Photo by Flickr user Vincent Brassinne (Creative commons)
Since January, I have made these monthly summaries of what I really, really liked that month.
Here is my summary of the releases I loved the most in OCTOBER.
The list is in no particular order, but the ones I loved the most are marked with a red ||.
SINGLES I LOVED THIS MONTH
The single track releases I loved this month are too many to mention, but some really stood out. All the singles I loved can be found in the Spotify list.
From the singles in October, I especially liked the new songs from:
Squirrel Flower So good to hear new music from her again! Her album “Early winter songs from America” from 2015 is still one of my favourite albums, and if the rest of the new album holds the same high standards as this new single, it will definitely be one of my albums of the year. It is a powerful song with lots of beauty. The lyrics kicks as much as the guitars.
El Michels Affair This song is up among the best this year, and it brought me a double joy because through it I discovered the band The Shacks (see the EP section), who contributes on the track. An amazing retro pop song with wonderful vocals.
Milk Skin An indiepop supergroup featuring Laura K of Tigercats and Tom of Owl & Mouse, plus help and participation from Paul of Allo Darlin and Johnny of Wave Pictures. Two lovely tunes.
Nord & Syd A super catchy indiepop song in Swedish by Nord & Syd, – summery jump and smile pop in combination with powerful and bitter/sweet lyrics.
French Press An explosive pop song with rough guitars and a super catchy sing-along hook.
Kevin Morby I am a huge fan of the sensitive, poetic songs of Morby, and both the two songs on this single are so good!
Fenne Lily “Bud” is as far as I know her second single, and it is just as stunning as the first one. Can’t wait to hear her album. What a great songwriter!
And there are also great new singles by my old favourites The Mary Onettes and a very good single with Swedish lyrics by Olov Antonsson, who used to release music as Cocoanut Groove. Great to hear new music from him!
You will find even more of my other favourite singles from October in the Spotify list.
ALBUMS I LOVED THIS MONTH
Vanishing Twin – Choose your own adventure || Vanishing Twin is a really interesting band who make otherworldly cosmic psychedelic pop with old synths and drum machines, homemade instruments, harps and unusual instruments. The album combines amazing popsongs and lovely vocals with weird improvised instrumentals, and I think the closest comparison I can come up with musically is Broadcast. This wonderful band is named after founder Cathy Lucas’ vanishing twin, an identical sister absorbed in utero, when they were both still a cluster of cells. Cathy has also played – and plays – in a couple of my favourite bands, Innerspace Orchestra (together with Rose Dougall of the Pipettes and Tom Furse from The Horrors), and she previously played in Fanfarlo. You should definitely listen to this. (Spotify)
The Yearning – Evening Souvenirs || The masters of great melodies are back with a new release on Elefant Records. Like their previous releases, this album is also filled with sweet, nostalgic songs, clearly inspired by the 60s melodic pop music. Beautiful songs and amazing arrangements. (Spotify)
Katie Dey – asdfasdf || This is a weird, wonderful and sometimes stunningly beautiful experimental POP album. The label calls Katie Dey’s style “Nightmare Pop”, but if this is the stuff nightmares are made of, please let me have more nightmares! The Australian artist takes advantage of the studio, and creates layered atmospheres, unusual and at the same time very melodic songs, with vocals that are like an instrument, and lyrics that are not that easy to hear. You have to listen to the album to understand what I mean, I guess. The artists I can vaguely compare her to, are as diverse artists as Stina Nordenstam, Baths, maybe a tiny bit of Cocteau Twins, The Books, the not so noisy parts of Caribou’s “Up in Flames” and a less annoying Coco Rosie… The 7 song album is finished after only 20 minutes, so it is often put on repeat in my house, because I always want more after those 20 minutes are gone.(Spotify)
Ultimate Painting – Dusk || After Veronica Falls took a break (or disbanded, I don’t know), a lot of great music has been released from its members. Drummer Patrick Doyle left the band to start his wonderful solo project Boys Forever, singer/guitarist Roxanne Clifford has also gone solo in the synthpop project Patience and the most productive of them all, guitarist/singer James Hoare started the duo Ultimate Painting with Jack Cooper of Mazes. I am not sure what bassist Marion Herbain does now, but maybe some of you know? Please tell me! The new Ultimate Painting album continues where the two previous left us, and the album is dominated by their calm, beautiful, melancholic autumn songs. Good ones. (Spotify)
