New Playlist: April 2023

Well, well, well. If it isn’t the Rosy Overdrive April 2023 Playlist. And would you look at that, it features a ton of great songs from this year, a handful of tracks from 2022 that I am just now discovering, and a couple of songs from 1981 (more on what I’m doing back in 1981 in a future blog post).

Buddie, Mt. Worry, and Bell and the Ringers all get multiple songs on the playlist this time.

Here is where you can listen to the playlist on various streaming services: Spotify, Tidal (missing a song), and BNDCMPR (missing a couple songs). 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.

“Gazer”, Negative Glow
From VOLUME 1 (2023, Let’s Pretend/RTR Tapes)

Bloomington, Indiana’s Negative Glow have an excellent debut record on their hands with the five-song VOLUME 1 cassette EP. It takes me back a bit to the mid-2010s era of punk-y indie rock revivalists, but with a tougher alt-rock (and even shoegaze-sounding at some point) edge. “Gazer” is a hell of a first song, a big distorted fuzzfest with crystal-clear vocals and legitimate guitar heroics. Read more about VOLUME 1 here.

“Rocket”, Mt. Worry
From A Mountain of Fucking Worry (2023)

Mt. Worry is a Philadelphia four-piece band featuring some recognizable names to Rosy Overdrive readers–I’m familiar with Noah Roth and John Galm as songwriters (the former with their solo work, the latter as Bad Heaven Ltd.), and Nick Holdorf plays drums with No Thank You. I don’t recognize the singer of “Rocket” (perhaps it’s the only member I didn’t previously know, Rowan Horton), but whoever it is, they helm an excellent noise-fuzz-pop song that only gets better the more I listen to it. The first few seconds of the track, in which an acoustic guitar gives way to a thundering full-band arrangement, is just indie rock perfection.

“Never to Be Seen Again”, Bell and the Ringers
From Bell and the Ringers (2023)

Bell and the Ringers is the work of Melbourne’s Lucas Bell and Toronto’s Brent Vipond, a duo who make a certain brand of earnest but energetic indie-pop-punk that triangulates Death Cab for Cutie, The Thermals, and Relient K. Bell and the Ringers really sell their songs–opening track “Never to Be Seen Again” is massively infectious with its power pop keyboard hook, Blue Album guitars in the chorus, and Vipond’s self-call-and-response vocals. Read more about Bell and the Ringers here.

“Backwards, Behind”, Buddie
From Agitator (2023, Crafted Sounds)

“Backwards, Behind” was the song from Agitator that immediately hit me, and it’s not hard to hear why. On this track, Buddie keep it relatively simple, with the punchiness of the chorus really landing its sentiment (“When you’re backwards, a little behind / You couldn’t be wrong”). Musically, it reminds me in a weird and good way of “The Middle” by Jimmy Eat World, but there’s some troubling stuff going on beneath the positive surface of “Backwards, Behind” (“Isn’t it ironic we’d evolve to behave like this / Now we’ll be our own end”). Read more about Agitator here.

“Death of an Empire”, Washer
From Improved Means to Deteriorated Ends (2023, Exploding in Sound)

I’ve said a lot about Improved Means to Deteriorated Ends on this website already, so let me just summarize: Washer’s third album was worth the wait. “Death of an Empire” sticks out in particular, a jaunty but deeply-felt song. In it, Mike Quigley cheerfully suggests that “maybe we should be lighting things on fire,” and points out the irony that “all the wrong people love themselves” (in the context that, in this dying empire, the ones holding onto and believing they’re deserving of the waning power are the ones making the rest of us miserable). Read more about Improved Means to Deteriorated Ends here.

“Fired, Walk with Me”, The Collect Pond
From Underwater Features (2023, Candlepin)

The latest record from Boston’s The Collect Pond, Underwater Features, splits the different between dark-post punk and catchy 90s indie rock jams, all presented with a lo-fi basement rock sheen. Single “Fired, Walk with Me” is in the latter camp–Danny Moffat and his new band bash out pure, giddy pop rock for two sharp minutes on the track. That opening guitar lead ends up doing the most in terms of hooks, but Moffat’s understated but melodic vocals do their job quite well too. Read more about Underwater Features here.

