The October edition of the Rosy Overdrive playlist is here! For once, it’s actually being published in October, so, happy Halloween to you all. You’ll find a lot of great new music here, some already covered in Pressing Concerns, some not, as well as some archival selections (mainly from 1997).
Idle Ray has three songs on the playlist this time, and Jim Nothing has two.
Here is where you can listen to the playlist on various streaming services: Spotify, Tidal, BNDCMPR (missing a couple songs). Be sure to check out previous playlist posts if you’ve enjoyed this one, or visit the site directory. If you’d like to support Rosy Overdrive, you can share this (or another) post, or donate here.
“In Time”, Midwestern Medicine
From The Gold Baton (2022, Website)
Midwestern Medicine is a Portland, Maine indie rock group led by Brock Ginther, who also plays in Divorce Cop, Lemon Pitch, and probably more bands. The Gold Baton (engineered by and featuring musical contributions from Bradford Krieger of Courtney and Brad) is the band’s second record, and it opens on a strong note with the ramshackle indie rock of “In Time”. Ginther’s quietly commanding Jason Lytle-esuqe vocals lead a stop-start instrumental featuring mid-tempo power chords and a humbly anthemic chorus.
From The Vine (2022, Setterwind/Den Tapes)
Fluung’s The Vine is a revelation for those of us who are susceptible to loud, guitar-heroic-heavy 90s-inspired indie rock, and “Decades” is, in many ways, the peak of that record’s sound. Coming right in the middle of the album, “Decades” maxes out both the loudness and the catchiness—it begins with Donald Wymer shouting the hook out over fuzzy guitars, and it doesn’t let up from that moment. Read more about The Vine here.
“White Collar”, Convinced Friend
From Convinced Friend (2022, Relief Map)
Convinced Friend is the solo project of the New Orleans-originating, Rhode Island-based A.S. Wilson, and the lead single from its self-titled debut record is an earnest piece of fuzzy folk rock that centers Wilson’s lyrics. “White Collar” dives right into the crushing world of a crumbling work-home life balance, student loans, and the resultant burnout—and stares it all down. Wilson’s second-person narrative feels strongly like it earns the “I love you, you are alright” repeated outro.
From Windowpane (2022, Dandy Boy/Discontinuous Innovation)
The debut EP from San Francisco’s Aluminum is a compelling listen, hitting the ground running with its opening title track. “Windowpane” is hypnotic noise pop at its finest, starting with the excellent dual vocal team of guitarist/synth player Marc Leyda and bassist Ryann Gonsalves and a steady, motorik indie rock instrumental before erupting into a massive wall of sound that nevertheless doesn’t bury the song’s memorable melody.
“Never Come Down”, Jim Nothing
From In the Marigolds (2022, Meritorio/Melted Ice Cream)
Coming after In the Marigolds‘ dreamy, psychedelic opening track “It Won’t Be Long”, “Never Come Down” displays the other side of Kiwi pop band Jim Nothing’s sound. It’s pure in-your-face, Pixies-eque pop stomp, beginning with both vocalists (James Sullivan and Anita Clark) chanting the hook (“We should get lost ‘cause at least that’s something to do”) and never coming down from that high. Read more about In the Marigolds here.
“Dreamed You Were a Dog”, Idle Ray
From Idle Ray (2021, Life Like/Half-Broken)
Idle Ray showing up on streaming services seems like a good enough reason to revisit one of the best records of last year. “Dreamed You Were a Dog” is the platonic ideal of a Fred Thomas song—vaguely urgent-sounding, incredibly melodic, and smartly affecting lyrically, in this case by using the titular dog dream as a way to long for basic compassion and affection (“They’re never sure what’s happening / But everyone is so happy for you”). Read more about Idle Ray here.
“Left in the Sink”, CLASS
From Epoca de Los Vaqueros (2022, Feel It)
Tucson, Arizona’s CLASS jump between different sides of garage and punk rock throughout their captivating debut full-length, Epoca de Los Vaqueros, and single “Left in the Sink” shows off the best of their high-octane, barreling-forward power pop side. The song gallops over an incredibly catchy, deceptively polished two minutes of rock-and-roll—there’s a moment where bells ring for a couple seconds and it doesn’t sound out of place. Read more about Epoca de Los Vaqueros here.
“The History of the Wild West”, Nervous Twitch
From Some People Never Change (2022, Reckless Yes)
One of the best attributes of Some People Never Change, the fifth record from Leeds’ Nervous Twitch, is that it’s a catchy indie pop record that sounds made by a real, solid rock band. The trio’s abilities are on full display in the runaway train of an opening track, “The History of the Wild West”, which is indie pop punk at its finest, with guitarist Jay Churchley slicing through the bright chords and Erin Hyde delivering a dry but commanding vocal performance. Read more about Some People Never Change here.
