Pressing Concerns: Patches, Amanda X, Monde UFO, Triple Fast Action

It’s a Monday Pressing Concerns! This one looks at new albums from Patches and Monde UFO, a new EP from Amanda X, and a compilation from Triple Fast Action.

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.

Patches – Scenic Route

Release date: April 14th
Record label: Self-released
Genre: Post-punk, jangle pop, college rock
Formats: Digital
Pull Track: Ask Me Again

Last year, Patches released their debut album, Tales We Heard from the Fields, which ended up being one of my favorites of 2022. The record was a remote collaboration between the trio of lead singer/guitarist Evan Seurkamp, drummer/guitarist Aaron Griffin, and bassist RKC, with the three of them indulging in a shared love of both clanging, dark post-punk and bright, poppy college rock. Given that Seurkamp has another full-time band going on with The Laughing Chimes (who released an excellent EP just a few months ago), I wasn’t expecting Patches to return so soon, but Scenic Route is certainly a welcome surprise. The sophomore Patches album picks up where their debut left off, but represents a sonic evolution as well–instead of splitting the difference between darker and lighter material on a track-by-track basis, the songs on Scenic Route combine them individually, with each one containing a mix of both jangle pop and post-punk.

There’s nothing quite as openly bright and poppy as “Parallel Mind” off of their last album, but, underneath a layer of lo-fi, almost dream pop distortion, there is no shortage of hooks on Scenic Route. The opening duo of “Do You Remember Me in the Summer?” and “Prisoners of the Parthenon” kick off the record with a pair of hazy, jangly indie rock anthems, and the band breaks out the acoustic guitars for the vintage college radio could’ve-been-a-hit “Ask Me Again”. The second half of Scenic Route offers up the incredibly tight-sounding, laser-precise “Dead Air”, but it’s also where Patches deliver “Whales and Constellations”, an underwater-sounding, dreamy tune that’s the band at their mistiest. Seurkamp’s vocals still have that tinge of nostalgia that reminds me of early Guided by Voices, and nowhere is it more apparent on Scenic Route than on closing track “Ursorichville”, a song that threatens to evaporate but, like the rest of the album, stays on its feet and sees the pop tune through. (Bandcamp link)

Amanda X – Keepsake

Release date: April 21st
Record label: Self Aware
Genre: Alt-rock, indie punk
Formats: Digital
Pull Track: Twin Flame

Philadelphia’s Amanda X were one of the more underappreciated practitioners of the punky, 90s-influenced indie rock that populated the second half of the 2010s, but they’d been fairly silent since 2017’s solid Giant. That’s finally changed with the release of the five-song Keepsake EP, a record that shows that the group hasn’t lost any momentum and still have plenty of hooky rock songs left in them. The band–guitarist Cat Park, drummer Melissa Brain, and bassist Kat Bean–sounds like a real power trio on Keepsake, with all of these tracks utilizing a tough rhythm section and pleasing guitar play to sound fully-developed.

“Carousel” opens Keepside with a pure blast of 90s alt-rock enthusiasm, sounding earnest but playful, deploying some crunchy, anthemic guitars and low-key but commanding vocals. “Crave” is almost glam-punk, with a chanting chorus and cocky guitar leads similarly balancing their fun and serious rocker sides. The mid-section of the EP is where the band show off the most– “Eight Ball” and “Slight” are not quite as single-ready as the first few songs (or as the big-finish closing track “Twin Flame”), but the steady workout-tempo of the former and the chugging, noisy alt-rock of the latter are both excellent entries into the Amanda X discography. Having Amanda X back in general is worth celebrating, let alone that they’ve returned with a release as strong as Keepsake. (Bandcamp link)

Monde UFO – Vandalized Statue to Be Replaced with Shrine

Release date: April 21st
Record label: Quindi
Genre: Ambient pop, dream pop, jazz pop, lounge pop
Formats: Vinyl, digital
Pull Track: Rectory

