Wolfhounds – Hands in the Till: The Complete John Peel Sessions

London’s Wolfhounds are among the most inexplicably overlooked bands of the late 1980s. When they are remembered, it’s often for a fairly uncharacteristic single included on the legendary C86 compilation, a free cassette distributed along with England’s New Musical Express. But rather than the shambling jangle pop permeating the British scene at the time, Wolfhounds… Continue reading Wolfhounds – Hands in the Till: The Complete John Peel Sessions

Tony Molina – “Kill the Lights”

Tony Molina has been putting out solid music for quite some time, but unless you frequent Bay Area house shows you can be forgiven for an inability to recite his catalog. Most of Molina’s output has come via a parade of bands (of which the pleasingly lo-fi Ovens were the most prolific) but once he… Continue reading Tony Molina – “Kill the Lights”

Joanna Gruesome – Peanut Butter

I can’t think of a band that does a better job than Joanna Gruesome at clearly enunciating its mission, then deftly executing on it. Its crash pop formula already firmly in place for 2013’s excellent debut Weird Sister, with Peanut Butter the Welsh quintet aims to up the ante on both their aggressive and their… Continue reading Joanna Gruesome – Peanut Butter

Gold-Bears – Dalliance

Gold-Bears’ choice of a title for their second album telegraphs reams of intent. “Dalliance” doubles as the name of a touchstone single by the Wedding Present, the Britpop band to whom the Gold-Bears are inevitably compared. It also marked the pivot point when the Weddoes shifted to a more abrasive sound, apparently an aspiration for… Continue reading Gold-Bears – Dalliance

Joanna Gruesome – Weird Sister

This was my initial review: “Crash pop done to perfection; get it now, read about it on my best-of-year list.” Then I got wordy…. Weird Sister has all the attributes of a winning Slumberland release – the precarious balance of noise and melody; titles like “Sugarcrush,” “Lemonade Grrl” and “Candy” that announce its twee roots;… Continue reading Joanna Gruesome – Weird Sister

Veronica Falls – Waiting for Something to Happen

I can’t understand why more people don’t hear Veronica Falls the way I do – as an old-school British folk-rock band that just happens to coat its classic vocal harmonies in a layer of C86 guitars. Waiting For Something To Happen has the earmarks of a difficult sophomore outing but somehow twists those usual gotchas… Continue reading Veronica Falls – Waiting for Something to Happen

Frankie Rose – Interstellar

As mid-morning clusters of mawk ‘n’ rawk linger and wring loose any Ronettes influence found on previous records, Frankie Rose without the Outs is smitten by an indescribable brand of stealthy pop songs in quiet arousal. This glimpse at attempts of slightness deforms the rather disarming production, as though Robin Guthrie strangled Disney girls pissed… Continue reading Frankie Rose – Interstellar

Terry Malts – Killing Time

Goths just want to have fun! San Francisco’s Terry Malts do, at least. Frontman Phil Benson belts high-octave croons like an impossibly happy incarnation of Morrissey throughout Killing Time, the trio’s debut LP. The formerly faceless band (really, they weren’t photographed until recently) descends from their comfortable trees to host a seething, nonstop pop party… Continue reading Terry Malts – Killing Time

Veronica Falls – Veronica Falls

I’m worried about Slumberland Records. Until now this tastemaking label has done everything the right way. When the shoegaze/trance-pop sound (think Stereolab, Velocity Girl, Lilys) that spurred the label’s ascent receded from the spotlight, the imprint wisely went into a near-cryogenic freeze rather than halfheartedly chase new fads. Now that its chosen sound has returned… Continue reading Veronica Falls – Veronica Falls

Sea Lions – Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Sea Lions But Were Afraid to Ask

Slumberland Records seems intent on making up for lost time as long as the underground continues to generate top-notch slabs of their brand of crash pop. Their seal of approval remains a reliable signifier. Continuing the resurgent Slumberland parade is the more standard-issue but still appealing Sea Lions, who move the rapid-strum guitars back to… Continue reading Sea Lions – Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Sea Lions But Were Afraid to Ask


Ever Fallen in Love? Gold-Bears Make a Tasty Batch of Ear Candy You know how some musicians stubbornly attempt to deny their obvious influences, as if it makes them appear more unique? Not Jeremy Underwood. “Some of my favorite bands,” he begins, “are the Wedding Present, Boyracer, the Smiths, Summer Cats…” All groups to which… Continue reading Gold-Bears

The Pains of Being Pure at Heart – Belong

The Pains of Being Pure at Heart have suddenly assumed the role of Vampire Weekend’s doppelganger. It’s a weird analogy, but stick with me. Both New York City bands rode a blog-fueled frenzy to quick fame. And both use that platform to reach for the brass ring on album #2, without straying too far from… Continue reading The Pains of Being Pure at Heart – Belong