The Rosy Overdrive July 2022 playlist is here! A host of new music (but previously-touched on and thus far untouched on the blog), some selections from my 1980 exploration, and a couple random tunes, as always.
Lee Bains III + The Glory Fires, Friendship, New You, Fox Japan, Gordon M. Phillips, and Perennial all have multiple songs on the playlist this time around.
“Listerine”, New You
From Candy (2022, Lonely Ghost)
New You open up their most substantial release yet (and their first as a full band, after beginning as guitarist/vocalist Blake Turner’s solo project) with a monster of a loud pop song in “Listerine”. Turner’s melodic vocals steady the exuberant instrumental, and when he matches it in the chorus (with “They’re playing our song on the radio,” aided by some excellent backing vocals), it’s just the right amount of familiarity. Read more about Candy here.
“Dark Dependency”, BOAT
From No Plans to Stick the Landing (2022, Magic Marker)
Seattle’s BOAT has been churning out music somewhat regularly since the mid-2000s (with a notable gap in the late 2010s), and there’s something of an aughts-era, Barsuk-ish earnestness that permeates No Plans to Stick the Landing, even as the band’s easy-to-grasp power pop sound keeps things timeless. “Dark Dependency” is a hell of a single, an unstoppable anthem that nevertheless maintains a level of urgency and pause—I believe this is what music writers like to call “vital”.
“When Life Hands You Problems”, Cheekface
From Too Much to Ask (2022)
“When Life Hands You Problems” is a classic Cheekface number to open up Too Much to Ask (the band described it as their “Welcome to the Working Week” in a recent Twitter thread), but it also speeds things up in a heretofore unseen way for the trio. Despite its zippiness, it’s hard to miss Greg Katz’s typically brilliant lyrics (my favorite one here would have to be the title line, the second half of which is: “Make problem-ade”). Read more about Too Much to Ask here.
“Perennial in a Haunted House”, Perennial
From In the Midnight Hour (2022)
It’s a never-ending, frantic party throughout In the Midnight Hour, an ambitious, genre-gobbling punk record that is, most importantly, extremely fun to listen to. Single “Perennial in a Haunted House” features all the great hallmarks of the record: traded-off lead vocals, bonkers yet memorable lyrics, and a roaring instrumental that is just always going off. Read more about In the Midnight Hour here.
“Chomp Chomp”, Friendship
From Love the Stranger (2022, Merge)
“Chomp Chomp” was the fourth and final single from Love the Stranger, and I had a real “how do they do it” moment when I first heard it. Apparently this song is built off of a composition from drummer (and Dear Life labelhead) Michael Cormier, which then underwent several edits and changes—and yet it sounds effortless and perfect. Every instrumental flourish and line delivered by Dan Wriggins is in just the right place—setting up the “I gave you lousy advice” guard-drop final verse excellently.
“Not in My Head”, Fox Japan
From The Right to Be Forgotten (2017)
If all you knew about Fox Japan was their 2000s post-punk-revival indebted earlier music, the relatively straightforward jangle/power pop of The Right to Be Forgotten might be somewhat surprising (similar to half the band’s surprising turn to synthpop on their recent Oblivz side project). But songs like opening track “Not in My Head” have a fizzy energy to them that puts them…if not in the same neighborhood as the band that did “Glenn Beck”, at least the same galaxy.
“Tarmac”, Gordon M. Phillips
From Seasonal (2022)
“Tarmac” kicks off Seasonal, the first full-length record under the full name of Downhaul’s Gordon M. Phillips, and a bit of new territory for the singer-songwriter. Phillips frantically strums an acoustic guitar as “Tarmac” strains against its humble origins to turn out something of an anthem, and the titular strip of the song joins the train stop of “Brushstrokes” (from the collaborative You Are with Me EP) and the docks of “Dried” (from Downhaul’s PROOF) as transportation-based fertile songwriting locations for Phillips. Read more about Seasonal here.
