Pressing Concerns: Self Improvement, Jim Nothing, My Favorite, Corrosion.

There will be two Pressing Concerns again this week! You cannot stop it! This is a bit of an odds-and-ends one–we look at new albums from Jim Nothing and Corrosion., a new EP from My Favorite, and a cassette reissue of Self Improvement‘s debut record.

A couple of housecleaning things: one, you may have noticed that I finally just dropped the .wordpress from the blog, which has been long overdue. And second, Rosy Overdrive now has a Ko-fi page, where you can tip the author of this blog. I expect nothing, and Rosy Overdrive will continue to exist regardless; but if you’d like to see Rosy Overdrive update more regularly, or add more features, or just want me to be compensated in some way for the work I put into this (which is, uh, a lot), this is a way to tell me/do that. Also, the site has a new header, which is pretty cool.

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

Self Improvement – Visible Damage (Cassette Release)

Release date: October 6th
Record label: Floating Mill
Genre: Post-punk
Formats: Cassette, digital
Pull track: Visible Damage

Self Improvement is a Long Beach, California-based post-punk group made up of British expat Jett Witchalls on vocals, Jonny Rza on guitar, Patric “Pat” Moonie on bass, and Reuben Kaiban (who joined after the recording of their debut album) on drums. Visible Damage was quietly self-released by the band on Christmas Eve last year, but Pittsburgh’s Floating Mill Records (who, up until now, had been known for re-releases of a more archival nature) are bringing it into the physical world via cassette. It’s a compelling debut record of the garage rock side of post-punk—it’s on the Wire/Pylon side of things in terms of the genre’s original wave, and in line with modern labels like Feel It Records—but it still has an unmistakable post-punk, bass-led groove.

Self Improvement emerge fully-formed on the record’s opening track, which is also called “Self Improvement”—Jonny and Pat put together a barreling egg punk instrumental, and Jett’s mantra-like sung-spoken vocals go from robotic to unhinged and back again in the song’s under-90-second runtime. Jett also takes up this mode in “Filling Time”, in which she declares “I will not be bored / I will be happy” until it sticks. The rumbling title track is a showcase for both the band’s dexterity in delivering a dark surf rock instrumental and for Jett’s vocals, which go from a whisper to a shout on a dime.

The mid-tempo, crawling “Shapes” also features an ace performance from Jett, who practically spits out the lyrics at points. The atmospheric “Ashes” shows that Self Improvement can be subtle, and the delightfully weird “Asylum Seeker” (which features Pat on lead vocals) is another intriguing left turn. The songs zip by at around two minutes, with the exception of closing track “Fetishes” which lists off a few of what its title suggests before ending the record with a cacophony of noise. Visible Damage takes plenty of steps like that to ensure that it’s a memorable entry into the world of modern post-punk, even as the core trio’s performance is enough to guarantee that on its own. (Bandcamp link)

Jim Nothing – In the Marigolds

Release date: September 15th
Record label: Meritorio/Melted Ice Cream
Genre: Jangle pop, Dunedin sound
Formats: Vinyl, digital
Pull track: Never Come Down

Upon seeing that Jim Nothing hail from Christchurch, New Zealand and make guitar pop music, one might be inclined to make some assumptions about how they sound—and that would land you in the right ballpark, at the very least. The trio certainly recall plenty of music from the original wave of Dunedin groups that put New Zealand on the map for indie rock—they pull from the breeziness of The Bats, the haziness of The Clean, the fractured pop of Chris Knox, and the prominent violin from vocalist Anita Clark reminds me of music from Alastair Galbraith and the Jefferies Brothers. Jim Nothing also puts itself in line with modern Kiwi bands taking inspiration from this music, even discounting their pedigree—both guitarist/vocalist James Sullivan and drummer Brian Feary play in Salad Boys, and Feary also plays in Wurld Series.

In the Marigolds clocks in at under 28 minutes, and it doesn’t waste time in its dozen pop songs. Jim Nothing hit both ends of their sound in the LP’s opening duo—the dreamy, psychedelic, expansive-sounding “It Won’t Be Long”, and the in-your-face, Pixies-esque pop stomp of “Never Come Down”—but the rest of the record settles in somewhere between the two, in a catchy but unhurried way. The band breeze through pleasing mid-tempo tunes like “Seahorse Kingdom”, “Nowhere Land”, and “Fall Back Down”, and even when they crank up the amps a bit more in “Yellow House” and “Borrowed Time”, the songs retain a melancholic vibe, and only come off as slightly busier. The record doesn’t lose steam, with the chugging “Only Life” featuring a particularly inspired violin part from Clark, and “Back Again” saving one of the best melodies on the album for the near-end. (Bandcamp link)

My Favorite – Tender Is the Nightshift: Part One

Release date: August 5th
Record label: HHBTM/wiaiwya
Genre: Synthpop, post-punk, New Romantic, new wave
Formats: Vinyl, digital
Pull track: Dean’s 7th Dream

Michael Grace Jr. has been leading the New York-based indie pop group My Favorite since the mid-1990s, and the band (who now features pianist/synth player Kurt Brondo and bassist Gil Abad, as well as a host of collaborators) is still ambitious and full of musical ideas, as evidenced by their latest release, Tender Is the Nightshift: Part One. That it features only five songs (one of which is a dub version of a track earlier on the record) plus its tentative place as the first in an upcoming trilogy makes the “EP” label make sense—although, at nearly a half an hour, it could pass for a full-length.

Tender Is the Nightshift: Part One opens with the eight-minute “Dean’s 7th Dream”, a massive number that contains moments of synthpop, guitar-based new wave, sophisti-pop saxophones, and Grace’s distinct, emotive New Romantic vocals. Starting with something of that magnitude risks overshadowing the rest of the EP, but the remaining tracks acquit themselves nicely as well—the soulful 80s pop of “Princess Diana Awaiting Ambulance” nearly matches the opener, and Jaime Allison Babic’s vocals on the downcast jangly “Second Empire (Second Arrangement)” and the drum machine-led “Blues for Planet X” add welcome shades and touches to the rest of the record. In the third decade of their music career, My Favorite are beginning something with Tender Is the Nightshift. (Bandcamp link)

Corrosion. – Pinhead

Release date: September 8th
Record label: Stotrojka
Genre: 90s indie rock, fuzz rock
Formats: Digital
Pull track: Daisy

I wrote about Macedonian jangle pop group Rush to Relax last month, and it appears that this has brought the Macedonian indie rock world out of the woodwork, because I learned about Corrosion. not long after. The Bitola-based band appears to be part of a new generation of bands like their American counterparts in Horsegirl and Lifeguard—teenagers making music directly inspired by 1990s indie rock. They describe themselves as a “noise pop” band, and they do hit both sides of that from a rock standpoint: the one end of Pinhead is tuneful, upbeat light indie rock, and the other is loud, amp-cranked fuzz rock.

The band’s mixture of pop and loud rock, combined with as Andrej Siveski’s casual vocals, sounds particularly Dinosaur Jr.-esque. Opening track “Daisy” is alt-rock power pop in a Weezer-y way, and songs like “4600” jump between loud and soft excitedly. Although they are firstly a tuneful, pop-structure band, Corrosion. can also wade into extended jam territory—it shows up in the first half of Pinhead with the winding “P.E.D.S.”, and they then stretch out in the second half with “Холандија” and (especially) the title track. Corrosion. already have their sound down with Pinhead, and are even reaching beyond it at points. (Bandcamp link)

Also notable:

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