New Playlist: March 2023

Welcome to Rosy Overdrive’s March 2023 playlist! With the new year in full swing, almost everything on it comes from music released in the past month or two, so there is a ton of brand new things here for you. I’m planning on doing some more listening to older music in April, so if you miss my “archival” picks, they’ll be back.

Whitney’s Playland has multiple songs on this playlist.

Here is where you can listen to the playlist on various streaming services: Spotify, Tidal, (both of which are missing one song), and BNDCMPR. Be sure to check out previous playlist posts if you’ve enjoyed this one, or visit the site directory. If you’d like to support Rosy Overdrive, you can share this (or another) post, or donate here.

“Idiot Proof (nO SoUp Du JoUr)”, Telehealth
From Content Oscillator (2023, Very Famous)

Seattle’s Telehealth is the duo of Alex Attitude and Kendra Cox, and the two of them make some of the most fun egg punk, synth-punk, and all-around Devo-core material I’ve heard in quite some time. Their debut record, Content Oscillator, opens with the pure blast of “Idiot Proof (nO SoUp Du JoUr)”, a positively sparkling piece of synth-punk whose call-and-response chorus will instantly lodge itself in your brain. Read more about Content Oscillator here.

“Let’s Be Friends Again”, The Toms
From The Toms (1979, Black Sheep/Feel It)

The Toms’ self-titled debut album has been reissued several times over the years–the latest version of the record, a double-vinyl edition from Cincinnati’s garage rock imprint Feel It Records, feels like an appropriate new home for a landmark home-recorded power pop album. The Toms kicks off with “Let’s Be Friends Again”, an eternal-sounding, massive piece of pop rock that ranks among the finest examples of the genre, bar none, and hasn’t lost any luster over forty-some years. Read more about The Toms here.

“Surf’s Up (Garfield Park)”, Cel Ray
From Cellular Raymond (2023)

Cellular Raymond, the debut EP from Chicago garage punk warriors Cel Ray, opens with “Surf’s Up (Garfield Park)”. It’s a straight-up perfect beefed-up power pop-punk tune–for two minutes, Cel Ray put on their best surf rock clothes (which includes a good bucket hat, I think), and lead singer Maddie Daviss’ delivery of everything from the various iterations of the song title to the way their voice cracks at the end (“Where is my towel?”) is just right for the track. Read more about Cellular Raymond here.

“Mercy”, Whitney’s Playland
From Sunset Sea Breeze (2023, Meritorio/Paisley Shirt)

Bay Area-esque dreaminess aside, Whitney’s Playland’s Sunset Sea Breeze is also one of the straight-up catchiest records I’ve heard this year–it’s a lo-fi power pop record first and foremost. Following the casual catchiness of the opening title track, the big-electric-guitar-wielding “Mercy” finds Whitney’s Playland getting just a little bit louder, but being just as devoted to indie pop as anywhere else on the album. From the sunny, fuzzy chord progression to Showalter’s matter-of-fact vocals, “Mercy” is a big old pop wrecking ball. Read more about Sunset Sea Breeze here.

“Aloe”, Local Drags
From Mess of Everything (2023, Stardumb)

One of the biggest musical Russian roulettes for me is “completely unknown modern power pop band”. It can be something I’ve already forgotten by the time the record is over, or I could find my new favorite song out of nowhere. Local Drags is a power pop group from Springfield, Illinois, and their latest record, Mess of Everything, represents the best of the genre–big, catchy hooks abound on it. They’ve struck gold in particular with “Aloe”–that big riff that opens the song is the one that Paul Westerberg forgot to write (it just feels Midwestern in a way that’s hard to describe), and the other big moment of genius of the song is realizing that the almost-all-vowel “aloe” is the perfect power pop chorus yelping word.

“The Split”, Dancer
From Dancer (2023, GoldMold)

Dancer’s self-titled debut cassette EP is a gem of a first release from a Glasgow group that’s flown under the radar a bit despite being comprised of members of some excellent local bands (Order of the Toad, Nightshift, Robert Sotelo). Its five tracks of cheerful, Life without Buildings-esque post-punk are all instantly memorable, but “The Split” is Dancer’s biggest pop moment, a glittering instrumental with vocals that, while not departing overly from the conversational speak-singing, take every right melodic turn for the track as well. Read more about Dancer here.