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C Duncan – The Midnight Sun || I loved the Scottish artist C Duncan’s debut, so I had huge expectations to this one. I got a bit afraid that my expectations would not be met, when I listened to his latest singles and EP, because I really didn’t find them interesting at all. This album, though, continues with the same brilliance as the debut. As a lover of art and illustration, I also love that he paints all his cover artworks himself. It’s a soothing album with mostly calm songs, rich in sound and elements. His style is difficult to describe, but it has the same otherworldlyness as Cocteau Twins, Stereolab, Broadcast, and you can add a tiny bit of The Beach Boys combined with strings, layered dreamy vocals, electronics and a bit of that sound you may hear on classic musicals from the golden days. Songs to dream yourself away to. (Spotify)
Kate Tempest – Let them eat chaos || The English poet, spoken word artist, playwright, author and unusual rapper Kate Tempest caught my interest on her acclaimed debut album from 2014. Her writing and delivery on her albums are literature in music form, and her stories from the bleakest parts of London is both sad and fascinating. You should LISTEN deeply to this. (Spotify)
Ghost Wave – Radio Norfolk || The New Zealand psych pop duo Ghost Wave’s new album on Flying Nun records has a lot of psych gems on it. You have to like melodic spaced out guitarsolos and hazy vocals, and solos are usually a turn-off for me, but when they do it like Ghost Wave do, I love it. Groovy! (Spotify)
EZTV – High in place || Those of you who, like me, found the new Teenage Fanclub album a bit boring, should listen to this. This band have a lot in common with Teenage Fanclub in sound and songwriting, and both are clearly inspired by 60s and 70s bands like Byrds and Big Star. But they are not boring, like the modern day Teenage Fanclub is. Gorgeous melodies and harmonies, and there are great songs all through the album. Out on Captured Tracks, and I think this is the album I love the most from the label’s releases. (Spotify)
Light Fantastic – Out of view || Sunshiny popsongs with jangly guitars and those wonderful beach pop harmonies. An album that makes me miss summer! (Spotify)
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Chain Wallet – Chain Wallet || Chain Wallet is one of the most interesting bands in the Norwegian indie scene. The Bergen trio’s 10 song debut album follows several brilliant singles, and their kind of light melancholic and dreamy pop may remind of bands from the early days of the Captured Tracks label, like Wild Nothing, Craft Spells, Blouse or Beach Fossils, but they definitely have their own style. This is perfect autumn music, and it is a really, really strong debut from a band that know how to make those great melodies. (Spotify)
Kuroma – The Dark Horse Rides Again || This is a new band for me, but wow, they are great! I THINK this is their second album (their previous was released in 2015), and I really, really like it. Lovely melodies, harmonies and arrangements. Their sound is somewhat psychedelic chamber pop with elements of both shoegaze and Beach Boysy 60s elements. I am reminded of both The High Llamas, Stereolab, Elephant 6 bands and the sound of pop from the late 60s and early 70s when I listen to this. MORE than highly recommended. Definitely one of my favourites this month and maybe even this year. Brilliant! (Spotify)
Svankropp – Svankropp || This is a debut album that is as weird as it is wonderful, and after three lovely singles, I have been waiting for this one. The only comparison I can come up with is a cross between Deerhoof and some of the old 4ad bands, with syncopated guitars and rhythms and a really dreamy and rough sound. The band is a truly Scandinavian band, with members living in Trondheim, Oslo, Gothenburg and Stockholm. It is also a sign of quality that they are on one of my favourite labels, the Trondheim/Oslo based Riot Factory, who has released albums by bands like Dråpe, Snøskred, Panda Panda, Tellef Raabe, Gold Celeste, LoveLoveLove, Farao, Sameblod, Highasakite, Ice Cream Cathedral and more. (Spotify)