“The Bright Light”, Tanya Donelly
From Lovesongs for Underdogs (1997, Reprise/WEA)
It turns out I needed to listen to Lovesongs for Underdogs to be reminded how much of the real deal Tanya Donelly was in the 1990s. Sure, “Not Too Soon” more or less invented the genre of indie rock that’s still effectively the dominant one today way back in 1991, and Belly (reunion album that didn’t really grab me aside) still holds up very well, but this solo album sounds like she went even more all-in than normal in trying to make huge pop songs, and I challenge you to not get “The Bright Light” stuck in your head after one listen.
“Shadows”, Dear Nora
From Human Futures (2022, Orindal)
Dear Nora’s fifth record, Human Futures, features a host of different musical styles, hopping from minimalist to busy, from synths to guitars—highlight “Shadows” is unambiguously a gorgeous folk-country tune carried heavily by Katy Davidson’s self-harmonies. Davidson’s original home of Arizona figures heavily in the song (Tucson, Lake Havasu, and Flagstaff’s Weatherford Hotel get a mention), but “Shadows” isn’t static—in perhaps the record’s most memorable line, Davidson observes that “What was once America is now just a place to drive”. Read more about Human Futures here.
“I Killed the Cuckoo”, The Geraldine Fibbers
From Butch (1997, Virgin)
I’d listened to The Geraldine Fibbers’ country rock opus, 1996’s Lost Somewhere Between Earth and My Home, for the first time last year—but that did not adequately prepare me for their follow-up, the following year’s Butch. It’s a frantic, snarling garage rock record that eliminates a lot (but not all) of the previous album’s empty spaces (who would’ve thought adding Nels Cline to their line-up would result in that?). “I Killed the Cuckoo” is an extraordinarily potent 90s punk song that deserves to be remembered more than a lot of stuff that’s been overly canonized (I’d liked to have seen [censored] begin a song with, uh, that opening line).
“Keep Your Name Alive”, Sloan
From Steady (2022, Yep Roc)
The new Sloan album is (from the couple of times I’ve listened to it so far) a very good late-career highlight, and closing track “Keep Your Name Alive” is, even in that context, a particularly surprising way for the four-piece band to end things. It’s from the Jay Ferguson camp, and its chorus is pure, vintage Sloan, but there’s a looseness to the verses (like when Ferguson stops singing to remark “Well, I guess I had to find out for myself”) that feels like a great place for the band to be at this stage.
“I Believe She’s Lying”, Jon Brion
From Meaningless (2001, Straight to Cut-Out/Jealous Butcher)
Jealous Butcher’s vinyl reissue (well, issue, as it’s only ever been released on CD before) of Jon Brion’s Meaningless has brought out a lot of praise reflective of a record that’s been building a cult following for twenty years, and I will not attempt to fully capture why that is here. But I will give you “I Believe She’s Lying”, a killer pop song that is also extremely weird and shows off Brion’s studio skills. I’m not sure what to focus on here—the ridiculous percussion, Brion’s really odd choices of vocal effects, the guitar accents that jump in and out of the song—but it all works perfectly.
“People Watching”, Ganser
From Nothing You Do Matters (2022, Felte)
Ganser’s latest EP (following 2020’s Just Look at the Sky full-length and last year’s Look at the Sun remix EP) only features two all-new songs, but “People Watching” alone is worth the price of admission. The EP’s lead single expands upon Ganser’s dense, multi-pronged post-punk sound, with a dread-provoking instrumental underlining Nadia Garofalo’s particularly droll lead vocals (the way she delivers the EP’s title line, “Yeah, the world is big / And nothing you do matters” says a lot more than a few certain post-punk revival bands do in full albums).
“Paved”, That Hideous Sound
From Wasted Life (2022, Repeating Cloud)
I highlighted the debut single from Portland, Maine’s That Hideous Sound last year and remarked on its lo-fi garage rock, Wavves-indebted sound at that point. With the release of their first full-length record this month, the Elijah Crissinger-led project has expanded its depth to offer up downbeat 90s indie rock, fuzzy power pop, and basement psychedelia. My favorite song from Wasted Life, “Paved”, is a mid-tempo indie rock groover, sounding kind of like Alex G if he had dug further into his initial alt-rock influences instead of moving away from them.
