Week in Pop: Bret Koontz, Rock Abruham, Shmu, Sour Notes

Sjimon Gompers

Talking bars & brews with Rock Abruham; photographed by Enoch the 7th Prophet.

Week in Pop

Caroline Says, oka Caroline Sallee; photographed by Daniel Yates.

The anticipated follow-up to one of our favorite albums 50,000,000 Elvis Fans Can’t Be Wrong from Caroline Says arrives this spring with the news of the upcoming album No Fool Like An Old Fool available March 16 from Western Vinyl. Huntsville, Alabama by way of Austin artist Caroline Sallee’s ode to the place of their youth provides a pensive & somber ballad of reflection met with animated visuals & effects that enhances the ethereal introspection. From visuals of birds in flight to animated creations; the intimate world of Caroline Says is seen, heard & felt in ways where the audience becomes enraptured in a DIY baroque universe of narratives never before known that strike with pangs of the familiar along the planes of relatable levels.

Lily Mastrodimos of Jawbreaker Reunion is Long Neck who just released the album Will This Do? today via Tiny Engines & we present the following listen. Shared exchanges & connections are expressed on the opening single “Mine/Yours”, power pop ballads like “Elizabeth”, reflective & expressive sentiments on “Matriarch”, reflections beyond the life & death paradigm on “Lichen”, to the twinkling floral feels found on “Rosy”. Notes of adoration that stretches back generations arrive full circle on “Love Letters”, to the cigarette ash tray atmospheres of “Ashes”, the immediacy of the ballad “Hive Collapse”, before blasting off to the cosmos of the “Milky Way”, as Lily brings it all back home on “10,000 Year Old Woman” that entertains the affections & bonds of both the temporal & infinite.

Swoll (D.C.’s own Matthew Dowling of Paperhaus, Joy Buttons, Deleted Scenes, The Effects) recently announced the self-titled debut album available March 9 from BLIGHT. Records with a listen to the evocative & emotive single “Slow”. Dowling operates in those privy spaces of echoes where the sparse percussive resonances carry forth the twinkle of keys, chords & Matthew’s own intimate delivery that is carried like the wind from an oracle on a mountain top. Matthew Dowling introduced the new single with the following thoughts:

“Slow” is about embracing soul-crushing defeat; the kind defeat of the flavor of a failed long-term relationship, or a failed life-long endeavor, or even a slow death of a loved one. Like most of the lyrics on the record, the lyrics for “Slow” are a vague amalgamation of multiple experiences I’ve had in my life. The opening lyrics “Eyes change slow / and don’t turn back / after you grow” refer to aging of the eyes. While the modern world provides endless options for cosmetic surgery as a combat to aging, it’s pretty impossible (and probably always will be impossible) to alter aging of the eyes themselves. Eyes age quite slowly, but they age with a steadfast resolve, and I think there’s something physiologically as well as psychologically deep about that. In this context, I’m coupling this biological truth with the experience of taking an incredibly long time to see something for what it is, say for example, a toxic relationship, and that discovery as being shocking to you, even though if you maybe had a healthier perspective, it would have been comically obvious. In plainer terms, one saying to themselves something like “of course, she/he never really loved me” or “duh, he/she stopped wanting to pursue this project since like seven years ago”; once your eyes change, that signifies growth, which is ultimately a good thing, but it’s also deeply painful. I guess irreversibility is kind of a sad, yet triumphant concept. That’s what I wanted the song to feel like, sad/triumphant.

Major Murphy delivered the title track from their upcoming debut album No.1 available March 30 via Winspear that brings about the best things you love about all your power pop heroes. Emulating all your Mersey Beat heroes to 90s revivalists, Major Murphy makes the music that got you into the game of even liking music to begin with. In Jacob Bullard’s own words:

“No. 1” was originally inspired as an attempt to describe a world where Google glass or such technology is profuse. In the end, it turned out to be a kind of ego crisis song. The lyrics demonstrate a desire to find one’s personal identity outside of anyone’s opinion or expectation of oneself, but habitually defaulting to insecurity and dependence on the opinion of others to bring themselves a sense of security and contentment.

