Welcome to the latest edition of Rosy Overdrive’s monthly round-up/playlist! It’s almost all new music this time around! There was a lot of it this month! I did listen to some fun older music in March, and a bit of it shows up here as well, but there’s more I’d like to get to at a later date. But this is two hours of good music for you, so no complaints.
Ex-Vöid, Bellows, Blanche Blanche Blanche, and The Loud Family and Anton Barbeau all have two songs on this playlist.
Here are some streaming links for your convenience: Spotify, Tidal, BNDCMPR (with a few songs missing on that one). Be sure to check out previous playlist posts if you’ve enjoyed this one.
“Computer Exploder”, Oso Oso
From Sore Thumb (2022, Triple Crown)
Oso Oso seems like one of those bands that I have to relisten to every once in awhile to remind myself, “yes, they are actually that good”. The Jade Lilitri project’s latest release, Sore Thumb, is apparently comprised of what were supposed to be demos recorded together by Lilitri and his frequent collaborator and cousin Tavish Maloney, and then left basically untouched after Maloney’s sudden death last year. It sounds awesome, so perhaps Lilitri should park his music at the demo stage more often in the future. “Computer Exploder” is kind of a weird opening track in that it takes nearly two minutes for the “chorus” to actually show up, but it’s one of the finest things to ever be released under the Oso Oso name yet.
“The Poet of My Dreams”, David West
From Jolly in the Bush (2022, Tough Love)
David West is a fairly active indie rocker, playing in bands with which I’m passingly familiar like Rat Columns and Total Control. A song from the Perth, Australia-based musician’s recent solo album, however, is what really caught my attention and has gotten West fully on my radar. “The Poet of My Dreams” opens up Jolly in the Bush, and it’s an excellent piece of jangle pop propulsion. West’s melody and some shimmery guitar leads fall under the “bullseye” category of this kind of music, but there’s a roughness to it that comes out in the brief discordant guitar solo in the song’s second half and the chords being bashed out underneath the whole thing.
“Hold My Hand”, Maggie Gently
From Peppermint (2022, Refresh)
The latest release from Refresh Records (Downhaul, Gnawing, Hit Like a Girl) is the debut record from San Francisco’s Maggie Gently. Peppermint features shades of indie rock, emo, and even some pop punk, but it’s the surprisingly rootsy alt-pop-rock of “Hold My Hand” that hasn’t left my head since I’ve heard it. Gently lands the song somewhere in the realm of late-90s post-grunge pop, and from there just dives into a tune about some fairly universal themes…well, one theme in particular. “So I’m asking you to dance or hold my hand, if you want to / You and me, girl, it sounds so nice,” is her offering, and it makes for a hell of a refrain even if it amounts to nothing else (hopefully it doesn’t!).
From Bigger Than Before (2022, Don Giovanni)
I’m not really familiar with Joanna Gruesome, the Welsh band that rose and fell in the early 2010s, but I’m fully on board with Ex-Vöid after hearing their debut album. Bigger Than Before is the full-length reunion of Joanna Gruesome singer-songwriters Alanna McArdle and Owen Williams—their first band disintegrated after McArdle stepped away from it in 2015, although they released an EP under the Ex-Vöid name in 2018 and Williams has been playing in The Tubs lately. Bigger Than Before is a big, hooky, indie pop record that’s got just a bit of edge to it; album opener “Churchyard” is all triumphant bounce. Two-minutes, in and out, nonstop melodies and McArdle and Williams’ harmonies.
“No One Wants to Be Without a Person to Love”, Bellows
From Next of Kin (2022, Topshelf)
“No One Wants to Be Without a Person to Love”, musically, embodies the best of Next of Kin. It’s bombastic in its arresting introduction and in a beautiful, catchy chorus, and reaches deep down in between these moments with a sincere, whispered vocal from Oliver Kalb in the verses. It’s the second song on the record, after the relatively understated opening track “Marijuana Grow”, and does a bit of presenting where Next of Kin goes from there, both in the aforementioned music choices and in Kalb’s lyrics—“Memory, stay where you were / Walk it back down, can’t have you staying around,” sets up something Kalb grapples with throughout the album. Read more about Next of Kin here.
