Pressing Concerns: Buddie, Brian Mietz, The Collect Pond, System Exclusive

Once again it is Thursday, and it’s time to talk about new music. Today’s post looks at four great records coming out tomorrow: albums from Buddie, Brian Mietz, and The Collect Pond, and an EP from System Exclusive.

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.

Buddie – Agitator

Release date: April 21st
Record label: Crafted Sounds
Genre: 90s indie rock, fuzz rock, power pop
Formats: Cassette, digital
Pull Track: Restive Summer

Toward the end of last year, I wrote about Transplant, a four-song EP from Vancouver’s Buddie. That excellent record marked the beginning of a new phase for the band–lead singer/songwriter Dan Forrest had moved to Canada from Philadelphia and formed a new group. Although Buddie’s Philadelphia lineup largely recorded Transplant’s songs, tracks like “Indecision” made it clear that the record was made with the upcoming fork in the road clearly in view. A few months later, Agitator, the EP’s full-length follow-up, makes good on the earlier release’s promise, delivering eleven deep, fulfilling, and sharply-realized indie rock songs. Forrest remains a towering but approachable songwriter, always thinking in big-picture terms but never losing sight of the day-to-day and direct interpersonal minutia of his grand topics. The band puts together a pristine but friendly-sounding album–Forrest’s gentle vocals are juxtaposed by the sweeping music that accompanies them, encompassing Built to Spill-esque 90s indie rock, fuzz rock, and power pop–delivered with an earnestness that matches their frontperson.

Agitator begins by scaling the “Break of the Sun”, a slow-building, thunderous song that has a determination that sets the tone for the album (and also is perhaps the moment where Buddie most earn the not-infrequent LVL UP comparisons they’ve gotten). The brisk, almost-garage rock of “Class Warfare” and the deliberate “Global Consequence” are vintage Buddie, Forrest delivering lyrical diatribes that are nevertheless rewarding and even pleasant to listen to thanks to his delivery and the band’s potent fuzz rock (“They know it’s a game, but they’re in love with it / Hoarding resources for generations,” he excoriates in the latter song, in a tone sounding like A.C. Newman). Almost in answer to the previous few songs, the following “We’ll Never Break” and “Worried” look inward towards Forrest’s self and those close to him, affirming that these “smaller-scale” bonds are important to maintain while dealing with the wider screens present before.

The first half of the record is unimpeachably solid, but some of the album’s best single moments come on the B-side. On “Backwards, Behind”, Buddie keep it relatively simple, with the punchiness of the chorus really landing its sentiment (in a weird and good way, it kind of reminds me of “The Middle” by Jimmy Eat World). The way that “Labyrinth” speeds up and slows down in the chorus to evoke “find[ing] our way again” by getting lost is so satisfying that it balances out the corny pun that comes in the next line. Agitator closes with a gigantic song in “Restive Summer”–it starts as a solo electric guitar number whose first section culminates with Forrest singing “We worked ourselves up to the point where we broke”. The rest of the track covers a wide swath of Agitator’s feelings in one song, from Forrest’s determined “We’ll have to work like twice as hard” to the closing wonderment of “And I wonder how we’ll go to sleep?” (Bandcamp link)

Brian Mietz – Wow!

Release date: April 21st
Record label: Sludge People
Genre: Power pop, indie pop, lo-fi pop
Formats: Cassette, digital
Pull Track: Buried Alive (Too Tired)

New Jersey’s Brian Mietz has previously played in the bands It’s a King Thing and Cabana Wear, and in 2020 he released Panzarotti, the first album under his own name. Panzarotti was a great under-the-radar album that ended up being one of my favorites of that year, so I was thrilled to see the announcement of Wow!, a full-length cassette follow-up record coming out on Sludge People Records. I was charmed by Mietz’s style on Panzarotti–it’s a humble work of pop rock that evokes some “bummer” power pop artists like Fountains of Wayne, Elliott Smith, Mo Troper, and even a bit of Weezer in places. With Wow!, Mietz remains an ace pop songwriter–these ten songs sound laid-back but emotional, and Mietz keeps the melodies simple, but he isn’t opposed to building around them a little bit.

