(photo by flickr user yoppy – creative commons)
In April, we have seen all four seasons here in Norway. One day we enjoy the sight of the first blooming flowers and the next day we curse the falling snow and turn up the heat inside. The good thing is that April was a fine month for good, warming music releases.
Here is my summary of the releases I loved the most in APRIL.
The list is in no particular order, but the ones I loved the most are marked with a red ||.
SINGLES I LOVED THIS MONTH
From the singles this month, I especially liked the new songs from:
Big Thief – “Mythological beauty” This could easily end up as one of my favourite singles this year. It never shouts “HEAR ME; HERE I AM!”, but wanders quietly around with some small jumps inbetween the quiet steps. It’s a beauty. The B-side is also amazing. (Spotify)
Fazerdaze – “Take it slow” Fazerdaze continue to amaze me with wonderful singles. This is a catchy, breezy, summery indie gem. I have high hopes for the album. (Spotify)
Hazel English – “Love is dead” If you want a song to follow Fazerdaze’s “Take it slow” in a playlist, this should be the one. I think it can be described with just the same words as I wrote for the Fazerdaze single. (Spotify)
Swap Babies – “Catalyst” This is the first single I have heard from this Stockholm-based band, but I need more of this. “Catalyst” is a dreamy, hazy song driven by on the beat bassline and drums, fuzzy guitars and shoegazy elements. The single is also a part of their new EP “Furnished man” (the EP is only on bandcamp). (Spotify)
Hannah Peel/John Foxx – “Cars in the garden” This is actually the B-side of Hannah Peel’s single “Hope lasts” (a-side is also good), and it was this one that got my attention. Lovely, calm duet with synth/new wave-legend John Foxx, played mostly on one of Peel’s selfmade music-boxes. The song is originally composed by Paul Buchanan from The Blue Nile. (Spotify)
I usually only mention 5 singles, but I have to give some credit to a couple more this time:
Moondude‘s new single is so good! Infectiously catchy indiepop/dreampop. And the new single from The Hayman Kupa Band is also really, really good. Two very good songwriters and lyricists make very good music together.
You will find even more of my other favourite singles in the Spotify list. They are all good!
ALBUMS I LOVED THIS MONTH
Diet Cig – Swear I’m good at this || Yes, they are pretty good at this. This is the New York powerpop/punkpop/indiepop duo’s debut album, and it is filled with energy, attitude, great melodies and stories. It is easy to feel emotionally connected to these songs. (Spotify)
The Perfect Kiss – Disconnect || This is one of my favourites of my favourite albums this month. It’s out on Elefant Records, where you also find artists like The Yearning and Lia Pamina, both bands/artists The Perfect Kiss’ Joe Moore also works with. In The Yearning he writes super-sweet 60s inspired pop songs. In The Perfect Kiss he makes synthpop inspired by bands like The Human League, Pet Shop Boys, The Magnetic Fields, Au Revoir Simone and Saint Etienne. You can still hear the sweet melodies and the style of his writing in The Yearning, but this time with modern themes and other instruments. He has found the perfect musical companion in singer Holly Vanags, who really lifts the songs with her delicate, cool vocals. (Spotify)
Hovvdy – Taster || If you can imagine Pavement’s rough and jangly sound combined with Red House Painters night time’ish melancholy and add a little bit of Yo La Tengo to the mix, then somewhere around there, you will find the sound of Hovvdy. This is the Austin duo’s debut album, and it is a quiet, sad, lo-fi, beautiful release. (Spotify)
Enderby’s Room – Enderby’s Room || If you have had a rough day, you should put on the debut album from Enderby’s Room. Calm, beautiful, melancholic, nostalgic and very English indie-folk from Dan Mayfield and his friends. Emma Winston from Deerful/Owl & Mouse sings on several songs, and her voice works so good together with Mayfield’s. (Spotify)
The Octopus Project – Memory mirror || The Octopus Project is a truly unique band, combining experimental surreal psychedelic music with elements from both electronica and rock, and adding catchy vocals and melodies on top. I would probably file this somewhere close to Stereolab, Broadcast, Deerhoof, The Books, Panda Bear ++. This is the band’s sixth album, and I like it very much. (Spotify)
The BV’s – Speaking from a distance || Unlike many other bands who mention c86 or Sarah Records as their influence, this band definitely add something new to the indiepop genre. Most importantly, they experiment with sound and melodies, and they add elements from other genres. That lifts the music off the known ground they have as their base. Their guitar playing and vocal melodies are playful, and it is rare that I get the wonderful “how did they come up with that??” feeling when I listen to a “classic indiepop”-inspired album. And they have the most wonderful melodies and songs. A very good album! (Spotify)
Raoul Vignal – The silver veil || Do you like Nick Drake or Gravenhurst? Then this one from French artist Raoul Vignal is for you. Calming voice and a lovely acoustic guitar playing. One of the finest modern folk albums I have heard so far in 2017. (Spotify)
HEALS – SPECTRUM || HEALS is a shoegaze/dreampop band from Bandung, Indonesia, and although they have been around for some years, this is their debut album. And it is a very fine one. Impressive, to be honest. Dreamy, reverbed guitars, pounding drums, a very tight bass and beautiful layered vocals and harmonies. (Spotify)
Thad Kopec – The Shadow and the Caster || This definitively was a lovely surprise. I really liked his single “Half moon/distant shore” and have listened a lot to it lately, and then I accidentally found out that he had released an album as well this month. What an amazing album this is. I could listen to his voice and his songs all day long. His style is unique, but he names artists like Sufjan Stevens, Fleet Foxes, Iron & Wine, The National and Bon Iver as influences, and yes, they operate in the same musical territory. Maybe you should drop the PC speakers for this one, and play it on good headphones or a good stereo? It is a lovely album. (Spotify)
Operator Music Band – Puzzlephonics I & II || Motorik beats, synths, rough new wavish guitars, tongue-in-cheek arty titles/arrangements and a modern take on kraut rock (or in this case maybe kraut pop?) dominates the debut album from Brooklyn’s Operator Music Band. The I & II in the title means that these are half old songs from their 2016 debut EP and half new songs. Lovely mix between male and female vocals. I love listening to this! I am pretty sure you will to. (Spotify)
Spaceface – Sun kids || This was a lovely, lovely surprise! A wonderful psychedelic pop album and it is a pleasure to float around in Space Face’s rich musical universe. Spaceface is led by Jake Ingalls who also plays guitar and synthesizer in The Flaming Lips, and I am glad I didn’t know that before I heard this album. I am not especially fond of Flaming Lips, and would probably not bother listening if I knew. But, yeah, this is amazing. (Spotify)
Julia Lucille – Chthonic || If it was a genre, which it probably is, I would say that Julia Lucille play “dream folk”. Her voice, often in harmonizing layers, deep in reverb, is so beautiful, and her songs are easy to get lost in, – easy to find yourself daydreaming to. The comparison is not very good, because musically they are too far from each other, but I get a Cocteau Twins-ish feeling when I listen to this. Lovely! (Spotify)
Angharad Drake – Ghost || Brisbane-based folk artist Angharad Drake’s voice, lyrics and songs are so beautiful that my eyes get a little wet when I listen. She started making music only 15 years old, now 23, and this is her second album. Warm, delicate and powerful. (Spotify)
Sufjan Stevens – Carrie & Lowell live || Because Sufjan. And because of the songs on “Carrie & Lowell”. And because the “oh, I wish I was at that concert”-feeling. (Spotify)
Blaenavon – That’s your lot || The Hampshire trio has spent quite some time getting ready to release this debut album. They started in 2013 and have released 3 EPs since, and their first attempt at making an album was rejected by the label because they weren’t taking it seriously enough. Now it is finally here, and it sounds really good. Although they sound very modern, well-produced, “clean” and as radio friendly as an indie-band can, they have a little bit of The Smiths in them without sounding nothing like them as a whole. The guitars are jangling away in a Marr-esque way, the soulful vocals has that Morrisseyan style and the lyrics has that gloomy fatalism, storytelling and quoteable phrases that The Smiths’ lyrics have. Great songs. (Spotify)