Gurr – In my head || There have been several great releases from German bands this year, but Gurr is my favourite of them so far. The duo’s genre is “first wave gurrrlcore”, according to their Facebook- I would say that means something like powerful garagy pop with lots of attitude and incredibly catchy melodies. In September’s edition of this Eardrums-series, I listed their song “Walnuss” as a huge favourite song of mine, and it still is, but now I have lots and lots of other Gurr-favourites too! (Spotify)
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Terry Malts – Lost at the party || The previous albums from Slumberland Records-band Terry Malts have been a bit too punky, lo-fi and noisy for me. “Lost at the party” however hits me right in the heart. On this new one, they seem to have found a more refined sound where their brilliant melodies shine more through, and the mix and the production is sparkling and fresh. Great songs from start to finish. The noise and the DIY attitude is definitely still there, but every element in the songs really shines and come forward, and I especially love that the vocals are more in front this time. What a great and powerful voice the vocalist has! (Spotify)
The Real Numbers – Wordless Wonder || Minneapolis quartet The Real Numbers’ new album is filled with back-to-the-roots indiepop, or maybe power pop is the correct term here. Jangly and supermelodic. When I listen to this, I would say that it reminds me of several Sarah Records-bands, while they mention artists like Elvis Costello, Ben Folds Five, Spoon, The Feeling, Weezer, The Shins and The Beatles as their influences. It is a great album, so you should give it a listen. (Spotify)
Princess Chelsea – Aftertouch || A cover album where Princess Chelsea have made her own, very special versions of artists like Nirvana, Craft Spells, Marianne Faithful (this is my favourite cover, – incredibly beautiful in both versions), Elvis, The Beatles and more. I would have preferred a proper album from Princess Chelsea, because I absolutely loved her debut, but since she does all covers in her own style, this is a good album to listen to while I wait for a new original album from her. She’s a wonderful songwriter and performer. (Spotify)
The Radio Dept. – Running out of love || I wish I could say I have waited in excitement for this, but I have had more fear of getting disappointed than excitement. I am not disappointed, nor excited, but an album where the Radio Dept sound like the Radio Dept and not like something… weird… is better than a lot of releases in the genre anyway. If you still wonder, I like it, it is pretty good, but I don’t love it. Did I confuse you now? (Spotify)
Agnes Obel – Citizen of Glass || The Danish musician Agnes Obel makes music that at the same time are both terribly dark, very beautiful and relaxing. “Citizen of Glass” is her third album. Her music is calm and orchestrated, – maybe best described as a combination of modern neo-classical and traditional, dark folk, with the lovely vocals of Obel as the unique and binding element in the songs. (Spotify)
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Saint Cecilia – Entrance || This is Saint Cecilia’s debut album, but it sounds like an album filled with musical experience and inspirations from both the past and the present. The songs are supermelodic dreampop/ indiepop with jangly guitars, many-layered vocals, wurlitzer/rhodes organs, lots of ba-ba-ba’s and ooo-la-la-la’, and very strong songwriting. Some of the songs are not too far from the sound of Lush or Would-Be-Goods, I think, and there are lots of brilliance here. The energetic and catchy “Radiowaves” makes me want to do some very active jumping and wish summer was still here, and the intensely beautiful and melancholic “Downtown” is one of my favourite songs this month. Saint Cecilia is Los Angeles based Cecilia Enriquez’ project, and she is actually named by her parents after the patron saint of musicians. (Spotify)
Indoor Voices – Nevers || When I listen to this album, I often think that this is an “album album”, where you get so much more out of it if you listen to it all the way through. It is beautifully put together, and everything is just right. There are of course also stand-out tracks and songs with single-potential, – lots of them -, but to get the full experience, the album should be listened to as a whole. The music of this Canadian band is some kind of a softer mix between dream pop and shoegaze. When I say soft, I don’t mean “lack of edges”, but the whole atmosphere of the music is so beautiful and atmospheric, and it doesn’t have the hard wall of sound that I usually think of as shoegaze. It’s dreamy, warm music, that makes me want to listen again and again and again. (Spotify)
