I wonder how much prodding it would take for Pam and Bart to pull “Lost and Found”* out of their hat at Popfest? I mean, between The Cat’s Miaow and Shapiros songs, I feel like we could squeeze in another Pam gem. I can at least guarantee my eternal gratitude, for whatever that’s worth.
*The Seashell Sea version please, though I will also accept the speedier Castaway Stones version as beggars cannot be choosers.
Sibille Attar’s debut LP Sleepyhead might be the best record from 2013 that I didn’t hear a single second of in 2013. Sibille, as some may know, has been the brilliant leading voice of Swedish indiepoppers Speedmarket Avenue (who are much overdue for a new record!) since 2004. Her first solo is more of an overtly POP affair and more along the lines of Annika Norlin’s many ventures, or, at times, Nicole Sabouné.
Sleepyhead is still limited to a relatively small Swedish release on Stranded Rekords, but here’s hoping it could see a U.S. release sometime this year!
Pretty in love with this track from Denton, TX’s Blessin’ right now. It’s from their upcoming Do You EP on the wonderful Art Is Hard Records. It’s a cassette, which, ugh, but what can you do? We live in modern times.
It’s good though, so whatever. Fuzzy guitars + twinkly guitars is always gonna be a pretty instant A+ in my book no matter how many times it’s done the exact same way.
Since I hadn’t really pushed it too hard in the past few months, and I’ll take literally any opportunity to make a Wintery-themed mix, February seemed like a fantastic month to make it happen. As I mop up yet another shimmering layer of rock salt off of my living room floor, I’m hoping this brings even the tiniest bit of warmth to a Winter that just won’t seem to end.
February is also well-suited for tying up a few loose ends and getting on with the new year! This month’s mix includes tracks from a few brilliant 2013 records that I stumbled upon just a bit too late (Makthaverskan’s II and Tiger Baby’s perfectly wintery Alone EP), as well as new tracks from School (doing a knock-out Cocteaus impression), Tripping The Light Fantastic, Nicole Sabouné, and Simian Ghost—all making a pretty damn solid case for 2014 being another amazing year for pop songs. And what’s a Winter pop mix without Nothern Picture Library’s “Catholic Easter Colours”? NOT A WINTER MIX WORTH HAVING, THAT’S WHAT.
01. Nothern Picture Library “Catholic Easter Colours” 02. School “Clouds Aside” 03. Tiger Tape “Just A Cat” 04. Je Suis Animal “Painted In My Face” 05. Makthaverskan “Slowly Sinking” 06. Life Without Buildings “Let’s Get Out” 07. Tugboat “Next Year’s Words” 08. Tripping The Light Fantastic “Heavy Heart” 09. Language Of Flowers “It’s Not You” 10. Nicole Sabouné “Conquer Or Suffer” 11. Simian Ghost “Echoes Of Songs” 12. The Faintest Ideas “Nothing Will Ever Happen” 13. The Radio Dept. “I Don’t Need Love, I’ve Got My Band” 14. Tiger Baby “Winter Song”
HAPPY MONDAY! Following a stream of near-flawless singles, Brighton’s Fear of Men will finally be releasing a proper debut LP! “Alta” and “Waterfall” open Loom in a by-now-expected, albeit still gorgeously dreamy fashion. Synths wash over and guitars churn as Jessica calls out in repeat “I’m not alone in this”—further driving home the feelings of loneliness and disconnection that have draped the majority of Fear of Men’s catalogue thus far.
Loom will be released by Kanine Records on the 21st April in the UK, 22nd in the US! Aaaaaaaand a limited two-color vinyl edition will be released on Record Store Day, April 19th!
Oh my gosh oh my gosh, how I missed A Sunny Day In Glasgow! The troupe of Philadelphia pop geniuses are back—making their first peep since 2010’s brilliant Autumn, Again—with a brand new song! “In Love With Useless (The Timeless Geometry In The Tradition Of Passing)” is, quite unexpectedly at this point, a deeply fragmented and danceable dream pop gem, as gorgeous as it is schizophrenic.
The song is the first to emerge from their hopefully upcoming very very soon Kickstarter-funded fourth LP.
