Pressing Concerns: En Attendant Ana, Shredded Sun, Mui Zyu, Singing Lungs

Happy Thursday! Today’s Pressing Concerns looks at four albums: records by En Attendant Ana, Shredded Sun, Mui Zyu, and Singing Lungs. All four come out tomorrow (February 24th).

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En Attendant Ana – Principia

Release date: February 24th
Record label: Trouble in Mind
Genre: Jangle pop, post-punk, dream pop
Formats: Vinyl, CD, cassette, digital
Pull Track: Principia

Parisian quintet En Attendant Ana have been reliably putting out their sharp take on dreamy but approachable indie pop for over a half-decade at this point–I might have a slight preference for their debut full-length, 2018’s Lost and Found, but they’ve been remarkably consistent up to their brand new third album, Principia. Although Margaux Bouchaudon remains En Attendant Ana’s primary singer and songwriter, the latest record features a balanced mix of contributions from the rest of the band as well. The band’s steady rhythm section of bassist Vincent Hivert and drummer Adrien Pollin keeps one foot of the record firmly rooted in post-punk, while Bouchaudon’s melodic vocals, chiming and shimmering guitar work from Max Tomasso, and trumpet & saxophone interjections from Camille Frechou (who, along with Bouchaudon, recently lent her talents to fellow French indie pop group EggS) help push Principia into dreamy indie pop territory.

Principia eagerly slides pop song after pop song out toward the listener in its first half–songs like the mid-tempo, jangly opening title track, the chugging-soaring “Ada, Mary, Diane”, and the fluttering “Black Morning” are not overly showy in their catchiness, but they’re all still instantly memorable indie pop tunes. En Attendant Ana remain a pop band as they reach the middle of Principia, even as they deviate from things a bit with the busy, bass-led, Stereolab-evoking “Same Old Story” and the nearly six-minute acceleration of “Wonder”. En Attendant Ana sound smooth throughout the record, which helps everything they try on Principia sound right together–the straightforward jangle pop ballad “Fools & Kings” sits right next to the slippery experimental guitar pop of “The Cut Off”, and they both feel right at home. En Attendant Ana are operating at a high level on Principia–it feels like the work of a band who we can expect to be a reliable source of good indie rock for a long time. (Bandcamp link)

Shredded Sun – Each Dot and Each Line

Release date: February 24th
Record label: Self-released
Genre: Psychedelic pop, indie pop, garage rock, noise pop
Formats: Digital
Pull Track: For a Good Time

Although Each Dot and Each Line is only the second full-length record from Chicago’s Shredded Sun, the trio are indie rock lifers who’ve been at it for quite a while now. Shredded Sun’s debut album, Land Lines, came out back in 2016, and they also have a couple of EPs to their name. Members Nick Ammerman (guitar, vocals, organ), Sarah Ammerman (bass, vocals), and Ben Bilow (drums) have a shared history predating this band as well–most notably, all three of them played in 2000s lo-fi garage punk group Fake Fictions. Their time playing together assuredly is helpful in pulling off something like Each Dot and Each Line, which is a delightfully eclectic indie rock record that combines fuzz rock/shoegaze noiseness, a garage-punk edge, and power pop catchiness.

Each Dot and Each Line hops around from the get-go: opening track “Japanese Wave” is a psychedelic, dreamy jangle pop tune sung by Nick that’s led by Sarah’s rumbling bass–and then Shredded Sun immediately veer into the crystal-clear, Heavenly-esque indie pop of the Sarah-sung “Outside”. “Rivals” marries bright jangle pop with a bit of first-wave punk attitude in a seamless manner, and “Golden Void” closes the first half of the record with a noise pop, almost-shoegaze distorted roar. Shredded Sun clearly pull from several different eras of “alternative” and indie rock in a Yo La Tengo-esque, “music fan first and foremost” way–Each Dot and Each Line as a whole reflects this in spirit, but songs like “Dark Day” that bend sound around an emotional core in particular emphasize the comparison. Sonically, Each Dot and Each Line is an incredibly entertaining record, but the pop songwriting of the record is just as key–and this aspect stays true throughout, with some of the hookiest tracks on the record–the bouncy “For a Good Time” and the bittersweet “Ordinary Colors”–coming in the album’s final third. (Bandcamp link)