“Only Yesterday”, Blanche Blanche Blanche
From Fiscal, Remote, Distilled (2022, La Loi)
Blanche Blanche Blanche is the duo of singer Sarah Smith and multi-instrumentalist Zach Phillips (also of Fievel Is Glauque and a bunch of other bands). The two have made a lot of music together; so far, I’ve only heard their latest record, 2022’s Fiscal, Remote, Distilled, but it rules. “Only Yesterday” is one of the simplest songs from Fiscal, Remote, Distilled, at least musically—it sounds like the song’s basically built around a bass run and Smith’s clear vocals that are sung-spoken but still quite melodic. Horns and synths do punctuate “Only Yesterday”, though, and the lyrics are tantalizing, saying a lot and little at the same time—it’s a testament to Blanche Blanche Blanche that it all still sounds so straightforward.
“Raytracer”, Emperor X
From Central Hug / Friendarmy / Fractaldunes (And the Dreams That Resulted) (2005, Disco Mariscos/Dreams of Field Recordings)
Another trip to the Emperor X well, but an older one this time. “Raytracer” is the best song on Central Hug / Friendarmy / Fractaldunes (And the Dreams That Resulted), falling into the genre of Emperor X song that’s “Chad Matheny bashing it out as hard as he can on acoustic guitar” (see also: “Daytrader Stadium”), with a tick-tocking synth the only other accompaniment for most of the song. Central Hug as a whole is more indebted to 90s indie rock than 2011’s Western Teleport and everything Matheny has released since, but the sparseness of “Raytracer” could’ve come from 1997 or 2017 (and I cut it off at ’97 because of the Either/Or mention in the lyrics). “Did you ever make out on the Capitol steps with an AK-47-holding Marxist girl?” is the line that most will remember, but “That’s fine, I’m going home to fail” is the actual best one.
“Women Without Whiskey”, Wednesday
From Mowing the Leaves Instead of Piling ‘em Up (2022, Orindal)
Wednesday’s version of the Drive-By Truckers’ “Women Without Whiskey” initially appeared in a covers-only Aquarium Drunkard session, which satisfyingly grew into a full-blown cover album. Mowing the Leaves Instead of Piling ‘em Up features several selections I already loved, from songs originally by Vic Chesnutt to The Smashing Pumpkins, but Wednesday’s fuzz-country roar is especially appropriate for this tune. “Women Without Whiskey” was one of the three songs on 2001’s Southern Rock Opera (along with “Zip City” and “72 (This Highway’s Mean)”) that announced Mike Cooley as one of the top-tier songwriters of his generation, and it makes so much sense that MJ Lenderman, whose power as a solo singer-songwriter is growing parallel to that of his band’s, gets to sing on it.
“Rocks Off”, The Loud Family and Anton Barbeau
From What If It Works? (2006, 125/Omnivore)
The last album that Game Theory and Loud Family bandleader Scott Miller completed in his lifetime, What If It Works? begins in a way that’s both familiar to fans of Miller’s music and unique in his discography. Omnivore’s Game Theory reissue series has shone a proper light on Miller’s penchant for spirited, full-throttled cover versions of his favorite songs, and while those were generally reduced to B-sides, “bonus tracks”, and live recordings, “Rocks Off” doesn’t sound out of place at all kicking off an album. Somehow he and co-conspirator Anton Barbeau (who, if you’ve been paying attention to his considerable solo output as of late, can probably play just about anything) turn the Rolling Stones tune into a Loud Family song. Or (as pretty much everyone involved thought the album should be credited) a Scott Miller and Anton Barbeau song.
“Small Talk”, Fuvk featuring Mostyn Griffith
From Split Death (2022, Z Tapes)
Split Death is the first release of 2022 from Austin’s Fuvk, following last year’s Imaginary Deadlines and twentytwenty, and it finds Shirley Zhu getting help from a few collaborators. The last three songs on the album are by Mostyn Griffith (hence the “split” part of Split Death), but there is some bleeding into each others’ songs as well—Griffith sings on Zhu’s “Small Talk”, for instance, and contributes “additional lyrics”. Still, it sounds like a classic Fuvk song to me: it’s a mid-tempo indie pop song with a very hooky melody, and Zhu’s voice once again manages to convey emotion while still sounding rather matter-of-fact.
