Pressing Concerns: The Reds, Pinks & Purples, Ecstatic International, Brat Sounds, Private Lives

We’re back on a Tuesday with Pressing Concerns, looking at four brand new records–debut EPs from Ecstatic International and Private Lives, a half-reissue, half-previously-unreleased album from The Reds, Pinks & Purples, and the latest full-length from Brat Sounds.

If you’re looking for more new music, you can browse previous editions of Pressing Concerns or visit the site directory. If you’d like to support Rosy Overdrive, you can share this (or another) post, or donate here.

The Reds, Pinks & Purples – They Only Wanted Your Soul

Release date: October 14th
Record label: Slumberland
Genre: Jangle pop
Formats: Vinyl, digital
Pull track: I Should Have Helped You

Followers of modern jangle pop music have most likely encountered the work of Glenn Donaldson before—perhaps via his collaborative efforts The Skygreen Leopards, Painted Shrines, and The Art Museums, but as of late, he’s gained notice with The Reds, Pinks & Purples, his prolific solo project. By my count, They Only Wanted Your Soul is Donaldson’s sixth album under the name since 2019, and his third of this year, following February’s Summer at Land’s End and July’s Bandcamp-only Still Clouds at Noon. They Only Wanted Your Soul is technically not a “proper” record—the album’s first four tracks originally comprised the I Should Have Helped You EP, and Slumberland has combined them with some previously-unreleased tracks to create a “mini-LP length grab bag” of, well, something that sounds as good as anything else I’ve heard from Donaldson.

It’s easy to hear why the previously under-the-radar tracks from the EP were selected for reissuing—it begins with an instant classic in the aching, wistful “I Should Have Helped You”, in which Donaldson captures a world of emotion with the simple title statement. All of the other I Should Have Helped You songs shine too, from the bright “Keep Your Secrets Close” to the sparse, mostly-acoustic “They Only Wanted Your Soul”. The new (to us) songs are strong enough to resist the “bonus/extra” label as well, continuing Donaldson’s humble, drum machine-aided guitar pop in no less compelling fashion. The breeziness of “Poems & Pictures” works in tandem with a particularly heartfelt, emotional delivery from Donaldson to create what ends up as a pleasingly archetypal Reds, Pinks & Purples song. 

Right after “Poems & Pictures”, however, is a genuine surprise in “Workers of the World”, both in its musical structure (in which Donaldson, instead of obscuring the “machine” part of his drum machine, embraces it and places its beat prominently in the track) as well as in Donaldson’s fervent belief in indie pop as a vehicle for a radical pro-labor message (To those workers, he says: “Don’t give it all away—it’s not theirs to take”). From there, They Only Wanted Your Soul veers into a Christmas-themed song—so, sure, maybe it’s not a traditional full-length statement of an album, but “We Won’t Come Home at Christmas Time” is excellent, and earns its place as one of ten gleaming pop songs. (Bandcamp link)

Ecstatic International – Ecstatic International

Release date: October 14th
Record label: Sister Polygon
Genre: Post-punk, dance punk
Formats: Digital
Pull track: High Violence

Ecstatic International is a new Washington D.C.-based post-punk supergroup headlined by G.L. Jaguar, formerly of the sorely missed Priests, and Laura Harris of Ex Hex, and also featuring Anno (Olivia Neutron-John), Jacky Cougar Abok (Des Demonas), and Nikhil Rao (Bottled Up). Released on Priests’ Sister Polygon label, Ecstatic International’s self-titled debut EP delves into the same strain of danceable but smart post-punk music that Jaguar’s former band seemed to be sauntering towards before their breakup—there’s more groove to Ecstatic International, perhaps suggesting and predicting where Priests may have gone had they stayed together after their underrated 2019 swan song The Seduction of Kansas.

The five songs of Ecstatic International are all sleek, polished, brim-filled dance-punk tracks. “High Violence” kicks off the EP driven by a simple but effective rhythm and spare, unemotional spoken vocals, and then “Disrupter” laughs off the subtlety of the opening track by accelerating the vocals, lyrics, and the music almost (but not quite) into parodic levels. The frantically bubbling prominent synths that ride along the rumbling bass groove of “Corridor” recall the best of new wave-era Wire, but the music is counterbalanced by surprisingly soulful vocals. Closing track “Premium Vision” feels particularly 80s-inspired with its liberal synth coloring and its occasional bursts of wide-eyed melody in the midst of jerky post-punk. Ecstatic International is sturdy to a tee, but it knows when to bend just enough as well. (Bandcamp link)

Brat Sounds – Nothing

Release date: October 14th
Record label: Gain Castle
Genre: Power pop, alt-rock
Formats: Digital
Pull track: Every Worry Like a Pet

Milwaukee’s Brat Sounds have been around for the better part of a decade at this point—Nothing is the four-piece group’s fourth (and, unfortunately, possibly final) record, not counting a covers collection from late last year. The record sounds like the band has grown quite comfortable in settling into a blend of slacker rock and power pop—Nothing is a very hooky record, but it isn’t overly showy about it. Brat Sounds have a “typical” two-guitar, bass, and drums setup, and lead singer Scott Cary has a deceptively straightforward, unadorned voice, which makes it all the more effective when he pushes out of his “zone”. Similarly, Corbin Coonan’s lead guitar parts subtly fade into the songs of Nothing as well, primarily serving the tracks rather than grabbing attention on their own.

Album opener “Every Worry Like a Pet” is a flawless pop song, like the platonic ideal of a lost 90s pop rock one-hit wonder, and Nothing is packed up front with the surprisingly bass-led “You Do As You Like” (in which Cary really lets loose towards the end), the vintage slacker ballad “King of the Mountain” (“…eating hot Cheetos on the throne” follows the title line), and the bouncy “The Hollow Men”. Nothing is far from a “punk “album, but Brat Sounds do zip through fast, sub-two minute pop songs very well, as the motor-mouth “Comedy” and the retro-flavored “Shakedown Shimmy” demonstrate, and closing track “Never Over” has a fuzz rock heaviness that isn’t really present on the rest of the record (and features another ace performance from Cary, who again pushes himself to match the music). “Never Over” ends with the amps dropping out, followed by a callback to the beginning of the record—it’s one of Nothing’s most obvious flourishes, but far from the only one. (Bandcamp link)

Private Lives – Private Lives

Release date: October 11th
Record label: Feel It
Genre: Garage rock, post-punk
Formats: Cassette, digital
Pull track: All the Queen’s Men

The latest addition to the Feel It Records roster is a new band, but one that’s comprised of members of several notable Montreal garage rock and punk groups—singer Jackie is from Pale Lips, guitarist Chance is from Priors, and drummer Frankie plays in Lonely Parade. The resultant Private Lives is a pandemic-originating four-piece which sounds energetic and locked-in on their five-song, self-titled debut EP. Private Lives begins with the barreling “Misfortune”, a blatant garage rock ripper reflecting the band’s pedigree.

There are already signs of the band’s depths in “Misfortune”, however—Jackie’s vocals are clear and melodic and Chance’s guitar tone is surprisingly chorused, recalling a different side of post-punk.  Private Lives moves into a mid-tempo strut with “All the Queen’s Men” and the title track, with Josh’s bass noticeably helping the latter achieve its bouncy sound. The final two tracks on the EP match the opener in terms of rock; “Get Loose” is probably the clearest reflection of the band’s surf influences on the record, although it’s the moody closing track “Head/Body” that best combines the band’s punk energy with the darker, subtler edges of their sound. (Bandcamp link)

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