New Playlist: June 2022

Welcome to the June 2022 Rosy Overdrive playlist! There are many good songs from the past month on here, as well as some songs not from 2022 that are still good and worth your time. You’ll see!

ME REX, Motherhood, and Wire get two songs on this playlist. Guided by Voices get three (I’m back on my bullshit).

Here is where you can listen to the playlist on various streaming services: Spotify, Tidal, BNDCMPR. Be sure to check out previous playlist posts if you’ve enjoyed this one.

“Ants”, Long Neck
From Soft Animal (2022, Plastic Miracles/Specialist Subject)

The appropriately-titled Soft Animal is the fourth Long Neck album, and it finds Lily Mastrodimos backing away from the rockier elements of 2018’s Will This Do? and 2020’s World’s Strongest Dog (which was one of my favorite albums of that year) to lean on acoustic and folkier material. This side of Long Neck has always been there, and songs like “Ants” prove that Mastrodimos is no less effective with it. Mastrodimos harmonizes and duets with herself as her acoustic guitar (the only other accompaniment on the song) soundtracks the ticking away of months and seasons.

“The Perfect Crime”, Dazy
From MAXIMUMBLASTSUPERLOUD: The First 24 Songs (2021, Convulse)

Zipping back to 2021 for a moment, I can still confirm that Dazy’s MAXIMUMBLASTSUPERLOUD is as fresh and exhilarating as I (and surely the rest of you) remember it. The twenty-four-song compilation (one of my favorites of last year) begins with “The Perfect Crime”, which is the “perfect” introduction to James Goodson’s incredibly captivating mix of mid 90s pop-punk/power pop fascination with late 80s/early 90s drum-machine-aided dance-friendly noise pop (whew!). I’ve talked about several songs from MAXIMUMBLASTSUPERLOUD on here before; the fact that I am only now just getting to this one is a testament to the comp’s overall quality.

“Lizard on the Red Brick Wall”, Guided by Voices
From Tremblers and Goggles by Rank (2022, GBV, Inc.)

Tremblers and Goggles by Rank is the fourteenth Guided by Voices album since Robert Pollard re-revived the name in 2016, and it’s the third in a row to point in the direction of more focused, longer, and denser songs. Tremblers only has ten tracks (a GBV first), meaning several of them stretch into levels rarely seen on their records. Album opener “Lizard on the Red Brick Wall” is a “mere” four and a half minutes—it’s meaty, it’s explosive, it’s incredibly catchy, it’s an instant classic.

“Crawly I” and “Crawly II”, Motherhood
From Winded (2022, Forward Music Group)

Winded, the latest record from New Brunswick’s Motherhood, roars out of the gate with the opening duo of “Crawly I” and “Crawly II”. Both “Crawly”s are revved-up post-punk garage numbers, although they accomplish their wild energy in different ways—the formers speeds along at a breakneck pace, while the latter stomps around intensely. Guitarist/vocalist Brydon Crain adopts a nervous reporter tone in the first “Crawly”, and a deranged bark in the latter. Read more about Winded here.

“Pledge Drive”, Cheekface

The latest Cheekface song is pretty much everything one could want in a Cheekface song—the band cites Television as an inspiration for “Pledge Drive”, and I can hear it, but mostly it just sounds like Cheekface and only Cheekface, which is a good thing. The title line (“I called the pledge drive / I got the suicide hotline”) is merely one of several lines delivered by Greg Katz that could have only been delivered by him, and the surprise acoustic guitar in the pre-chorus sounds very cool.

“Toilet of Venus”, ME REX
From Plesiosaur (2022, Big Scary Monsters)

I like ME REX—I thought their Megabear LP from last year was a successful experiment of a release, and I usually find something to enjoy on the band’s constant output of EPs. Their latest one, the four-song (as always) Plesiosaur, is I think the strongest of them yet, and “Toilet of Venus” is the band’s greatest song thus far. Myles McCabe’s vocals are passionate and frantic, rushing to get out everything he wants to say in classic ME REX fashion, but the rest of the band basically explode alongside him in what feels like a big step forward of a moment.