“21/1”, Fixtures
From Hollywood Dog (2023, Bobo Integral/Naturally)

The debut full-length from New York’s Fixtures is an ambitious one–Hollywood Dog takes the foundation of sturdy, guitar-forward 90s indie rock and blow it up with a 2000s indie-esque love of big choruses, auxiliary musicians, and several vocal contributions from various members. The album kicks off with “21/1”, a steady-building indie rock anthem that captures Fixtures’ sound quite well–a saxophone intro gives way to chugging, clear-eyed indie rock that then gets punctuated with an instrumental, horn-based refrain. Read more about Hollywood Dog here.

“Shot Down”, The Unknowns
From East Coast Low (2023, Bargain Bin)

Australia has typically been an excellent breeding ground for garage rock/power pop hybrid music, but 2023 has been an especially fertile year for it down under. The latest entry is the second full-length from Brisbane’s The Unknowns, a band that have been around for awhile and have been associated with Aussie punk superstars The Chats (East Coast Low is being put out by the band’s record label, Bargain Bin, and Unknowns singer Josh Hardy recently replaced founding guitarist Josh Price in The Chats). “Shot Down” is pure rock and roll, a muscular collection of hooks with a shout-along chorus that’s got about everything one could want from this kind of music. 

“An Objection to the Location of the Entrance to the Girard Ave. ACME (for SEPTA and PRA)”, Emperor X
From Suggested Improvements to Transportation Infrastructure in the Northeast Corridor (2023)

The latest Emperor X EP, Suggested Improvements to Transportation Infrastructure in the Northeast Corridor, takes inspiration from, as only Chad Matheny can, “transit policy and 30 years of public infrastructure memories” situated within the American Northeast. “An Objection to the Location of the Entrance to the Girard Ave. ACME (for SEPTA and PRA)” takes place in Philadelphia, but as Matheny points out in the lyrics, the corruption and greed at the heart of the song is happening in “a hundred other towns and a thousand other cities”. Just as importantly, though: “An Objection to the Location…” is an all-time Emperor X indie pop banger that ends with Matheny shouting “guitar!” and “even more guitar!” and being answered by blistering guitar soloing. Read more about Suggested Improvements to Transportation Infrastructure in the Northeast Corridor here.

“Growing Away”, Free Range
From Practice (2023, Mick)

Free Range is the indie folk project of Chicago’s Sofia Jensen, with help from a few familiar faces to Rosy Overdrive readers. Jodi’s Nick Levine plays pedal steel and Wurlitzer on a couple of Practice’s tracks, and Noah Roth provides some backing vocals. Roth even co-wrote “Growing Away”, which I didn’t know when I selected it for this playlist–I’m a fan of Roth’s songwriting, so it makes sense, but it’s Jensen’s front-and-center, expressive vocals that truly sell this track for me. The catchiness, vocal delivery, and lyrics all remind me of a stripped-down Remember Sports–certainly a good place to be.

“I Know Nothing at All”, Dazy
From OTHERBODY (2023, Lame-O)

Ah, Dazy. James Goodson always has more tunes to offer, it seems. The floodgates opened in late 2020 with a stream of singles and EPs (collected in the essential MAXIMUMBLASTSUPERLOUD compilation), continued into last year’s OUTOFBODY, and now we get a surprise-released companion EP, OTHERBODY. Supposedly Goodson recorded about a hundred songs for his debut album, and these eight tracks are selected from this vault–opener “I Know Nothing at All” is a stomper that harkens back to the earlier Dazy recordings and maybe wouldn’t have fit with the slightly more polished and refined nature of OUTOFBODY, but it certainly would’ve been one of my favorite songs on that album had it showed up there. Instead it gets to lead off a collection of songs that’s pretty damn strong in its own right.