“Capture the Flag” opens Wow! with what I’m beginning to recognize as a vintage Mietz sound–jaunty but subtle, with an effortless melody that could’ve been grafted onto any kind of guitar pop in the last half-century. A good deal of the first half of the album is surprisingly busy–while no less immediately catchy, the stretch from “Cranefly” to “Steal Some Time” is denser than a lot of Mietz’s previous work. Another surprise is “Call in My Car” towards the end of the record, a straight-up synthpop tune with a shining chorus. These new layers are interesting and rewarding, but Mietz succeeds when he presents his songs more plainly, as well–the weary pop rock of “Caller” and “Buried Alive (Too Tired)” might be the best part of the entire record, and the just-fuzzy-enough alt-rock of the title track closes Wow! on a particularly satisfying note. (Bandcamp link)

The Collect Pond – Underwater Features

Release date: April 21st
Record label: Candlepin
Genre: Lo-fi indie rock, post-punk, lo-fi power pop
Formats: Cassette, digital
Pull Track: Fired, Walk with Me

The latest edition to the ever-expanding and always worthwhile Candlepin Records roster is The Collect Pond, a Boston group led by Bellingham, Washington native Danny Moffat. Underwater Features is the second Collect Pond album, but the first Moffat has made with a full-time band (bassist/keyboardist Roger Maranan, drummer Rob Carrington, and guitarist/keyboardist Ben Bonadies). Moffat, who also lived in New Zealand for a while, is a clear aficionado of underground and lo-fi indie rock of many eras: Underwater Features is clearly influenced by 90s indie underdog popsters like Guided by Voices and Sebadoh (putting them in line with modern groups like Connections, Mythical Motors, and Smug Brothers), while also retaining a post-punk edge in places and a haziness evoking a few Flying Nun and Xpressway group.

The first half of Underwater Features’ tracklist runs the Collect Pond gamut–opening track “Cardigan” and “On Track” are on the more post-punk, darker side of their sound, even as there are some new wave-y guitar lines that bubble up now and again, while with “Fired, Walk With Me” they bash out pure, giddy pop rock, and the muscular “Influential Consequential” is 90s-clad power pop. “Subtle with a Joke” has a sprinting sound that’s immediately enjoyable, even as its multiple sections actually make it one of the weirder songs on the record. The Collect Pond are deft at piecing together the post-punk and pop sides of their sound on Underwater Features even without the closing duo of “On Track II” and “Subdued Excitement”, both of which are an extended, acoustic-based reimagining of the earlier version of “On Track”. They didn’t need to turn the most brooding rocker on the cassette into a pretty acoustic ballad to make the record into a success, but it adds to an already enjoyable set of songs. (Bandcamp link)

System Exclusive – Party All the Time

Release date: April 21st
Record label: Mt.St.Mtn./Six Tonnes de Chair
Genre: Synthpunk, post-punk, synthpop
Formats: Vinyl, digital
Pull Track: Part Time Pierre

Pasadena’s System Exclusive established themselves as West Coast synth-punk players on last year’s self-titled debut album, released by Castle Face. The duo of Ari Blaisdell and Matt Jones (who, between the two of them, have played in Male Gaze, The Beat-Offs, Blasted Canyons, and Lower Self) are back a year later with a follow-up in the Party All the Time EP. While these three songs, running nine minutes total, are on a smaller scale than their forty-minute, eleven-song debut full-length, System Exclusive sound confident and controlled here, suggesting they’ve got a lot of great work to come and also crafting a record that’s plenty enjoyable on its own terms, brevity aside.

Party All the Time is made up of two brand-new System Exclusive exclusives and the title track, which is, indeed, a cover of the Eddie Murphy number two hit single. Both of the original System Exclusive songs are strong ones, and they end up sounding fairly different from each other–opening track “Part Time Pierre” is the more immediate one to my ears, a slinking piece of synth-glam-punk whose instrumentation saunters along with Blaisdell’s intensely casual vocals. “Paint the Town” is some busier-sounding vintage, wide-eyed synthpop, executed with tangible excitement. And then there’s “Party All the Time”–System Exclusive certainly turn it into one of their own songs, but they keep its structure largely intact in doing so. Its edges are sharpened down to the System Exclusive style, but it’s still very much a party. (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: