For this volume we veer off into a more rockist direction, no substantive reason, it just happened that for the most part, the music files we received rang the “alternative rock” bell. And, that’s not a bad thing.
We begin this volume with an album I highly recommend, Spiritual Healers, Defence Lawyers by Eternal Dust. I admit to knowing absolutely nothing about this band from Sydney before I listened to one cut. Ebonny Munro, Oscar Sulich, and Finn Parker caught my attention straight away. There is a distinctive spirit of urgent rock here, check those hollers on Candy. An unrelenting wall of noise with what, dueling guitars? Do I hear the rhythm take over from the lead, then switch back again? No matter, Eternal Dust makes music I approve of.
Then, we come to four lads from London who obviously understand that many have tried, but few have succeeded in capturing the raw, gritty essence of rock. No pretensions here from Eel Men, they give us a straightforward delivery of energy that harks back to the golden age of rock. I could, but it really would be a disservice to name-check the records Eel Men have listened to. With Archetype, they have forged their own identity. I’m positive, here we have a must-see-live-band.
A longtime friend of mine who is a native of Philadelphia reckons that Groçer are big faves locally, and incredible live. Excellent praise indeed from a writer who knows his way around an important rock show, or three. On Downtown Slide drummer (and vocalist), Cody Nelson is obviously having a lot of fun as he and the rest of the band almost slip into a funk thang. Big props to Danielle Lovier on bass/vocals and Nicholas Rahn on guitar/vocals. Scatter Plot, Groçer’s new EP will not disappoint.
Originally from South Africa, Lucy Kruger is now based in Berlin making smartly produced music. Burning Building is from the forthcoming Heaving album. Listen beyond the obvious pop overtones and you’ll find interesting lyrics. Competent work happening here.
“I’m gonna dye my hair and listen to heavy metal. Gonna smoke a joint and drink Dr. Pepper” Says Spencer Encock who wrote the words for 2009, a cut from Pynch’s new album, Howling At A Concrete Moon. Special note, my dear friend of many decades, Gordon Raphael produced two of the tracks.
In spite of the horror of Putin’s war, the creative talents of the Ukrainian people continue to shine. The EP Patina by Phishpie showcases why instrumental music should not be overlooked, especially by indie and alternative programmers. The seemingly gentle but ominous Crime Scene from the Kyiv-based artist is a perfect example.
I’ll be honest, on first listen I knew I liked Chosen To Deserve. Then, I realized, I loved it. Everything works so well on Rat Saw God the new LP from Wednesday based in beautiful Asheville, North Carolina. Songwriter and guitarist, Karly Hartzman uses her voice flawlessly as she relates her stories, “The drugs are getting kinda boring to me” she sings on Chosen To Deserve. Along with MJ Lenderman, Candy Chelmis, Margo Schultz, and Alan Miller, Wednesday is a wonderfully talented band.
Juke The Tiger writes, “I make music in my awesome room in Sioux Falls” Now here is a superb example of how fiddling around in your bedroom with a laptop can result in remarkable pop music. I know little about Juke except I’m guessing he has a charming sense of humor – the portrait photo for Juke The Tiger appears to be Thomas the tank Engine pasted over for the face.
Rectify is a new 3 track EP from Sheffield-based New Ghost. On Dreaming, you’ll hear how New Ghost cleverly balances the vocals and the instrumentation. A lot of effort going on here. Plus, New Ghost is on the consistently cool Shoredive label out of Brighton and operated by Nico Wardle.
First of all, I mistakenly say Automatic instead of Atomic in the show’s recording. I may have been concentrating too hard on getting up to dance. Apologies to Acid Jerks and Refuge Recordings. “I like the way you move your atoms” announces Mikey V as Acid Jerks provide a throbbing rhythm. You’ll hear the Original Mix, but you should know there are two more brilliant versions available. Do make sure you check out Sydney’s Refuge Recording catalog.
How about a good pop song with emotive words? Dre Babinski is Steady Holiday, her new album is, Newfound Oxygen. I love every cut here. This is exceptional work from the LA-based artist. Do not be misled by the almost-too-cute-to-be-true cover photo or the ever-so-nice video. Full marks!
Scottish singer-songwriter, Tommy Ashby says the title of his debut album, Lamplighter is named after the great Edinburgh poet Norman MacCaig’s Praise of a Man, “It depicts all the people who were lamplighters in my life”. This is an impressive collection of songwriting. A delicate emotive veil drapes over every song, not so usual for male artists. His voice is strong and certainly pleasant, and the arrangements are well-considered. There is a faint familiarity here, yet Ashby does not rely on obvious codas or ideas. Totally satisfying as you’ll hear with When Love Goes Dark. Top marks for the production and be sure to check out the videos that accompany almost all the tracks. We’ve had this album on repeat, it’s that good.
Now to take us to the close, music from an artist I have been singing the praises of for some while. Penelope Trappes is an Australian artist based in Brighton, her latest LP is part three of a trilogy, which explains why it’s titled Penelope Three. I understand Penelope is at last getting the attention she deserves for making exquisite music that defies slotting into a genre. Hopefully, she will explore more of her musical visions. I’ll wait, reasonably patiently.
Artwork by Skip Peterson “Moon at dusk” 2021 26″ x 26″ Treated digital print on tempered glass. Courtesy of Norman B’s collection