Orval Carlos Sibelius – Ordre et progres (MMX VII) || THIS! This is good! French artist Orval Carlos Sibelius has been making music for a long time, and has released at least five albums that I know of. His music is both very catchy and accessible, but it also has a lot of playfulness, fun, weirdness and “kosmische”, krauty, psychedelic elements in it. That makes it a very interesting listening experience. I really, really like this. Again, for the n’th time, I have to use the Stereolab-reference here too. And I like Stereolab. 🙂 (Spotify)
The Black Angels – Death song || The Black Angels music is heavier and darker than the music I usually listen to and write about, but there is something here that I like a lot. The album title is interesting, since The Velvet Underground has a song called “The Black Angel’s Death Song”. Their music is psychedelic rock with a fairly dark sound. (Spotify)
Chantal Acda – Bounce back || I loved Dutch artist Chantal Acda’s previous album, “The Sparkle in Our Flaws”, and on her new album she sounds brilliant. She blends acoustic folk with experimental electronics, jazzy drums and at times rough guitars and “indie”-elements. A song can start quiet and fragile and build up into a crescendo of sound. Her warm voice and her heartfelt melodies are unique. I am a fan. (Spotify)
The Big Moon – Love in the 4th dimension || They have released several great singles before this one, like “Sucker” and the lovely “Formidable”, and I was very curious to hear how they sounded on an album. Big sounding, rough, nostalgic, full of contrasts and almost brit-poppy. Before that last part of the description turns you totally off, have a listen. These songs are good. (Spotify)
Splashh – Waiting a lifetime || I don’t get excited about everything on this album, but there are some real gems on it, like the amazing chorus on “See through” or the energetic indie disco track “Closer”, which could have fitted on an album by Sumner/Marr’s Electronic or on The Postal Service album. (Spotify)
EPs I LOVED THIS MONTH
The Fireworks – Dream about you || Another brilliant indiepop EP released in April. These three wonderful, jangly, fuzzy pop songs are of the kind I would love to have playing loud on my car stereo while driving around on a sunny summer day, with the windows open. All of these tracks are catchy indiepop songs that will refuse to leave your ears. Lovely! (Spotify)
Butcher Boy – Bad things happen when it’s quiet || They’re back, finally, and it makes me so happy!
There are lots and lots of great bands and artists I love from Glasgow – Camera Obscura, Teenage Fanclub, The Pastels, Orange Juice, Belle and Sebastian, The Jesus and Mary Chain, Martha Ffion, C Duncan, Kathryn Joseph, Aztec Camera… but Butcher Boy are very close to the top of my list of the best ones. This new 3 track EP is amazing. This is poetry in music. The title track of this new EP is one of the most beautiful songs I have heard this year.
Snails – Starting with mine EP || Best opening track of April goes to Snails! “Starting with mine” is an amazingly beautiful song, and one of the few where the verses are almost more catchy than the chorus. Really, really good! Anna Kissell has such a lovely voice. The other songs on the EP are also a pleasure to listen to, and I really like their rough folky indiepop. (Spotify)
Colin Cameron Allrich – Untold EP || The music on Allrich’ new ambient electronica EP is perfect, – both for active and passive listening, but I highly recommend listening actively to this. When your ears are in “active mode”, you discover so many new details every time you listen to his music. Wide, interesting soundscapes full of detail, with tones and small melodies that make your ears happy, and with enough edge and experiments to make this interesting also for the mind. It is easy to make up your own little movies in your mind while listening to this. The small piano tones on “Untold side two” makes me think of Satie, and it is so pleasing to listen to. (Spotify)
Kindling – No generation || This EP was released in February, but it found its way to my ears just recently. I am glad it found me. 6 powerful, fuzzy noisepop/shoegaze songs with lovely, dreamy melodies and both female and male vocals buried behind the distorted guitars. (Spotify)
Stolen Jars – Glint || I am really not sure how to describe Stolen Jars’ music. They don’t fit perfectly in any genre. If the rhythms and arrangements weren’t so complex and always surprising, I would call this folk, but it doesn’t fit there either. It’s folky pop that you want to jump around on the floor to. It’s music that is fun to listen to. Lovely melodies and lots of power. (Spotify)
Listen to most of the songs from this list on Spotify: https://open.spotify.com/user/eardrumspop/playlist/6CPdr7JoRY0WT09GJGY78S