If you had hoped to listen to more than one song today, here’s Bleeding Rainbow’s new single “So You Know” to ruin all of your dreams and aspirations of such a thing. It’s the first single from their upcoming Interrupt LP on Kanine Records and it’s an enormous pop song with swirling, driving guitars and a SOARING, earworm of a vocal melody c/o Sarah Everton. This is the sound of the sun exploding. Now we’re all dead.
Around the time that I fell in love with their single “Delphine (With A Purpose)” last year, Dunedin, NZ’s Trick Mammoth we’re still slated to deliver their debut LP Floristry within the walls of 2013. Not quite the case, and so now this gorgeous, dreamy beast of a pop record will be one of the first and finest out of the gate in 2014.
The record opens with "Baltimore"—my absolute favorite of their early demos. It’s probably their most immediately catchy and jangling moment, all speeding drums and basslines, with sun-kissed leads and Millie Lovelock’s breezy vocals, and a damn fine way to open a record. It’s “Cold Dalmation”, however, that’s got me hooked right now. It took me a few tries to get to the last two tracks of the record, as I’m pretty sure I went back and played it at least 5-6 times in a row before moving on! It’s the trio at their snooziest and dreamiest. The track builds and builds into a fantastic bridge with crashing drums and fuzz to the ceiling—all of this topped with the loveliest overlapping vocal harmonies. It’s a dream. Almost like something The Arrogants might have dreamed up, but didn’t.
Also also! You can find more of Millie in the noiser/gazier Astro Children, Sam in the brilliant band Males, and Adrian can be found solo as Mavis Gary! All come quite highly recommended. Males, you may remember, appeared on the November Mix of last year!
So, after admitting to myself that I wasn’t going to get the 2013 year-end mixes done this year I got a little bummed out. 2013 was such a brilliant year for pop that it would be an absolute shame to flat-out forego any mention of the records and songs that made me smile, dance, cry, or otherwise FEEL LOTS OF THINGS this year. So here they are: Skatterbrain’s 15 favorite records and 30 favorite songs of 2013.
Top 30 Songs: (In no order whatsoever, but very much loved)
The History of Apple Pie “I Want More” Girls Names “The Olympia” Big Deal “Swapping Spit” September Girls “Some For Me” The Mantles “Shadow Of Your Step” Joanna Gruesome “Secret Surprise” Little Big League “Brackish Water” Heathers “Teenage Clothes” The Spook School “I’ll Be Honest” Flowers “Shy” Sally Shapiro “Don’t Be Afraid” (Alternate Version) Break It Up “We Have It” Fleeting Joys “Kiss A Girl In Black” Bent Shapes “I Was Here But I Disappear” Wax Idols “Stay In” The Young Sinclairs “You Know Where To Find Me” English Singles “Ordinary Girls” Annie “Ralph Macchio” Empress Of “Hat Trick” The Vacuum Dreamers “Iris The Serene & Judy The Obscure” Places To Hide “Drugs” The Blanche Hudson Weekend “Someone Please Make It Rain” Day Ravies “Double Act” Catnaps “Novelty” Golden Grrrls “Paul Simon” Modern Charms “When We Get There” The Fireworks “Runaround” Tunabunny “Hollywood Unincorporated” Crystal Stilts “Star Crawl” Dutch Barn “Lighter Later”
So there it is! Again, sadly, no mix this year, but most of these songs and almost 100 more favorites from this year can be streamed in my playlist on Spotify here:
Merry new year! I have to say, I am so very pleased to leave the past two immensely busy months of 2013 in the dust and move onto 2014 with a fresh start! On that note, there’s good and not-so-good news. I will not be doing an end-of-the-year mix this year. Excuses are for dummies, but basically it was just a bit too much to add to the growing to-do list of the past several months. It fell by the wayside, and so here we are.
But! Ashes to ashes, or whatever, because it’s a new year a new chance to get back on the ball and put together a mix of (20)14 (aha ha ha) of the most heavenly pop hits! Lots of old jangly favorites, plus a new one from The Fireworks (who released not one, but TWO brilliant records this year), round of the first mix of the year and I hope you’ll love it!!! See you soon!
You Need A Mess of Songs to Stand This Rainy Friday
Granted, it might not be raining where you are, but I think the sentiment is still there. I’ve been a little quiet lately, but I wanted to share a few new things that have been on endless repeat in Skatterbrainland lately.
