Pressing Concerns: Buddie, Log Across the Washer, 2 Square Y?, Lovewell

Welcome back to Pressing Concerns! It’s the first (probably out of two) Pressing Concerns in December, and it comes right on the heels of Rosy Overdrive’s Top 100 Albums of 2022 (maybe you missed it?). But there’s still more music to cover: today looks at new albums from Log Across the Washer and 2 Square Y?, and new EPs from Buddie and Lovewell. Look for Rosy Overdrive’s Favorite EPs of 2022 to go up next week.

If you’re looking for more new music, you can visit the site directory to see what else we’ve written about lately. If you’d like to support Rosy Overdrive, you can share this (or another) post, or donate here.

Buddie – Transplant

Release date: December 2nd
Record label: Crafted Sounds
Genre: Indie rock, power pop
Formats: CD, digital
Pull Track: Sunday Morning

Buddie is an indie rock group founded by Philadelphian Dan Forrest, who put out the band’s first EP and LP (2019’s Change of Scenery and 2020’s Diving) while living there. Now based in Vancouver, the appropriately-titled Transplant EP is Buddie’s first work since Forrest’s uprooting; it’s something of an announcement that Buddie will continue despite the move, with a full-length (Agitator) being announced for next year at the same time. The four-song EP continues Buddie’s distinct, sincere sound that’s both fuzzy and poppy and lands somewhere between a softer version of 90s indie rock groups like Built to Spill and a more rough-around-the-edges version of straight power pop.

Forrest’s vocals have a plainspoken but effortlessly melodic quality to them that reminds me of Lexington, Kentucky’s Andrew English (The Scourge of the Sea, Englishman), and the sleepy, not-yet-awake-enough-to-deal-with-dystopia opening track “Sunday Morning” really drives this home. Buddie’s determination to highlight the poppiest parts of 90s indie rock without losing its edge also reminds me of another likely influence on them, LVL UP. The midsection of Transplant isn’t as immediately grabbing as “Sunday Morning”, but the anticapitalist meditation “Take What’s Left” and the chilly “Northern Skies” both have plenty of meat on them. Closing track “Indecision” is the big finish, the hurricane-rocker that takes the titular uncertainty and spins it into a strong and firm declaration. (Bandcamp link)

Log Across the Washer – The Horse Show

Release date: November 25th
Record label: Repeating Cloud
Genre: Lo-fi indie rock, lo-fi pop, experimental pop
Formats: Cassette, digital
Pull Track: Eyelids or Something 35

Log Across the Washer is the project of Tyler Keene, who began it a decade or so ago while living in Portland, Oregon. Keene stopped making music for a few years, but reemerged as a New Jersey resident last year with October’s It’s Funny How the Colors, and last month’s The Horse Show continues the rebirth of Log Across the Washer. A classic kitchen-sink lo-fi pop record, It’s Funny How the Colors served up both sparkling, jangly psych-pop nuggets alongside tracks that reflected Keene’s experimental and jazz influences as well. The Horse Show leans even harder into accessibility; nearly every one of its fifteen tracks could accurately be described as a “pop song”.

The Horse Show opens with the barebones “I’m Waiting for the Sun”, which pulls off psychedelia with little more than an acoustic guitar, plodding bass, and Keene’s distorted vocals (he throws in a “woo-hoo” or two for good measure). Log Across the Washer also offer up pop highlights like the Robert Pollard-esque belter “Eyelids or Something” (which appears on the album twice, in a faster and slower version), the Elephant Six singalong “Where Does My Heart Beat Now”, and the brisk, acoustic-strummed “Irvin’s Leg”. Even at its most rickety (the one-minute “The Carousel Room”) or its weirdest (the vocal affect-laden ballad “AM890”), The Horse Show remains friendly and provides no shortage of strong songs. (Bandcamp link)

2 Square Y? – The Secret Degree

Release date: December 2nd
Record label: Emotional Response
Genre: Experimental pop, psych pop, post-punk
Formats: Vinyl, digital
Pull Track: The Secret Degree

2 Square Y? is the latest project from Jim Welton, aka Xentos Fray Bentos, who has played with The Homosexuals, Amos and Sara, and Die Trip Computer Die, and Ted Barrow (who played with Welton in the latter of those three bands). The members of 2 Square Y? have covered an enormous amount of musical ground over their decades of experience (Emotional Response is releasing their debut record along with a reissue of Amos and Sara’s Go Home Soldier, a fascinating artifact of 1980s disco-influenced dub), but with The Secret Degree, they land in the realm of bizarre, offbeat, but still catchy avant-pop music.

The Secret Degree certainly reflects Welton and Barrow’s post-punk and dub backgrounds—most of the songs feature live-wire, expressive and showy basslines that are as important to the catchiness of these songs as frequent exuberant instrumental interjections or Welton’s ageless trickster voice. The most straightforward pop songs on the record leap out immediately—the giddy opening title track, the snapping groove of “Morgan Drowning”, the slick retro pop throwback of “So Lo”. The weirder tracks still contain memorable moments, like the really bizarrely-sung chorus of “Inside”—and speaking of memorable, The Secret Degree closes with the sparse “I Set Fire to an Angel (The Grenfell Towersong)”, which cannot cloak its well-earned contempt in a pretty acoustic-guitar-picking instrumental. It’s not the only example, but it is the most obvious one—“whimsical” does not have to mean “empty”. (Bandcamp link)

Lovewell – Around the Flowers

Release date: November 11th
Record label: Clever Eagle
Genre: Shoegaze, alt-rock, dream pop, emo
Formats: Cassette, digital
Pull Track: Your Doubt

Lovewell is the duo of Mark Palladino and Joe Bradshaw–the Massachusetts and New Hampshire-based band has been making music together since 2018, and the six-song Around the Flowers cassette EP is their most substantial release yet. The story of Lovewell isn’t an unfamiliar one–Palladino and Bradshaw got their start as hardcore and metal players, but their latest project finds them making more accessible shoegaze-y, dream-y, emo-ish indie rock. Lovewell sticks out among several other ex-hardcore alt-rockers on the strength of their songs; Around the Flowers is relatively humble-sounding for ostensibly “heavy” music, but it’s a sturdy half-dozen songs without a weak spot or dud.

Although Around the Flowers is “dreamy”-sounding, for sure, it lets the guitars ring clear when it makes sense to do so, and the delicate vocals are always melodic and calm no matter what goes on around them. The first half of the EP hews closest toward a traditional alt-rock/emo sound–the punchy “Your Doubt” is my favorite, although mid-tempo opening track “See You Down” sets the tone nicely, too–and then Lovewell try out a few different turns in the final three songs. None of them are huge departures, but the new shades (the low-end-emphasis of “Burden”, the cinematic drama of “Unlikely”, the acoustic “August”) fill out Around the Flowers and help it feel like a full statement. (Bandcamp link)

Also notable:

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