“God’s A-Working, Man”, Lee Bains III + The Glory Fires
From Old-Time Folks (2022, Don Giovanni)
The first song I ever heard from Lee Bains III + The Glory Fires was “Crooked Letters”, from 2017’s Youth Detention. It’s a dense, trawling, almost psychedelic six-minute southern rock anthem that didn’t sound like anything else at the time, and still doesn’t. The lead single from The Glory Fires’ long-awaited follow-up album, Old-Time Folks, is similarly lengthy, but they diverge after sharing that. “God’s A-Working, Man” is a statement of intent—despite their clear strength as a fierce rock band, there’s always been much more going on beneath the fuzz, and now Bains is stepping up to the microphone more forcefully than ever. Bains’ gospel influence in his vocals and lyrics has always been there, but “God’s A-Working, Man” leans into it openly in a way that he hasn’t really done since at least the Glory Fires’ debut record, 2012’s There Is a Bomb in Gilead. This’ll be a good one.
“Same Old Fool”, Young Guv
From GUV III (2022, Run for Cover)
Rosy Overdrive being a fan of Young Guv is probably the least surprising news ever. I greatly enjoyed GUV I and GUV II, the twin 2019 releases from the power pop project of former Fucked Up guitarist Ben Cook, and I’m happy to report that GUV III is solid as well. Time will tell if it’ll hang with the other Guv records for me, but “Same Old Fool” already might be my favorite song of Cook’s. It’s nuts that a song this good, with a hook this killer, wasn’t one of the album’s five singles and is hidden away in the middle of Side Two, but that’s just how Young Guv roll. And the chorus to “Same Old Fool”, if nothing else, makes me want to roll along.
From d E A T h ~ b U g (2022, Tiny Telephone)
“Lowest I’ll play for is 225 / That’s the minimum to keep the dream alive,” declares John Vanderslice toward the end of “Exposure”, the latest single from his upcoming album under the name ORANGEPURPLEBEACH. “Exposure” was loosely inspired by Vanderslice’s memories of touring, and the line quoted above links it to one of his signature songs (as well as a podcast about his longtime San Francisco recording studio, Tiny Telephone). My favorite songs from the post-Dagger Beach era of John Vanderslice have combined the new horizons opened up by his foray into electronic music with the songwriting of his “classic” earlier albums, and “Exposure” fits this mold like a glove. The song was written on acoustic guitar (which features prominently on the recording) and features a beautiful chorus melody, but the margins and edges are all frayed.
“Bluest Star”, Maneka
From Dark Matters (2022, Skeletal Lightning)
Dark Matters is the second album from Maneka, the project of Brooklyn-based Devin McKnight (apparently 2017’s Is You Is is an EP, but I’d thought of it as an album before), and it’s certainly the most ambitious record I’ve heard yet from him. “Bluest Star” comes at the end of a parade of lo-fi rock/slowcore, experimental pop, and jazz, among other genres and wormholes that somehow only lasts 30 minutes. It’s a propulsive indie rock song that surprisingly lifts off into a synth-aided stratosphere in the second half. Toward the end of “Bluest Star”, McKnight sings “At least I have this ol’ guitar”, and then ends the record with a somewhat pensive solo. He has quite a bit more than just that guitar on Dark Matters, but he does indeed still have it.
“Chestnut Blight”, Freakons
From Freakons (2022, Fluff and Gravy)
The fungal disease that devastated and nearly wiped out the once-ubiquitous American chestnut tree in 20th century Appalachia has been decidedly under-represented in modern music, but if you think the Freakons are going to neglect it, you’d be dead wrong. The group is, naturally, a collaboration between Jon Langford and Sally Timms of The Mekons and Freakwater’s Catherine Irwin and Janet Bean (also of Eleventh Dream Day) with several ringers (Jean Cook, Anna Krippenstapel, Jim Elkington) getting in on the action as well. Freakons is a must-listen for fans of protest folk music, as the two bands find solidarity in the shared coal-mining backgrounds of their states of origin (England and Kentucky). Sample chorus lyric for “Chesnut Blight”: “Jesus walked on water in the Bible / But now the creek’s so filled with slag even I won’t sink”.