“Love Beyond the Grave”, Crocodiles
From Upside Down in Heaven (2023, Lolipop)

It seems like Crocodiles were one of those bands that showed up towards the end of the 2000s as part of that surf rock/lo-fi indie rock/reverb-y garage rock revival thing, but I’d never checked them out. “Love Beyond the Grave” caught my attention, though, and I can report that their latest album, Upside Down in Heaven, is a pretty fun pop rock record. The opening track is my favorite one, zipping through a slick garage-pop-punk instrumental with understated but still hooky vocals.

“New Age Love Song”, Living Dream
From Living Dream (2023, Long Gone Sound System)

I don’t know too much about Living Dream–they’re a four-piece group from Indianapolis whose debut self-titled record is an intriguing album that presents a bunch of lo-fi, hazy, but frequently accessible indie rock and also features a surprising amount of flute. “New Age Love Song” is the biggest highlight–it starts out at full force, with a chiming, lo-fi psych guitar part that twists into something weirder and almost proggy towards its end–but it never stops being catchy and fascinating.

“You Turned Off the Light”, Sharp Pins
From Turtle Rock (2023, Hallogallo)

Sharp Pins is the solo project of Chicago’s Kai Slater, who also plays in good bands like Dwaal Troupe and Lifeguard. Sharp Pins’ latest album, Turtle Rock, hews closer to Dwaal Troupe’s lo-fi, poppy indie rock than Lifeguard’s post-hardcore sound, especially on “You Turned Off the Light”, a hell of a song. Slater puts together a bouncy, fluffy-sounding track that still has a bit of meat on it–every lo-fi pop song will get Guided by Voices comparisons, but Slater really does evoke Robert Pollard’s songwriting here. 

“Won’t Be Coming Back”, Black Thumb
From The Flying Propeller Group (2023, Dandy Boy)

Black Thumb’s The Flying Propeller Group is an intriguing, adventurous indie rock album that probes spacey, psychedelic, and dreamy territory. Even with that, however, the album doesn’t quite prepare you for “Won’t Be Coming Back”, a massive sounding, frenetic, noise-pop-rock song that comes out of nowhere midway through the record. San Francisco’s Colin Wilde (who, fun fact, used to live in Appleton, Wisconsin and played with the underrated country-rock group Dusk) throws everything he’s got into this song–a gas-floored rhythm section, frantic piano playing, organs, and, of course, loud guitars.

“For You to Sing”, Mo Troper
From MTVI (2023, Lame-O)

“For You to Sing” is the first song from Mo Troper’s MTVI (the follow-up to last year’s excellent MTV)–there’s no release date or official announcement for the album yet, but the lead single is more than enough to get everyone excited about where Troper is headed. Apparently Troper labored over this song extensively, spending months and recording tracks upon tracks for it–the end result is something that feels “cleaner” than the majority of his recent output, but still retaining a lot of the Dilettante/MTV-era’s home-recorded, commercially-agnostic charm. 

“Twin Flame”, Amanda X
From Keepsake (2023, Self Aware)

The five-song Keepsake EP is Amanda X’s first record in a half-decade, but it contains everything you’d want the Philadelphia 90s indie rock revivalists to offer up: a few single-ready alt-rock bangers, a couple less immediate, mid-tempo tunes, and “Twin Flame”, the big-finish closing track. The song starts off unassumingly, but the trio work their way up to an eternal-sounding, massive pop rock chorus. “Wild horses run the path to pasture / If I told you that I loved you, would it even matter?”, now there’s a lyric. Read more about Keepsake here.

“Beneath the Screen”, Street Fruit
From Beneath the Screen (2022, Waste Management)

Street Fruit are a new Los Angeles-based punk group (although half of the band played together in the nineties band Dura-Delinquent, so they’re hardly neophytes) who released their debut album, Beneath the Screen, last November via Waste Management Music. The title track is my favorite song off the record–an excellent slice of casual, West Coast indie-punk-rock that’s got a bit of slacker DNA in it. “There’s no room for expertise here,” offers vocalist Hans Dobbratz toward the end of the song–Street Fruit are quite good at what they do, regardless.