“Con Art”, Smart Went Crazy
From Con Art (1997, Dischord)

I’m sure several of you know about the recent health problems of Chad Clark (currently of Beauty Pill, formerly of Smart Went Crazy), and Rosy Overdrive certainly wishes him well and hopes with him that the most harrowing moments are now in the past. I’d be revisiting Con Art even if Clark wasn’t in my thoughts recently—I do this from time to time, because it rules. The record’s title track isn’t primarily sung by Clark—rather, it’s a spotlight moment for cellist Hilary Soldati, who jumps between stoicism and a slight grin to deliver the song’s blunt line after blunt line. Clark does get to echo Soldati toward the end of the song (the particularly creepy “If you’re such a….such a badass” part).

“Sirens and Thunder”, Kasey Anderson and the Honkies
From Heart of a Dog (2011, Red River)

An older song I recently rediscovered for the first time in nearly a decade, “Sirens and Thunder” is country rock at its populist best. Kasey Anderson affects his best Steve Earle for the song’s roughly familiar vocals, the guitar parts (both the revved-up rhythmic parts and the absolutely explosive lead parts in between the verses) are just as memorable, and the absolute wrecking ball of a chorus puts the whole thing into classic territory. It doesn’t even need the kicker of the final few lines (“It ended with sirens and thunder, and nobody’s bed to crawl under / We were dogs howling back at each other and it was getting loud”) to do it.

“The New Booze”, This Is Lorelei
From This Is Lorelei 1 (2022)

When This Is Lorelei’s Nate Amos released Falls Like Water Falls (one of my favorite albums of 2022 so far) in February, he alluded to his new sobriety in its creation. This Is Lorelei’s latest single, “The New Booze”, seems to be explicitly about this. From the cheery “pop off” double-meaning opening, Amos continually references cola (the titular new booze) as he wades through a nearly five-minute three-chord pop song about missing someone (in a rather ambiguous way) that somehow makes an Adam Levine/Avril Lavigne/Richard D. James-referencing chorus work.

“Summer to Fall”, Chronophage
From Chronophage (2022, Post Present Medium)

The latest record from Austin’s Chronophage is an even-split mix of jangle pop and post-punk (really, one of the best genre combinations out there). Single “Summer to Fall” is, as its breezy title implies, one of the more openly poppy moments on Chronophage, with singer Sarah Beames’ grounded vocals anchoring a mostly simple but effective song foundation—there’s something that sounds like a buried roller-rink organ in the chorus, which works very well.

“Oh No Not So (Save the Bullet) [4th Demo]”, Wire
From Not About to Die (Studio Demos 1977-1978) (2022, Pinkflag)

The least surprising revelation of the June playlist is that I’m quite into the formal release of Not About to Die (Studio Demos 1977-1978), a widely-bootlegged collection of early Wire recordings that serves as a wonderful companion to (and, perhaps, in its own way, equal of) the band’s first three records. The first half of Not About to Die in particular is Wire as a curious punk band, bashing out songs that would either mutate on later recordings or become forgotten. “Oh No Not So (Save the Bullet)” is a brief shot of poppy punk that could’ve been something big, but it works just fine in its “demo” form here as well.

“Mulholland Dr.”, Bartees Strange
From Farm to Table (2022, 4AD)

Parts of Bartees Strange’s sophomore record, Farm to Table, are very good—and “Mulholland Dr.” by itself is enough to make the occasional bumpy rest of the album worth it to me. Unlike the face-slapping clear highlight from 2020’s (Rosy Overdrive-approved) Live Forever, “Boomer”, “Mulholland Dr.” represents a more subtle merging of Strange’s pop/R&B-influences with his beloved emo and stately National-inspired indie rock. The soaring chorus (“I don’t believe in the bullshit…”) is too slick for the DIY/underground world from which Strange emerged, but it makes sense and sounds completely in line with the best of Bartees’ brief but already memorable solo career.