“With Abandon”, Megamall
From Escape from Lizard City (2022, Fanta)
The brisk-tempoed pop rock of Escape from Lizard City, the debut EP from Vancouver’s Megamall, opens with the unimpeachable “With Abandon”. It’s toe-tapping the whole way through, features some smartly-placed melodic lead guitar, and its greatest weapon is Alie Lynch’s vocals, which sprint around in a way that reminds me of Spud Cannon’s Meg Matthews.
From Bigger Sprout (2022, Born Yesterday)
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: one of the best genre combinations a band can have is “jangle pop/post-punk”. I’m no stranger to New Orleans’ Lawn (2020’s Johnny was one of my favorite records of that year), but their most recent record Bigger Sprout is probably their most evenly-distributed among those two poles. “Down”, in which the band effortlessly conjure their inner Martin Phillipps and The Chills, falls firmly into the “jangle pop” camp.
“Beat, Perpetual”, Martha
From Beat, Perpetual (2022, Dirtnap)
2016’s Blisters in the Pit of My Heart was one of my favorite records of the decade and, realistically, all-time. Nothing Martha has done since has quite captured that same feeling for me, but “Beat, Perpetual” is a promising one-off (for now) single that comes close. As the title kind of hints at, the song rolls on appropriately quickly, but there’s plenty going on as its three minutes zip by.
“Superglued to You”, Hallelujah the Hills
(2022, Discrete Pageantry)
Few things can make me happier than a band staying the course and creating great music while paying no heed to the shifting ground beneath them. Musically, we’re a long way since 2007, but “Superglued to You” is as good as anything from Hallelujah the Hills’ Collective Psychosis Begone. Ryan H. Walsh is in something of a storytelling mode in the verses, but the two-line chorus (“What are we gonna do? / Turns out I’m superglued to you”) doesn’t keep any space between himself and the listener.
“Problem with It”, Plains
From I Walked with You a Ways (2022, Anti-)
I don’t know who Jess Williamson is and (for the moment) I don’t really care, but any new Katie Crutchfield project is welcome. “Problem with It” announces Crutchfield and Williamson’s debut record as the duo Plains, and it’s a mid-tempo indie country-rocker that has way too much Katie Crutchfield personality to fade into anonymity like a lot of modern entries into the genre. My only “problem with it” is that it’s gonna make it harder to find information on the New Hampshire Built to Spill-core band of the same name.
“(In Remembrance of the) 40-Hour Week”, Lee Bains III + The Glory Fires
From Old-Time Folks (2022, Don Giovanni)
The second single from Lee Bains III + The Glory Fires’ Old-Time Folks is a bit more of a classic, straightforward Lee Bains southern rock anthem, even if it also embraces the acoustic guitars and clearer vocals that the band declared were their ambitions when the record was announced. The crushing weight of endless work is an evergreen topic for Bains, although this time he and the Glory Fires are quite spirited in their examination, not letting themselves be flattened or deflated.
“Reggae Fi Peach”, Linton Kwesi Johnson
From Bass Culture (1980, Island)
I was very curious to finally get to Bass Culture as I worked through my list of records from 1980. I suspected that the record of dub poetry would be interesting and powerful, but songs like ”Reggae Fi Peach” have replay value aside from Linton Kwesi Johnson’s words. Johnson’s lyrics are pretty transparently about the murder of anti-Nazi activist Blair Peach at the hands of London police, a statement aided greatly by his dynamic delivery and backing music.
“110 Blues”, David Nance
From Pulverized and Slightly Peaced (2022, Petty Bunco)
Pulverized and Slightly Peaced is an alternate version of the David Nance Group’s 2018 record Peaced and Slightly Pulverized—this one was recorded by Nance alone before he decided to go with “fleshed out” full-band takes instead. The Pulverized and Slightly Peaced version of “110 Blues” actually sounds more accessible to my ears—it’s twice as long, sure, but it’s a sincere, straightforward Nance garage-rocker through and through.