“Statement Brickwork”, Good Grief
From Shake Your Faith (2022, Everything Sucks/HHBTM)
Saying a band “sounds like Superchunk and Hüsker Dü” doesn’t usually mean they literally sound exactly like those bands, it’s more of a code for “this band likes to make loud, punk-influenced hooky rock music”. And Good Grief are quite good at this (although, okay, yes, “The Pony Remark” has moments that could’ve come right from On the Mouth). The Liverpool trio’s long-awaited debut album (they’ve been together for a decade at this point) has an urgency to it, like they’ve got to cram as much energy and yell-out choruses into eleven songs as possible. “Statement Brickwork” isn’t the loudest song on Shake Your Faith, but it still rocks. The vocals almost push the song into Samiam/Knapsack-esque emo-punk territory, even as it’s an excellent pop song over anything else.
“I’ve Stopped Eating”, U.S. Highball
From A Parkhead Cross of the Mind (2022, Lame-O)
A Parkhead Cross of the Mind is U.S. Highball’s third album since 2019, and with it the Glasgow duo have put together an extraordinarily breezy and quite catchy mid-fi guitar pop record. The songs whisk by, even as there is a lot to hold onto in its twelve tracks. Album highlight “I’ve Stopped Eating” is a gorgeous harmony-stuffed track that leans into U.S. Highball’s C86 influences, with chiming guitar leads weaving in and out of a drum machine beat and subtle synths. Read more about A Parkhead Cross of the Mind here.
“Hide, Not Seek”, Premium Rat
From Cope (2022)
Cope, the latest EP from Ypsilanti, Michigan’s Premium Rat, is a mix of spare, intimate indie folk and poppy alt-rock; highlight “Hide, Not Seek” is firmly in the latter camp. It’s Cope’s most musically upbeat song, but it’s not exactly your boilerplate “good times” summer tune. “Fuck my therapist, what I need is a liar / Someone to stop me from staring right at the fire,” vows singer Mer Rey at the beginning of the song, and the repeated allusions to flames and gasoline and scorched earth really do make one question just how literal we’re being here. Read more about Cope here.
“Death of Dog”, Bellows
From Next of Kin (2022, Topshelf)
An after-school special piano riff introduces “Death of Dog” in about as friendly a way as possible for a song called “Death of Dog” to be introduced. Like a lot of Next of Kin, the song finds Bellows’ Oliver Kalb ruminating on loss of friendships and loss of innocence, and like a lot of Next of Kin, Kalb and the other contributing musicians make it sound anything but a straight-up sad song. The passing of Kalb’s dog growing up, Loubie, is mentioned explicitly, but it’s another line (“Still feel like a child when I’m in this house”) that gets repeated more, and is perhaps closer to spelling out the heart of what Kalb is getting at. Read more about Next of Kin here.
“Push You Aside”, Star Party
From Meadow Flower (2022, Feel It/Tough Love)
Star Party’s debut album Meadow Flower is a tuneful, clamorous noise pop album, featuring eight songs where vocalist Carolyn Brennan delivers indie pop melodies over top of instrumentals almost always cranked up and blown out to eleven. Single “Push You Aside” is one of the more garage rock-sounding numbers on Meadow Flower; the verses have something of an edge to them, even if they’re clearly still inspired by the straightforward hooks of the twee/K Records bands from Star Party’s native Pacific Northwest. Read more about Meadow Flower here.
“Overdry Sensation”, Blanche Blanche Blanche
From Fiscal, Remote, Distilled (2022, La Loi)
Another selection from Fiscal, Remote, Distilled here—there are several I could’ve gone with, but “Overdry Sensation” is great and, ahem, distills what’s so compelling about Blanche Blanche Blanche’s latest album. Like “Only Yesterday”, it’s one of the simpler-sounding songs on the record, with Zach Phillips’ arsenal of jazz band instruments restricted to a few brief bursts. “Overdry Sensation” mostly works to compliment Sarah Smith’s vocals, which (again like “Only Yesterday”) are clear and plain-spoken despite being quite melodic.
“A Conversation About Punk”, Buí
From Talking to the Walls (2022, Analogue Catalogue)
The Belfast band Buí is led by singer-songwriter Josh Healy, and they’ve released a couple of EPs and a full-length since 2017. Their latest EP, Talking to the Walls, is mostly a relatively sparse collection of indie folk, including a cover of Daniel Johnston’s “The Sun Shines Down on Me” and four physical-release-only tracks recorded mostly by Healy alone. “A Conversation About Punk” is something of an outlier—no, it’s not a punk song, but it’s a full-bodied, shimmery, jangly indie rock tune that elevates Healy’s vocals with fluttering synths and lightly-applied electric guitar fuzz.