“Middle of a Cloud”, Diners
From Four Wheels and the Truth (2022, Lauren)

Four Wheels and the Truth is a gleeful-sounding pop rock record that is right up the alley of anyone who enjoys groups like Russel the Leaf and Cool Original, and the brief but sweet “Middle of a Cloud” couldn’t present the album’s charms any clearer. Blue Broderick’s lyrics and delivery are both subtle enough to mirror the track’s pop-song-power-chord progression—just try to get “Middle of a Cloud” out of your head.

“I Just Want to Touch You”, Utopia
From Deface the Music (1980, Bearsville/Rhino)

So, Deface the Music is Todd Rundgren (under the banner of his band, Utopia) doing his best Beatles impression for an entire record’s length. Utopia do it all—psychedelia, orchestral, folk rock—but opening track “I Just Want to Touch You” is Rundgren and crew’s most obvious attempt to recreate the Beatles’ early-sixties crowd-pleasing pop rock. And it’s quite successful—Utopia (at this point a far cry away from their prog-rock roots) throws in handclaps, harmonicas, bouncy bass guitar, all to make “I Just Want to Touch You” land as strongly as possible.

“Mono Retriever”, Dummy
From Mono Retriever (2022, Sub Pop)

The first new music from Dummy following their debut full-length record, last year’s Mandatory Enjoyment, consists of two songs for Sub Pop’s Singles Club. Both of the tracks on Mono Retriever are vintage-sounding Dummy; neither would have been out of place on Mandatory Enjoyment, but they both carve out identities of their own. B-Side “Pepsi Vacuum” is the headier one, the one that’s several sounds stitched together to form a single giant cloud overhead, while “Mono Retriever” is the short and punchy one. If you liked the more Stereolab-y moments on their last record, it hits the same marks as those, but it also feels even more revved-up than pretty much anything off of Mandatory Enjoyment.

“Thick and Thin”, Guided by Voices
From Suitcase 4: Captain Kangaroo Won the War (2016, GBV Inc.)

Songs like “Thick and Thin” are why people like me care about Guided by Voices and Robert Pollard to the degree that I do. It’s why Pollard can release a fourth 100-song “Suitcase” compilation and still garner significant interest around it. Because “Thick and Thin” rules. It’s a perfect lost 60s pop-rock sounding nugget with the kind of “upbeat sad” Pollard vocal he did a lot in his early recordings. According to GBVDB, it was recorded in 1983—this song sat unused and unheard on some tape for over thirty years, which is nuts.

“Drafted”, Vintage Crop
From Kibitzer (2022, Weather Vane/Anti Fade/Upset the Rhythm)

Australian post-punk/garage rock experts Vintage Crop have delivered another hit with their fourth record, Kibitzer, and second-half highlight “Drafted” is pretty much everything you’d want in a Vintage Crop song. The bass is frantic and busy pretty much entirely throughout, the guitar barrels through your typical four chords gleefully, and the talk-singing in the verses gives away to, uh, a different kind of talk-singing in the chorus that fits the song perfectly. I’ll have more to say about Kibitzer soon-ish.

“Mother’s Records”, Katie Bejsiuk
From The Woman on the Moon (2022, Double Double Whammy)

Katie Bejsiuk has been operating on her own basically ever since she ended her curiously-named but very good Free Cake for Every Creature project in 2019, so I’d figured we’d get an album under her name for a while now. The Woman on the Moon picks up where the last Free Cake album, 2018’s underappreciated The Bluest Star, left off, with opening track “Mother’s Records” relying on Bejsiuk’s quietly passionate voice and minimally-accompanied acoustic guitar strums. The rest of The Woman on the Moon delves a little further into how a Katie Bejsiuk record differs from a Free Cake for Every Creature record, but here, it’s just good to hear her voice again.