Memphis’s Key Glock delivered a listen to the new track “Russian Cream” featured off the upcoming Glock Bond mixtape available February 2. From the Whole Lotta Errthang crew & Young Dolph’s Paper Route Empire; Key tips a hat to a Backwoods favorite & other material delights over a trippy spectral beat by Tay Keith.

Baloji presents the new single “Soleil de Volt” with a late night visual from a Franco styled late night variety programmed. Featured off the upcoming album 137 Avenue Kaniama available March 23 via Bella Union; Baloji brings choreography from Serge Aimé Coulibaly & a style that bridges Congolese pop with a host of international pop energy that will leave you dazzled & inspired.

Mt Si just announced the EP 911 available February 16 from Cascine & enlightened us with a listen to the title track. The supergroup of Michael David from Classixx, Jesse Kivel of Kisses & Superhumanoid’s Sarah Chernoff offer enlightened expressions that virtually hover above earth with ambient arrangements that create feelings of a beautiful ever-after with ever chic utterance & suave beat.

Chicago quartet Kate Renegade brought a listen to their new single of archery action & affections, “Bow & Arrow”, found off the forthcoming album New Unquiet Life. Steph Maieritsch leads the group in an anthem about the intricacies of the heart & the mysteries of amour that extend beyond the studied science, sociology & psychology involved. Consider this an early Valentine’s note in the form of a song for both lonely hearts & happy couples alike.

Norwegian/Australian by way of Berlin duo Lalume present a look at the Lâle Teoman & Charles Taperell video for “Rabbit Hole” that swims through the sentiments felt off the deep of life. Amid a sea of bubbles, Lalume’s electronic resonances create underwater sound waves that rush amid a flurry of dramatic lights, colors & sounds that artfully mixes oil like paints into the azure depths of water. In Lalume’s own words on the single:

“Rabbit Hole” is a track born from an existential crisis. We came to the conclusion that our souls are like drops of rain that fall into a vast ocean of illusion at birth and evaporate back into the clouds from which they came when we die…life could be compared to Alice falling down the rabbit hole into a terrifying place of beauty and wonder only to awaken one day to realize it was all a dream. That is the only explanation that offers us some comfort when we turn on the news and see an orange lunatic ranting and raging…that it is all just a dream.

The Crowleys dropped new wonders & weirdness with their new single “Pink Rainbows” featured off the forthcoming EP Colours Change Their Tone available February 9. Like a séance summons of something beyond the beyond; The Crowleys keep it weird, strange with a sense of limitless wonder where it seems as if anything can happen. In their own words:

“Pink Rainbows” is the first song that we have recorded that we never played as a full band prior to hitting the studio. Cohen wrote the song a while back and recorded a few of the parts, and then the rest of the band kind of wrote and recorded on the fly. It gave a lot of creative freedom and we believe it shows in the final product.

Kayls popped some bottles of sentiments & reflections with the single “Champagne Lover” featured off the upcoming EP debut Modern Savages available February 23. Electronically touched aspects of ambiance resonate with Kayls songs about the best of loves that could have been & the sobering reality that sets in after bubbly bounced dreams.

Courtesy of Stockholm’s Rama Lama Records, check out Cat Princess’s video for “Fly on Your Wall” drawn & animated by bassist Isabelle Friberg. Embracing an aesthetic that both Byrne & the late Bowie would adore to no end, Cat P make sounds & sites for the art pop crowd where privy moments are transformed into a short cartoon film spectacular for the senses (and especially the dance floor).

LA’s Fiona Grey presented the single “Dirty Dream” to the world that works in ways of maximalist pop tropes with narratives of seasonal indiscretions, chance encounters & other such interludes. Grey’s expressions are delivered in an arrangement not unlike Carly Rae Jepsen mixes that muse on the ones that got away, the ones that are here to stay & more coupled with some sweet sax styles.

Richard Luke announced the upcoming debut album Voz available February 23 from 1631 Recordings, sharing the endearing strings of “Beachcombing”. Featuring contributions from Scottish Chamber Orchestra violinist Amira Bedrush-McDonald, Richard & Amira bring about sentimental strung vignettes that speak to those baroque places of the heart & spirit that spark memory & future inspirations alike.

Jay Som’s upcoming Pirouette 7″ is available today from Polyvinyl & we present a listen to the remarkable b-side “O.K., Meet Me Underwater”. Like Melina Duterte’s entire artistic oeuvre, even the b-sides sound like a-sides as “Meet Me Underwater” submerges the listener in the deep ends of those personal places of nostalgic memories of shared moments that reverberate in echoes through the atmospheres & chasmsof the ages.

Gundelach brings some synth senses of winter with the new single “Duck Hunting” featured off the album BALTUS available March 16. Flashes of nostalgia rise up from the sublime aspects of the track’s production that brings about a sense of calm & assured feelings that offer a sense of heat & shelter from the elements & storms outside.

Enter the ambient world of Timsters’s Gaultier Durhin & Jean-Thomas Miquelot visual for “Gone” courtesy of Elephant & Castle that ponders aspects of loss & the introverted effects that occur inward. From a solitaire game of jenga in the basement, Timsters take a moment of pause to illustrate those pensive moments of thought & reflection when we’re all by our lonesome & left to our therapeutic devices.

Taiwanese artist Jing announced the upcoming album Adularescence available February through Steve Bicknell’s label 6 Dimensions imprint February 8, offering a listen to the rumbling electro ambient pluming bass rhythms of “It Used To Be A Dream Of Mine”. The sound of spelunking digital miners can be imagined from the reverberations that will shake you deep down to your core.

Triathalon delivered the viscuous vanities of “Butter” from their upcoming album Online available February 16 from Broken Circles. Syrupy slowed rhythms & blues are executed from lo-fi to hi-fi realms of expressions & urgencies where the feelings hang tightly to all involved instrumental utterances.

Jacksonville, Florida’s Faze Wave delivered the visual for their new single “Suburban Boy” available now via the venerable folks over at Canvasclub. Images of a house show performance bring the band’s big stage sound down to the suburban earth where you can imagine the band putting on a party at your very own abode.

Winnipeg’s Warming shared their new sentimental single “White Lies” off their upcoming self-titled available June 30. Brady Allard reflects upon the lessons of love, loss & everything in between in a song that tackles the human transitions & upheavals that are all indicative of our collective experiences.

Dear Boy brought us the single “Love Interest” produced by Ian Hultquist & mixed by Tony Hoffer that wears affections proudly on it’s sleeve. Desires guide the song’s progressions that ponder the tenets of patience, pride & posterity that are conveyed in an intimate pop tune for the ages.

Computer Magic, aka Danielle “Danz” Johnson announced the new album DANZ available February 23 via the artist’s own imprint Channel 9 Records sharing the enlightening new single “Delirium (Don’t Follow The Sheep)”. Always one to blaze their own path outward into the whole wide world, Danz continues a self-empowerment narrative that encourages all listening to strive to be leaders & not followers amid a barrage of electronic elements of intrigue & interest.

Operator Music Band presented a look at the room spinning James Siewert video for “Moto Komplete” featured off the Coördination EP available now via New Professor Music. Featuring the otherworldly moves from Jordan Morley, expressions in both song, dance & visceral movement are witnessed as some kind of supernatural event of complete communication with a whole other sort of force that extends deep beyond our own comprehension. Operator Music Band’s Jared Hiller remarked the following about the James Siewert video:

What you get is a Lynchian retro sci-fi nightmare carousel turning endlessly upon itself, revealing with clock-like precision the results of a telephone repair exorcism gone awry. It took my breath away when I first saw it in motion. It was shot in my family’s used clothing import/export warehouse. And that the whole video was shot on a motorized circular rig that the director built from scratch, where the camera was suspended perpendicular to the ground and shot through a mirror.