Let’s Wrestle are back! Foremost pop purveyors Fortuna Pop! will be releasing their self-titled third LP sometime in February. After a countless blur of listens this week, “Codeine and Marshmallows” is well on its way to possible becoming my new favorite Let’s Wrestle track! Definitely more matured and openly heartfelt than we’ve seen from them in the past (“she is my winter, and she’s laying claim/I’m sucking on a spoon, cause her name is pain”), but it comes through as perfect to these ears—and definitely a suitable compliment to a rainy winter day.
Speaking of Winter and December and CHRISTMAS, there’s still time to grab all 4 Singles of the 2013 edition of the Snowflakes Christmas Single Club! This year’s set includes 7”s from Smoke Fairies, The Miserable Rich, The Silhouettes, and The Garlands! Here’s the Garlands’ A-side, a rerecorded version of the their 2008 “Christmas Song.” It’s the Margo Guryan Christmas song you always wanted, but never had.
And to round things out, if you haven’t grabbed any of these yet, you’re going to want to fix that up RIGHT NOW:
New Flowers Demos! If you don’t feel the need to listen to “Shy” 20 times in a row, then I just don’t know how you make it through the day.
So, whoops. Not really any particularly good excuse this month, other than whoops! But don’t let that spoil this month’s mix, because you’ve still got a few days left to soak it up. And there’s lots of new stuff this month, too! Making Marks, Break It Up, Day Ravies, Males, and Modern Charms all have fantastic records out now now now or very much on the way, so go do some thorough snooping!
HAPPY MIXSGIVING! Might I suggest passing out with this after Thanksgiving Dinner on Thursday? That’s what I’ll be doing.
Here’s a slice of endlessly perfect POP for your Friday morning. Mad Planets shared the same shimmering heart-on-sleeve pop tendencies as contemporaries My Favorite—and even once shared a side of wax, too (where this track originally appeared, in fact)—but seem to be considerably less remembered than the aforementioned My Favorite. Quite a shame, as one could make a strong case for Tara Emelye’s voice indeed being one of the finest of indiepop’s mighty mid-90s.
After much hoping and waiting, the first compilation from Netherlands POP label Candy Twist is finally seeing the light of day! Nobody’s Business is PURE POP through and through—a new flag to wave around and then dance on top of until you can’t dance anymore.
Like any pop compilation worth its salt, the 12 tracks span the globe more than a few times—and it’s quite without hyperbole when I say that this thing is wall-to-wall gems. From the fuzzbomb opener c/o The Fireworks to the bittersweet lounge sway of Making Marks’ “Breakthough”, there’s plenty here to warrant an endless amount of listens.
Preorders are up now aaaaaaand if you hop on that train right now you’ll get the FREE and exclusive accompanying fanzine featuring 48 pages of interviews with the bands on this LP, and all sorts of other things!
There aren’t many better ways to start off a brand new week than with a brand new Veronica Falls single! “Nobody There,” recorded to celebrate their upcoming Fall tour, is more of that perfect, chugging, sunny day pop that can be found all throughout ‘Waiting For Something To Happen’.
Apologies for being almost TWO weeks late on my favorite mix-making month of the year! It could have come sooner, but making it last week—with October temperatures in the high 80s—just felt terribly wrong. It’s down to mid 50s this week, though, so now it feels just right.
This month’s mix kicks off with a new one from DOE. All heavy-fuzz, yells and feedback squalls—exactly how any respectable October mix should open, right? Following that there’s Tsunami, Places To Hide (arguably the best song from one of the best records of the year), and 13 others all waiting to get you into the Fall spirit. It’s cozy Mix season, Motherfuckers.
I’m really, really, really happy about the massive amount of early Stereolab these dudes must be listening to. And just when you think maybe they’ve been listening to “John Cage Bubblegum” just a few too many times (as if that’s even possible), the chorus goes all powerpop and you’re like, “ok”.
Philadelphia’s Break It Up—who’ve been hiding right under my nose for the past two years—have finally released their *fantastic* debut LP! And they’ll be playing it at their cd release/Tuesday Tune-Out tonight at PhilaMOCA!
As for the record: To my ears it’s one of the better records to come out of the city in a while! The trio of Casey Bell, Dan Morse, and Jen Sperling throw pop hook after pop; sometimes through fuzzy guitars and speedy drums, and sometimes, like on “We Hate It”, they, quite elegantly, take a page from one of Yo La Tengo’s more sprawling moments. Note: An egg shaker and a wall of guitars will get you VERY far in my book.