“Lonedell Wildflower”, Ace of Spit
From Ace of Spit (2022, Sophomore Lounge)
St. Louis’ Ace of Spit are runaway-train garage rockers who embrace a proto-punk wildness and maximum amp-cranked distortion on their self-titled debut record, although mid-album highlight “Lonedell Wildflower” congeals their pure spirit into two minutes of fuzzy, loud power pop. The opening guitar lead careens into a pleasing hook in a way that reflects but isn’t beholden to the band’s surf influences, before rushing through an excellent mess of a pop song.
“J Bird”, Ded Jewels
From Big, Big Wave (2022, Feral Kid)
I love a good various-artist, all-original-tunes compilation, and Feral Kid Records has served up a great one with Big, Big Wave, a survey of Hattiesburg, Mississippi’s surprisingly (or, perhaps not so, given the Magnolia State’s rich music history) fertile garage rock and punk scene. One of the standout tunes, “J Bird” by Ded Jewels, emphasizes the Mississippi inherent herein with a roaring southern punk rock tune that’s equal parts 50s rock-and-roll and early Drive-By Truckers fuzz rock.
“Asking Price”, Dazy
From OUTOFBODY (2022, Lame-O/Convulse)
OUTOFBODY is pretty much exactly what you’d want from Dazy’s debut album: it retains the core of what made James Goodson’s early releases under the name so exciting (the Britpop/power pop/punk-pop/fuzz rock combo) but stretches out a little bit. “Asking Price” almost flies under the radar hidden in the middle of side two, but it’s effectively just one giant chorus and the sentiment (“Seems so wrong, seems so right / Sold my soul for the asking price”) feels appropriate for a long-awaited debut record. Read more about OUTOFBODY here.
“Youth Without Virtue”, The Sylvia Platters
From Youth Without Virtue (2022)
Youth Without Virtue is the first I’ve heard from British Columbia’s The Sylvia Platters, but they appear to have been around since 2015 at least. Judging from the six songs on their latest EP, however, they’re right up my alley—these tracks are expertly-written Teenage Fanclub-esque power/jangle pop touched (but never overwhelmed) by a bit of noise and dream pop distortion. The title track to Youth Without Virtue is a big-sounding number, riding wistful, melancholic melodies all the way to a genuinely jaw-dropping moment: the giant chorus hook gets saved for nearly the end of the track.
“Throw a Smile Toward Me”, Winded
From Schwartz Provides (2022, Community)
The latest record from the Florida-originating, upstate New York-based Winded is a charming sub-twenty minute lo-fi indie rock cassette that displays the songwriting skills of bandleader Thrin Vianale in several genres. “Throw a Smile Toward Me” is one of the more immediate tracks on Schwartz Provides, a mid-tempo, barely emo-tinged fuzz rocker that skips through verses to get to Vianale’s titular plea (why don’t you throw one toward them?).
“Barrier Reef”, Old 97’s
From Too Far to Care (1997, Elektra)
Very savvy of the Old 97’s to release their best record in 1997. Well, I can’t say that definitively, as I still haven’t heard a bunch of their post-90s albums, but Too Far to Care really does feel like their country-power-pop peak. “Barrier Reef” isn’t as flashy as “Timebomb” or “Big Brown Eyes”, but it’s a stealthily great album track, and Rhett Miller’s charmingly incredulous delivery (“She said ‘I’m already dead’’ / And that’s exactly what she said”; “She said ‘Do you have a car’, and I said / ‘Do I have a car?’”) is particularly memorable.
“Terms”, Idle Ray
From Idle Ray (2021, Life Like/Half-Broken)
Idle Ray is a full band now, but the songs on Idle Ray were recorded almost entirely by Fred Thomas alone. It is, somewhat ironically, a more straightforward and barebones effort than the last couple records he released under his own name, but it serves songs like “Terms” well—the guitar leads and vocals are strong enough melodically to stand on their own, and Thomas lets them do so here. Read more about Idle Ray here.
“Channel Master”, Glazer
From Civilian Whiplash (2022, State Champion)
The latest release from New Jersey’s Glazer is a six-song cassette EP on their longtime home of State Champion Records (Noun, Snakeskin) that delivers a brief but welcome dose of their heavy but frequently hooky fuzz rock. My favorite track on Civilian Whiplash, “Channel Master”, falls squarely into the “hooky” category—although the song’s verses find Glazer in anxious mode, the song then rolls into a beast of an anthemic alt-rock chorus.