“Buried Alive (Too Tired)”, Brian Mietz
From Wow! (2023, Sludge People)

The song is called “Buried Alive (Too Tired)”, and it sounds like it. Brian Mietz is an excellent penner of downcast power pop tunes, and “Buried Alive (Too Tired)” is three minutes of pure, weary pop rock. Mietz packs a lot of fun and interesting songs in his latest album, Wow!, but he keeps it pretty simple here–the chorus is colored by some synths and its catchiness almost gains power from being underplayed (in a way that reminds me of my favorite Mietz song, “Hollyweed”). Read more about Wow! here.

“Big Papi Lassos the Moon”, Ther
From A Horrid Whisper Echoes in a Palace of Endless Joy (2023, Dead Definition)

Ther open up their second album, A Horrid Whisper Echoes in a Palace of Endless Joy, with a brief introduction track and follow it immediately with the arresting “Big Papi Lassos the Moon”, a soaring folk tune that builds, speeds up, and crescendos in an unexpected but very welcome way. Heather Jones puts on an excellent vocal performance, rising and falling to meet the musical waves accompanying them. Read more about A Horrid Whisper Echoes in a Palace of Endless Joy here.

“Hot Seat”, Empire
From Expensive Sound (1981, Dinosaur Discs/Munster)

Empire were a solid recent discovery of mine. Apparently they were related to Generation X somehow, although Expensive Sound, their only album, doesn’t sound that much like them. This entire record is great and accessible, but in a skewed way–it jumps around from dark post-punk to straight power pop. The second song on the record, “Hot Seat”, has a big pop chorus, although it grooves on some darker material in between different hits of it. 

“Belts and Braces”, Smaller Hearts
From Rock and Roll Was Here to Stay (2023, Noyes)

Smaller Hearts are a synthpop duo from Nova Scotia, and their latest record, Rock and Roll Was Here to Stay, follows 2021’s solid Attention. Kristina Parlee and Ron Bates offer up something of a surprise on “Belts and Braces”, one of the advance singles from Rock and Roll Was Here to Stay–it’s still a synth-heavy tune, but the band let it take more of a guitar rock shape. It’s all too brief (80 seconds), but that’s enough time to get the job done here.

“The Storm”, Interbellum
From Our House Is Very Beautiful at Night (2023)

Our House Is Very Beautiful at Night is a deftly-crafted indie folk-rock record from Beirut’s Karl Mattar. Mattar effectively and frequently uses the Microphones-esque tool of mixing shiny pop songs with noisy, fuzzy material on the record, and one of the best examples of it is when the interlude track “The Storm (Detail)” parts to reveal the sunshine of “The Storm”, the brightest pop song on the record. Of course, this song works on its own (which is why it’s on the playlist), but it gains even more in context. Read more about Our House Is Very Beautiful at Night here.

“Virtue”, Tucker Riggleman & the Cheap Dates
(2023, WarHen)

The debut full-length from Tucker Riggleman & the Cheap Dates, 2021’s Alive and Dying Fast, was one of my favorite albums of that year, so I’m happy to hear that Riggleman is back with the first taste of the group’s upcoming follow-up record. “Virtue” continues the strengths of Alive and Dying Fast, with The Cheap Dates offering up a spirited but relatively measured country rock backbone, and Riggleman offering up a lyric that’s honest and fairly unsparing on a personal level. “I’m just practicing my sorrow / Like it’s another virtue that I’ve earned,” he remarks in the chorus (and if that’s a bit too abstract for you, he also offers up “I’m just working on my downfall / Like it’s another tractor in my barn”).