“Soft”, Camp Trash
From The Long Way, the Slow Way (2022, Count Your Lucky Stars)

I didn’t even talk about “Soft” when I wrote about The Long Way, the Slow Way for its release week; the debut record from Florida’s Camp Trash just had too many contenders of pop songs. Let’s not overlook it here, though: it’s a brilliant second-side shiner, jumping from section to section deftly: the tension-building intro, the well-oiled, percussion-first “main bit”, and the big-finish that lets the emo side of Camp Trash out for a bit. Read more about The Long Way, the Slow Way here.

“Alive Twice”, Friendship
From Love the Stranger (2022, Merge)

The latest single from Philadelphia’s Friendship (the third from their upcoming Love the Stranger) is the first one that really harkens back to the band’s “ambient country” roots. In fact, it might even earn that descriptor more than 2017’s Fender Rhodes-and-drum machine-aided Shock Out of Season—lead vocalist Dan Wriggins sings accompanied by a simple synth part that comes and goes throughout the song, and virtually nothing else. It works.

“Jangle Manifesto”, Nana Grizol
From South Somewhere Else (2020, Arrowhawk/Don Giovanni)

Going back a couple of years to 2020 and the most recent (very good) Nana Grizol record, the provocatively yet appropriately-titled “Jangle Manifesto” is up there with the title track for providing the heart of South Somewhere Else. “If there was something called ‘my country’ / It’s not a thing that I would save,” begins Theo Hilton after a typical Elephant Six horn intro, and then continues making quick work of rejecting several tenets of American culture that in a better world (not this one) would be rejected by all out of hand.

“Everybody’s Birthday”, Frank Meadows
From Dead Weight (2022, Ruination)

I (and, presumably, several other Rosy Overdrive readers) know Frank Meadows as the co-head of the great Dear Life Records (MJ Lenderman, Wendy Eisenberg, Trevor Nikrant), but like the other Dear Life co-runners, Meadows makes his own music as well. Dead Weight is a compelling piano-led folk-country record that I only first heard two days ago as of writing this, but the album has already grown on me significantly. Opening track “Everybody’s Birthday” is an understated tune—or at least, it would be, if Meadows’ vocal performance (really nailing the “NYC via NC” part of his Bandcamp bio) didn’t spend the entire song subtly but evermore convincingly stealing the show.

“Leigh Can’t Leave”, DiskothiQ
From Waterworld (1996, Shrimper)

Now, here’s one from the archives: DiskothiQ was a classic Inland Empire Shrimper Records band—never quite having even the limited cache that groups like Refrigerator and Nothing Painted Blue did, and is probably best remembered today as “the band Peter Hughes was in before he became the bassist for the Mountain Goats”. Still, they were quite good, and 1996’s Waterworld was the band’s greatest record. I could’ve chosen several songs from the album, but today I’m feeling the travelogue of “Leigh Can’t Leave”, which just kind of sounds like driving down the highway.

“Holding Back the Water”, Hello Whirled
From Hoping for a Little More…Pizzazz (2022, Repeating Cloud)

Hoping for a Little More…Pizzazz will not be Hello Whirled’s first release of 2022, but considering that it’s the project’s inaugural release with Repeating Cloud Records and will be released physically via cassette, it carries a certain weight (hence the self-deprecating title, perhaps). My favorite of the advance singles thus far has been “Holding Back the Water”, a blaring rocker featuring a high-energy chorus delivered by Ben Spizuco. I’ll have more to say about Hoping for a Little More…Pizzazz soon-ish.

“Mechanics”, The Bye Bye Blackbirds
From August Lightning Complex (2022)

The Bye Bye Blackbirds is a true-believing guitar pop band led by singer/songwriter Bradley Skaught (and also featuring former Game Theory/Loud Family drummer Jozef Becker—true heads know the significance of this). By my count, August Lightning Complex is the band’s sixth album, and fans of song-first power/jangle pop in the vain of groups like The Crowd Scene could do a lot worse than to seek it out. Highlight “Mechanics” has an understated 70s power pop-ish verse groove before jumping up into a starry chorus.