Weyes Blood – Front Row Seat to Earth || Classic songwriting based on the early 70s/late 60s folk sound, but done in her very own and powerful way. Incredible voice! She can probably be compared to a less weird and more melodic Julia Holter. The single “Seven Words” is so beautiful, and so is this entire album. (Spotify)
Shana Falana – Here comes the wave || Slightly psychedelic darkish dreampop with shoegazy guitars and lovely vocals and melodies from Shana Falana. I would place this close to my Tamaryn, Pinkshinyultrablast, Asobi Seksu and Slowdive records, I think. I think you will like this. (Spotify)
Bendith – Bendith || This is an incredibly beautiful album! Welsh artists Colorama and the sibling trio Plu have teamed together as Bendith, and the result is a great combination of the two artists’ style and qualities. I have been a big fan of Colorama for a long time, and this also made me discover the beautiful music of Plu. The lyrics on the debut from Bendith are sung in Welsh, and even if I don’t understand a word, the words fill me with emotion. The music of Bendith can probably be described as alternative folk, with gorgeous harmonies and so beautiful vocals. And by the way, Bendith means “blessing” in Welsh, and I will try hard not to add the obvious line here about the connection between the name and how it makes me feel. I guess I did not succeed… (Spotify)
EPs I LOVED THIS MONTH
The Shacks – The Shacks EP || In my definition, this is not an EP, but a 9 song and 29 minute long album, and a really good one. They say it is an EP, so I guess I have to accept that. The duo of Max Shrager and Shannon Wise make beautiful retro sounding pop songs, described by their label as “like The Five Keys met Neil Young and cut a record with Brigitte Bardot — but in English”. Shannon Wise’s beautiful soft whispered voice and their amazing melodies makes this one of the stand out EPs this month. I am deeply in love with these songs right now, and if the songs asked me to marry them, I would without a doubt say yes. (Spotify)
Fake Laugh – Great ideas || A strong new EP from London based Berlin native Kamran Khan, aka Fake Laugh. When he first started recording, he mostly did covers of his favourite bands, The Beach Boys, Everly Brothers and The Beatles, and you can hear their influence in his own songs, – mixed with sparkling guitars and his smooth voice. Genre? I think you can call this indiepop, kind of. (Spotify)
Jenny O. – Work EP || I haven’t heard the previous releases from Jenny O, and when I saw the name, I instantly mistook her as Karen O., the singer from Yeah Yeah Yeah’s. I have disliked both YYY’s and especially Karen O’s solo releases, so I didn’t expect to like this. BUT THIS IS JENNY O, and she is fantastic!
This EP is really good. 5 lovely – mostly acoustic – songs where the melodies are the focus and there are some real gems here. I also love how she has done the harmonies on the EP, which almost sounds like the harmonies on old 50s pop records. Songs like “Cheer up free your mind” and “Be here now” are amazing. A very nice surprise! (Spotify)
Stephen’s Shore – Ocean Blue || Classic indiepop with wonderful songs with a touch of the Sarah Records- and Teenage Fanclub-sound. Chiming guitars, tambourines and really nice melodies. Very good. (The EP was released in August, but I discovered it late) (Spotify)
DISAPPOINTMENTS OF THE MONTH
Now you probably think that I am about to say something really negative about 80s chart toppers Bros, right? Nope, I am not. They are reforming. And Phil Collins is coming back too, which is nice.
I am not so disappointed in that this is actually happening, but more disappointed in people’s reaction to it. So much hate, especially from indie-people (the most narrow minded music fans out there).
I am pretty sure that these two will be the least disappointing reunions/comebacks we will see this year, because they can’t ever be as disappointing as all the hyped up post-good indie band-reunions we have seen the recent years. And Phil Collins actually made some good songs. YES, I AM TOTALLY HONEST AND NOT IRONIC EVEN IF I WRITE IN CAPITAL LETTERS. I really don’t know why I felt like writing that in all capital letters. Maybe I just wanted to know how that felt.
My second disappointment is that, as a Norwegian, I lack the words I need to describe the music properly in English, and end up overusing the same adjectives and adverbs over and over again. But I guess that also has some kind of intensely beautiful beauty and amazingly wonderful charm.
Listen to most of the songs from this list on Spotify: