Pressing Concerns: Bed Bits, Old Moon, Why Bother?, Graham Repulski

Greetings! This Tuesday edition of Pressing Concerns looks at new and upcoming records from Bed Bits, Old Moon, Why Bother?, and Graham Repulski. September 16th is shaping up to be a big release week (at least within the niche of music that Rosy Overdrive covers), so the plan right now is for a second Pressing Concerns to go up on the normal day (this Thursday) as well. Look out for it!

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

Bed Bits – Bed Bits

Release date: September 2nd
Record label: Plastic Response
Genre: Jangle pop, psych pop, lo-fi pop
Formats: Cassette, digital
Pull track: Cambrian Age

Bed Bits is the project of Alex Edgeworth, begun in Vermont and continuing after her move to Los Angeles. The self-titled Bed Bits cassette is Edgeworth’s debut record, coming after playing in the Happy Jawbone Family Band, working on her own songs for several years, and developing Bed Bits into a quintet. Bed Bits is an album that takes in several decades’ worth of guitar pop, from the Beatles and Syd Barrett to Flying Nun and C86.

Edgeworth’s combination of adventurous indie pop with world-containing and world-building lyrics reminds me of the Olivia’s World EP from last year, and although these songs are fairly minimal musically, there’s a rumbling bass sound throughout the album that’s a nice counterpoint to the trebly, “lo-fi” nature of a lot of these types of bands. Bed Bits opens with the animal noises and steady drumbeat of “Cambrian Age”, which then morphs into a jangly pop tune that introduces the key aspects of Edgeworth’s project perfectly. A simple but effective guitar riff and bouncy bass circle around Edgeworth’s psychedelic, transportive lyrics that reference (among other things) Gondwana and the trilobites of its titular age.

So it goes from then on, with vivid images emerging from its primordial core—the “frog in the chimney” in “Ceiling”, the fruit and seashells populating “Secret Life”, the “pink and yellow planets” and “nougat blues” of “Tender Spree”. A good deal of Bed Bits features little or no percussion, letting Edgeworth’s lyrics hit the listener more effectively, but it’s still a pop record with fully-developed songs—“Dream Vitamins” bounds along,  aided by some wordless vocal hooks, and “Wild Landscape” has a loping instrumental that gallops across the titular location. As a whole, Bed Bits is a debut that impressively and eagerly announces what the person behind it is all about. (Bandcamp link)

Old Moon – Under All Skies

Release date: September 16th
Record label: Relief Map
Genre: Post-punk, jangle pop, dream pop
Formats: Cassette, digital
Pull track: Candle

Old Moon is the project of Burlington, Vermont’s Tom Weir, who has had a busy 2022 thus far—in addition to this week’s Under All Skies cassette EP, Weir has already put out the Cities of the Plain full-length and the In the Wasteland EP this year under the name. With Under All Skies, Old Moon embraces the sound of 80’s alternative rock—the cassette’s six songs fall between classic college rock and melancholic post-punk, and Weir’s writing takes advantage of the best of both styles. Old Moon’s embrace of reverb and Weir’s plainly emotive vocals conjure up dream pop, but these songs are (for the most part) more grounded and propulsive in a post-punk way.

Songs like “Dark Blue Morning” and “All It Takes” are upbeat, jangly rock songs shot through with Old Moon’s dreamy sheen, and while “Candle” starts out with a synthpop intro, it eventually rolls into a big New Order-esque chorus that evokes the more guitar-based tracks from that band. Old Moon borrow more than surface-level sonic moves from 80s post-punk—there’s also a Cure-ish darkness/lightness balancing act to the songs of Under All Skies, particularly in the mid-tempo, contemplative “Consecrated Life” and the scorching but anthemic howl of “Harbor”. Under All Skies may be one of several recent Old Moon releases, but it feels fully-realized and sufficiently labored-over; all six tracks are multi-dimensional, immersive pop songs. (Bandcamp link)

Why Bother? – Lacerated Nights

Release date: September 16th
Record label: Feel It
Genre: Garage rock, punk rock
Formats: Vinyl, digital
Pull track: Cut to Pieces

Mason City, Iowa’s Why Bother? certainly fits the bill of a Feel It Records band—little to no online presence, quite prolific, and, above all, concerned with rocking out in a dirty and gritty way. Although the garage punk four-piece have been busy during their relatively brief time as a band, Lacerated Nights is somewhat surprisingly only their first proper full-length—last year’s A Year of Mutations collected their first four EPs, and February’s Lovers and Addicts padded its runtime with a selection of cover songs. With Lacerated Nights, however, Why Bother? deliver a thirty-minute statement of garage rock that’s all their own.

Although Lacerated Nights has a barebones punk rock feel to it, synths do pop up throughout the record (courtesy of lead vocalist Terry). It still feels like a guitar record first, but songs like “Bent Spoon Blues” are pretty prominently built up around synths, and the atmospheric post-punk of “Clouds” hints at future unexplored areas for the band. Why Bother? also follows in the footsteps of garage rockers like The Cramps and Dead Moon with their dark and horror-tinged undertones—the classic punk rock-sounding lead single “Cut to Pieces” needs no further explaining, and the second half of Lacerated Nights gives us “Televised Assassination”, the truly unnerving “The Stalker’s Stare”, and the creepy cypher of a closing track, “Dirty Secrets”. This kind of music can still feel like it’s got an edge to it, especially when it’s delivered directly from a basement in Middle America. (Bandcamp link)

Graham Repulski – Zero Shred Forty

Release date: September 13th
Record label: Shorter Recordings
Genre: Lo-fi indie rock, power pop, psych pop
Formats: CD, digital
Pull track: Flaming Television

Philadelphia’s Graham Repulski has been making a tuneful racket with his version of lo-fi pop music for a dozen years at this point, bashing out short songs on his Shorter Recordings label that evoke Repulski’s most noticeable influence, Robert Pollard of Guided by Voices (noted Pollard collaborator Todd Tobias mastered Zero Shred Forty, as he has done with many a Repulski release). Songs like “Flaming Television” call up the best parts of the lo-fi era of Guided by Voices, with Repulski’s vocals reaching emotional, melodic heights that a lot of Pollard imitators don’t quite reach, while “Rated Violence” is a messy ballad where a beautiful melody cuts through the fuzz.

But Repulski’s clearly not just a fan of the “hits” side of Robert Pollard—he can do the weird, atmospheric side (“Boiled Again”) and play the Suitcase/Alien Lanes song-snippet game as well (“Tart Milk”). Not that Repulski makes a clean divider line between these facets—hidden toward the end of the record, “Failure Jam” is a layered noise pop tune that masks some of Repulski’s most vulnerable and touching writing underneath its surface. At 20 minutes (the last two of which are the mostly-silent “Untitled”), Zero Shred Forty does not overstay its welcome, opting to retain some mystique—which shakes out just fine, because what’s there is generous enough as it is. (Bandcamp link)

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