Pressing Concerns: Pearla, Tiny Microphone, Outwest, Lithobrake

Happy Monday! First Monday Pressing Concerns of the year! New music time! Today, it’s new albums from Pearla and Tiny Microphone, and new EPs from Outwest and Lithobrake.

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.

Pearla – Oh Glistening Onion, the Nighttime Is Coming

Release date: February 10th
Record label: Spacebomb
Genre: Folk rock, singer-songwriter
Formats: Vinyl, CD, digital
Pull Track: Funny in Dreams

Pearla is Brooklyn’s Nicole Rodriguez, whose debut full-length record Oh Glistening Onion, the Nighttime Is Coming arrives three years and change after her first release, 2019’s Quilting & Other Activites EP. Rodriguez’s first EP was a fairly substantial record on its own, but with Oh Glistening Onion, the Nighttime Is Coming, she has put together a complete statement of a folk and country rock album. The record’s dozen tracks show off Rodriguez’s songwriting talents–these songs are approachable and casual without sacrificing any of their deeper aims to come off this way, and the music of Oh Glistening Onion, the Nighttime Is Coming is fully-realized without getting in the way of Rodriguez’s lyrics and vocals. “Strong” opens Oh Glistening Onion, the Nighttime Is Coming with a brief but spirited, gently loping country rocker, a song that wouldn’t be out of place on a Charlotte Cornfield or a recent Julie Doiron album, even as Rodriguez begins the process of staking out her “own” voice here.

Rodriguez takes a few turns away from the sound of “Strong” immediately afterwards, offering up the chirping country-tronica of “Ming the Clam” and the dramatic “Effort”, which pulls off a detour into big-tent indie folk ably. Oh Glistening Onion, the Nighttime Is Coming continues to find different sides of Pearla to explore as the record goes on; the folk rock ballad “About Hunger, About Love” and the waltzing “With” highlight the album’s mid-section, and the joyful parade of striking images in “Funny in Dreams” is one of Rodriguez’s finest moments as a lyricist. The record does wind down toward the end with a couple quieter songs, but these are also some of the album’s most rewarding tracks as well–the acoustic folk of “Flicker”, the hushed, slow-building keys-and-horns “The Glistening Onion”, and closing track “The Mysterious Bubble of the Turkey Swamp” could all be my favorite one on different days. With so many of its songs rising to this level, Oh Glistening Onion, the Nighttime Is Coming is a record worth spinning many times. (Bandcamp link)

Tiny Microphone – Other Cities

Release date: February 3rd
Record label: Littlemusic
Genre: Indie pop, jangle pop, dream pop
Formats: Cassette, digital
Pull Track: Holiday

Tiny Microphone is the solo project of Kristine Capua, who began recording under the name in the mid-2000s while living in Chicago, releasing her debut record, Home, in 2008. Capua spent the last decade fronting the bands Tiny Fireflies and Very Truly Yours, moved to Portland, and now 2023 finally sees the release of the second Tiny Microphone album, Other Cities. Home was a relatively lo-fi dreamy bedroom pop record; Capua’s newest record isn’t unrecognizable compared to her older sound, but it feels like a more polished and refined version of guitar-forward indie pop. On the album’s ten songs, Capua is aided by percussionist Hampus Öhman-Frölund, multi-instrumentalist and former bandmate Lisle Mitnik, and multiple guest vocalists, all of whom help give the record more shades and depth.

There is no shortage of wistfully beautiful melodies on Other Cities, carried by Capua’s friendly vocals and a host of instrumental touches. The record’s first half offers up well-crafted pop songs of several stripes– “Sound Advice” is the pure jangly tune, “Night” is a chilly piano-led, 80s-evoking track, and “Holiday” features some triumphant, soaring electric guitar work that matches Capua’s energy. Capua duets with The Ladybug Transistor’s Gary Olson on “Stranger”, a song that, along with “Lighting a Fire”, gives the center of the record a very solid foundation. The first half of Other Cities is strong enough that it took me a bit to appreciate the B-side of the album–through no fault of these songs’ own, as they are quite good too, particularly the string-heavy “Haunted” and “The Lake”, an sneakily upbeat jangle pop track hidden toward the end. Other Cities is an excellently-executed indie pop record–whether it’s Tiny Microphone or another group, here’s hoping we hear from Capua again soon. (Bandcamp link)

Outwest – All the Wild Horses

Release date: February 1st
Record label: Candlepin
Genre: Fuzz rock, punk rock, 90s indie rock
Formats: Cassette, digital
Pull Track: All the Wild Horses

Boston’s Candlepin Records has been an early 2023 M.V.P., following up a fertile 2022 (Garb, Poorly Drawn House, Tuxis Giant) with releases from bands like Stalled, Roseville, The True Faith, and 13 Necklace that triangulate various sub-sections of the cassette label’s “modern acts who sound like Numero Group bands” sound. Of their prolific last few months, one release that really caught my ear is an all-too-brief but very rewarding four-song EP from Ventura, California’s Outwest. All the Wild Horses is Outwest’s third EP, and it doesn’t slot neatly into the their label’s typical stable of slowcore, shoegaze, or noise rock. There is plenty of distortion on these four tracks, to be sure, but it’s all in the service of loud, anthemic fuzz rock. 

Throughout All the Wild Horses, Outwest come off as, more than anything else, a wildly in-the-red punk rock group. Opening track “Could Have” takes its time, waiting about a minute before launching into a vintage California indie-pop-punk anthem. The title track matches it in terms of forceful-catchiness, barreling its way excitedly into its bellowing of the titular line. The extra-fuzzy “Don’t Let Me Run” rises and falls–it’s the closest thing that All the Wild Horses has to an “instrumental workout” track. Outwest save the biggest surprise for last–closing track “Carousel” is a chugging, straight-up power pop tune that evokes Miracle Legion and Spiral Stairs just as much as Jawbreaker or Samiam. All the Wild Horses is an exciting fifteen-minute snapshot of a talented group, and one I’ll be watching in the future. (Bandcamp link)

Lithobrake – EP1

Release date: February 1st
Record label: Cassowary
Genre: 90s indie rock
Formats: Digital
Pull Track: Bats

Lithobrake are a Washington, D.C.-based power trio which formed last year and, as of earlier this month, now have a full EP’s worth of songs to their name. The five-song EP1 is a promising debut release from the group, a record of low-key 90s-inspired indie rock that nevertheless has a punk edge and comes off as the work of a group of musicians that really just enjoy making music together. In one of the EP’s tracks (album closer “Kelly Green”) the band makes a quip about “stealing Yo La Tengo riffs”, but the spirited guitar work that immediately precedes and follows that line is anything but rote repetition.

“Bats” opens EP1 with what feels like a lost slacker rock classic, an incredibly hooky pop rocker with a nice formula of ennui and angst to give it a bit of a bite (“All the nice tomatoes are sold out / Turquoise aviators in a small town”, now there’s a 90s indie rock lyric if I’ve ever heard one). “Stay” and “Kicking” are the two biggest “rockers” on the EP, with the former rolling out some sharp guitar lines and the latter reveling in fuzz-rock punchiness. Drummer Al Shipley (of Western Blot) sings lead vocals on the dark, bass-heavy “Losing a Fight with a Mountain”, an interesting left turn whose empty-space chorus still fits in well with the rest of the record’s tracks–weighty, but not showy. (Bandcamp link)

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