From Love the Stranger (2022, Merge)
The list of what Friendship and Dan Wriggins can do is already fairly long, but we can now add “Making the lines ‘Ramekin / With the grape jelly remnants’ sound profound” to it. In terms of memorability, “Ramekin” is up there with any of Love the Stranger’s four singles (both in the song’s composition and classic Wriggins lines like “Apathy joins me in the booth”), but it has something of a dark undertone that perhaps was best served by holding back for the record.
“I Fall into Her Arms”, Mo Troper
From Mo Troper V (2022, Lame-O)
Of course, I loved it at the time, but I think in hindsight we will all look at Mo Troper’s Dilettante as an especially important work in his career trajectory. That album busted down a bunch of doors for Troper to walk through, a few of which get probed further on Mo Troper V (aka MTV). Lead single “I Fall into Her Arms” is undeniably one of the catchiest Troper pieces yet, even as it goes in a direction he hadn’t really traversed yet. I’ll have more to say on MTV next month.
“Note on the Table”, The Cat’s Miaow
From Songs ’94-‘98 (2022, World of Echo)
Songs ’94-’98 collects compilation appearances and one-off singles during the titular period of activity from Melbourne, Australia’s The Cat’s Miaow, and the end result is a group of light, airy twee indie pop that drifts along breezily. “Note on the Table” is distinguished by something of a snappy chorus that zigs away from the still-pleasing-yet-more-subtly verses.
“Dear Miss Lonely Hearts”, Phil Lynott
From Solo in Soho (1980, Warner/Vertigo/Mercury)
Solo in Soho is a weird album, as one might expect from a Phil Lynott solo record put together as the 1970s were ending. There are the requisite synth flirtation moments, an oddly intriguing rap about U.K. punk bands, and plenty of “yeah, this sounds like Thin Lizzy”. Opening track “Dear Miss Lonely Hearts” is a successful mix, a classic, mid-tempo Lizzy-evoking tune that has some synths running unobtrusively underneath its surface.
“Gimme Some Truth”, Militarie Gun
Who knew that Militarie Gun covering a John Lennon song would be some kind of sweet spot for me? Lead singer Ian Shelton’s love of power pop is well-known (to me, at least), and taking on “Gimme Some Truth” allows Shelton and the band to bend one of the godfathers of the genre to their post-hardcore will, rather than injecting a bit of pop into their originals. It works really well.
“The Fall”, Gordon M. Phillips
From Seasonal (2022)
Like “Tarmac”, “The Fall” is clearly a big Gordon M. Phillips song that can’t be hidden by an acoustic, four-tracked setting. Unlike “Tarmac”, though, “The Fall” takes its time along its way, allowing Phillips’ simple but effective lyrics space to reverberate. Oh, and there’s one hell of a melodica solo toward the track’s end. Read more about Seasonal here.
“Tooth Plus Claw”, Perennial
From In the Midnight Hour (2022)
It’s pointless to try to pick the best song on In the Midnight Hour (it’s like choosing a favorite feral child) but if you have to go with just one, “Tooth Plus Claw” would be far from the worst option. It feels more barebones than “Perennial in a Haunted House”, getting a lot of mileage out of a demented surf rock riff, even though there’s still a lot going on in these 90 seconds. Read more about In the Midnight Hour here.
“Support Your Local Nihilist”, Frances Chang
From Support Your Local Nihilist (2022, Destiny Is a Dog)
The title track of Support Your Local Nihilist is, perhaps appropriately, something of the record in a nutshell. It starts as a guitar piece, jumping head-first into emotional, exciting alt-rock, but then deconstructs itself in its second half into a synth-based soundscape. Read more about Support Your Local Nihilist here.
“Aparecida”, Tomato Flower
From Construction (2022, Ramp Local)
Although they only have two EPs to their name thus far, Baltimore’s Tomato Flower have already cultivated something of a signature sound, and “Aparecida” may be the best example of it yet. It is space-y, lounge-y psych pop at its finest, with a soaring chorus that feels directly lifted from your personal favorite Elephant Six record. Read more about Construction here.
