Pressing Concerns: Heavenly, Pigeon Pit, Daisies, The Ashenden Papers

Welcome to Pressing Concerns! Today’s issue touches on two vinyl reissues from Heavenly and Pigeon Pit and two new albums from Daisies and The Ashenden Papers. Every record here is either from an Olympia, Washington band or has some kind of connection to Olympia, so that’s kind of neat!

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.

Heavenly – Le Jardin de Heavenly (Vinyl Reissue)

Release date: May 12th
Record label: Skep Wax
Genre: Indie pop, twee
Formats: Vinyl
Pull Track: So Little Deserve

The news that Heavenly were reissuing all four of their albums through band members Amelia Fletcher and Robert Pursey’s label, Skep Wax, was certainly received warmly by Rosy Overdrive when it was announced last year. The vinyl re-pressing of their debut album, 1991’s Heavenly Vs. Satan, kicked off the campaign last November, and I was happy to write about that album in Pressing Concerns. This May sees the second album in the chronology come back into print, 1992’s Le Jardin de Heavenly. I’ve always had a fondness for both of the first two Heavenly albums, but they’ve always kind of run together in my mind, so it was nice to listen to and appreciate Le Jardin de Heavenly as a unit in the leadup to the reissue. Heavenly were always more “polished” sounding than a lot of other twee bands–they were, in a way, fully formed by the time their first album came out–but Le Jardin de Heavenly is the first album they did with keyboardist/vocalist Cathy Rogers, who adds another dimension to the Heavenly sound.

The edges to Heavenly’s sound are still present on Le Jardin de Heavenly–these songs are massive pop hits to their cores, but they also all rock. Songs like opener “Starshy” and the stop-start “Tool” have several layers to them, although not enough to obscure Fletcher’s vocal melodies. The simply excellent guitar hook on “Orange Corduroy Dress” similarly sticks out against Heavenly’s more noise-pop leanings, and the band explores an intriguing balance of busyness and simplicity on some of the more melancholic tracks on the record (like “Different Day” and the particularly sublime “So Little Deserve”, originally a non-album single that is a bonus track here). Heavenly also get up to bashing out a genuine fuzz-pop-punk song in “Sort of Mine”, and, oh–this is the album that has “C Is the Heavenly Option” on it. I’ve probably heard that song a million times, and it sounds as good as it ever has to me (I’m not even a big Calvin Johnson fan, but I can’t imagine anyone else doing the other part to the track better).

In addition to “So Little Deserve”, the bonus tracks on Le Jardin de Heavenly also include that single’s B-Side (“I’m Not Scared of You”) and the K Records “She Says” / “Escort Crash on Marston Street” single. “So Little Deserve” is, of course, one of Heavenly’s best songs, but the rest of the bonus tracks also serve as reminders that this band didn’t always put their greatest songs on proper albums (or even as the A-sides to singles, as the sharp “Escort Crash on Marston Street” shows). Like the Heavenly Vs. Satan bonus singles, they do nothing but add to an already great pop album, and certainly earn their place at the table. (Bandcamp link)

Pigeon Pit – Treehouse (Vinyl Reissue)

Release date: May 19th
Record label: Ernest Jenning Record Co.
Genre: Folk punk
Formats: Vinyl, digital
Pull Track: Peach

I became aware of Pigeon Pit at the beginning of last year, when I heard their song “Milk Crates” from Feather River Canyon Blues–an album that ended up catching the attention of Ernest Jenning Record Co. (Beauty Pill, Blunt Bangs, SAVAK), who put it out on vinyl. Although I’m not exactly a ritualistic listener of folk punk at this point in my life, there was something about “Milk Crates” (and the rest of that album) that I found undeniably captivating. Pigeon Pit lives in the folk punk world, clearly, but they fall on the (earlier) Mountain Goats side of a fervent belief in unadorned simplicity and immediacy, and in the power of frontwoman Lomes Oleander’s voice. Ernest Jenning is now putting out Pigeon Pit’s 2017 Treehouse cassette tape out on vinyl, and this reissue stands as proof that Oleander was already penning strong songs at this point in Pigeon Pit’s life. 