“Total Mass Destruction”, The Loud Family and Anton Barbeau
From What If It Works? (2006, 125/Omnivore)
“Total Mass Destruction” is probably my favorite Scott Miller-led song on What If It Works?, although I could make an argument for any of them (including “bonus track” “Don’t Bother Me While I’m Living Forever”). I’m not the first person to point out that the casual nature of the making of What If It Works? led to some of Miller’s most straightforward pop songwriting since the early Game Theory days (and I’d go a little farther than that—despite less frequent usage, Miller had actually gotten better at it since the early 80s). “Total Mass Destruction” is the greatest beneficiary of this facet of the record; the chorus practically yanks you up to the stage to sing along to “No one blinks an eye until the total mass destruction comes” (almost certainly originating from the music industry, but, oh man, is it relevant elsewhere).
“All Spring All Summer”, The Silos
From Hasta La Victoria (1992, Sonic Pyramid)
There were a lot of these kinds of bands in the late 1980s and early 1990s—groups that played “roots rock” but also were odd enough to fit somewhat into the “college rock” bubble as well. Los Lobos looms large over them—I’m also thinking of bands like The Jayhawks, Miracle Legion, The Vulgar Boatmen, Giant Sand, and the work of Alejandro Escovedo. The modern critical discourse has mostly forgotten them, so it took me awhile to realize, “no, these are actually good and worthwhile bands”, and The Silos are one of the best among them. These groups were embracing classic rock styles in “alternative rock” long before 90s grunge and the 00s soft-rock revival had the genius realization that it’s always been there all along. Maybe I’m overthinking it; just enjoy the five-minute impossibly-cool chorus that is “All Spring All Summer” if so.
“Challenger (Demo)”, Sinai Vessel
From LP4 DEMOS (2022, Single Occupancy)
“Loved snow ‘til you realized it’s rain that sticks to the ground,” murmurs Caleb Cordes over quietly-strummed acoustic guitar at the beginning of “Challenger”, one of the five songs released by Cordes’ project Sinai Vessel as “LP4 Demos”. Of course, since this is a collection of what are ostensibly demos (although Cordes has said “this wasn’t supposed to be a record, but I think it is now”), they’re all very barebones. At least one of the songs on LP4 Demos has some rudimentary percussion, but “Challenger” doesn’t even bother with that. I like it just the way it is, but if a “non-demo” version ends up on the next proper Sinai Vessel album, I’d be curious to hear that too.
“No Other Way”, Ex-Vöid
From Bigger Than Before (2022, Don Giovanni)
Bigger Than Before is one of those albums where it’s hard to whittle it down to just a couple for the playlist (basically every song is a “hit”; that’s a good problem to have), but “No Other Way” will do just fine. Like “Churchyard”, the entire song is shot through with Alanna McArdle and Owen Williams’ harmonies, although this time Williams’ vocals sound more centered. This is power pop at its wistful best, although, like most of Bigger Than Before, there’s just enough noisiness from louder days remaining to punch the song up a tad. The soaring chorus is what you’ll remember the most from “No Other Way”, though.
“Crystal Nuns Cathedral”, Guided by Voices
From Crystal Nuns Cathedral (2022, GBV, Inc.)
The first Guided by Voices album of 2022 is very good, but it’s not exactly a “singles” record (at least by their standards), so the title track from Crystal Nuns Cathedral is the only song that’s getting highlighted on Rosy Overdrive this time. And even as my selected “hit”, “Crystal Nuns Cathedral” is something of an oddity. It’s another one of Robert Pollard’s classic “end credits music” closing tracks—coming at the end of one of this lineup’s heaviest records yet, it’s a brief blast of pure pop fluff. The band steadfastly refuse to deviate from the simple chord progression—there’s not a whiff of “prog” here. And, of course, Pollard’s vocal melody is brilliant in a nice and familiar way. The song feels like one of the singles from the 2010s Guided by Voices reunion records (“Planet Score”? “Unsinkable Fats Domino”?) and I’ll take that.