Calgary by way of Toronto artist Kayobe, oka Kevin O’ Brien solo, presents a listen to the EP Hidden that works in ways of washes of pure ambient morning feels. From the meditative “Intro”, the personal expressions of “Steppin”, waking to the darkened dawns of “Sun Don’t Shine” ft. Olive B that brings about that certain energy felt before the sun decides to rise to greet the day. The rituals of a new sunrise can be heard on “Whiteout”, to the bustling & pensive movements of “Let Go” right as Kevin leaves you with “Monks of Trinity // Saturn” that sends you thoughtfully & peacefully outward and into the chasms of the cosmic frontier.

Enter into the expressive ether of “Every Little Thought” featured off of Hurry’s album of the same name available February 23 from Lame-O Records. The spirit of the alternative rock 90s fare & flair is put on full aural display as the Philly band brings what could have been a deep cut from the Gallagher brothers held over from the previous few decades.

Delivering their own style of supersonic motorbike junkshop glam sound, Hammered Satin hammers out all the fist pumping & high heel plodding tunes to start you evening off proper with “Silver Streak”. An homage to the coolest road cruisers & cool cats of the 1970s; the Satin bunch keeps the decade of polyester flairs & power chords (in excess) alive & well.

Sweden’s Humble Moon brought the fantastic electric feels with their fresh new single “Fascination”. Like something echoing from the slippery 70s, Carl Jirlow, Tom Jirlow, Erik Göthfeldt & Patrik Landberg make the kind of racket & ruckus that imagines that the entire international pop world never moved beyond 1976.

With news of their debut headlining gig in Glasgow happening April 3; Scotland duo Love Sick brought us the passion pop of “Hope” available from B3SCI Records​​​​. A hymn of strength & courage, Love Sick shines a light on the inner workings of the unseen emotions that occur both in the sports of amour & personal progressions.

The Garden presented a look at the Will Sipos & Taylor Bonin road-tripping video for “No Destination” featured off the upcoming album Mirror Might Steal Your Charm available March 30 from Epitaph Records. From desert highways to the desolate biways, The Garden bring the listener & viewer to those strange & nearly forgotten places where destination directions are exchanged for the derelict guidance of happenstance.

From the reaches of the PNW, rising artist Aaron B Thompson delivered the single “Into the West” that heads westward toward the edges of the Pacific for inspirations of intuitive intrigue. Thompson illustrates evocative points of inspiration that imagines shared experiences of running toward the coastal sands where the bodies of sea & land meet like hands held in the shared care of congress.

Field Music present a listen to the rocking new jam “Share a Pillow” featured off their album Open Here available February 2 via Memphis Industries. Adhering to art rock practices that go back to the modernist era (and even further back); Field Music deliver a soundtrack for mutual experiences & expressions for lovers & others alike to enjoy in unison.

Keeping the glam party rocking deep into 2018, don’t miss Gyasi’s “All Messed Up” blends the NYC sound of the early 70s with the NYC sound of the early oughts. An aesthetic existing at the polar ends of the aforementioned time spectrum, these are the styles that informed the previous punk generations with a stripped down & snotty sound about being the most fabulous & fashionable individual of your choosing. In Gyasi’s own words:

“All Messed Up” was musically a return to the very first song I ever wrote when I was six years old. Same two chords. The lyrics were about some of characters I had met while on the road with another band… At one of the cities on the tour, I think it was Atlanta, we spent the night with this group of rock n rollers that had this beautiful rebellion about them. I found it very inspiring. There was a sexual freedom and gender fluidity about them that felt truly empowering to me. These were outsiders and free thinkers who were incredibly powerful in their individuality. We had several wild nights staying up and challenging each other’s boundaries, talking about philosophy, poetry, life.

Her Space Holiday offered a listen to the single “Sixteen Syllables” from the just released Gravity EP. Working with Damian Taylor, Marc Bianchi continues an earnest & intimate & poignant pop tradition that has been continuing onward now for over the past 22 years.

From Chillhop Records & Big Beat releases, NYC’s Birocratic brings the new ballroom ready banger “Extra Fresh” to keep your party on their toes & heels. Seen playing recently with MNDSGN & Starro, Biro builds beats that adhere to those throwback vintage dance accents & slaps as much as they sound & feel ultra-fresh to the ears, body & mind.