“Can’t Hear the Phone”, Snow Ellet
From Glory Days (2022, Wax Bodega)

“Can’t Hear the Phone” has been out for a while, but it was hearing it in the context of Snow Ellet’s recent Glory Days EP that really sold the song for me. The final track on the record, “Can’t Hear the Phone” is a two-point-five minute mix of several Snow Ellet hallmarks—the grounding drum machine, alt-rock guitar lines, just a hint of melodramatic synths, a big chorus, and lyrics that can go from zero to “thwack” in moments (“I mean, I wrote this song / I guess I write a lot,” they shrug at one point).

“Excuses”, Grass Jaw
From Circles (2022, Habitforming)

“I asked you to compromise / You told me to go fuck myself,” begins “Excuses”, a highlight from Circles, the latest record from Grass Jaw. Like a lot of the record, Grass Jaw leader Brendan Kuntz sounds particularly worn-out and weary, even as Kuntz and his collaborators make the song sound full-bodied and spirited. Read more about Circles here.

“Kimberly”, Patti Smith
From Horses (1975, Arista)

Part of me took perverse delight in Patti Smith being primarily “the woman from the Tom Scharpling elevator story” until this month, but I’m not one to deprive myself of good music to keep up weird quirks, and Horses, which I listened to for the first time a week or so ago, is indeed quite good. People a lot more eloquent than I have talked on length about that album, so I’ll try to keep this brief. I could’ve chosen several songs from the record for this playlist (indeed, it was almost “Free Money”), but “Kimberly” in particular plays to Smith’s strengths: the band locking into a pretty simple pop progression and letting Patti just do her thing (in this case, apparently she’s writing about her sister) over top of it.

“Jupiter Pluvius”, ME REX
From Plesiosaur (2022, Big Scary Monsters)

A second highlight from Plesiosaur, which I can say by this point is pretty firmly my favorite ME REX EP thus far, single “Jupiter Pluvius” is another great example of the rest of the ME REX lineup providing the means for Myles McCabe to aggressively do his thing over tightly-constructed piano pop rock. “Jupiter Pluvius, flood me with all good shit,” pleads McCabe at the beginning of the track, and that line might be the least notable one in the opening paragraph (there’s also a bit about “catatonic monuments”, and of course “He’s one of the pantheon / He fucks like a champion”).

“Vanderbilt”, Hit
From Vanderbilt/Great Conjunction (2022)

The impossibly-named Hit is led by Brooklyn’s Craig Heed, who also notably wrote an essay for Talkhouse about Brainiac around the time the group’s latest single was released. “Vanderbilt”/”Great Conjunction” is only the four-piece band’s second single, and yes, there’s a clear Brainiac influence in these two songs, but it’s not pastiche either. For one, Heed is no Tim Taylor, nor does he attempt to be –in “Vanderbilt”, his clear vocals are the calm at the center of the rest of the band’s storm, and the song also feels looser and more psychedelic than your typical Brainiac fare.

“I’m the One You Want”, Sob Stories
From Fair Shakes (2022, Dandy Boy)

It’s a familiar story that hasn’t gotten old yet: Bay Area band led by a single singer-songwriter puts together a record of jangly power pop featuring several familiar faces—in this case, Joel Cusumano is the bandleader, and Rosy Overdrive readers will recognize drummer Phil Lantz (of Chime School) and Ray Seraphin (of R.E. Seraphin, who gets a co-songwriting credit). “I’m the One You Want” is not the only killer pop tune on Fair Shakes, but its classic college rock intro combined with almost Replacements-y power chord verses gives it a unique energy.

“I Can Hear It”, Editrix
From Editrix II: Editrix Goes to Hell (2022, Exploding in Sound)

Editrix II: Editrix Goes to Hell (one of my favorite records of 2022 so far) feels more insular and more focused than last year’s Tell Me I’m Bad, although the band still captures the zany energy of their debut in songs like “I Can Hear It”. Guitarist Wendy Eisenberg, bassist Steve Cameron, and drummer Josh Daniel tumble through the first half of the song until pulling out of a tailspin into the triumphant, swinging alt-rock of “I Can Hear It”’s second half.