“Caller”, Brian Mietz
From Wow! (2023, Sludge People)

Brian Mietz’s Panzarotti was one of my favorite albums of 2020, so I’m quite happy to report that the New Jersey singer-songwriter is back next month with Wow!, a brand-new cassette full-length. Lead single “Caller” continues his last record’s winning streak of melancholic power pop–there may a little more reverb on this track than usual, but it’s still really great bummer pop rock for fans of the likes of Fountains of Wayne, Elliott Smith, The Goodbye Party, and Grandaddy.

“Soccer Mommy”, Shalom
From Sublimation (2023, Saddle Creek)

I never really got into Soccer Mommy. A lot of people I respect like her music, and I give her props for working with Oneohtrix Point Never, but it was never my thing. I do, however, like this one song about “driv[ing] around, listening to Soccer Mommy” by Shalom. Shalom Obisie-Orlu and ringer Ryan Hemsworth turn the song’s conceit into a lo-fi indie-rock anthem, with Hemsworth soundtracking Obisie-Orlu’s after-the-fact-Eureka-moment lyrics with some in-the-red fuzz rock.

“Ride the Vibe”, Dim Wizard feat. Steve Ciolek, Jeff Rosenstock, and Illuminati Hotties)

The song’s called “Ride the Vibe”, and it does. Dim Wizard is the Washington, D.C.-based project of David Combs, who also plays in the excellent Bad Moves. There’s only a couple of Dim Wizard songs out there, but this one is a clear winner, and it crams a lot into its four minutes. As you can see from the heading, there’s a lot of people involved in its creation (Jeff Rosenstock co-wrote it, Illuminati Hotties’ Sarah Tudzin plays synth and guitar, both of them along with The Sidekicks’ Steve Ciolek sing on it, and Dazy’s James Goodson made the artwork)–whatever it took to make this slacker-power-pop jam, it’s a winning combo.

“Broken Bridge”, Sewage Farm
From Mould (2023, Safe Suburban Home)

Although Sewage Farm’s name (as well as the title and artwork to Mould) conjure up images of scuzzy noise rock and roughed-up underground punk groups, the York band hews towards the tuneful side of the Our Band Could Be Your Life-core sound on their latest EP. Opening track “Broken Bridge” in particular kicks Mould off with all the right kinds of Hüsker Dü and Dinosaur Jr.-inspired moves, offering up a massive power pop hook dressed up in fuzzy, distorted clothing. Read more about Mould here.

“Unsolved Mysteries”, Connections
From Cool Change (2023, Trouble in Mind)

Connections’ sixth record and first in a half decade doesn’t lose any steam in terms of offering up lo-fi, Ohio-bred power pop through and through. The B-side of Cool Change arguably bests the first half of the record–for one thing, that’s where you’ll find “Unsolved Mysteries”, a vintage Connections anthem if I’ve ever heard one. Everything’s in its right pop place on the two-point-five minute track, and Kevin Elliott’s delivery of the “We’re unsolved mysteries / The good and bad and the in-between,” is typically excellent work from an underrated frontman. Read more about Cool Change here.

“Time Moves for Me”, Disintegration
From Time Moves for Me (2023, Feel It)

Alright, alright. Cleveland’s Disintegration are a new synth-punk trio made up of Haley Himiko from the under-appreciated Pleasure Leftists, plus Cloud Nothings’ Christopher Brown and Profligate’s Noah Anthony. The title track of their debut EP, Time Moves for Me, is an instant winner–it glides for five minutes over a hard-hitting drum machine, smartly deployed synths, and Himiko’s sweeping vocals. Hopefully Pleasure Leftists are still active in some form, but either way, I’d happily take an album of songs like “Time Moves for Me”.

“World Series Hangover”, Tombstone Poetry
From World Series Hangover (2023, Candlepin)

The latest record from Tombstone Poetry is a five-song cassette EP called World Series Hangover. As a lo-fi, fuzzy country-gaze group from Asheville, North Carolina, the MJ Lenderman comparisons write themselves, but this seems unfair to singer-songwriter Caelan Burris, who’s been making music since before Lenderman “blew up”. I also hear some Conor Oberst influence on World Series Hangover, although the title track rocks in a haunted way, almost reminding me of Red House Painters’ more electric moments.

“Crawling Off Your Pages”, Eyelids
From A Colossal Waste of Light (2023, Jealous Butcher)

Well, it’s new Eyelids season, so everyone get your vintage, blissful jangle pop-listening headgear on. The fourth Eyelids full-length (five if you count the half-live, half-odds-and-ends Maybe More) opens with “Crawling Off Your Pages”, a timeless-sounding piece of modern college rock in which both Chris Slusarenko and John Moen’s vocals and the guitars are melodic juggernauts and monoliths. A Colossal Waste of Light features plenty more pop rock goodness (like single “Everything That I See You See Better”), but Eyelids sets the bar high early.  

“Slow Motion Pain”, Near Beer
(2023, Double Helix)

NEAR BEER’s self-titled debut record was one of my favorite albums of last year, so I’m happy to see that the Los Angeles trio are already back with a couple of (I assume) non-album singles. What’s more, my favorite of the two new tracks, “Slow Motion Pain”, feels like a step forward for the band and for songwriter Joey Siara. Musically, the song adds some jangly guitars to NEAR BEER’s underdog indie-punk sound, and it’s a perfect match, while Siara situates the song in the middle of a conversation at a holiday party, delivering several memorable lines in conveying the exchange (not the least of which is the title line).

“Watching the Credits”, The Beths
(2023, Carpark)

Wake up, it’s new Beths time! “Watching the Credits” was recorded during the sessions for the band’s excellent third record, Expert in a Dying Field (one of Rosy Overdrive’s Favorite Albums of 2022)–I’m not sure why it didn’t make the cut, because it’s a vintage Beths tune through and through, with a chorus that could rank among their finest (and that’s a crowded field, to be sure, so I don’t say that lightly). The lyrics, in which songwriter Elizabeth Stokes presents herself as a director, feel like a way for her to talk about disillusionment and the pressure of having a “job in the arts” with one degree of remove (The violin touches coming after referencing film soundtracks–are they a bit on the nose? Sure. Does it matter? Not really). 

“Carol Kane”, Toilet Rats
From IV (2023, Brontosaurus Forever)

Truthfully, IV doesn’t sound anywhere near as trashy as I would expect a synthpunk group from Minneapolis named “Toilet Rats” to sound. That’s not a bad thing, mind you–especially considering that Thomas Rehbein (aka Tommy Ratz) embraces the widescreen version of new wave/80s synth-rock with these bite-sized anthems on IV. One of the best examples of this is “Carol Kane”, a surging piece of drum machine-aided post-punk that explodes into a shout-along, massive chorus. It’s about the movie When a Stranger Calls, by the way, starring the song’s titular actor, just to clear that up.

“Never Mean”, Tombeau
From Idiot Rock (2023)

Alright, we’ve got some more Aussie garage punk here for you, and this one is a true gem. Wollongong’s Tombeau is the project of Tom Jones–the latest Tombeau release, the five-song Idiot Rock EP, is headlined by “Never Mean”, a brilliant sub-two minute piece of egg punk in which Jones and guest singer Jasmine Melinz trade off lead vocals from line to line. Over top of a running bassline and some beepy synths, Jones’ voice sounds human…ish (in a very Devo-y way), and Melinz’s conversational style balances it nicely.

“Black ‘n’ Milds”, Timeout Room
From Tight-Ass Goku Pictures (2023, Tough Gum)

S.T. McCrary is a longtime Louisiana punk veteran who recently started a new project to explore another love of his–lo-fi, home-recorded guitar pop. Timeout Room’s debut album, Tight-Ass Goku Pictures, combines Wipers-esque one-man punk rock with Flying Nun/Cleaners from Venus-esque “whimsical” indie pop in a way that creates a weird mutant hybrid of the two–and a ton of catchy songs along the way. “Black ‘n’ Milds”, hidden on the second half of the album, is perhaps the biggest electric success on Tight-Ass Goku Pictures–it has a casual, effortless-seeming brilliance to it, but few of the many similarly-minded reverb-y, lo-fi pop albums can actually pull something like this song off. Read more about Tight-Ass Goku Pictures here.

