band doing this song on a rooftop:


January 4, 2018 — “No Lies” by Flying Cape Experience

Flying Cape Experience

If you only listen to one song today, make it “No Lies” by Flying Cape Experience (2017, from the single “No Lies”).
Flying Cape Experience is a dream pop/indie folk/ambient shoegaze duo from Tampere, Finland. Tampere, as you know, is the hometown of Winnipeg Jets superstar Patrick Laine. I wrote about the band way back in 2015 when they were about to release their sophomore album. Now, they’re about to release their third album via the Portuguese label El Vals del Conejo , and they’ve put out a single in advance of it. The band recently contacted me with news of the just-released single and I told them I was more than happy to help spread the word.
This is decidedly less “ambient shoegaze” and more “dream-folk” than their previous stuff. Their other songs that I’ve heard remind me of Mazzy Star, but this is different. On this song, I’m reminded a bit of Azure Ray. Lots of acoustic guitar, hushed angelic vocals, and bits of delay to make it all warm and cozy on a snowy day.
I really like this single, which I assume will be on the forthcoming album. I’ll look forward to that. They haven’t announced a release date yet, but they say it’ll be early in 2018.
For now, this is their new song:
“No Lies” by Flying Cape Experience

I quite like the organ at the beginning and the way that it beautifully fades into the acoustic guitar. Around the 4:00 mark, when the synthetic strings come in and the acoustic guitar gets bigger and jangly, I’m reminded a bit of the criminally underappreciated Delicious Monster.

You can grab a download of today’s song via Bandcamp. Better yet, you can get the entire El Vals del Conejo catalog for just $19.50 USD here. The label also features This is That Song alumni The Virgance, and some other really cool bands in the realm of dream pop. Just in case you were wondering about that label’s name, “El Vals del Canejo” translates to “Waltz of the Rabbit”.


December 8, 2017 — “Youth Large, Size Small” by Scarp

Scarp

If you only listen to one song today, make it “Youth Large, Size Small” by Scarp (2017, from the EP Like a Dog).

Scarp is a Trans-Tasman dream pop/shoegaze/emo quartet with members from Sydney and Auckland, including a transplanted Englishman. They formed in 2016 as an emo five-piece, and they’ve changed the lineup a little along with changing their style. In an effort to shift away from emo, they recently started incorporating elements of shoegaze and dream pop.

I had never heard of the band until I got something in the mail bag the other day. The band has just released its debut EP, and they expect to put out a full-length album in the first half of 2018. Today’s song is the first song from that EP.

“Youth Large, Size Small” by Scarp

I like the lo-fi quality of it. It makes it sound somewhat exposed and vulnerable. And that works since that’s what they’re going for thematically. They say that the songs are about “the experience of coming to adulthood, experiencing loss and eventually finding serenity in life”. Today’s song is certainly about being in love and being unsure of a lot of things:

It hurts to be and see myself
Comparing myself to the person you want…

You prefer me when I’m naked
I prefer me when I’m alone

These are, after all, young adults. With fickle, fragile hearts.

In the last minute of the song, the tempo picks up a bit, and there’s a weird moment where the timing is a little (perhaps by design) awkward. During that section, in a weird sort of way that I wasn’t expecting at all, I’m reminded of Gala-era Lush. If Lush was on Quaaludes.

You can download Like a Dog via Bandcamp by naming your price here.


December 6, 2017 — “Sure” by Hatchie

Harriette Pilbeam (Hatchie)

If you only listen to one song today, make it “Sure” by Hatchie (from the 2017 standalone single).
Hatchie is the stage name of Brisbane-based indie/dream pop singer/songwriter Harriette Pilbeam. She’s been in the Brisbane music scene for a few years as a member of two other bands, but this is her first project that she’s been the front of. She released a shimmering indie-pop single called “Try” over the summer, and followed that with “Sure” a month ago. She’s set to release her debut EP early next year, and it’s probably safe to assume that this song will be on that record.

I recently got something in the mailbag about this rising star, and the email promised similarities to Slowdive and Cocteau Twins. Those kinds of handy references are thrown around pretty frequently, but it’s not often that I find the lofty comparison to actually work. “Try” doesn’t remind me of those bands at all, but there’s definitely a Robin Guthrie-like quality to the guitars on today’s song. In general, there’s a Milk and Kisses-era Cocteaus feeling. While Milk and Kisses is generally regarded by anyone with any frame of reference to be “lesser Cocteaus”, it’s still a very good album compared to the majority of stuff that passes as “rock music”. There’s also quite a bit of jangly guitars that remind me of the indie rock of the early 90s.
There isn’t a sharable Soundcloud or Bandcamp file, but here’s the video:

Right off the bat, the intro to the song is eerily reminiscent of the intro to a gem from the pre-Copacetic Velocity Girl days. The song “Forgotten Favorite” was on the band’s 1993 self-titled debut EP. It’s absolutely my favourite VG song. In fact, that whole EP is incredible, but it often gets forgotten in the catalog of a band that few people remember anyway.

The video seems to be a deliberate glove-tap to the indie pop videos of the early-mid 1990s. The stripey shirt worn by the guitar player. The jangly acoustic guitar. The bank of TVs with horizontal TV noise and video feedback/recursive image. The classic 8-eye Doc Martens worn by Pilbeam. This is all stuff that takes me back to the golden age of indie pop, when Pilbeam and her mates probably weren’t even born yet.

The song, according to what I’ve read, is about a couple who keep breaking up and getting back together. They’re giving it one last go because they can’t live with or without each other.

All I know about the forthcoming EP is that it’s called Sugar and Spice and that it’s due out “early next year”.


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