Mui Zyu – Rotten Bun for an Eggless Century

Release date: February 24th
Record label: Father/Daughter
Genre: Dream pop, experimental pop
Formats: Vinyl, CD, digital
Pull Track: Demon 01

London-based, Hong Kong-originating musician Eva Liu makes music as part of the indie rock group Dama Scout, as well as on her own under the name Mui Zyu. Rotten Bun for an Eggless Century is the first full-length Mui Zyu record, following 2021’s A Wonderful Thing Vomits EP, as well as last year’s debut Dama Scout album, gen wo lai (come with me). Eva Liu’s first album as Mui Zyu is a transfixing pop album, led by her subtle but melodic vocals that are frequently accompanied only by atmospheric industrial sounds or by spare piano or guitar playing; the album has a non-busy ambient pop feel to it. To Liu, Rotten Bun for an Eggless Century represents a conscious effort to merge her interest in dreamy indie pop with her Chinese heritage–this is most apparent in her incorporation of traditional Chinese instruments erhu and guzheng in these songs, although the record bears these influences from its title on down.

The record’s opening track, “Rotten Bun”, begins as a sparse piano singer-songwriter tune before exploding into swirling psychedelia in its closing minute, while tracks like “Ghost with a Peach Skin” and “Hotel Mini Soap” anchor Rotten Bun for an Eggless Century with their offerings of steady, minimalist, but substantial synthpop. Eva Liu particularly pushes the range of Mui Zyu as Rotten Bun for an Eggless Century moves into its second side– the gentle guitar piece “Dusty” gives way to the washed-in-feedback dream pop of “Demon 01”, the disintegrating, corrupted-sounding “Dancing for Drinks”, and the stomping electro-pop of “Talk to Death” all in a row. These songs give way to the quieter but no less texturally-focused final quarter of the record–it’s an adventurous album, even as Liu keeps the songs grounded in some form of indie pop throughout. (Bandcamp link)

Singing Lungs – Coming Around

Release date: February 24th
Record label: Count Your Lucky Stars/Sell the Heart/Engineer/Waterslide
Genre: Punk rock, pop punk, alt-rock
Formats: Vinyl, digital
Pull Track: Static

Michigan group Singing Lungs play an energetic, catchy, and rough-around-the-edges version of pop punk and power pop–they’re a punk band that comes from the Bob Mould school of wielding a hook in one hand and blunt force in the other, and there’s a bit of 90s alternative rock in them as well. Coming Around is the band’s second full-length record, coming a few years after 2018’s Groan (with a couple of EPs released in between to bridge the gap). Coming Around is a consistent and even listen, with its eleven songs largely declining to add much in terms of bells and whistles and letting their core structures carry them.

Coming Around is more than full of enough strong songwriting to make it a damn solid punk rock record, beginning with opening track “Where I’m At” and its sharp mix of “perky” and “weary”, and continuing into early highlights like almost-title track “Around Again” (whose chorus is simple but perfect for the rest of the song). Singing Lungs are more than happy to roll along with power chords and brisk percussion–but they’re willing to let up on it just enough, like in the middle of the record, where “Static” contains a few dramatic stops and starts. Songs like “How Could I Know” and “Present Tense” reflect the band’s Lemonheads/Gin Blossoms “polished but still weighty alt-rock” side, as does closing track “What You Hide Behind”, which ends the record with a quite pleasing group-vocal refrain. These full-throated, attention-grabbing performances are the throughline of Coming Around. (Bandcamp link)

Also notable:

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