Pressing Concerns: The Reds, Pinks & Purples, Rust Ring, Eggs on Mars, Sakkaris

Welcome back! I know what you’re here for–It’s time to start your week off with new music. Today’s Pressing Concerns looks at new albums from The Reds, Pinks & Purples, Rust Ring, Eggs on Mars, and Sakkaris.

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.

The Reds, Pinks & Purples – The Town That Cursed Your Name

Release date: March 24th
Record label: Slumberland/Tough Love
Genre: Jangle pop, indie pop
Formats: Vinyl, CD, digital
Pull Track: Mistakes (Too Many to Name)

At this point, we know roughly how a Reds, Pinks & Purples album is going to sound–if for no other reason than we’ve received a lot of new music from the Glenn Donaldson project as of late. 2022 saw the release of three Reds, Pinks & Purples full-lengths, a couple of EPs, and an instrumental record. In recent years, Donaldson has used the Reds, Pinks & Purples to establish himself as perhaps the archetypical songwriter in a crowded San Francisco jangle pop scene. His records offer up gently-strummed chord progressions, generous melodies, and a wistful, melancholic voice overseeing it all. That being said, the first Reds, Pinks & Purples album of 2023, The Town That Cursed Your Name, feels pretty distinct from their last couple of full-lengths–it’s a bit louder, more electric, and fuzzier than Summer at Land’s End or They Only Wanted Your Soul.

While no one is going to mistake Donaldson for a garage punk on The Town That Cursed Your Name, an indie music historian like him is well aware that beautiful melodies and distortion have long gone hand in hand. Not that anyone needs an excuse to crank up the amps a little bit, but the album’s somewhat meta-subject matter–which at the very least warmly nods to fledgling bands and musicians, if not outright treating them in an openly celebratory manner–feels like an appropriate pairing for it. The album opens with a sketch of a musician in “Too Late for an Early Grave” who’s never even had a “brush” with fame, and it’s unclear how much of the take-off tale of  “Leave It All Behind” is meant as hypothetical, real-life, or fantasy. Donaldson remains the unchanging, tilting-towards-emotion center of the record, whether he’s singing over acoustic guitars or the swirling distortion of songs like “Burning Sunflowers” and “Life in the Void”. 

Donaldson’s most emotive turn on The Town That Cursed Your Name probably comes with “Mistakes (Too Many to Name)”, a triumphant-sounding anthem that’s tempered by Donaldson wondering of himself “How can one person make so many mistakes?” in a tone that conveys real disbelief. In the title track, Donaldson takes a step back and lets the lyrics’ futility and failure speak for itself, moving along at a brisk pace. For album closer “Break Up the Band”, Donaldson offers up something not found elsewhere on the record–a full-on piano ballad. If it wasn’t already clear by this point where the Reds, Pinks & Purples stand on the matter of the town-cursed band, Donaldson’s closing benediction gives the game away. (Bandcamp link)

Rust Ring – North to the Future

Release date: February 24th
Record label: Knifepunch
Genre: Emo, punk rock
Formats: Cassette, digital
Pull Track: Tiny Frame

I was always fascinated with Alaska when I was younger. There were a few other frigid, Arctic Circle locales that intrigued me as well (Greenland, Svalbard, the Canadian territories, Siberia), but the Last Frontier was the biggest one, I think. One of my favorite songs as a teenager (and, let’s be real, still today) was “Going to Alaska” by the Mountain Goats–something about traveling to the remote, rugged edge of “society” appealed to me in some way. Wonder why. Anyway, Alaska figures pretty heavily into North to the Future, the second album from Chicago’s Rust Ring. Named after the state’s motto, North to the Future uses the state’s isolation as a jumping point for frontwoman Joram Zbichorski to write about her relationship with gender in a fantastical but still very close-hitting way. Oh, and it’s also a jumping point for a bunch of very good, very cathartic, gang-vocal-sporting emo-punk anthems.