Between Virginia Wing’s Extended Play 12” (A title reference to a reasonably accurate sonic touchpoint, perhaps?) and the recently released Shudder Pulps 7”, Faux Discx is kind of killing it this Fall.
The relatively new London four-piece by the name of Virginia Wing, already sound pretty damn surefooted in their pretty particular musical landscape—we’ll call it dirgey, dreamlike Metropolis underbelly rock. “Common Ground” calls up alternating images of shadowy, shuddering treelines and monstrous pistons pumping away in some great noir-kraut mystery machine. But it also sounds like Broadcast, I guess. Listen to it right now.
Well, this Friday just got a million times better! In a pretty surprising announcement, we now have a new Swearin’ song to fall in love with and an early November (5th on Salinas in the US, 4th on Wichita in the UK) release date to get excited about! And if the effortless, Pavement-y coolness of “Watered Down” is any indication, then I think I’ve already got my go-to Winter 2013 record sorted. Get ready for those endlessly charming “Right now it’s easy to see it/And I know why you’re hiding” harmonies to get stuck in your head asap. This is perfect crunchy leaves music.
Though the endlessly wonderful Birthday Kiss (responsible for one of the very best pop singles of this year) seem to be no more, the return of Ben Siddall’s original indiepop venture, The Lodger, is definitely helping to heal the wounds. It’s been three years since we last heard from The Lodger, but the driving jangle of new single “Fast”—available for FREE download—sees Siddall’s pop chops still very much in top form!
WELL THEN, it seems we’re finally getting some real details! In a year that’s seen more classic Indiepop reissues than anyone could have ever possibly expected (House of Love boxset on Optic Nerve, anyone?!), I suppose it’s only right that Talulah Gosh are finally getting the proper retrospective treatment. Was It Just A Dream? comes c/o Damaged Goods Records and includes an extensive collection of radio sessions, demos, singles and LP tracks—all topped off with archive photos and sure-to-be-brilliant liner notes by the one and only Everett True.
Release is scheduled for November 4th, but keep an eye on Damaged Goods for more details! And oh yeah, it’ll be on vinyl.
A mere 48 hours into September and I’m already driving away friends and family with my annual premature over-enthusiasm for any and all things remotely reeking (s/o to the pumpkin candle I’ve already had going for the past week) of Autumn. But, sorry I’m not sorry. Even if it is still hitting 80+ highs, my mind has now officially fixated itself upon some crisp and chilly dreamworld where everything is orange and nothing is sweaty. Now, it’s only fitting that I soundtrack this new mindset as appropriately as I can. AND I HAVE.
If you’re still clinging to those Summer pearls, this might not be the mix for you, but if you’re already having daydreams of leaf piles and hot cider, then you’re in good company. This month’s mix is mostly comprised of old favorites, but pay attention to a pair of new songs from Little Big League (Philly!, ex-Post Post) and Bent Shapes (Boston!, used to be called Girlfriends). Both just released seriously GREAT debut LPs, so get on it!!!!
I don’t normally play it too close to the vest, like, EVER, buttttttttttt, if I’m being quite honest and as free from hyperbole as personally possible, I’d have to say “Shadow of Your Step” is—at this very moment—the song of the year. It meets my typical criteria for a perfect song in that I want the outro to last for at least 10 more minutes. You can lay in the grass to it, you can fall asleep to it, or you could walk home squinting at the sunset to it. It’s everything at the same time and yet so effortless and perfect. The Mantles have gotten better with every passing day; which, to be honest, is tough to say about a lot of their contemporaries.
This is *potentially* the breeziest damn thing you’ll hear all week. It feels like Summer and it sounds just like a Margerine Eclipse b-side—sign me up immediately! I’m a bit unfamiliar with Turntable Films, but I have made myself aware of a few things: I am 93% certain the title of this song is “Honolulu”, they’ve been around since 2009, they share a label with Homecomings (whom I love dearly), and this track comes from an upcoming split with Siamese Cats (whom I clearly need to investigate!). Pour yourself a drink and play it a few times.
Dig around on Second Royal’s site for a little while and you might just be able to order the record!
The second single from Terry Malts’ blistering fuzzbomb of a sophomore LP (on SLR!) is yet another in a fine line of raw, dirt-covered gems that they can’t seem to stop churning out. “Walking Without You”, not unlike the majority of their existing catalog, is a rather ideal complement to being pissed off about, well, anything. And the fact that it sounds like Henry’s Dress’ “You Killed A Boy For Me” and Swell Maps’ “New York” crashing into each other doesn’t really hurt either.
It’s August and once again we’re finally closer to the end of Summer than the beginning! It should come as no surprise to anyone by now that that signals a truly joyous time around here—and a time to celebrate! OH, celebrate we will.
I took this mix on a five-mile walk on Sunday and I can assure you that it’s at least very good for that (and not at all boring after five times, front-to-back, in a row). As is occasionally the case when I feel like it, this month’s mix includes no new songs, but I am hoping perhaps you’ll walk away with something great you’ve never heard before! Like, perhaps, the brilliant intro of Sleepyhead’s “What’s Gonna Set You Free?!” Or maybe the vocal melody gymnastics of HMBM5’s “Suzanne.” There are also two Biff Bang Pow! tracks to be found here! One, of course, c/o Mr. Feck.
We’ve been blessed with a pretty fantastic Autumn by way of August day here in Philadelphia today. It feels, and even SMELLS(!), a bit like Fall outside and I really couldn’t imagine a more perfect day for Columbus, Ohio’s All Dogs to have entered my life! An ongoing Columbus mystery for a little while now, they’ve finally released a stunning, exuberant half a tape with fellow Ohioans Slouch taking on the other half.
Mentioning the house of Crutchfield feels a little too easy here, but it’s also a pretty accurate touchpoint (along with a bit of That Dog, Team Dresch, and Superchunk)—and certainly not a bad one, indeed. The wide-eyed punk-pop energy of lead-off track “Farm” serves as a near-perfect intro to an EP’s worth of songs that never let up even an ounce of that drive. And as if I wasn’t already in love with them enough from the start, the six-song run closes with a Muffs cover. A Muffs cover! Well shit.
The Secret History’s 2010 debut, written by Michael Grace Jr. following the joyless fall of My Favorite (whom I’d personally hold up high as one of the most important pop bands of the past 15 years), never sunk in the way I’d hoped. The record, the band, the loss of My Favorite, everything felt disjointed to me. I recognized some of the features, but The Secret History felt like a stranger asking me to get into a car with them. I couldn’t bear to do it.
Turns out I just wasn’t ready to grow up yet.
A mere three years and some change later, The Secret History have released their sophomore LP Americans Singing In The Dark and it’s a brilliant flash of unabashedly earnest, heartbreaking pop songs aiming to resolve a bit of unfinished business. The record claims to be the natural continuation (or conclusion) of the characters and narratives of My Favorite’s swan song The Happiest Days Of Our Lives. The vignettes running through the minutes of that record were, well, dark—melancholic at best and, occasionally, downright dysphoric. And the post-millennial world hasn’t exactly been any kinder to their dreams.
Ten years later, there’s a certain personal comfort in learning that these fictional characters, while not particularly better off than they ever were, are still dragging themselves through the dark streets and even darker dreams of NYC for better or worse. And just as the characters exist outside the supposed bounds of their modern world, as does the record itself. Americans Singing In The Dark is an indiepop record with no visible interest in being an indiepop record of the current climate. Life-affirming saxophone blasts break through glammed-up guitars solos with such joyful perfection, that it would, quite frankly, make the gutless, Wake-worshipping ranks of the new pop shit their pants. Except that’s not nearly all, and elsewhere you’ll find flecks of country, dance, even a few strokes of dub all under the careful watch of a group of massively talented dreamers who could turn anything into an evocative pop gem if they so wished.
Whether this record functions simply as a reunion or a funeral is a little bit unclear. But whether these characters and songs find the bright lights or dissolve into the night with little fanfare, I’m terribly glad to have known them.
Living within a current pop scene that tends to embrace garagey guitars and expediency (I’m at fault here, too), its hard to not be a little nostalgic for the elegance and subtleties that, at least in my mind, seemed to have marked the West Coast indiepop hot bed of the mid-to-late 90s. It’s for this reason that the recently released Majestic 12 retrospective on Shelflife Records couldn’t have come at a more perfect time.