“She’s in Love”, The Moneygoround
From Cruisin’ and Swingin’ with The Moneygoround (2022, Pyramid Scheme)
The Moneygoround is the latest project from Prince Edward Island’s Dennis Ellsworth, who has played with everyone from Gord Downie of The Tragically Hip to Sugar’s David Barbe, in addition to amassing a solo career. The Moneygoround is named after a music industry-disparaging Kinks song (understandable for someone who’s been in it to the degree Ellsworth has), but it’s the pastoral and breezy side of late 60s folk-pop that pops up in “She’s in Love”. Light organs color what’s a sunny jangle rock tune; in Ellsworth’s hands, “I don’t want to fuck it up” sounds as delicate as it could be.
“Halfway Out the Door”, Romero
From Turn It On! (2022, Feel It/Cool Death)
Melbourne, Australia’s Romero have put together a blast of classic punk rock-infused power pop with their upcoming debut record Turn It On!; while latest single “Halfway Out the Door” is one of the more mid-tempo tracks on the record, it might exemplify the band’s full-throttle attitude more than anything else. “If you’re halfway out the door / Oh no, I won’t be comin’ no more,” declares singer Alanna Oliver, an “all-or-nothing” ultimatum in the context of a somewhat lacking relationship. As the rest of the band turns Oliver’s words into a soaring pop rock anthem, it’s clear which side Romero prefer. Read more about Turn It On! here.
“Honest Living”, Meat Wave
Meat Wave supposedly have a new album coming out later this year (following up 2021’s excellent Volcano Park EP), and while I’m not sure if “Honest Living” is going to be on it, it’s definitely lead-single worthy. It sounds like vintage Meat Wave, with the Chicago trio tearing through their version of lean, garage/post-punky take on noise rock held together nicely by a fiery Chris Sutter vocal (It’s also their first song for Swami John Reis of Drive Like Jehu/Hot Snakes’ record label, which is a good place for them). “I make an honest living, honestly it’s great / I’m living the dream,” seethes Sutter in probably the least convincing way possible, and things only get more dire from there.
“Bridge Spliffs”, Gaadge
From Gaadge / Ex Pilots Split C-30 (2022)
Gaadge’s 2021 album Yeah? ended up being one of my favorite records of last year, with its spirited blend of shoegaze and oddball indie rock making quite the impression. This year, the Pittsburgh group has gone and hidden some of their strongest material yet away on a split cassette release with Ex-Pilots (a band that shares multiple members with Gaadge). The Ethan Oliva-sung “Parcels” would’ve fit right alongside something from last year’s Barlow record, but it’s the wall-of-sound-pop of “Bridge Spliffs” that sticks in my head above any of the other ones. The song combines an up-in-front instrumental that threatens to leap out and grab the listener with Mitch DeLong’s low-key vocals, and there’s a surprising moment of harmony in the chorus.
From The Kansas Wind (2022, Sweet Tart Lover Thrills)
The Kansas Wind is a well-crafted record of post-rock and emo-influenced indie rock, but Minneapolis’ Collin Dall and his collaborators generally take these materials and turn them into welcoming three-minute tunes. Single “Chagrin” is one of the best examples; after a long percussive opening (that the single version pares down), the track turns into a pleasant melodic drive. It’s got a wistfulness to it that echoes the more sincere since of 2000s indie rock, although Dall’s vocal melody is timeless. Read more about The Kansas Wind here.
“Boatyard Winch”, Teenage Tom Petties
(2022, Safe Suburban Home/Repeating Cloud)
Teenage Tom Petties is the solo project of London’s Tom Brown, who is also part of the duo Rural France (fun fact: Rural France’s October 2021 record RF featured a song called “Teenage Tom Petty”, so clearly Brown’s found some kind of meaning in the phrase). “Boatyard Winch” is the debut single from a record yet to be announced and due later this year, and it’s anything but a soft launch. The single takes Rural France’s lo-fi hooky indie rock and makes it noisier and even more lo-fi. It’s a tuneful clatter, though: Brown’s “You’re tuggin’ at my heartstrings / Like a boatyard winch” refrain is catchy in a garage punk way. Read more about Teenage Tom Petties here.
