In 1990, Lovey was a huge step forward for Evan Dando and his Boston band The Lemonheads. It was their major label debut on Atlantic Records after releasing their first three albums in the previous three years. Those records were a collision of noisy melodic punk rock. Part Black Flag, part The Replacements. Co-founder Ben Daily had left the band prior to Lovey and that gave Dando the opportunity to rejig the band’s sound to more of a country and indie/alt-rock blend.
This reissue has been superbly remastered to give Lovey a greater warmth and sonic richness, further accentuating the sense that this was the start of a new chapter for Dando. The album contains absolute classics such as ‘Half The Time’ and ‘Ride With Me’ as well as their version of the Gram Parsons’ ‘Brass Buttons’. The variety of Lovey is what really elevates it – with the alt rock swerves of ‘Ballarat’ and ‘Lil Seed’ and the tumbling remnants of their punk past on ‘Left For Dead’. It was a turning point for the band and one of the landmark early releases of 90s alternative rock.
The 2xLP/CD formats come with a deluxe book with expanded liner notes and unseen photos as well as an eight song triple j Live at the Wireless session from their tour of 1991.
Dunedin and indeed NZ music royalty The Bats have been pretty busy of late. They released their new LP Foothills last year, to wide acclaim, and earlier this month they also intriguingly released an instrumental version of the album on Bandcamp which gives a really interesting twist on the songs, allowing the rhythm section of perpetual motion and those sparkling guitars to take centre stage.
During the pandemic, Bassist Paul Kean and guitarist Kaye Woodward have formed a humble supergroup of sorts by teaming up with Alec Bathgate (Tall Dwarfs, The Enemy) and Hamish Kilgour (The Clean) to record a couple of songs of darkly hypnotic, underground psychedelia. Hopefully more recordings are on the way!
Robert Scott always seems to be working on something new and he’s teamed up with Dallas Henley to release Level Four, an album of low-key, mostly acoustic songs that wind through some lovely melodies. The 14 tracks feature bass, Omnichord, guitar, vocals and keyboards.
This new track from Toledo caught our ear with its super laidback vibe – all jangly guitars, backbeat drums and hazy falsetto vocal. It reminded us of a cross between Kurt Vile and Sydney’s CJ Stranger but on a much more mellow tip. Folky indie guitar dream pop.
Toledo is the project of Daniel Alvarez and Jordan Dunn-Pilz from Brooklyn, NY and this track comes from their new six song EP Jockeys Of Love, co-produced and mixed by Jorge Elbrecht (Wild Nothing, Ariel Pink, Frankie Rose)and out now via Bandcamp (digital and red 12″ vinyl) and streaming services.
Damien Binder is back with his new single ‘Here It Is’, the first taste of his forthcoming fifth solo album. New Zealand readers will be familiar with the trajectory of his career which began as the frontman for Auckland post-punk band Second Child from the late 80s and through the 90s. Damien’s now based in Perth and has teamed up with producer Matt Gio for this first single that beautifully marries his moody alt-rock roots with a melancholic yet uplifting indie pop/rock feel.
The song is Binder’s first release since his 2016 album A New World, which garnered strong critical praise, is the first single from his fifth solo album currently in production with producer Matt Gio (Katy Steele, Birds of Tokyo, Abbey May, Rudimental), due for release later in 2021.
Of the new track and forthcoming record, Damien explains that “I wanted to try and break away from my usual choices and reimagine the songs. I had heard some of Matt’s work including one of my fave’s – Katy Steele’s ‘Human’, and knew together we could find a new context for the songs, plus he really liked them which helps!”
‘Here It Is’ marks a distinct departure in Binder’s sound while still retaining the core elements of his distinctive songwriting style. It’s a multi-faceted example of the way his craft has evolved over the years.
At its core, the strength of Damien’s emotive and nuanced songwriting resonates strongly via the song’s universal themes and the way he seamlessly conveys both melancholy and optimism. Reflecting on the writing of ‘Here It Is’, Damien describes it as “a kind of meditation on appreciating the moment, gratitude and impermanence.”
On the surface the track sparkles and swerves with an indie pop production and sonic aesthetic courtesy of keyboards, digitally enhanced drums and acoustic guitar. You can also hear the distant and formative strains of Damien’s early musical years, in New Zealand band Second Child, via his ability to blend melody through the ever-shifting dynamics of the song.
Following their run of sublime EPs, Dry Cleaning have announced details of their debut studio album and have shared a new single ‘Strong Feelings’. I’ve been a huge fan of their releases to date and the way the blend deadpan poetry with taut post-punk riffs and rhythms. ESG meets Life Without Buildings meets Black Country, New Road.
The South London group of Nick Buxton (drums), Tom Dowse (guitar), Lewis Maynard (bass) and Florence Shaw (vocals) will release New Long Leg on 2 April via 4AD / Remote Control Records. The 10-track long-player, which includes ‘Strong Feelings’ and last year’s single ‘Scratchcard Lanyard’, was recorded over two weeks last summer at Rockfield Studios in rural Wales with producer John Parish (PJ Harvey, Aldous Harding).
Following on from their 2019 EPsBoundary Road Snacks and Drinksand Sweet Princess, New Long Legis more ambitious and complex, with Shaw’s spoken vocals tightly intertwined with the band’s restless instrumentals. With lyrics preoccupied by themes like dissociation, escapism, daydreaming, complicated feelings of love, anger, revenge, anxiety, the kitchen, lethargy, forgetfulness, and survival, Shaw says,“the title is ambiguous; a new long leg could be an expensive present or a growth or a table repair.”
New single ‘Strong Feelings’ is a love song, of sorts. Shaw says, “it’s about secretly being in love with someone who doesn’t know it, and Brexit’s disruptive role in romantic relationships.” Its accompanying visuals, directed by guitarist Dowse, came about after Google searches brought together an informational video on road building basics from New Zealand and Massachusetts-based glitch artist, Sabato Visconti. Watch the video here.
Dry Cleaning was formed by friends Tom Dowse, Nick Buxton and Lewis Maynard after a karaoke party in 2017 inspired a collaboration. They wrote instrumentally to begin with until six months later Florence Shaw, a visual artist, university lecturer and picture researcher by day – with no prior musical experience – turned up to a band rehearsal armed with reams of her own collected writing and a copy of Michael Bernard Loggins’ Fears Of Your Life to read out over the music. Before long she was the group’s frontperson, contributing words of her own, and serving as the perfect foil to the band’s music.
New Long Leg will be released on 2 April digitally and on CD, cassette, standard black vinyl and limited-edition yellow vinyl.
Gynia Favot was a much loved and respected Sydney musician (Disneyfist, Half Miler,Modern Giant) who sadly lost her battle with cancer in 2020. There was an outpouring of love from her fellow musicians and friends, both during fundraising efforts for her treatment and in the wake of her passing.
Simon Robert Gibson, who firstplayed with her in Disneyfist, was compelled to write and record this heartfelt tribute to Gynia, initially in stripped-back solo form. Upon hearing it, John Willsteed of Halfway and The Go-Betweens (one of Gynia’s favourite bands) contacted Simon and added some stunning guitar parts and atmospheric elements. The memory and spirit of a departed friend, immortalised in song.
“Gyn and I were close friends and bandmates for my whole adult life. I first met her when I joined the band that would become Disneyfist in the early 90s. I loved that band, great chemistry and I thought we were pretty special live. That was mainly due to Gyn’s presence on-stage. Off-stage she was extremely warm and funny. We got along from the first moment and stayed close until the end. We played together in various bands, swam together, travelled together, lived together, wrote together…she was a constant in my life in one way or another since we met. (I was still sending her my demos for her opinion right up to the final couple of months). Even though she had been sick for a couple of years, her passing last year still came as a massive shock, one that I still haven’t fully processed. I don’t remember writing the lyrics of this song, I guess I scribbled them down in a cafe quickly. When I wrote the whole thing a few days later, it all came very quickly. I didn’t second guess, just sang and played what felt right. Played it into my phone, left it a few days then recorded it. It was emotionally very tough to do it but I knew I needed to and I felt better once I had. I did it for me really, but then I sent it to my brother, who also loved Gyn, and he was overwhelmed. That’s when I realised it might be something special that a lot of her friends might also appreciate.”
“One of the last things she said to Mark Hyland (Disneyfist bass player) was “Don’t forget me”, I guess this is my way making sure she’s not forgotten.”– Simon Robert Gibson
News in today today Iceage have signed with Mexican Summer and released a brand new single ‘The Hold Hand’.
“The song lives in a slurred world, movements are elastically stretched out and strength is found in weakness while you find it hard to tell the difference between fume and matter. Gently the swaying intensifies, feel it escalate. Reach out for the holding hand, it seems almost within scope now.” – Elias Bender Rønnenfelt
Lead singer and lyricist Elias Bender Rønnenfelt’s voice crawls over slow-marching percussion, and as scorching guitar and Nils Gröndahl’s piercing violin layer in, the song rises to a noisy peak. Listen to the song now + watch the Anders Malmberg directed video below.
‘Trick of The Light’, the second of his studio collaborations with multi ARIA and APRA award-winning Australian songwriter Josh Pyke, also sees Estepa working again with director Nicholas Banicevic (assisted by Martin Greguric) to create some swirling, psychedelic imagery to perfectly accompany the song.
Estepa has always had an undeniable ear for hooks. Combined with classic pop and rock arrangements, (like his heroes You Am I, The Beatles and Wilco) his songs always possess a timeless quality. He’s proved it over and over again across six acclaimed albums and live shows in Australia, Japan, the USA, UK, Spain, Sweden and the Philippines.
On ‘Trick of the Light’, Estepa combines heavenly melodies and a melancholic air on this irresistible slice of indie guitar pop, singing about acceptance, letting go and allowing yourself to feel whatever it is that comes out while you’re treading new waters.
As always with his songwriting, there are layered, poetic brushstrokes in the way Estepa blends and informs his songs with multiple meanings, as he explains. “I like the idea that the presence of light does not necessarily signal happiness or life but can also mean that emotions and perception can be blurred by its appearance.”
Sonically, there’s a beautiful weightlessness to the production and instrumentation that gracefully carries the song. Guitars sparkle and lightly jangle amid some sublime piano, backing vocals and percussive elements that add unique detailing to the melodic richness of the track. Alongside the studio smarts of Pyke, it amounts to yet another sublime example of classic contemporary songwriting from Estepa.
“Bryan’s sense of melody is really strong which informs everything in his songs. His lyrics are really authentic and heartfelt and for me that’s the key of a good song. From there it’s a matter of pushing the boundaries of what the arrangement and sonics can be, to tell those stories.” – Josh Pyke
Working with Josh Pyke, Estepa was impressed with the producer’s instinct and ability to enhance the inherent strengths of Estepa’s songs. “It’s exciting watching Josh work! You sense that his creative light is always on and he needs to get his ideas out quickly before it starts to flicker. He takes on what I think the song’s direction might be but adds a couple of detours that are normally right on the money.”
Pyke is quick to reciprocate the praise. “Bryan’s a great writer and collaborator. He’s got a classic pop sensibility but is really open to feedback and experimentation which made my job as producer really fun and free.”
“In the end, I just really want people to hum my tunes and connect with them in some way,” says Estepa enthusiastically.