Los Angeles’ Monde UFO makes music that falls on the warm and friendly side of the indie rock spectrum, but that hardly means that the trio of Kris Chau, Kern Haug, and Brian Bartus aren’t adventurous. That’s anything but the case on their second proper album, the excellently-titled Vandalized Statue to Be Replaced with Shrine. The album’s ten songs float through keyboard and synth washes, shuffling percussion, and downcast lo-fi indie rock esque vocals and percussion to create a transportive listening experience. Jazz and bossa nova horns color the record–like with a lot of genre-omnivorous indie rock, the likes of Stereolab and Yo La Tengo come to mind, but Vandalized Statue to Be Replaced with Shrine is a lot lighter and more delicate than most of those bands’ work–there’s not really the threat of noise rock rave-ups, just of getting deeply lost in the vibes.

Album opener “Rectory” starts with some percussion echoes that give way to dripping, psychedelic jazz pop. “Government Employee” and “The Woods Behind St. Marthas” build off of minimalist bossa nova guitar play that gets shaded by some horns, while “Air Quality” stuffs some orchestral indie pop into its swirling, lo-fi base. This hazy, jazzy indie rock is the dominant style on Vandalized Statue to Be Replaced with Shrine, but Monde UFO don’t settle into a rut, with “Cement and Reasoning” being one of the best-executed and busiest examples of this sound towards the end of the album, and then the whole record closes with a very Monde UFO-style cover of Fugazi’s “I’m So Tired”. “I’m So Tired” originally appeared on a four-song Fugazi covers EP they released last year–while I might not go so far as to call Monde UFO “punk”, I will say that it’s not surprising they found kinship with a band who similarly loved to break and subvert the expectations and “rules” placed onto them by their genre. (Bandcamp link)

Triple Fast Action – Triple Fast Action

Release date: April 21st
Record label: Forge Again
Genre: Alt-rock, post-grunge, power pop
Formats: Vinyl, CD, digital
Pull Track: Small Amount

Triple Fast Action is a recognizable name for indie-alt-rock fans of a certain age, particularly those from the Midwest. The Chicago group lasted for two albums in the late 1990s before disbanding (one of which you can hear easily now because it was released on an indie label, and another that you can’t because it wasn’t), and they slot alongside fellow Windy City groups like one-hit-wonders Local H (which drummer Brian St. Clair would later join) and never-weres Fig Dish. Triple Fast Action had a more power-pop-punk edge to them, updating the sound of nearby Rockford’s Cheap Trick for the post-grunge era. Although Triple Fast Action are not “back”, a massive self-titled compilation from the band offers up plenty of new-to-us material that perhaps illustrates their strengths even better than their proper albums did.  The bulk of Triple Fast Action are demos recorded by the band in their practice space in 1994 before the recording of their debut album, 1996’s Broadcaster–some of these appeared on the final album in some form, others did not. 

The first disc of the 2-CD (or 3LP) collection is entirely from those 1994 sessions or earlier, and it’s the sound of a young rock group throwing it all into their songs. Highlights include opening track “Small Amount”, in which the band show just enough restraint where they need to, the bittersweet heartland punk of “I Am”, the thrashing “Tommy”, the exhaustive “Mattering”, and the show-stopping “Poppin’ Wheelies”. The compilation closes with a few covers that are instructive in hearing what ingredients went into making Triple Fast Action’s songs (Thin Lizzy! Electric Light Orchestra! The Beach Boys!) but only an acoustic, bashed-out cover of Sparklehorse’s “Someday I Will Treat You Good” truly steps out of the original’s shadow to make something memorably transformative. For the most part, it’s the Triple Fast Action originals that have stayed with me, and, thankfully there are plenty of them. Something new sticks out every time–maybe on this listen it’ll be the hazy, almost space rock of “Satellite”, or the frantic “Tag Along”. (Bandcamp link)

Also notable:

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