“Tiny Frame”, Rust Ring
From North to the Future (2023, Knifepunch)

North to the Future is a substantial emo-punk anthem record through and through, and nowhere on the album is this more apparent than single “Tiny Frame”. It’s certainly not the only track on North to the Future in which Chicago’s Rust Ring go all-out in their delivery, but “Tiny Frame” in particular conjures the feeling of scaling to the top of the rugged Alaskan terrain in which the album as a whole is set. Frontwoman Joram Zbichorski clutches the title line triumphantly, a true, confident moment of declaration. Read more about North to the Future here.

“Flower of Life”, Taleen Kali
From Flower of Life (2023, Dum Dum)

The first full-length record from Los Angeles’ Taleen Kali is made up of ten loud, electric shoegaze-tinged tracks that still retain a pop core, and Kali’s strong presence as a frontperson is instrumental in helping sell both the energy and catchiness of Flower of Life. Kali and the band come barreling out of the gate with hard-charging opening title track–a swirling, foot-on-gas piece of distorted psych rock, “Flower of Life” blows open the rest of the record and establishes that the band is shooting for something heavier and denser than dreamy reverb-rock. Read more about Flower of Life here.

“Yer All in My Dreams”, Purling Hiss
From Drag on Girard (2023, Drag City)

Drag on Girard is Purling Hiss’ first proper record in seven years, but the Philadelphia fuzz rockers kick off the record in the friendliest, most welcome way possible. “Yer All in My Dreams” is four and a half minutes of the group at their Dinosaur Jr.-recalling best–from the title on down to its potent concoction of some light jam band, light country rock, not-so-light guitar heroics, and nonstop massive melodies and hooks. Somehow the song feels half as long as it is–Purling Hiss could’ve ridden this groove out for quite a bit longer before it dragged. 

“Sunset Sea Breeze”, Whitney’s Playland
From Sunset Sea Breeze (2023, Meritorio/Paisley Shirt)

Whitney’s Playland hail from San Francisco, and their debut record fits in with the sleepy, dreamy Bay Area jangle pop that Paisley Shirt Records (who released this album on cassette) has been documenting as of late. Sunset Sea Breeze’s opening title track is a transcendent indie pop experience, riding a simple ascending acoustic-guitar-and-bass progression triumphantly in a way that sounds like The Crabs crossed with The Sundays. Read more about Sunset Sea Breeze here.

“Meteora Blues”, Yves Tumor
From Praise a Lord Who Chews but Which Does Not Consume; (or Simply, Hot Between Worlds) (2023, Warp)

I got on board with Yves Tumor after their breakout record, 2018’s Safe in the Hands of Love, which combined spacey modern industrial with the attitude of 90s alt-rock, and I’ve stayed a happy camper as Tumor has become more and more interested in incorporating the guitar-based sound into their music. While I’m not sure if I like Praise a Lord Who Chews but Which Does Not Consume; (or Simply, Hot Between Worlds) as much as 2020’s Heaven to a Tortured Mind, the highlights are just as good, at the very least. “Meteora Blues” is a blistering noise pop/shoegaze-rooted track that offers up wall-of-sound guitar textures and lead guitar heroics at the same time.

“The Most”, Miniaturized
From Minituarized (2023, Manchester)

San Diego’s Miniaturized cover a lot of ground on their expansive self-titled debut album–it spends a lot of time probing mid-tempo college and heartland rock, but the group fully roar to life in the middle of the record with the synth-accented power pop/alt-rock of “The Most”. Singer/songwriter/guitarist Timothy Joseph really sells the go-for-broke, could’ve-been-a-hit-in-a-different-era chorus–Dave Grohl wishes he thought of this one. Read more about Miniaturized here.