“Coming to Your Town”, Chime School
From Coming to Your Town (2023, Slumberland/Meritorio/FastCut)

Chime School’s self-titled debut album was one of my favorite records of 2021, so it’s a pleasure to welcome Andy Pastalaniec’s San Francisco-based project back with a new single. The A-side, “Coming to Your Town”, is another jangle pop classic, with Pastalaniec’s peppy and hook-stuffed songwriting out in full force here. “Coming to Your Town” is darker than most of the Chime School album, though–at least lyrically, where Pastalaniec grapples with the darker forces at work in the Bay Area. The chorus, in which Pastalaniec rhymes “monetize” with “terrorize”, makes it clear just who the source of all this is.

“How Much More”, The Go-Go’s
From Beauty and the Beat (1981, Capitol)

I like The Bangles and Blondie and stuff like that, so I’m not sure why I’d never really been keen to check out The Go-Go’s until now. Well, that’s past me’s loss and present me’s gain, because Beauty and the Beat is a really solid 80s big pop rock album. “How Much More” is hardly the only “hit” on the album, but I’ll go with this one, with the chiming guitar play and the every-note-is-catchy vocals.

“Give Me Therapy”, Bell and the Ringers
From Bell and the Ringers (2023)

The bouncy “Give Me Therapy” keeps the runaway train, catchy pop energy of the first half of Bell and the Ringers going. Singer Brent Vipond does some interesting sing-song vocal work while the guitars both take the form of choppy power chords and melodic leads. The (admittedly at times hard to hear) big-picture-sketching that Vipond is doing with the lyrics here feels particularly Ben Gibbard-esque (perhaps a bit more profane, but that’s hardly a bad thing). Read more about Bell and the Ringers here.

“Small Talk”, Sumos
From Surfacing (2023, Meritorio/Safe Suburban Home)

Hey! Here’s a new jangle pop band for you to get into. They’re called Sumos, they’re from Manchester, and their first full-length album, Surfacing, comes out in May on a couple of labels that are stalwarts of the genre (Meritorio and Safe Suburban Home). Single “Small Talk” is note-perfect indie pop, jangling and gliding its way through three minutes of easy-to-take-in hooks. Looking forward to hearing more from them.

“Aviatrix”, The 3 Clubmen
From The 3 Clubmen (2023, Burning Shed/Lighterthief)

This is an unexpected but very welcome treat. Andy Partridge of XTC (perhaps unsurprisingly, a foundational band for me) has not been completely quiet as of late, but he’s busied himself with smaller-scale projects that have flown under the radar in recent years. Perhaps his new band, The 3 Clubmen, will end up in the same way, but judging from their debut single, this could be Partridge’s most promising new music in quite some time. “Aviatrix” is a beautiful pastoral piece of folky-pop that evokes his old band’s Mummer era, and the other members of the band (Jen Olive and Stu Rowe) feel very much in tune with Partridge’s writing style.

“Your Head’s a Cathedral”, Glow in the Dark Flowers
From Glow in the Dark Flowers (2023, Born Yesterday)

Glow in the Dark Flowers is the duo of Jessee Rose Crane and Philip Lesicko, who gained notoriety over the past decade for their work in Chicago group The Funs. The self-titled Glow in the Dark Flowers album is some very good sleepy, fuzzy late-night indie rock, with elements of slowcore, post-rock, fuzz rock, and dream pop, but without slotting neatly into any of those. The two-minute-or-so “Your Head’s a Cathedral” is one of the more immediate songs on the album, hitting with a big, fuzzy, lifting chorus.

“You’re the One”, Odd Duck
From You’re the One (2023, Cruisin’)

I think that this playlist might have the highest concentration of Indiana bands that I’ve ever put together for this website. Anyway, Odd Duck are a DIY indie pop punk band from Bloomington, and their debut EP You’re the One (out on Cruisin’ Records, co-run by Nana Grizol’s Theo Hilton) is a really fun and hooky collection of songs. The title track is my favorite, I think–it pulls off sounding wistful, giddy, noisy, and incredibly catchy all at once.

“Dejected”, Provide
From For Me (2023, Lame-O)

Provide’s debut record, For Me, is a snappy and brief record of punk-y power pop that nails a particular niche of this kind of music very well. Evan Bernard has been playing in Philly-area bands for quite a while now (including being in No Thank You along with Nick Holdorf of the also-appearing-on-this-playlist Mt. Worry); he’s more than capable of making hits on his own, clearly, as well. “Dejected” is my favorite song on the album–it hits the ground running, and also offers up some big synth hooks despite being still relatively ramshackle-sounding.

“Walk Away from You”, The Age of Colored Lizards
From Hang On (2023, Sotron)

Oslo’s Christian Dam has been consistently putting out music as The Age of Colored Lizards for a while now–last year saw an EP and LP released under the name, and another Age of Colored Lizards full-length, Hang On, came out last month. Dam (with his band, bassist Anders Bøe and drummer Cato Holmen) makes beautiful guitar pop that reminds me in places of a more rough-around-the-edges Teenage Fanclub. “Walk Away from You” is on the sparse end, carried almost entirely by a jangly electric guitar and Dam’s melancholy voice.

“Hate to Run”, Shoes
From Tongue Twister (1981, Elektra)

Tongue Twister is a good album, and makes me want to go back to those other Shoes albums that never quite resonated with me when I gave them a shot a while back. “Hate to Run” closes the record out on a simple but very effective pop rock note, with the Zion, Illinois power pop band probing some classic power pop lyrical themes (confusion in love, you know) over a brief, two-minute instrumental which features some nice power chords and vocal harmonies.

“The Way You Set Me Straight”, Amos Pitsch
From Acid Rain (2022, Crutch of Memory)

Last year, I wrote a bit about Better Out Than In, a solo album from Julia Blair of Wisconsin country band Dusk. Somehow, though, I missed that another member of Dusk also released a solo album last year–vocalist/bassist Amos Pitsch. His Acid Rain is a casual but full collection of music that will be very much up the alley of anyone into Dusk–my favorite track is the brief roots rock of “The Way You Set Me Straight”, featuring a very memorable vocal delivery from Pitsch.

“A Part of It”, Piner
From A Netherworld (2023)

Piner is the country rock project of Claya Way Brackenbury, who originated in Kingston, Ontario and currently lives in Nova Scotia. As her latest album, A Netherworld shows, she’s adept at writing plenty of songs under the widely-defined “folk/Americana” umbrella, such as the excellent “A Part of It”. It’s a soaring, keyboard-aided anthem in which Brackenbury sings with a lot of emotion and energy, really making the track come alive.

“City at Eleven”, The Hold Steady
From The Price of Progress (2023, Positive Jams/Thirty Tigers)

The Price of Progress hasn’t hit for me in the same way that the last couple of Hold Steady albums have, as a whole. Musically, it reminds me more and more of Craig Finn’s recent solo material, which is fine, but not exactly what I want from them. “City at Eleven”, however–this song reminds me of Finn’s underrated and all-but-disavowed debut solo album, Clear Heart Full Eyes, and I’ll happily take more of that. It’s more than the Hawaii setting (which calls to mind Finn’s “Honolulu Blues”), it’s the surprising roots rock swagger, too.

“Neil & Joni”, K. Campbell
From Heart Shaped / K. Campbell Split (2023, Poison Moon)

I just wrote about a K. Campbell single in the February playlist, but the Houston-based power pop artist is already back with another one, and it’s very good, too. “Neil & Joni” is part of a split single with Heart Shaped (who I’ve also written before on this blog, and whose contribution to the single is also quite good), but I want to highlight “Neil & Joni”, an ace example of Campbell’s penchant for big-sounding choruses. Campbell duets in the refrain with Mandy Kim Clinton, which is a nice touch in the context of the song’s title.

“Knucklen’”, Country Westerns
From Forgive the City (2023, Fat Possum)

Country Westerns’ self-titled 2020 record was one of my favorites from that year, and it’s nice to hear that they’ve still got it on Forgive the City, their sophomore album. It feels like it picks up the thread the Nashville band left off on with their last album–it might be a little more southern rock-influenced, but as a whole it’s still an excellent collection of weary roots rock/country punk. Opening track “Knucklen’” is some excellent and gruff stuff, with Joseph Plunket’s vocals breaking a bit in a Two Cow Garage way in the chorus.

