Back in March of 2010, I posted about the young Indiana band Mid-American and their first release, Fake Homes. Now some two years later, after a successful Kickstarter, Mid-American has come back with the release of their self-titled debut album. Their early sound was impressive for such a young band, but the group has expanded into a bigger and appropriately dense sound for Mid-American. The second track, “Shadow,” is a crazy-catchy bubblegum-pop ode filled with foot-tapping build-ups and an infectious bell line that you won’t forget for days. Mid-American’s uniqueness comes from a variety of new and familiar sounds including a touch of Radiohead’s remoteness (“The King of Nowhere”), big percussive aesthetics (“The Clearing”), their sheer ability to capture a melody (“Shadow”). and a minute-and-a-half instrumental interlude that proves to be one of the best tracks on the album (“Taijasa”). All of this paired with frontman Phil Johnson’s sentimental voice alongside his powerful lyrics of confusion and loss makes for a rousing debut from this Indiana group. Mid-American is out now digitally on their Bandcamp, with preorders for the album on vinyl and CD.
My good friend Mike at Sippy Cup Everything turned me onto the Atlanta rockers Balkans’ self-titled debut a couple weeks ago, and I haven’t stopped listening since. And it’s a huge bummer that these guys are no more from what it looks like. Despite that, any fan of the early 2000s guitar-pop scene should listen to these guys immediately. Stream the entire album below, and go order the record from Double Phantom.
My good friends and personal favorite Trouble Books have recently released their third LP, Concatenating Fields. After their fantastic 2010 second album Gathering Tones, and one of the best records of 2011 in their colab album with Mark McGuire, the husband-wife duo calls their new outing “definitely the best Trouble Books album yet.” The bedroom-pop feel hasn’t changed much, but in “Dead Bee in a Golden Bowl,” they are striving for something that feels more natural than everything else they’ve done. Dulled bass beats, minimal drum machine, pretty synth lines, and of course their almost-signature harmony style, this track finds TB sounding as comfortable as they ever have. One big thing to be stoked about is that they went for high-quality and had Concatenating Fields mastered by James Plotkin and the vinyl cut at Dubplates and Mastering in Berlin. These are the go-to guys in the ambient/drone scene for vinyl, and they’ve done pretty much every Editions Mego release and mostly all of my Emeralds vinyl. Go and order the LP from Bark & Hiss, limited to 300 copies.
Gap Dream is the one-man bedroom psych-pop project of Clevelander Gabe Fulvimar, who formally played guitar in the pop quartet Future Days/Clovers. “58th St. Fingers” is the lead track off Gabe’s self-titled debut album, and it’s a great ultra-groovy jangle-pop song that’ll make you feel way too cool when blasting it with your windows down during the recent wonderful weather. This album’s been a surprise favorite of mine this year, and I highly recommend it. The cassette is available from Burger Records, the digital’s up for purchase on Gap Dream’s Bandcamp, and vinyl will be out sometime this summer.
It seems like Netherfriends, aka Shawn Rosenblatt, is a non-stop pop machine, either from his extensive touring across the US or his constant writing. His newest album, Middle America, is the first album of us 50 States 50 Songs project, where he visits and writes a song about a city in every state. “Bloomington, IN” is the second track on the album which shows off Rosenblatt’s sensitive indie-pop tendencies and tribal undertones, and assures us that “everybody wants to have a good time.” Middle America will be out on Kilo Records digitally, and you can hear the entire album from on Netherfriends’ website.
Here’s the newest music from Texas garage-kids Young Mammals, with the first taste since their fantastic 2010 album Carrots. The great production along with their almost signature jangle-tones make for a great A-side on their first vinyl release, which will be out on Bombs By Mail sometime soon, hopefully on radical colored vinyl like their first release.
Cleveland pop group Clovers, changed to Future Days, not only made big steps in their hometown, but were on the verge of becoming the next big thing in the national indie-pop/garage scene. The band had done tours with rad-rockers Free Energy and Secretly Canadian’s Foreign Born, and rumors were swirling that they were working with big labels. Then the group went down to Nashville to record with the Black Keys’ Pat Carney, recording what would be their official debut album, The Breezer. Weeks after getting back, Future Days threw up a couple tracks from the new album on SoundCloud, played a few local shows, and rumors swirled that the band had been signed to Fat Possum. Sometime near the end of last summer, I found out that the band had disbanded, killing all of the rumors and album releases they had planned. The band sent me The Breezer sometime before they told me about the breakup, and the album quickly became one of my favorites, especially the ultra-jangly second track “Carry Me Away.” It was sad to me that nobody was going to here these fantastic pop songs, so the band allowed me to show their album that never happened. Here are a couple tracks from the unreleased, unmastered album, The Breezer, and a link to download the entire album. Once you give it a couple listens, you’ll realize why it was such a bummer that Future Days didn’t became a bigger thing, cause the talent, songwriting, and spark were definitely there.