“Trying to Get Over”, The Dream Syndicate
From Ultraviolet Battle Hymns and True Confessions (2022, Fire)

The unexpected but rewarding revival of The Dream Syndicate over the last half-decade or so has led the flagship Paisley Underground group to some pretty out-there locations, but their latest record, Ultraviolet Battle Hymns and True Confessions, falls firmly in line with the spirit of their original 1980s material. Perhaps the recent reissue of 1986’s Out of the Grey has the band back in a rollicking desert rock mood, but either way, the stomping “Trying to Get Over” charges its way into “classic Dream Syndicate song” status quite easily.

“Moving On”, Green/Blue
From Paper Thin (2022, Feel It)

The modern post-punk stomp of “Moving On” doesn’t deviate from the main formula of Paper Thin, but it shines as a particular triumph of the record all the same. Jim Blaha and Annie Sparrows’ intertwined vocals are haunting, neither towering over nor being buried by the reverb and fuzz that gets expertly wielded across the music of “Moving On”. Read more about Paper Thin here.

“Baltimore Moon”, SAVAK
From Human Error / Human Delight (2022, Peculiar Works)

“Baltimore Moon”, aside from merely being a highlight on Human Error / Human Delight, is also a key track in exemplifying SAVAK’s approach on their fifth record together. The song synthesizes the more straightforward and “artier” sides of SAVAK as well as any one song could. “Baltimore Moon” effectively has two back-to-back choruses—a bouncy, melodic power pop one and then a stomping post-punk one. Read more about Human Error / Human Delight here.

“Love Ain’t Polite [4th Demo]”, Wire
From Not About to Die (Studio Demos 1977-1978) (2022, Pinkflag)

Another early, punk-Wire highlight from the first half of Not About to Die, the one-minute “Love Ain’t Polite” is as good and rewarding as any pop song by a 70s punk band. The Pink Flag-esque touchstones are there—the matter of fact chord changes, the animated bass, Colin Newman’s nervy yet confident vocals—and yet it’s a different path than their first proper LP entirely.

“Too Far Gone”, Young Guv
From GUV IV (2022, Run for Cover)

“Too Far Gone” opens up GUV IV by announcing what the listener is in for, exactly: a mix of the straight-ahead power pop that marked the first three Young Guv records and a shimmery desert psychedelia. The song sports confident handclaps and a very catchy chorus, while Ben Cook’s vocals waver and stretch over the song’s hypnotic music. Read more about GUV IV here.

“Who Wants to Go Hunting?”, Guided by Voices
From Trembles and Goggles by Rank (2022, GBV Inc.)

Another song that has been out for a while but I didn’t fully appreciate until I heard it in an album context, “Who Wants to Go Hunting?” ends Trembles and Goggles by Rank with a rarely-seen-by-Robert-Pollard-bands six minute iceberg. Although the song (originally released as a B-side to “Unproductive Funk” in May) contains proggy buildups and at least one instance of acoustic noodling, it doesn’t feel any more stitched-together or disjointed than your three-to-four minute modern Guided by Voices song: Pollard and the band just stretch out a bit more here.

“Hard Reset”, The Zells
From Ant Farm (2022, Crafted Sounds)

“Hard Reset” comes at the end of Ant Farm, a frequently messy and earnest record of all the bombast 90s indie rock and punk-inspired music can provide. In context, “Hard Reset” is the “breather”, the quiet and meditative closer to the louder songs that came before it, but the song’s shrug-and-grin mid-tempo pop rock works just fine on its own. Bassist/singer Roman Benty gives a sneakily-powerful vocal performance over a straightforward instrumental—by the time the final “It was only just to show me she don’t owe me anything” comes around, the only appropriate response is “ah, yes, of course she don’t”.

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