Treehouse is a short record–seven songs, eighteen minutes–and it sounds like everything on the album was recorded by Oleander herself, too. She presents these songs completely on their own, and from the giddily-strummed acoustic opening track “Peach” onward, it’s more than enough. “Hot Knives” rides itself out to four minutes, starting off relatively subtly before Oleander makes “I’m just falling apart on the back porch” part of an inarguable acoustic anthem. Although the rest of the record contains some more “classic”-sounding folk punk (the second half of “Tall Cans”, “Take Out”) Oleander has the range to pull off some beautifully delicate Pacific Northwest indie folk-type songs in “Black Metal” and “Plum” as well–both of these songs help make Treehouse feel significantly more substantial than its sub-twenty minute runtime would suggest. Whether or not we’ll hear something this stripped-down from Oleander again (and, wherever she goes from Feather River Canyon Blues, I’m interested in hearing it), Treehouse stands as a sturdy testament to the power of this kind of music. (Bandcamp link)

Daisies – Great Big Open Sky

Release date: May 12th
Record label: K/Perennial
Genre: Indie pop, electronic, psych pop, dream pop, trip hop
Formats: Vinyl, digital
Pull Track: Is It Any Wonder?

Daisies is a quartet from Olympia, Washington that I’ve only recently heard of, but who have been making music pretty consistently–Great Big Open Sky is their fifth full-length album since 2019. The band’s Bandcamp refers to them as “purveyors of the electronic Paisley Underground”, and that’s a solid (if incomplete) starting point for Daisies’ familiar-in-places, unique-as-a-whole sound that they explore throughout Great Big Open Sky. The album harkens back to the 90s, a time when both mainstream and indie music were flirting with incorporating electronic elements into their sound–Great Big Open Sky’s songs feel adventurous in this fashion, even as they’re, at their base, wildly friendly pop-rock tunes.

The vocals throughout Great Big Open Sky are expressive, friendly, but distinct–the Bjork and trip hop comparisons in the press for this record are not far off, especially over top of the inventive, bright, and varied music conjured up by Daisies throughout the album. Great Big Open Sky serves up floating pop songs early on–the hushed, understated opening track “Glistening”, the confidence of “We Don’t Need Money”, and the steady “Down in the Keys”. “Blue Cowboy” introduces industrial flourishes into the mix, and “Goin’ in Circles” rides a top-tier vocal performance into some psych-rock grooves. The acoustic, Mazzy Star-esque dreamy country of closing track “Is It Any Wonder?” doesn’t sound like anything else on Great Big Open Sky–it’s a great single in its own right; here, it’s just another piece of pop to cap the record off. (Bandcamp link)

The Ashenden Papers – Night Walk

Release date: May 5th
Record label: Secret Center/Lost Sound Tapes/Subjangle
Genre: Jangle pop, indie pop
Formats: Vinyl, CD, cassette, digital
Pull Track: Summer’s Coming On

Jason Dezember has been a part of the Sacramento music scene for three decades or so now, playing in bands like Nar, The Ski Instructors, and The Bright Ideas. The now-Concord-based musician has also been leading The Ashenden Papers for a decade and change–that group released their debut album in 2011, and the last couple years have seen a steady stream of singles from the band. Night Walk, released earlier this month, compiles the Ashenden Papers’ eight recent digital singles for a physical release (CDs through Subjangle, vinyl through Secret Center, and cassettes through Lost Sound Tapes), creating a pleasant listen of jangly, thoughtful indie guitar pop from a veteran on the subject.

Plenty of indie pop fans will recognize Tiger Trap/Go Sailor’s Rose Melberg’s voice singing along with Dezember on opening track “Summer’s Coming On” (and later on in “Little Jumpy T” as well)–it’s a nice bonus, but as the rest of Night Walk demonstrates, Dezember can deliver indie pop capably on his own as well. The Ashenden Papers do breezy jangle pop very well on the record’s first two songs, both of which are extremely well-put-together collections of hooks. The five-minute, probing, noisy pop rock of “Your Starlit Eyes” reminds me of Yo La Tengo, while the fuzzy, jaunty “Left on Henderson” pushes The Ashenden Papers towards something louder and cockier. The record ends with “The Margins”, a deft exercise in expanding the band’s sound into something jammy and psychedelic without losing too much pop–it feels like the work of somebody who’s been at it for a while but is still inspired by it all. (Bandcamp link)

Also notable:

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