Pressing Concerns: Supercrush, Kamikaze Nurse, Gabriel’s Dawn, Soft Screams

This week’s Pressing Concerns covers a new EP from Supercrush, plus new albums from Kamikaze Nurse, Gabriel’s Dawn, and Soft Screams. Look for more albums out this week to show up in next week’s edition of Pressing Concerns. And the May playlist will go up…at some point.

If you’re looking for more new music, you can browse previous editions of Pressing Concerns or visit the site directory.

Supercrush – Melody Maker

Release date: June 3rd
Record label: Don Giovanni
Genre: Power pop, alt-rock
Formats: Vinyl, CD, cassette, digital
Pull track: Trophy

Supercrush and I are fluent in the same language, so to speak. In their latest EP, the Seattle group come off as totally devoted to fuzzy, power-chord-friendly 90s-style power pop. I can fairly easily name a dozen bands or acts whose sonic or songwriting styles Supercrush evoke throughout Melody Maker. Wait, you actually want me to do it? Fine: Sloan, Teenage Fanclub, The Lemonheads, Sugar, Superdrag, Jawbreaker, The Posies, Matthew Sweet, Velvet Crush, Tommy Keene, Dinosaur Jr., Ride. There you go. Being power pop scholars is all well and good, but Melody Maker works because it’s a product of enthusiastic believers—Supercrush’s strengths lie less in academically recreating or trying to create some kind of perfect lab mix of these sounds, and more in just letting their faith in these songs speak for itself.

Out of all those acts I mentioned earlier, the one that hovers over Melody Maker the most is one of the least “cool”/hip namedrops to make in 2022—Matthew Sweet. The more I think about it, though, the more it pops out to me—the guitar hero attitude, the soft but empathic lead vocals of Mark Palm, the lyrics that veer from romanticism to cynicism quickly but deftly. I hear it the most in the back-to-back punch of the title track and single “Trophy”, both of which are withering character studies that may or may not reflect a little bit of the performer in them (particularly the former, which declares “You’re no idiot savant, you’re an idiot” to a self-aggrandizing singer-songwriter). Of course, the most important thing about these songs to Supercrush is that they’re both catchy as hell, especially “Trophy”, which stomps its way through an attempt to recreate a lost 90s one-hit wonder single that’s almost too successful. As is the rest of the EP, mind you—from the barreling giddiness of opening track “Perfect Smile” to the towering, “Hoover-Dam”-esque closing statement of “Helium High”. It’s all a treat. (Bandcamp link)

Kamikaze Nurse – Stimuloso

Release date: June 3rd
Record label: Mint
Genre: Post-punk, noise rock, psychedelic rock, shoegaze
Formats: Vinyl, CD, digital
Pull track: Boom Josie

The sophomore record from Vancouver’s Kamikaze Nurse can hit like a blunt object while still feeling intricately-crafted. The quartet (guitarist/lead vocalist KC Wei, guitarist Ethan Reyes, bassist Sonya Eui, and drummer John Brennan) make full-sounding music on Stimuloso that evokes dense shoegaze, rhythmic post-punk, and Sonic Youth-inspired art rock. In the face of the record’s instrumental onslaught, Wei’s vocals could have very easily ended up buried anonymously or treated completely like an afterthought; instead, they’re one of the most immediately memorable features of the album. Stimuloso begins with single “Boom Josie”, which sports a strong, off-kilter vocal performance from Wei over top of a shifting musical stage—Kamikaze Nurse probably can’t boil everything they pull from in Stimuloso down to one song, but it’s a good a starting point as any.

Moments in Stimuloso like “Boom Josie” are tempered by more refined, static songs that emphasize the band’s ability to construct quality shoegaze and post-punk backbones. “P&O” rides a beautiful, steady melody over a utilitarian beat for six minutes, “Never Better” features a revved-up rhythm section punching up the simple structure at the heart of the song, and dense album centerpiece “Dead Ringers” features pretty much every aspect of Kamikaze Nurse firing on all cylinders. These shining moments are as much the “true” Kamikaze Nurse as the ones in which things go off the rails—the glorious, screeching mess that is the title track, true album outlier “Pet Meds” (in which the band combine no wave and droll spoken-word sections to let their Whitey Album appreciation fly), and “Work – Days” (in which they rip through one more quick rocker towards the end of the album). I enjoy when Stimuloso jumps from end to end, but I appreciate even more that I can enjoy both sides of their coin. (Bandcamp link)

Gabriel’s Dawn – Gabriel’s Dawn

Release date: May 30th
Record label: Loose Canyon
Genre: Jangle pop, indie pop
Formats: Vinyl, CD, digital
Pull track: You, Your Favourite Subject

The debut record from Gabriel’s Dawn—an English four-piece group featuring members from Leicester and Newcastle-under-Lyme—is a confident record of breezy and melodic guitar pop music that is happy to reflect several points upon the lineage from which they’re drawing (the Laurel Canyon sound, the Paisley Underground, C86). Lead singer Kate Gudgin has a clean, high-in-the-mix melodic voice that’s reminiscent of clear-eyed, sober indie pop, while the music of Gabriel’s Dawn starts itself off with straightforward jangle pop and explores more dense, 60s-psychedelic-influenced textures from this jumping-off point.

Bright, pristine guitar leads and arpeggios mark almost every track on Gabriel’s Dawn—on basically every song on the first half of the record, these are both the opening and defining moments of the tracks. Gabriel’s Dawn pull no punches coming out of the gate—songs like “Loose Canyon”, “You, Your Favourite Subject”, and “We” are all satisfying pop songs in both concept and execution. Side two of Gabriel’s Dawn might be a hair less energetic, but the hooks are not lost in transition—the way that Gudgin sings the title line of “24 Hours from Heaven” is as catchy as anything else on the record, and the appropriately-titled “Gentle Chimes” ends the record with a jangle that’s no less effective for being somewhat muted. (Bandcamp link)

Soft Screams – Diet Daydream

Release date: May 27th
Record label: Corrupted TV
Genre: Lo-fi rock, power pop
Formats: Digital
Pull track: Dopamine Drain

Connor Mac is one-half of Galactic Static (which released the under-appreciated Friendly Universe late last year) and is also behind the Connecticut-based record label Corrupted TV. A few months after Friendly Universe, Corrupted TV and Mac are back with Diet Daydream, a full-length record from Mac’s solo project Soft Screams. Diet Daydream is actually a more expansive showcase than Galactic Static—while their band mostly stuck to lo-fi power pop with only hints of weird darkness underneath, Mac roams more freely with Soft Screams. At nineteen songs and fifty minutes long, it’s a bit daunting, but that’s fine—something else will stick out every time you listen.

Diet Daydream is still a lo-fi indie rock record at its core, and there’s plenty of ramshackle pop music contained therein. Single “Dopamine Dream” rivals anything on Friendly Universe in terms of pure catchy power pop, and “Train of Thought” is a show-stealing mid-tempo ballad that turns up halfway through the record. Several songs on Diet Daydream find Mac experimenting with reverby, bare-bones Martin Newell-esque transmissions, like the bass-driven “Sugarfree Sadness” and the drum machine stomp of “Life’s Different Now”. Elsewhere, the lo-fi and the darkness give a decidedly early Sebadoh edge to Diet Daydream (particularly the stretch late in the record from “The Kingdom of Punishers” to “Toxic Turn”). It always comes back to the lo-fi pop, though. Diet Daydream ends with the sleepy but jaunty acoustic-based “Return to Eggs”—whatever Mac means when they ask “Do you play God in your sleep?”, it’s quite catchy. (Bandcamp link)

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