Pressing Concerns: Blues Lawyer, koleżanka, Daily Worker, Spiral XP

Welcome to the second Pressing Concerns of the week! This one’s got new albums from Blues Lawyer, koleżanka, and Daily Worker, and a new EP from Spiral XP.

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.

Blues Lawyer – All in Good Time

Release date: February 17th
Record label: Dark Entries
Genre: Indie pop, power pop
Formats: Vinyl, digital
Pull Track: Someone Else

Oakland’s Blues Lawyer is part of the Bay Area’s busy and rich guitar pop scene, and have been for awhile now–the band was founded in 2017 by singer-songwriters Rob I. Miller (who also plays guitar) and Elyse Schrock (who drums), and All in Good Time is their third full-length record. They’re now a quartet (also featuring guitarist Ellen Matthews and bassist Alejandra Alcala), which certainly helps round out the sound of their new record–a full-sounding power pop album. It’s not that there aren’t traces of the sleepier, dreamy jangle pop of their San Francisco-area contemporaries (and of Blues Lawyer’s earlier albums), but that’s just one ingredient in what goes into dressing up Miller and Schrock’s well-crafted, approachable pop songs, of which there are plenty (the album has thirteen songs, and not much in the way of filler).

All in Good Time opens with a big power pop anthem in “Chance Encounters”, which sounds massive but also has a melancholic, almost nostalgic streak to it that evokes their stated influence of Teenage Fanclub (there’s some nice early TFC-esque revved-up lead guitar on the track), as well as countless 80s indie pop bands. Past-evoking instrumental aside, however, Miller’s first line on the album finds him declaring “I wanna stop talking about the way things used to be”. Blues Lawyer remain a band focused on the right-now throughout the record–“Salary” feels like a very time-and-energy-conscious meditation that works as a metaphor or taken at face value, and “Crystal Ball” finds Miller declaring he’s “through with all the what-ifs?” and asking the song’s addressee to “just settle for less with me”. 

The songs Shrock sings are more likely to be a little rough around the edges, injecting tracks like “I Won’t”, “Late Bloomer”, and “Return Policy” with an indie pop-punk sensibility, but they sit nicely both musically and thematically with Miller’s songs. In particular, “I Won’t” takes the “underappreciated and undervalued” undercurrents of some of Miller’s tracks and shouts it into a megaphone (and the one Shrock and Miller co-write, “Scenic Route”, is as fluffy as it is weighty).  All in Good Time’s songs are full of hard-earned realizations about interpersonal relationships–as uncomfortable or desperate things can get in these songs, however, they all sound fantastic. (Bandcamp link)

koleżanka – Alone with the Sound the Mind Makes

Release date: February 17th
Record label: Bar/None
Genre: Indie pop, dream pop
Formats: Vinyl, cassette, digital
Pull Track: Canals of Our City

Kristina Moore has been making music as koleżanka since 2017’s self-released Vessel; they began making music in their hometown of Phoenix before moving to New York and joining Brooklyn art rockers Foyer Red while continuing to develop their solo project. Alone with the Sound the Mind Makes is the second koleżanka record for Bar/None, following 2021’s Place Is, and it’s a hypnotic, busy, space-y indie pop record that recalls bands like Stereolab and Broadcast. Alone with the Sound the Mind Makes is a well-realized creation from Moore; it does sound like the work of someone who’s spent time in an experimental rock group, but it’s also clearly their own endeavor, with Moore leading the songs where they need to go to compliment their voice and lyrics.

 Alone with the Sound the Mind Makes pulls off “full-on rock band” songs in tracks like “Koszmary” and “Canals of Our City”, but the record then pulls back some layers to reveal more minimalist tracks like the floating pop of “Mania”, the time-ticking “Slapstick”, and the brisk, bouncy “City Summer Sweat”. Despite all the instrumental layers and busy psych pop moments going on in the record, Moore remains front and center, which particularly makes sense when they delve into traumatic, dark, and thorny subject matter in “Canals of Our City” and “Cheers!”. Alone with the Sound the Mind Makes is an enjoyably-stuffed record throughout, but Moore ups the ante with the last couple of tracks, the swirling “Saddle Up Cowboy” and–especially– the massive six-minute closing track “River Rushing”, which roars to life and calms itself back down before all is said and done. (Bandcamp link)

Daily Worker – Autofiction

Release date: February 3rd
Record label: Bobo Integral
Genre: Lo-fi power pop, psychedelic pop
Formats: Digital
Pull Track: Autofiction

Harold Whit Williams is probably best known to power pop fans (also known as “the average Rosy Overdrive reader”) as the longtime guitarist for Austin jangle pop group Cotton Mather, with whom the Alabama native has played since the early 1990s. He also makes music on his own as Daily Worker–and Williams has been especially prolific as of late, averaging at least a record per year so far this decade. For Williams’ latest, Autofiction, he’s hooked up with Bobo Integral (The Boys with the Perpetual Nervousness, Mo Troper, Motorists) for a record of lo-fi, home-recorded power pop whose ramshackle charms only enhance Williams’ songwriting.

Autofiction’s ten tracks are all quite catchy, even as Williams presents his songs in an oh-so-casual manner. Sitting in the second slot, the record’s title track is a low-key power pop masterpiece, managing to sound as big and full as any massive Britpop single or Summerteeth-era Wilco, with only a fraction of the excess production. Much like Robert Pollard, Daily Worker is directly filtering 60s pop rock influences through a fairly barebones filter–this is apparent from the psychedelic streak that runs throughout the album and presents itself early on in “Irish Goodbye” and “The Great Whatever”. A few of the tracks on Autofiction reflect Williams’ southern upbringing and residency– “My Alabaster Girl” and “Posers’ Parade” are rootsy and twangy country songs that still pack a melodic punch. Everything on Autofiction is in service of the pop hook, whether it’s the straightforward stomp of “All the Way Gone” or the new wave-y weirdness of “Like an Echo”. (Bandcamp link)

Spiral XP – It’s Been Awhile

Release date: February 17th
Record label: Danger Collective
Genre: Shoegaze, noise pop
Formats: CD, cassette, digital
Pull Track: Deja Vu

It’s Been Awhile is the second release from Spiral XP, a Seattle-based noisy and loud pop group made up of members of other notable bands from the city (Versing, Julia Shapiro’s band, Coral Grief). The five-piece group released their debut EP, Drop Me In, in 2021, and their most recent record finds them stepping a bit away from their last release’s relatively gray, bleak sound. It’s Been Awhile’s six songs feel like a turn toward the more colorful and vibrant end of the shoegaze spectrum–the tracks are covered in reverb and guitars wash over the listener all the way through, to be sure, but these songs bloom and soar instead of trudging along while staring at the ground.

The EP starts with the majestic kick-off of “Deja Vu”, which is essentially a sweet piece of psychedelic pop with the levels thrown into the red–but its pretty and hooky core is never obscured by any of it. It’s Been Awhile kicks up some classic shoegaze-rockers in its first half–“The End” rides Spiral XP’s giddy streak, while “Free Thinking” ends the first side of the EP on a (relatively) dark note. The second half of It’s Been Awhile features a couple of left turns–“The Hunger” is a captivating song in which blaring guitars roar over a baggy-esque drum machine groove, and the record ends with the surprisingly straightforward (and very well done) downer alt-rock of “My Personal Hell”. Hell or no, however, the typically triumphant guitar leads that end the track (and the EP) sound downright heavenly. (Bandcamp link)

Also notable:

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