Alex Bloom’s “Cigarette” is an absolutely insidious earworm that had it existed in 1995 would have played in a non-stop loop on MTV. It sounds like the wayward child of Alice in Chains ‘Heaven Beside You” and Local H’s “Bound For The Floor” and both verse and chorus are criminally infectious. It’s all kinds of wonderful. Don’t say we didn’t warn you.
“Much Like My Father” is gloriously, unapologetically over the top. Basically between Caroline Brooks aka BELLSAINT’s scenery chewing voice and the pointed lyrics, this thing is a total emotional trigger. It will remind you of what your therapist told you a while back that not only never occurred to you but that you didn’t want to acknowledge or admit. It possesses more pathos then 1000 Celine Dion songs put together and sounds like a lost track from one of the classic collaborative albums by This Mortal Coil. Epic and regal sadness.
Taylor Swift has a song called “Haunted” as does Beyonce. Neither of them is as good as this. Seriously. Neither of them mention being gaslighted for one thing, and both are ridiculously overwrought and self-conscious. Within this “Haunted”, Magpie Blue’s assertively handsome vocal, which lies somewhere between Siouxsie and Polly Harvey, is a locomotive i.e. it never stops. Elongated notes stretch like an elastic band through the entirety of the song and provide the foundation for an off kilter, twangingly upbeat guitar line and one truly fine hook. And hey check out her single from a couple months back, “Just In Time” below, an anxious piece of post punk with yet another stellar vocal. The way she spits out “you fucking coward”is everything.
If you’re looking for some spacey, idyllic pop bliss, JayWood is here for you. “Moon Cats” is as hypnotic as a slowly spinning disco ball and as earthly beautiful as riding a bike up an endless tree-lined street where sunlight pokes through the leaves. The plush guitar pattern anchoring this song is entrancing, and the whole thing positively shimmers. Okay, I know that all sounded a little flowery and overly romantic…but it’s true, “Moon Cats” is a total (day)dream.
This song is truly schizophrenic. Just when you have it pegged as quirky math-rock it turns into a ’70s pop song replete with cheesy Moog stylings, then as it cruises past the 4 minute mark, you start thinking it was prog all along. It’s a confused teenager in song form and achieves the impossible feat of being both epic and fun.
There’s something about songs where the protagonist is named Jackie. From legendary soft rock classic “Jackie Blue” to my personal favorite “Heartbeat City” by The Cars, Jackie is perpetually lost in time, forever elusive, and always hard to understand. She ultimately leaves everyone in the dust and her story is always best told within the confines of a lush, lost girl pop song. And in The Hails “Sugar”, her confounding legacy continues in the most neon lit and beautiful of ways. It brings to mind the slick, criminally tuneful, shiny chromed pop that was emanating from the UK in the ’80s from the likes of Spandau Ballet, Johnny Hates Jazz and Breathe, all stuff that frankly still sounds gorgeous today. Yes, “Sugar” is kinda beautiful. Go Jackie.
The guitar line that opens “My Wish” may remind you of something if you watched any MTV in the ’90s, specifically Nada Surf’s “Popular” and Weezer’s “Undone“. But that’s where the similarity ends, for this is no snarky alt-rock anthem of bitterness, oh no, it is a dreamy and somber acknowledgement of ennui, numbness, and ambivalence: It absolutely emanates sadness. It will feature on Orchin’s forthcoming LP on Terrible Records, is heart on the sleeve vulnerable and just exceptionally pretty.
“Happiness” is ridiculously beautiful, featuring a hushed and classically motorik beat and, this is slightly odd, is kind of reminiscent of beloved British late 90’s straight up rock band Doves in one of their quieter moments. The hook happens almost immediately, roughly 30 seconds in, and is completely, disarmingly exquisite. Beauty.
Things change. Or rather sometimes people change. Get blinded by lights or other unpredictable sources. Once upon a time things were cool with you and now they’re not. The inclination is always to blame yourself because you know, it’s obviously your f-ing fault. Say hello to Talkie who have a signature song for that very feeling. In “Boring Now”, they sound at various points like either a slacker version of the early Beach Boys or an anesthetized all male Ronettes. This thing manages to be both tongue in cheek and heart on sleeve and perfectly nails that losing feeling.
While “Two Hearts” is a modern day sticky pop song, endlessly bouncing and criminally tuneful, it is also sweetly anchored to some pretty superior indie pop of yore, specifically the criminally underrated 90’s Britpop band Echobelly. Heather Riley’s vocal is both yearning and assertive, way out in front of everything else, wrapped in glorious swirling pop guitar and strikingly reminiscent of Sonya Aurora Madan’s from the aforementioned Echobelly. You’ll wanna squeeze this one close to your heart.