“Mark on You”, the Mountain Goats
From Bleed Out (2022, Merge)
Between “Training Montage” and “Mark on You”, Bleed Out is my most anticipated Mountain Goats record in quite some time (I found the single that came out between the two, “Wage Wars Get Rich Die Handsome”, somewhat lacking in depth, but even that one is sonically exciting enough on its own). “Mark on You” is both the most traditionally-Goats sounding song of the three (the tempo is in typical John Darnielle range, and his vocals are right there) and still quite out there (it’s a bass-driven song that sounds shockingly like 90s alt-rock).
“I Know It for a Fact”, Fox Japan
From The Right to Be Forgotten (2017)
It would’ve been very funny if The Right to Be Forgotten had ended up being the final Fox Japan album—although then we wouldn’t have gotten 2020’s excellent What We’re Not in that case. Like “Not in My Head”, “I Know It for a Fact” is on the peppy/upbeat end of the power pop spectrum—if there’s any of the genre’s trademark wistfulness in it, it’s in Charlie Wilmoth’s vocal delivery, although he musters up the authority to deliver the title line with the gusto it deserves.
“Last of You”, Try the Pie
From A Widening Burst of Forever (2022, Get Better)
A Widening Burst of Forever is the first record from San Francisco’s Try the Pie since 2015, and it’s highly recommended for those of us who like our indie rock loud and distorted but also clearly song-first. Single “Last of You” is a roaring album highlight, with 90s-indie-rock-guitar heroics rising and falling throughout the track but never enough to take away from Bean Tupou’s vocals.
From Heaven’s Gate (2022)
“Globbed” is part of Heaven’s Gate’s opening one-two salvo—it’s an incredibly hooky loud-pop tune that’s all dirty power pop in its verses and featuring a chorus that’s a dead ringer for a Bleach-era Nirvana highlight. Read more about Heaven’s Gate here.
“World As Bad Idea”, JUMBO
From World As Bad Idea (2022)
I don’t know too much about Bristol’s JUMBO. I know they share members with the band SLONK, about which I also know little. I also know that the title track to their recent World As Bad Idea EP knocked me off my feet when I heard it. The seven-minute, frequently horn-laden “World As Bad Idea” has a drive to it that reminds me of another band on this playlist, Hallelujah the Hills. Sincere, accessible pop rock that doesn’t dumb itself down in any way—you’ll like it.
“Lizard People”, Lee Bains III + The Glory Fires
From Old-Time Folks (2022, Don Giovanni)
“(In Remembrance of the) 40-Hour Week” is Lee Bains’ successful attempt at nailing the “okay, got it” protest music he wanted to explore on Old-Time Folks; something like “Lizard People” is going to be a bit thornier than that. It’s incredibly catchy, sure, it’s got that in common, but “Lizard People” also requires one to come along with Bains on a workday, navigating conspiracy-addled broken thoughts from co-workers. Bains lays everything out clearly with his analysis in the third verse, but the outro (“Everybody’s good, everybody’s evil / But why does it pay to play like lizard people?”) is a question rather than a slogan.
“(I’m) Screwed”, Titus Andronicus
From The Will to Live (2022, Merge)
A rousing, anthemic punk rock single that’s named “(I’m) Screwed”? Yes, Titus Andronicus are back. The single that announced The Will to Live (albeit not the first song released from the record; that’d be the then-one off “We’re Coming Back” from earlier this year) is vintage Titus, somehow feeling economically excessive, with Patrick Stickles putting his all into lines that just hang there (“Is it still a murder if it occurs gradually?”).
“Double Edged Knife”, Slant 6
From Soda Pop * Rip Off (1994, Dischord)
I’ve never had a Slant 6 song on one of these playlists, and I put Soda Pop * Rip Off on the “great under-appreciated 90s rock records” shortlist, so here we are. Really, I could’ve chosen just about anything from this album, but “Double Edged Knife” is such a brief but complete summation of the whole Slant 6 deal, evoking the full-throated Pacific Northwest “fans also like” bands but one foot firmly in the rumbling Dischord/D.C. camp of their hometown.