Liverpool’s Motherhood dropped the new single “Hey You” featured off their upcoming debut EP available later this year. Bright crooning Valentine’s notes are expressed in songs that revel in the feelings of the moment, that are are most likely fleeting.

Pageants’ Ryan Ford & Rebecca Coleman gifted us with a viewing of the Vern Moen video for their new single “Musing of the Tide”. With their trademark eternal sound, the duo presents a narrative of wild nights on the town involving brawls with bar creeps & motorcycle rides into the welcoming sanctuary of city lights that shine forth with the promise of endless night.

Chemtrails offered a listen to their latest pop wonder with “Ghosts of My Dead Cats” featured off their upcoming debut album Calf of the Sacred Cow available February 9 from PNKSLM Recordings. Frequencies & fidelities dovetail inward & outward in a variety of vibes that bring a sense of nostalgia for the beloved feline pets that are no longer with us in the physical sense.

Andy K Leland, oka Andrea Marcellini of My Cruel Goro shared a listen & look at the visual from the artist Massimo Scoponi (aka Scoposki) for “Mr Panic” featured off the upcoming debut EP Happy Daze from Mattonella Records. The psych touched mixed-media visuals move from home arts & crafts, to shopping excursions to coastal paths that lead to the edges of oceanic infinity. This is the perfect acoustic strummer to assuage the pangs of anxiety that ail you.

Out now from Equal Vision Records, indulge in the visceral world of the Copper Wasp EP from LA’s Night Verses. The electrified energy breaks loose on the opening title track, bringing more intense riffs that could provide the score for your favorite action hero flick with “Vice Wave”, right before the trio brings it all to a chaotic close on “Vantablonde”.

From the recent album Channel(s), Infinite Third shares the hushed ambient electronic tones of “Vision(s)” that relays perception through channel streams of sound. Expressive percussion is conveyed across a sequence of synths & moods that illustrate narratives that present feeling conveyed through a kinetic & psychic aural language.

Stockholm by way of Berlin’s LINES threw down with the radical new track “Lockdown”. An illustrious array of electronic arrangements encase the vocals that shine with a prestige & presentation that provides the perfect track to enjoy during a snowed-in day or time spent in your room with the door securely locked.

Durand Jones & The Indications are re-issuing their self-titled album debut March 16 through Dead Oceans & shared a viewing of the Horatio Baltz video for “Smile” that will instill a sense happiness & grace deep into your heart. Jones & company create that timeless sense of excitement with an infinite kind of energy that bridges the r&b of today with yesterday & the day before’s schools of rhythms & blues leaders & more.

Johanna Warren presented the sparse & beautiful new single “Hopelessness Has Done Nothing For Me” off the upcoming album Gemini II available February 16 via Johanna’s own Spirit House Records imprint. A song to chase away the perils of hopeless feelings & thought; Warren offers a song to assuage the broken at heart & spirit with something that is both uplifting & evocative in a manner that transcends strife & struggle for something greater.

Touring now with Hippocampus, Sure Sure shared their larger than life pop with the single “Giants”. A message to not let the little things in life drag you down, Sure Sure moves out of the excesses of over-complications in the great search for something more real & visceral in the world.

Humble & Blisse just signed to Majestic Casual Records, delivering a listen to the super-snazzy single “Only One”. Bathed in electric-auto-tune, reiterations of you’re the only one for me bring a neon soaked passion that sounds as if Valentine’s Day arrived a few weeks early.

Brooklyn’s Joe Wood brought the big bright pop with “Had Enough” about those breaking point moments that bring people apart from one another. With a catchy synth loop that burrows deep into your consciousness, Wood cuts the losses, shrugs off the confusion while making a move for more enlightened avenues. Joe Wood introduced the song with the following insights:

Dating can be this never ending game of back and forth, and eventually you reach a boiling point and need to let your frustrations out and move on. “Had Enough” is a breakup anthem for someone frustrated and confused and who just needs to scream.

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