The up-in-the-clouds vocal harmonies of Jana Heller and Scott Schultz hover just above equally dreamy and effected Galaxie 500-esque guitars. The songs are melodically pristine, but nowhere near sterile, and it all feels a bit like looking through a viewmaster stocked exclusively with images of sunny fields and constellations. These 13 pop songs are so essential for anyone with even a fleeting interest in fleeting moments.
Super highly recommended for fans of: Galaxie 500, Holiday Flyer, The Arrogants, Sushi, Birdie, et al.
One of my favorite Peel Session tracks from the Primal Scream golden years (1985-1986) that was sadly never properly recorded or released (along with “Tomorrow Ends Today”—though, The Springfields did later record a cover of that one as a b-side for Sarah in 1991!). Anyway. “Bewitched and Bewildered” is a gorgeous pop song, and as with many of their songs from that period, entirely better than everything that followed.
Helsinki powerpoppers First Times have just posted the first taste from their upcoming EP and it’s nothing short of a midsummer gem! “I Can’t Get To You” laps like the laziest waves at sunset, while you lament the sand between your toes and the glaringly empty space between your arms. But you won’t be walking home alone, because god knows that hook is going to stay with you through the night.
The Mono Mono EP is out in August! Keep your eyes peeled!
Hi! It might be 20+ days late, but it’s still July so it’s still time for a mix! All sorts of busy and etc have been in the way for a bit, but some semblance of regular posting should be resuming soon! For now, here are a few songs to soundtrack your inevitable transition from a living, breathing person into a hot steamy puddle of sweat. Take these on a day trip with the windows down and PLAY THEM LOUD! We might actual make it through the Summer afterall.
Going back to 1997 this morning, here’s my favorite track off of Holiday Flyer’s sophomore LP, The Rainbow Confection. The less than two minutes of “Things That Made You Blue” show off the harmonizing prowess of brother-and-sister John and Kate Conley perhaps better than anything else they ever put to tape (their 1994 debut 7” maybe withstanding). It’s all sweetness and light; a perfect complement to spending the earlier hours of the day with your head firmly rooted in the clouds.
Winter Bear is the FANTASTIC new project (in addition to No Bueno) from Erin Dorbin of the late, very great Cave Weddings! If you’re familiar with the girl-group-meets-garage-meets-90s indiepop vibes of the previously mentioned Cave Weddings then you can safely expect to find yourself dancing just the same to Winter Bear. “Jump in the Fire” is speeding from the start with fuzzy guitars and bouncing drums, but it’s the hook-laden vocals that make it the super summer gem that it is. You’ll never hear a complaint from me when I’m up to my elbows in “sha-la-las” and “ba-ba-bas”—especially when they overlap so perfectly.
Newish PDX-based fuzzy foursome TeenSpot have just blessed the pop-loving corners of the internet with a sparkling crackling six-song EP of enthusiastic hook after enthusiastic hook. Summery pop melodies and aggressive, penetrating garage-inspired vocals rub shoulders in a story you might feel like you heard all too many times in the past few years. I assure you, though, you’re gonna want to stay awake for this one. These clearly well-crafted pop songs are the real deal. You don’t just slap a droopy dog dancing with a little girl on your record unless you know your shit, ok. These are just pop facts.
The Digital EP is $6 on bandcamp NOW! Or you can wait for the 7”, which is due for release on July 13th!
It’s of course a bit early to be calling things “OMG THE BEST OF THE YEAR!?!!?”, but if there’s one thing I’ve always been, it’s unabashedly hyperbolic. So, if I may let my enthusiasm run rampant for a moment, the entirety of Lovely Things is Summer-changing-ly perfect; and “Born Killers” is its shining moment IMO. Selebrities’ brilliant, hyper-melodic guitar lines are on full display here and you’re simply going to have to accept that you’ll be humming them all weekend. Or all Summer.
If you, much like me, are sadly stuck indoors on this most perfect of early Summer days, then the new Labardor Summer Sampler might be just thing you need! It’s wall-to-wall heavenly pop hits and goes down like a cold glass of Lemonade—even better maybe, because it’s sugar-free AND free to download! And it’s got my all-time favorite Sambassadeur track on it.