“This Is Love”, Nina Nastasia
From Riderless Horse (2022, Temporary Residence Ltd.)
Riderless Horse sounds like a Nina Nastasia record in that it’s marked only by Nastasia’s voice and acoustic guitar, only this time the backdrop serves to deliver a collection of brutal songs whose circumstances are a bit too much to get into here. The bleak “This Is Love” is perhaps the most ear-catching example of the juxtaposition on Riderless Horse, with Nastasia declaring “I guess I’ll just stay in hell with you if this is love” multiple times in the track. Read more about Riderless Horse here.
From Alam No Hris (2012, Sipsman/Sren)
The cult band Krill are reissuing their debut record Alam No Hris for its tenth anniversary, and they’ve chosen “Solitaire” as an advance single. If you’re familiar with just their master work Lucky Leaves and its stretched-out follow-up A Distant Fist Unclenching, “Solitaire” sounds fairly similar to what you’d expect in the best way possible—a rougher, ramshackle version of the sound Krill would go on to half-heartedly attempt to tame over their time as a band.
“Everybody Hertz”, Kal Marks
From My Name Is Hell (2022, Exploding in Sound)
My Name Is Hell is Kal Marks’ first record as a four-piece, and it features an all-new line-up aside from founding guitarist/vocalist Carl Shane. While the new members haven’t taken the band in a wildly different direction, the group’s fifth record sounds like a relatively cleaned-up version of the Boston band’s noise rock. Single “Everyboy Hertz” may be the best example of it on the record—it’s positively friendly-sounding (if still somewhat aggressive) and hews surprisingly towards sincerity in its message. Read more about My Name Is Hell here.
“The Tears of a Clown”, The Beat
From I Just Can’t Stop It (1980, Sire/Go-Feet)
So, here’s a ska song for you. The Beat (The English Beat, if you must) and their debut record were one of my most “it holds up” forays into 1980, and I’ll just stick with one of the most immediately infectious songs from I Just Can’t Stop It and offer up their version of “The Tears of a Clown” here. It was their debut single, and they’d make music that’s probably more impressive overall from there, but they already had something with their adaptation of the decade-old-at-the-time Smokey Robinson hit.
“Big Surprise”, New You
From Candy (2022, Lonely Ghost)
Coming right after “Listerine”, Candy loses no momentum going into track two. The loud, 90s-indebted power pop of “Big Surprise” is not exactly a surprise (big or otherwise) to those already familiar with New You, but that doesn’t take away from just how well-executed the song is. Blake Turner shines over the blaring instrumental, and that chorus is vintage power pop if I’ve ever heard it. Read more about Candy here.
“Walk Like Me”, Blondie
From Autoamerican (1980, Capitol)
I am not a Blondie superfan (not at this stage in my life at least); my understanding is that Autoamerican is “the weird Blondie album” (or, at least, one of the weird Blondie albums). It sounds like a band with several creative personalities trying to pull it in several different directions—and the end result is a very listenable record, if disjointed. “Walk Like Me”, however, is one of the most “classic” Blondie songs on the record, prowling through the verses so that Debbie Harry can, of course, give her all in the chorus.
“Thing”, Thin White Rope
From Moonhead (1987, Frontier)
Thin White Rope is one of the bands that have an unimpeachable opening trio of records, and there’s no wrong answer as to which of them is best. The dark, paranoid Moonhead is the black sheep of the three in a good way, and although the sparse acoustic “Thing” doesn’t really sound like the rest of the record, it fits well, with Guy Kyser’s distinct vocals taking on a particularly haunted timbre in the quiet context.
“Sirens of Titan”, Tim Heidecker feat. Kurt Vile
From High School (2022, Spacebomb)
I do think Tim Heidecker is funny, but “Sirens of Titan” is the first time I’ve heard one of his songs and have felt like I would’ve cared about it regardless of its author. Part of that probably has to do with the singular Kurt Vile, an always welcome presence, but the whole song is just an immaculately-done slick indie pop rock tune.