“Le Vampire”, Death Hags
From The Alice Tape (2021, Big Grey Sun)
Death Hags’ The Alice Tape originally got a Bandcamp-only cassette release last Halloween, but it’s seeing wider availability this spooky season. Like many of the prolific Lola G’s releases under the Death Hags name (which also includes a Christmas-themed album, Frozen Santa), it’s a mix between ambient dreaminess and more grounded guitar pop—with an appropriate goth/darkwave twist this time. Inspired in part by The Sisters of Mercy’s goth classic “Alice” (of which the tape features a very good cover), The Alice Tape also features the bouncy, French-sung pop rock of “Le Vampire”, one of the cassette’s brightest and strongest moments.
“10th and J 2”, Enumclaw
From Save the Baby (2022, Luminelle)
Following their excellent debut in last year’s Jimbo Demo (one of my favorite EPs of 2021), Tacoma’s Enumclaw make it clear that they’re shooting for something higher from the get-go of their gigantic-sounding first full-length, Save the Baby. My current favorite song from the record, “10th and J 2”, falls somewhere between the relative simplicity of the EP and the extra layers of Save the Baby—lead singer Aramis Johnson’s vocals are clear in the mix, atop a swirling shoegaze-inspired instrumental that builds nicely.
“Yellow House”, Jim Nothing
From In the Marigolds (2022, Meritorio/Melted Ice Cream)
In the Marigolds is packed to the brim with humble guitar pop songs that reflect both Jim Nothing’s home country (New Zealand, the land of the Dunedin sound) and the various members’ other bands (Wurld Series, Salad Boys). “Yellow House” picks up the tempo a bit in the middle of the record, but it retains something of a melancholy vibe—and I don’t know what exactly to call the chorus, in which fuzzy guitars, Anita Clark and James Sullivan’s vocal harmonies, and Clark’s violin all come together beautifully. Read more about In the Marigolds here.
“My Work Here Is Dumb”, The Intelligence
From Lil’ Peril (2022, Mt.St.Mtn./Vapid Moonlighting)
Lil’ Peril is, very loosely speaking, a pop record—although its second half dives particularly into garage rock experimentalism, and even the more accessible songs feature plenty of left turns. Album centerpiece “My Work Here Is Dumb” is probably the most “traditional” garage rock song on the album, with a sneering vocal hook delivered by Lars Finberg, even as it stomps and twitches its way to a creepy ambient outro. Read more about Lil’ Peril here.
“Command Performance”, Noah Roth
From Breakfast of Champions (2022)
The latest record from Philadelphia’s Noah Roth, September’s Breakfast of Champions, is a Slaughter Beach, Dog-esque folk/alt-country-tinged singer-songwriter record that has a surprising experimental/studio rat streak as well. For instance—although “Command Performance” is very much a pop song, Roth steers it all over the place, adding and dropping a host of instrumentation to the track as it twists and turns underneath their melodic vocals. Read more about Breakfast of Champions here.
“Behind the Smile”, Matthew Sweet
From Blue Sky on Mars (1997, Volcano)
Blue Sky on Mars is a good record—it doesn’t have the darkness of Altered Beast, the Brian Wilson overdrive of In Reverse, or the monster pop single that headlines 100% Fun, but what it does have are twelve smartly-written power pop tunes. The brief, straightforward “Behind the Smile” is sneakily one of the best on the album—Matthew Sweet has used the earnest charm of his vocals to get away with all sorts of things over his music career, but here he simply wants to say “I haven’t been a good friend / For a long, long time”.
“Runner”, Alex G
From God Save the Animals (2022, Domino)
Alex G is doing a lot these days, but I’d be lying if I didn’t admit that the songs that still do the most for me personally are the pretty pop rock tunes like “Runner”. Not that “Runner” is one-dimensional—the song’s lyrics are, as is frequently the case, an interesting cypher, and Alex acquits himself nicely as a unique vocalist here as well (his shriek on “I have done a couple bad things” is what’ll get the attention, but I’m thinking more of his delivery on “They hit you with a rolled-up magazine”).
“Polaroid”, Idle Ray
From Idle Ray (2021, Life Like/Half-Broken)
Idle Ray is a record preoccupied with Fred Thomas’ fractured and fading friendships—I’m not sure if “Polaroid” wins the sweepstakes for the strongest portrayal of social anxiety, but the opening lines (“I used to have a Polaroid camera, I took it with me everywhere / I used to take pictures of people so they’d remember I was there”) has to be up there. At the very least, “Polaroid” describes its damage in the past tense, and it’s also one of the catchiest songs on a record of very catchy songs. Read more about Idle Ray here.