“Shouldn’t Fear the Seer”, Mulva
From Seer (2023)

Mulva is a new Providence-based band led by Christina Puerto, guitarist in Kal Marks and Bethlehem Steel, and also featuring Carl Shane (of the former of Puerto’s bands), Patrick Ronayne (of the latter), and Adam Berkowiz (of Ex-Breathers). Based on their lineup, it’s no surprise that their debut EP, Seer, is an intriguing record of heavy-leaning alt-rock. The semi-title track, “Shouldn’t Fear the Seer”, is my pick for their best single tune yet, a mix of lumbering noise rock and some prettier sections recalling 90s indie rock, with Puerto’s vocals shifting themselves accordingly.

“Quiet Covers Up a Lot”, Leon in the Wild
From Leon in the Wild (2023, Recorded Psychic Readings)

San Francisco’s Leon in the Wild has been dropping non-album singles since 2020–for his debut physical release, a self-titled cassette EP, Recorded Psychic Readings has collected them along with a couple of brand-new tracks. One of these songs is the sharp “Quiet Covers Up a Lot”, a super catchy piece of power pop that combines the casualness of the 90s indie rock that’s a big influence on Leon’s music with California surf/fuzz rock to make a slacker rock hit.

“Matt and Adam”, Fairmont
From Fairmont (2023)

Fairmont are an emo-punk group from Salt Lake City, and the band’s latest release, a four-song self-titled EP, came out at the beginning of this year. Fairmont throws some heartland pop punk in with their more traditional emo revival, and record highlight “Matt and Adam” even adds some 90s alt-rock and college rock jangle to the mix. “Matt and Adam” is a fine entry into the Gin Blossoms, Lemonheads, and solo Paul Westerberg-touched subgenre of punk rock–perhaps filtered through the lens of Joyce Manor and other emo-punk groups that have been drawing from the same well, but it sounds great regardless.

“Ordinary Misery”, Sakkaris
From Ordinary Misery (2023, BIRTHDIY)

The latest record from Sakkaris–the Los Angeles-based duo of twin brothers Alex & Kevin Liu–is twenty minutes of no-fat lo-fi, reverb-y, surf/jangle-tinged indie rock that offers up plenty of catchiness in a humble, no-frills package. The title track to Ordinary Misery is the immediate standout, mainly thanks to its massive guitar riff of a hook–that alone would brighten the corners of any subgenre of guitar pop record, but on Ordinary Misery, it’s just one ace pop moment of many. Read more about Ordinary Misery here.

“Absolute Elsewhere (A Mile & a Day)”, Galactic Static
From Golden Aeons of Absolute Elsewhere (2023, Corrupted TV)

Happy to welcome New York’s “intergalactic friendship-core duo” Galactic Static back–2021’s Friendly Universe was an ace under-the-radar record of lo-fi power pop, and half of the group (Conor Mac) stretched out a little bit on last year’s Diet Daydream as Soft Screams. Golden Aeons of Absolute Elsewhere is “a mixtape from a parallel universe”–not quite a full-length, but it still has time in its seventeen minutes for a couple of pop rock hits, my favorite of which is “Absolute Elsewhere (A Mile and a Day)”, a song that manages to be sweeping despite its lo-fi ingredients.

“A Love Song”, The Bug Club
From Pure Particles (2021, Bingo/We Are Busy Bodies)

“How many times can you say ‘fuck’ in a love song / And really mean it?” Welsh trio The Bug Club ask this and several other thoughtful questions in the 74-second, delightfully profane “A Love Song”, in the form of gleeful, runaway rock and roll. While it’s a brief sample of what the band were doing on Pure Particles, their recently-reissued 2021 “mini-LP”, it’s a damn good one (and, in case you were wondering, The Bug Club do respond to their opening question: “The answer is nine”). Read more about Pure Particles here.

“Temps Gris”, M’lasse
From M’lasse (2023)

I’ve encountered a bunch of pretty under-the-radar Canadian bands over the past month–in this post, we’re going to focus on Montreal’s M’lasse for a minute. These French Canadians put out their debut release, a self-titled EP, back in February, and it jumps around from shoegaze to surf rock to 90s-inspired indie rock over its six songs. Highlight “Temps Gris” even hops around within itself, starting off vaguely rough-and-tumble and even a little punk-adjacent before throwing in a melodic, dreamy-jangle pop guitar hook and eventually settling into fuzzy noise pop.