“Mothlight”, Modern Studies
From We Are There (2022, Fire)
Modern Studies showed up a few years ago as a “psych-folk” band, but their latest record, We Are There, sounds to me like a gently confident art pop album. Strings, synths, and rock band instruments all meld together on the album in a way that rarely ever feels too busy. “Mothlight” is one of the more straightforward songs on We Are There, with a propulsive bass synth keeping the song on a steady, three-minute pop song track. Singer Emily Scott’s vocals are in control for pretty much the entirety of “Mothlight”, delivering a refined melody even as she’s never the only voice singing on the track.
“Mezzanine”, Real Social Dads
From Linoleum Mausoleum (2022)
Real Social Dads is a one-person lo-fi indie pop band currently based in Washington, DC, although it appears to have connections to Madrid, Spain and the United Kingdom as well (“Real Social Dads” is also apparently the name of a football club; no idea if there’s any relation there). The project’s latest release is the home-recorded Linoleum Mausoleum EP, which is a solid collection of wistful, reverb-y, drum machine-aided jangle pop with a couple darker turns. Single “Mezzanine” is my favorite from Linoleum Mausoleum; the Roland drum machine is set to “tally-forth” and the guitar leads are as infectious as the simple yet effective refrain.
“6G Fever”, Whistler
From ApocalypzZzz (2022, Post Present Medium)
ApocalypzZzz, the latest EP from Copenhagen’s Whistler, is an interesting little record with quite a bit going on in it. There are moments (like opening track “U&I”) that remind me of the chopped up pop music mess of Low’s latest album, but they’re not above busting out the guitars for an indie rock jam either (see “Broken Lip Lingo”). The six-minute “6G Fever” falls somewhere in between—it’s a prog-pop anthem that slowly rolls itself out as a singalong anthem before suddenly veering off course in it second half. Vocalist Louis Scherfig’s delivery manages to sound both worried and vaguely amused as it travels through a lyrical wasteland (“Get your own apocalypse, because this one—this one is mine”, indeed).
“Tekamah”, Simon Joyner
I’m writing this the day after the release of “Tekamah”, and it’s been something of a soft launch so far. The only information on it I could find is an Instagram video that gives the name (Songs from a Stolen Guitar) and release date (May 20th) of the album from which it comes. Simon Joyner has always repped his home of Nebraska well in his music, and “Tekamah” is no different. The titular town is located about an hour north of Omaha (a route that, if I’ve got my eastern Nebraska geography right, Joyner’s narrator is traversing in the song) for one, and for another, that’s the Cornhusker State’s own David Nance on backing vocals and lead guitar.
“Alan Is a Cowboy Killer”, Mclusky
From Mclusky Do Dallas (2002, Too Pure)
So, Mclusky Do Dallas turns twenty this year (in fact, basically around the time this playlist goes up, which isn’t really intentional on my part) and it still sounds quite fresh musically. I’m not sure if any band since has really been able to hit the same tones of playful, droll aggression since, which explains why it still has a sizable cult following to this day, even as many of the record’s inter-band sniping lyrics have become somewhat (I said somewhat!) dated. I highlighted “She Will Only Bring You Happiness” in one of the first posts on Rosy Overdrive ever, so it shouldn’t surprise you that the (relatively) gentle “Alan Is a Cowboy Killer” is my pick from Mclusky Do Dallas. There’s still some edge in the track (and that’s not even getting into a couple of troubling lyrics), but Andy Falkous basically croons “You were such a stupid child / We should’ve cottoned on”.
“The Last Song”, Destroyer
From Labyrinthitis (2022, Merge)
So, apparently I just want Dan Bejar to play songs on the guitar again. I thought I was cool with a decade or so of synth-heavy experimentation under the Destroyer name, and I’m pretty sure I like most of those records (hell, “Poor in Love” might be my favorite Destroyer song—it’s definitely top five), but “The Last Song” affected me in a way that the rest of Labyrinthitis hasn’t, yet. Maybe it’s just that it’s more immediate than something like “June” (which I also like, by the way), but “Dan Bejar playing what could’ve been a standard in a better universe on an acoustic guitar” is one of my favorite modes of his. Or maybe I just like the “nooses / use is” rhyme. And maybe this is too many words on “The Last Song” to say, er, write.