North to the Future kicks off the trek by trying on three big-screen numbers on for size–opening scene-setter “Outline Alaska” introduces the idea behind the record quite enthusiastically, and “Incognito” blows everything up and drags internal thoughts out in the open with a roar. “Tiny Frame” clutches its title line triumphantly, a true, confident moment of declaration. North to the Future is a really great-sounding record, with Zbichorski and her collaborators bringing their A-game musically–moments like when “One Polar Night” shifts into lumbering riff-rock add an extra layer to an album that’s already doing a lot. “‘Everytime We Touch’ Comes On”, right in the middle of the record, is a big old alt-rock ballad in reverse, riding chugging power chords to its quiet, floating titular line. Album highlight “Three Sunrises” feels (at the very least) Alaska-sized, its chorus sounding massive, sweeping, and levitating in a way reflectant of the fantasy element to which the refrain nods (and all this is before the saxophone kicks in!). North to the Future is, conceptually, one of the most interesting albums of the year for me–but this wouldn’t be nearly as remarkable if it wasn’t executed as well as it was by Rust Ring over and over again throughout the record (Bandcamp link)

Eggs on Mars – Warm Breakfast

Release date: March 21st
Record label: Self-released
Genre: Psych pop
Formats: CD, cassette, digital
Pull Track: No Problem

Eggs on Mars are a four-piece “Midwestern soft psych” band from Kansas City, Missouri that have been self-releasing their music on cassette and CD for around a decade. Their latest record, Warm Breakfast, is an album of pop songs that indeed roll over the listener gently, borrowing melodies and a sense of hazy psychedelia from 1960s pop rock but presenting themselves in a relatively stripped-down indie rock package instead of layering on the orchestral instrumentation. Guitarist Brad Smith’s lead vocals are understated, but not buried in a dream pop way–he reflects Warm Breakfast’s melancholic sound in this manner, and it also helps emphasize the moments when Smith decides to look up from his shoes aurally and grab a hold of the listener.

Warm Breakfast starts with a couple of upbeat pop rock tunes that incorporate a bit of 90s indie rock influences–the sub-one minute “Especially Now” opens the record with a stomping beat and something of a chant of a vocal, while the jaunty “No Problem” is breezy and hooky, with Smith cramming a bunch of words into the chorus in a fun, XTC-ish way. Warm Breakfast kicks out a few more tracks that fall on the more “rock” side of indie rock (notably the handclap-aided “Never Change”, although parts of “All’s Well Elsewhere” and “My Words” fall under this banner as well), but the bulk of the rest of the record deals with unhurried, sprawled-out psychedelic pop songs.

“Wrong Way” and “Every Day I Cross the River” are both slow-moving and stoic-sounding (“You don’t have to ask me about me about my day, because I’ve already lived it,” Smith sings matter-of-factly in the latter), although Warm Breakfast certainly isn’t a cold record. Subtle by nature, one has to listen to hear the small moments of gratefulness and joy in the record, from recognizing the fragility of life in “Nameless Headline” to observing the titular creatures of “Earthwormin’”. (Bandcamp link)

Sakkaris – Ordinary Misery

Release date: March 10th
Record label: BIRTHDIY
Genre: Lo-fi indie rock, surf rock, dream pop
Formats: Digital
Pull Track: Ordinary Misery

Sakkaris are a Los Angeles-based indie rock duo made up of twin brothers Alex & Kevin Liu. The Lius have been releasing music constantly since Sakkaris began in 2020, from a steady stream of non-album singles to 2021’s Admire EP to last year’s Conditions. Earlier this month saw the release of Ordinary Misery, their second full-length, via BIRTHDIY (a digital label connected to Spirit Goth Records). Given this association, it’s no surprise that Sakkaris fit right in with the kind of lo-fi, reverb-y, surf/jangle-tinged indie rock that has been released through Spirit Goth–importantly, though, the Lius’ songwriting shines through the fuzz and offers up plenty of memorable pop rock moments. Reverb aside, there are few frills to Ordinary Misery–Sakkaris prefer to let the songs speak for themselves, and for (almost exactly) twenty minute and seven tracks, they do so.

The multi-layered, gliding opening track “You” sets up Ordinary Misery nicely–too dreamy to be “surf rock”, rocking too much for “dream pop”, and too lo-fi to recall most “shoegaze”, it’s just an ace noisy pop song. “Hold It Against You” and “Stillness” avoid being retreads by veering into the garage rock and 2010s dream/jangle pop ends of their sound, respectively, and the massive instrumental hook of the title track would brighten the corners of any subgenre of guitar pop record. Sakkaris get a little darker towards the end of Ordinary Misery with the downcast-sounding “Fear Again” and closing track “Years”, which sends the record off on an atmospheric, cavernous, synth-touched note. While a brief record, it feels like no time in Ordinary Misery is wasted, and all of it contributes to it being a quality pop album. (Bandcamp link)

Also notable:

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: