Welcome to the November edition of Pressing Concerns! This is the last post on Rosy Overdrive before year-end list time begins–yes, you’ll see some of the bands here again soon. Also present here are a few more selections from my 1997 deep dive, which should continue into next month as well.
Kevin Dorff is the only one with multiple tracks on the playlist this time around.
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.
“The Wind Blew All Around Me”, The Bevis Frond
From North Circular (1997, Woronzow/Flydaddy/Fire)
Even by The Bevis Frond’s heady standards, North Circular is a massive one. Over two hours of maximalist British guitar-hero psychedelic power pop—what are you waiting for? For me, it was worth wading into ten-to-twelve minute jam territory to find the hidden pop gems, of which “The Wind Blew All Around Me” is probably the best. Nick Saloman’s vocals remain forceful but can pull off tender here, and although the song does kick into gear, this is The Bevis Frond in “ballad” territory.
“Same Dweller, Different Cave”, The John-Pauls
From Bon Mots (2022, Aagoo)
Bon Mots is a tour de force of an indie rock record, jumping from refined to freewheeling, retaining an economical sound while having three guitarists, two vocalists, and a keyboard player. Phillip John-Paul is the “looser” of The John-Pauls’ two singers—his palpable enthusiasm is easily enough to match the gleeful running-around of “Same Dweller, Different Cave”’s instrumental. Read more about Bon Mots here.
“Only in Love”, The Bug Club
From Green Dream in F# (2022, Bingo)
The Bug Club’s Green Dream in F# is a fizzy, excitable pop rock album from front to back, and “Only in Love” kicks the record off with little preamble and plenty of hooks. Vocalists Sam and Tilly triumphantly sing over a barreling instrumental, chanting the title line just the right amount of times over the sub-two minute track. The Welsh band also offer up an excellent bass groove (provided by Tilly) on that track, which pops on repeat listening.
“Gay Space Cadets”, Lande Hekt
From House Without a View (2022, Get Better/Prize Sunflower)
I’ve enjoyed songs by Lande Hekt before (such as “Lola”, which appeared on last month’s Typical Girls compilation), but “Gay Space Cadets” is the one that’s really gotten my attention. The instrumental is breezy, jangly indie pop that is enjoyable in its own right but primarily serves to accent Hekt’s ace songwriting (the mega-chorus is unstoppable, but she also offers up “I know that the trees change color when the seasons change / I’m not that fucking stupid, I know that my jokes get old” in the verses).
“Sinking”, Rhinestone Pickup Truck
From Adore Me (2022, PNKSLM)
The latest EP from Tristen Colby’s Rhinestone Pickup Truck project was released by PNKSLM Recordings and mixed by Jake Orall of JEFF the Brotherhood—and yes, it does sound like an incredibly catchy mix of Weezer-esque loud power pop and garage rock, good guess. Adore Me’s opening track, “Sinking”, is basically two minutes of just hooks, and the strongest one of them (That’d be “A sinking feeling washes over me”) is a classic entry into the “making the downcast seem triumphant” part of the power pop genre.
“DABDA”, Kevin Dorff
From Silent Reply (2022)
Kevin Dorff’s Silent Reply is a meditation on death and how the people left behind view those who’ve passed; every track is about a friend or acquaintance of Dorff’s who died between 2010 and 2015. The record opens, appropriately enough, with a song called “DABDA”, a multi-part tribute to a friend that soars when it reaches the specifics of its remembrances (“We drove like maniacs, like the park was our personal racetrack / And we were Dale Fucking Earnhardts”) and dives into the grief—as Dorff puts it, “a swimming pool of shit”—elsewhere. Read more about Silent Reply here.
“Sleep Like a Baby”, Dumb
From Pray 4 Tomorrow (2022, Mint)
Pray 4 Tomorrow, the latest album from Vancouver’s Dumb, is a record jam-packed with eighteen songs of garage-y, droll post-punk that excels at nailing a very specific sound. Single “Sleep Like a Baby” is Dumb at their most accessible, adding a toe-tapping drumbeat to the verses before crash-landing into the chorus hook. And since it’s done in a minute and a half, they’ve got time for a trumpet outro as well.
“Entrance Theme”, Jobber
From Hell in a Cell (2022, Exploding in Sound)
Jobber offer up nothing but incredibly strong grunge-y fuzz rock tunes throughout Hell in a Cell, their excellent debut EP. Even considering that, it’s surprising just how much “Entrance Theme” veers into straight power pop—Rentals-esque keyboards and handclaps are lobbed at the listener, even as it doesn’t lose any of the rest of the EP’s bite. Read more about Hell in a Cell here.
“Black Box (Meigs Street)”, Nana Grizol
From Dancing Dogs (2022, Cruisin)
Coming out two days before Christmas, Dancing Dogs is effectively an alternate version of Nana Grizol’s 2010 sophomore record, Ruth. It was recorded earlier than the sessions that eventually comprised Ruth, and judging from the “Meigs Street” take of “Black Box”, Theo Hilton and company were playing looser and rougher here—although the core of this song is fully-formed already. The biggest difference between the two recordings to me is the instrumental refrain, which transforms from being led by a careening melodica here to a more refined, traditionally-Elephant Six-sounding horn chorus in the final version.
“In Space”, Connections
From Cool Change (2023, Trouble in Mind)
I’m quite excited to see that Columbus, Ohio’s Connections are back—it’s been a while by their standards! The six-piece band produced excellent lo-fi power pop records at a brisk clip in the mid-2010s, but they’ve been dormant since their 2018 Trouble in Mind debut, the underrated Foreign Affairs. So, merely hearing that they have a new album coming out in 2023 is good news. But the record’s lead single is also very good, even considering the consistent quality of Connections—the five-minute “In Space” is familiar but probing new ground, really kicking things into overdrive with that busy, captivating chorus.
“I’d Bet My Land and Titles”, The Paranoid Style featuring Patterson Hood
From For Executive Meeting (2022, Bar None)
I’d held off on checking out The Paranoid Style for a while now—I’m very glad that I finally got around to them, because their latest record, For Executive Meeting, is very much up my alley. Elizabeth Nelson is a singular songwriter and a conversational, compelling vocalist—these songs remind me of the likes of John K. Samson, Christine Fellows, and Franklin Bruno, but with a country garage rock sheen (aided in part by Rosy Overdrive favorite William Matheny on keyboards). “I’d Bet My Land and Titles” is a rambling roots rock song featuring vocals from none other than the great Patterson Hood of Drive-By Truckers (Key lyric for this one: “No one ever calls from Vegas just to wonder how you’re doing”).
“Her Clock Tower”, Ribbon Stage
From Hit with the Most (2022, Perennial)
Hit with the Most is the aptly-titled debut record from New York’s Ribbon Stage—it’s a punchy, brief, and fun noisy indie pop album, and the driving “Her Clock Tower” is one of the clearest highlights to my ears. Despite running under two minutes, the song still takes its time to build itself up dramatically for about thirty seconds before delving into its understated but decidedly catchy pop rock center.
“Pachomius”, Joan Kelsey
From Standing Out on the Grass (2022, Dear Life)
Standing Out on the Grass is as pleasant of a listen as its lyrics are heavy, with Joan Kelsey’s comforting, melodic vocals guiding the listener through a record explicitly about grief and loss. Kelsey’s lifting voice matches the gently flowing folk of album highlight “Pachomius”, with a wide-ranging lyric that touches on everything from the titular history figure to Kelsey breaking down outside a Trader Joe’s. Read more about Standing Out on the Grass here.
“You Said That Last Night”, The Apples in Stereo
From Tone Soul Evolution (1997, Sire/spinART/Elephant 6)
I’m not sure if Tone Soul Evolution is the best Apples in Stereo album, but (at least of the ones I’ve heard so far), it’s certainly the fizziest. The two-and-a-half-minute “You Said That Last Night” is the sound of the band still working within the relatively lo-fi confines of their Elephant Six origins, but pushing—there’s a lot going on in this brief track, and even though there’s a layer of fuzziness here, it’s not hard to hear the intricate, 60s-inspired pop song hidden underneath.
“Forever Far Out”, Dot Dash
From Madman in the Rain (2022, The Beautiful Music)
Washington, D.C.’s Dot Dash have been making an 80s college rock/post-punk/jangle pop triangulation over the course of a decade and seven records, and the opening track to Madman in the Rain is a massively successful example of their sound. “Forever Far Out” is triumphant guitar pop shot through with prominent, melodic bass, and singer/guitarist Terry Banks’ vocals are the song’s subtly emotional core. Read more about Madman in the Rain here.
“Air Guitar”, Sobs
From Air Guitar (2022, Topshelf)
The title track to Sobs’ Air Guitar is one of the most immediate, attention-grabbing pop rock songs I’ve heard all year. The three-piece band hails from Singapore, and their full-length debut is being released by Topshelf (who’ve done a commendable job getting East Asian indie rock to an overseas audience in recent years). Some of the other tracks on Air Guitar show off Sobs’ more underground influences, but “Air Guitar” is three minutes of pure radio-ready, perfectly executed pop bombast (the way the song veers from the last chorus into that guitar solo outro—that’s how you do it).
“Baader Meinhof”, Delivery
From Forever Giving Handshakes (2022, Feel It/Spoilsport/Anti Fade)
The debut record from Melbourne’s Delivery keeps things high-energy throughout, and early album highlight “Baader Meinhoff” is a prime example of the five-piece band’s big, live-in-studio sound in full force. Forever Giving Handshakes’ lead single, “Baader Meinhoff” shows off Delivery at their pop best, barreling out of the gate with a big hook and congealing into a garage-y power pop hit. Read more about Forever Giving Handshakes here.
“The King of Soft Knocks”, Soft Screams
From Dog Stays Dead (2022, Corrupted TV)
Connor Mac seems to have no interest in resting on their laurels. Fresh off May’s Diet Daydream LP, Mac’s Soft Screams project released two EPs in October: Star Number One and Dog Stays Dead. The latter hews closer to the lo-fi power pop Mac has put out under Soft Screams and as half of Galactic Static; opening track “The King of Soft Knocks” is a two-minute stomp that’s also a great wimp rock anthem (“[I] come from the school of letting go”, in addition to the titular moniker Mac bestows upon themself).
“Continuous Hinge”, Non Plus Temps
From Desire Choir (2022, Post Present Medium)
Oakland, California’s Non Plus Temps (the duo of Andy Human of Andy Human and the Reptoids and Sam Lefebvre) have made a potent debut record of dub-influenced post-punk with Desire Choir. Opening track “Continuous Hinge” brings in guest lead vocalist Amber Sermeno, whose talk-singing holds its ground nicely with the track’s hypnotic, bass-led instrumental.
“Ghetto Godot”, The Negro Problem
From Post Minstrel Syndrome (1997, Aerial Flipout)
I’ve finally gotten around to listening to Post Minstrel Syndrome in full (another band/album I learned about through the great Scott Miller), and this feels like an album that really could have a second life in 2022 (take note, I know some Suits read this blog). It’s an incredibly accessible pop record that ambitiously drives through a handful of genres—album highlight “Ghetto Godot” is refined piano pop rock, directed deftly to accent a hell of a lyric from Mark “Stew” Stewart.
“Up on a Hill”, Gabriel Bernini
From Up on a Hill (2022)
A little over a year after last October’s You Got Me (which snuck onto Rosy Overdrive’s 2021 Year-End list), Gabriel Bernini is already back with a formal follow-up in Up on a Hill. Although Up on a Hill (the record) is something of a departure from You Got Me, its title track and lead single contains the same off-the-cuff-but-smartly-written-sounding folk rock energy. Read more about Up on a Hill here.
“Laurel Heights”, The Laughing Chimes
From Zoo Avenue (2022, Slumberland)
The latest EP from Athens, Ohio duo The Laughing Chimes is a six-song wonderland of vintage jangle pop that evokes both Dunedin and Dayton. Evan and Quinn Seurkamp show a surprising amount of world-building in Zoo Avenue, from the titular street to giddy highlight “Laurel Heights” (which is “a place for you, for me, for everyone”, Evan declares in the chorus). Read more about Zoo Avenue here.
“How It Was Before”, EggS
From A Glitter Year (2022, Prefect/Howlin Banana/Safe in the Rain)
Alright—EggS’ A Glitter Year is another record that is very up Rosy Overdrive’s alley. A Game Theory comparison got me through the door, and I don’t really hear it, but the stuff it does actually remind me of (a louder Miracle Legion, Eleventh Dream Day with a saxophone) isn’t that far off. The Paris band apparently recently added multiple members of En Attendant Ana, and it definitely does sound like big-tent indie rock—but without losing the songs in the throng. “How It Was Before” is a particularly anthemic track off the record, with an excellent male/female dueling vocal structure.
“Grim Judy”, Fazed on a Pony
From It’ll All Work Out (2022, Trace/Untrace)
Rosy Overdrive is writing about under-the-radar New Zealand bands again, big surprise. Fazed on a Pony isn’t the typical Kiwi pop that gets covered here, though—Peter McCall presents a humble but uplifting folk rock sound on It’ll All Work Out that lands somewhere in between the sparer side of Wild Pink and the busier side of Friendship. Album highlight “Grim Judy”—alright, alright, I guess you can call its twinkling verses “jangle pop” if you really want to. But that chiming guitar part is unmistakably dressing up what’s actually gorgeous mid-tempo country rock at its core.