“Seven Year Curse”, Shasta Esprit Gilmore
From l’esprit de l’escalier (2023, Kiwi Bear)

Shasta Esprit Gilmore has been making music in bands around San Diego and Los Angeles for several years now, but l’esprit de l’escalier, recorded by Gilmore herself on 4-track while studying Russian Studies at UC Irvine, is her debut solo album. l’esprit de l’escalier is an intriguing record of lo-fi pop of several stripes–my favorite track on it, “Seven Year Curse”, is a downcast and melancholic but incredibly catchy piece of pop rock in which Gilmore declares “I’ve got a problem with you / Yeah, I mean you,” and lays out some very specific-seeming but universal-feeling lyrics from there.

“Salt the Sea”, Lowercase Roses
From Ordinary Terror (2022, Slush Unlimited)

Ordinary Terror, the latest record from Philadelphia’s Lowercase Roses, is a delicate album of fuzzy, dreamy indie folk music with a bit of electronic elements as well. “Salt the Sea” is something of an outlier, but I can’t shake this one. Over a steady pounding drumbeat, Matt Scheuermann lays down a mid-tempo noisy pop/fuzz rock song with some chanting vocals. It’s transfixing even before Scheuermann pushes his vocals and adds some harmonies in the bridge.

“キュー”, Yellow Magic Orchestra
From BGM (1981, Alfa)

“キュー” (“Cue”) is the obvious big pop song/”hit” from BGM, the first Yellow Magic Orchestra album I’d ever listened to in full. The whole record is an interesting foray into some genres I don’t know too well (early electronic rock/synthpop), but “Cue” is pretty immediate and I don’t think you have to be into this kind of music to be taken with it. The lyrics are in English and beg for the titular sign to end a personal rut, but it’s the soaring synths that really stick out on this song.

“Centerpiece”, Mt. Worry
From A Mountain of Fucking Worry (2023)

I’m going to do a second Mt. Worry song because it’s as good as “Rocket” and I hate having to choose between the two. Noah Roth is definitely singing lead on this one, and the song as a whole evokes their last solo album, Breakfast of Champions, in its balance of accessible pop rock and weird studio-creation touches (albeit in a more shoegaze-y/fuzz rock way, reflectant of Mt. Worry’s style). I keep coming back to the noise clearing up just in time for Roth to deliver “I’ve never been my first choice, either” (same, Noah, same).

“I Want to Live There with You”, Your Mom’s Car
From I Want to Live There with You (2022)

Your Mom’s Car is the San Diego-based project of Seb Oliva, and their latest album, December’s I Want to Live There with You, follows in the grand tradition of massive, noisy, personal, lo-fi bedroom indie rock records that spans 90s basement recorded-bands, 2000s wide-eyed fuzz-folk, and 2010s Bandcamp-core. Some of the record is fairly abrasive and experimental, but the title track is pure, accessible, earnest fuzz rock, Oliva’s emotional lyrics and vocal delivery matching the roaring music.

“I See You There”, The Sprouts
From Eat Your Greens (2023, Tenth Court)

The Sprouts are the latest Australian guitar pop band to come across my radar, and the Melbourne-based four-piece fall on the loose, casual end of the spectrum, a la Perth’s Spice World. Their debut album, Eat Your Greens, is a thoroughly enjoyable effort, and it’s the quiet, subtle “I See You There” that’s my favorite one off of it. It’s based almost entirely on a gently-played electric guitar and a pair of vocalists (one of which is guest Vivienne Remedios).

“Restive Summer”, Buddie
From Agitator (2023, Crafted Sounds)

Buddie’s latest record, Agitator, closes with a gigantic song in “Restive Summer”. It starts as a solo electric guitar number whose first section culminates with singer Dan 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?” Buddie know that there’s work to be done, but they are cognizant of the tolls of it. Read more about Agitator here.

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