“What Would You Like Me to Do?”, Meat Wave
From Malign Hex (2022, Swami)
Alright, Malign Hex is out, and it’s a solid 35-minute document of Meat Wave’s particularly lean brand of noise rock/post-punk. I remember reading somewhere that it was actually recorded (or at least written) before last year’s excellent Volcano Park EP—either way, I hear a lot of similarity in the two, especially in the more atmospheric songs like the chilly “What Would You Like Me to Do?”, which builds into a nervous, bass-driven rock song over four minutes of pure cauldron-stewing.
From I’ve Never Met a Stranger (2022, Stoned to Death)
For their latest release, Toronto’s Picastro take five cover songs and make them wholly their own by applying their stark, beautiful slowcore and the distinct vocals of singer/guitarist Liz Hysen. Opening track “Hangman” (originally by Fire on Fire) is probably the sparest track on I’ve Never Met a Stranger, a hauntingly simple tune that really lets the refrain from Hysen (“Even the worst of men has friends / Even the hangman has friends”) impact the listener. Read more about I’ve Never Met a Stranger here.
“That Kid”, Cash Langdon
From Sinister Feeling (2022, Earth Libraries)
For the first full-length under his own name, Birmingham, Alabama’s Cash Langdon embraces a folk rock sound that retains the pop sensibilities present in his other bands (the shoegaze of Caution, and the power pop of Saturday Night). “That Kid” opens Sinister Feeling with a sweet, jangly sound, and Langdon’s vocals deliver a gorgeous melody. Read more about Sinister Feeling here.
“Like the Last Time”, Will Sheff
From Nothing Special (2022, ATO)
I did not like Nothing Special when I first heard it. It’s growing on me. It might be my favorite front-to-back record Will Sheff has done since The Silver Gymnasium; check back with me in a month or two on that. I’ve got no hesitation on “Like the Last Time”, though—this is clearly Sheff reaching the heights he’s always good to hit at least once even on his lesser records. Since this is my website, I’m forcing all of you to be patient like I was and let Sheff meander through the track’s first two minutes before unleashing the catharsis of the rest of the song—powerful on its own, even more so in the context of Nothing Special.
“Another Round (An Echo)”, Guest Directors
From Oh, to Be Weightless in the Sky (2022)
The latest EP from Seattle reverb-rock band Guest Directors opens with “Another Round (An Echo)”, which draws from shoegaze and psychedelia in its dramatic instrumental to match the impassioned, clear vocals and lyrics of singer/guitarist Julie D. Although “Another Round (An Echo)” doesn’t tip its hand with any specifics, it draws on the band’s hometown’s recent musical past in its description of a musician trapped in a dark spiral of addiction and hurt.
From Hidden Vigorish (2022, A-F)
The second record from Pittsburgh’s Nightmarathons is a particularly spirited collection of mid-2000s-era Against Me!-indebted melodic punk. The AM! comparisons hit particularly close in the verses of “Senseless”, my favorite song from Hidden Vigorish, which combines chiming, three-chord power pop with a potent vocal and lyrical bite. The giant chorus is too busy grabbing the listener for one to care too much about trying to place influences, however.
“I Should Have Helped You”, The Reds, Pinks & Purples
From They Only Wanted Your Soul (2022, Slumberland)
The first four tracks of the latest Reds, Pinks & Purples record, They Only Wanted Your Soul, were initially released as the I Should Have Helped You EP, and it’s easy to hear why Slumberland Records and Reds, Pinks & Purples leader Glenn Donaldson thought these songs deserved a second look. The record 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. Read more about They Only Wanted Your Soul here.
“See You Better Now”, Wild Pink
From ILYSM (2022, Royal Mountain)
I’m not one of the music writers who’s an easy mark for John Ross’ widescreen heartland rock as Wild Pink (I still think the shimmery slowcore of the band’s self-titled debut is their peak), but I always find something special on their records. For ILYSM, most of the highlights for me are hidden in its second side, including the triumphant “See You Better Now”, a just-jangly-enough, just-folk-enough shiny pop rock tune that makes me understand why this kind of music hits home for so many people.
“Johnny Appleseed”, Guided by Voices
From Scalping the Guru (2022, GBV, Inc.)
Example number five-hundred and eighty-something of how any old Robert Pollard song can reach out and grab you at any given time. Scalping the Guru is a trip—trying to combine 1993-1994-era Guided by Voices EPs into a full-length creates something inarguably weirder than any of their records from that period, in a fascinating way. “Johnny Appleseed” is one of the most “pop” songs from the compilation (coming behind the two genuine “hits” on there, “My Impression Now” and “Big School”), and its charm is how wrong it sounds. Pollard and Tobin Sprout’s “harmonies”, the out-of-tune guitar, the random piano stabs—I can’t imagine this song being any other way.