“Just Like That”, Kevin Dorff
From Silent Reply (2022)
The grunge-y, alt-rock-tinged “Just Like That” is just as impactful as some of the more ballad-like songs on Silent Reply, if not more so. The electric structure of the song (built around a simple but effective riff) causes Dorff’s unspooled lyrics to hit particularly hard, and Dorff deftly balances the “that’s just how it is” attitude of the titular sentiment with the song’s parting lines (“I wish that I had cared for you / I wish I could have caught you”). Read more about Silent Reply here.
“Sniveller”, The Tubs
From Dead Meat (2023, Trouble in Mind)
Another month, another great song from an ex-Joanna Gruesome band. The Tubs released their solid debut EP, Names, last year, and “Sniveller” is the first taste of the first full-length from Owen Williams and George Nicholls’ latest band, although Williams is also in Ex-Vöid. Former Joanna Gruesome vocalist Lan McArdle is in Ex-Vöid, not The Tubs, but she sings harmonies with Williams here in the chorus to “Sniveller”, in which the song goes from a prowling post-punk instrumental to a soaring pop anthem. Got all that?
“Mother Nature Is Son”, The Smashing Times
From Bloom (2022, Meritorio)
“Mother Nature Is Son” is something of the reward at the end of Bloom, the third album from Baltimore’s “psychedelic twee freakbeat” band The Smashing Times. Not that the rest of Bloom isn’t an accessible album, per se, but after pushing forward in terms of spaciness and patchy, sewn-together guitar pop, the group closes things out with a strong, three-and-a-half minute pure jangle pop single. When the song shifts to the refrain halfway through, and then filters it through that brief melodic guitar solo—there’s the payoff within the payoff.
“Norman 4”, The Sylvia Platters
I highlighted a song from The Sylvia Platters’ latest EP, June’s Youth Without Virtue, in last month’s playlist—the British Columbia jangle pop band are already back with “Norman 4”, an excellent one-off (for now, at least) single. If the harmonies and the song’s wistful, eternal-youth feeling weren’t enough to give it away, the title of “Norman 4” spells it out: the members of this band are big Teenage Fanclub fans. The song lands decidedly on the punchier side of the TFC spectrum—it’s gorgeous, sure, but it’s got the right amount of fuzz in its guitar tone.
“Julie K”, T54
From Drone Attacks (Remastered and Expanded) (2022, Ally)
Christchurch, New Zealand’s Joe Sampson is best-known to me as a member of the Salad Boys (along with, at various points, Brian Feary and James Sullivan from Jim Nothing, and Ben Woods). Before that group, he led the loud shoegaze/noise pop trio T54, whose 2011 EP Drone Attacks has recently been given an expanded reissue from Ally Records. The live-in-studio recordings and demos are interesting, but the EP’s six original songs, remastered here, still thunder satisfyingly, and the cascading “Julie K” particularly nails an excellent pop rock hook among the fuzz.
From Always Up to You (2022, Dead Broke)
I don’t know too much about dimber, a Los Angeles group that declares themselves to be “upbeat music for downbeat people”, promises “charged up rainbow sparkles”, and makes a fuzzy, revved-up, poppy version of trans punk rock on their debut record, Always Up to You. Plenty of the album’s dozen tracks do the job in terms of electrifying pop rock, not the least of which is “Tyler”. It’s anthemic, melodic punk at its core, featuring plenty of “oh-oh”s and triumphant guitar leads contrasting with the song’s lyrics (“I don’t think I ever wanna leave this house again / It’s far too sunny out”).
“Lay Low for the Letdown”, Beulah
From Handsome Western States (1997, Elephant Six)
I’ve loved Beulah’s two “big” albums, 1999’s When Your Heartstrings Break and 2001’s The Coast Is Never Clear, for quite a while, but I wasn’t sure what to expect going into their less-discussed 1997 debut record. Well: it rules, and in its own way it’s just as good as those two. Its lo-fi sound is a shock relative to the shiny indie pop they’d settle on later—album highlight “Lay Low for the Letdown” finds the midpoint between The Apples in Stereo and Superchunk, which I didn’t know I needed until I heard it.
“Splintered”, Gordon M. Phillips
For the second time in as many years, Downhaul’s Gordon Phillips has released a one-off new song as the calendar winds down. While 2021’s “The Hotel” was reminiscent of the country-rock that Phillips has made with Signals Midwest’s Maxwell Stern, “Splintered” veers away both from that song and the sparse acoustic sound of his last solo album. Although Phillips’ unmistakable vocals anchor the song as well as ever, “Splintered” finds the singer-songwriter venturing into experimental territory—it has a kind of dark, bass-driven post-punk groove, and Phillips messes with his voice a bit. It’s not quite the cinematic emo-rock of Downhaul’s PROOF—it’s just another intriguing path for Phillips to venture down whenever he chooses.
“Yuma, AZ”, Damien Jurado
From Waters Ave. S. (1997, Sub Pop)
I’ve finally gotten around to listening to Damien Jurado’s 1997 debut album, and I can confirm that he already sounded like Damien Jurado twenty-five years ago. Waters Ave. S. is, unsurprisingly, more barebones than some of his commercial-peak 2000s records—it reminds me of the first Richard Buckner album, which is an unhelpful pull, because if you know Richard Buckner you probably know Damien Jurado. Album highlight “Yuma, AZ” features horn and harmonium accents to its electric guitar skeleton.
“Spitfire Susie”, Starry Skies
From Small Wonders (2022)
“Spitfire Susie” was a real person, apparently; Susie Ross was the neighbor and friend of Starry Skies frontperson Warren McIntyre, and she passed away last year at 99 years old. “Spitefire Susie” the song, then, is the Glasgow indie pop band’s tribute to Ross; effectively a century-spanning biography condensed into a four-minute guitar pop tune that’s incredibly infectious and undeniably tender.
“Puppy Island”, Zero Percent APR
From Higher and Higher Forever (2022, Spared Flesh)
You know what, Zero Percent APR? Puppies do play on Puppy Island—you’re so right. “Puppy Island” is an album highlight hidden back in the second half of the appropriately-titled Higher and Higher Forever, a twenty-three song journey from the lo-fi psychedelic pop duo of Cody Dosier and Juli Keller. The song starts with a gentle, 60s-influenced guitar pop base before Zero Percent APR let it float off with synths and, yes, dog noises in the second half.
“Please Remember”, Subsonic Eye
From Melt the Wax (2022, Topshelf)
Rosy Overdrive has been a fan of Subsonic Eye for this blog’s entire existence—last year’s Nature of Things was one of the first albums covered in Pressing Concerns and made the end-of-year list. Needless to say, the news that they’ve signed to Topshelf Records is very welcome in this household. While the Singaporean band have a new record coming, the brief three-song Melt the Wax EP contains plenty to enjoy in the meantime, particularly opening track and highlight “Please Remember”, an electric but pensive piece of jangle pop.
“Danny Green”, The John-Pauls
From Bon Mots (2022, Aagoo)
Another Phillip John-Paul-led highlight from Bon Mots, the triumphant chugging sound of “Danny Green” effectively matches “Same Dweller, Different Cave” in its joyous 90s indie rock anthem striving. “Sometimes things in the garbage shine,” declares Phillip in the chorus, while sounding kind of like Calvin Johnson fronting a bar band. Perhaps someone with more knowledge of professional basketball can explain how that relates to the titular Danny Green, who currently plays for the Memphis Grizzlies. Read more about Bon Mots here.
“Thin As Flags”, Cindy
From Typical Girls Vol. 6 (2022, Emotional Response)
The latest entry in Emotional Response Records’ Typical Girls compilation series continues to highlight vital and perhaps under-appreciated women and female-fronted bands in the punk, post-punk, and indie pop landscapes. The latter is fully on display with “Thin As Flags”, a sleepy, molasses-slow compilation highlight that’s another pop gem from Cindy, the solo project of Karina Gill (also of Flowertown). Read more about Typical Girls Vol. 6 here.
“Minor Fame”, Big Big Bison
From Big Big Bison (2022)
Big Big Bison is the trio of Matt Schwerin, Ben Grigg, and Kelly Johnson, who used to play in a band called Geronimo!. Since then, Grigg has kept busy with Whelpwisher and Babe Report, and Johnson has the underrated Milked, and now they’re all together in a new band with a solid six-song EP to their name. Highlight “Minor Fame” sounds like a full-band version of the humble but loud and hooky alt-rock Grigg’s been putting out as Whelpwisher (see “Loud Wine Cult”, “Deaf to False Metal”).
“I’ve Got a Feeling”, Ivy
From Apartment Life (1997, Bar None)
Yes, Ivy is very good and Apartment Life (which seems to be their most beloved album) is full of dreamy but incredibly sturdy indie pop songs. The trio, which included a still-establishing-himself-as-a-generational-songwriter Adam Schlesinger, nail a particular sound of the 90s with “I’ve Got the Feeling”, in which guitars and a drum machine comfortably, smoothly provide a backdrop for lead singer Dominique Durand.