“My Therapist Said I Have a Fear of Time (He’s Right)”, Resignation
From You Are More Than Right Now (2023, Friend Club)

Resignation are a Toledo, Ohio group featuring members of Oscar Bait and few other Midwest punk bands, and their Bandcamp description (“RIYL: Hot Water Music, Samiam, Grade, Silent Majority, Split Lip, Fairweather”) gives you decent ballpark guess of what to expect on their latest release, the five-song You Are More Than Right Now cassette EP. Record highlight “My Therapist Said I Have a Fear of Time (He’s Right)” is a great emo-pop-punk anthem, with Resignation polishing up their sound just enough to let the chorus soar the way it does.

“Dangerous”, Nova One
From Create Myself (2023, Community)

Create Myself is the second full-length record from Providence, Rhode Island’s NOVA ONE, and it’s a solid and casual collection of smooth, dreamy indie rock. Lead single “Dangerous” isn’t the only song on Create Myself that rocks, but the way that NOVA ONE frontperson Roz Raskin and their collaborators pull this one off in particular is impressive and pleasing to hear. It’s a dream pop skeleton blown up to full-on fuzz rock, with a melodic bass running past jagged but comforting stabs of amped-cranked, distortion-heavy guitar. 

“Frantically Wrong”, Real Terms
From Vantage (2023)

Vantage is an intriguing record that I stumbled upon recently. Real Terms are a British group that make math rock on the poppy end of the spectrum, perhaps trending into “light prog” territory. The record kind of reminds me of XTC, but with an unmistakable “made by some math rock dudes” sheen. “Frantically Wrong” isn’t the only hooky song on the record, but it’s the one that’s continued to stick with me the most–everything on the track is catchy, and the chorus is doubly so.

“Welcome to the Project!”, Kondratieff Wave Generator
From High Rise (2023, Unimagined Futures)

I don’t know a whole lot about Kondratieff Wave Generator–right now they’re based in Portland, Oregon, but they also may be from Dundee originally, or they just lived there at one point, so I’m not even sure on that. Their latest record, High Rise, is six songs of really spaced-out indie rock that pull from dream pop, shoegaze, ambient, post-rock, jangle pop… “Welcome to the Project!” is the clear “hit” on High Rise, presenting Kondratieff Wave Generator’s whole thing in a four-minute, reverb-y indie bedroom pop package, with a wistful-sounding but quite catchy refrain.

“Baby Food”, The Pretty Flowers
From A Company Sleeve (2023, Double Helix)

Back in the (relatively) early days of the site, I highlighted “Bucket Beach”, a self-released, one-off single from Los Angeles’ The Pretty Flowers, which was a nice slice of slacker/jangle pop. Now the group has a new label, a new full-length record on the way (which will also feature “Bucket Beach”), and a new lead single in the perky power-pop-punk anthem “Baby Food”. A bit rougher around the edges than “Bucket Beach” but still quite hooky and friendly, “Baby Food” sprints through some major-label Replacements-era pop rock, slows everything down, and then pulls off a big finish.

“Ride”, Nothing Natural
From NN (2023, Dandy Boy)

Oakland’s Nothing Natural are one of many new guitar groups to spring up from the Bay Area in recent years, but the sound of their debut cassette EP helps them stick out a bit among their peers. NN is 25-minutes of unabashed 90s alt-rock, fuzz rock, and borderline-shoegaze worship–it’s closer to the roster Candlepin Records or even New Morality Zine than their indie pop stalwart home of Dandy Boy Records. Still, Nothing Natural know a good pop hook, and “Ride” is slacker rock of the catchiest variety. The single feels torn between the tryhard alt-rock of Smashing Pumpkins and modern nü-shoegaze revivalists and tongue-in-cheek 90s indie rock revival, but either way, that guitar riff hook is undeniable.

One thought on “New Playlist: March 2023

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