Sound Advice- 16. November. 2023
The flood of great 2023 releases continues. Today we're taking a look at the latest from Palm Ghosts, Royal Ottawa, Big Cry Country and more!
Longtime readers may recall that I reviewed 100 new (to me) records last year. Because
I’m a glutton for punishment love music, I’m doing it again this year. This is the latest in the series.
Today we’re taking a look at several records, including the latest from Palm Ghosts, Big Cry Country, Royal Ottawa, Teenage Tom Petties, and more!
Every year, I celebrate all the great music we’ve been gifted while worrying that next year will see the other shoe drop. I did that last December and have been proven wrong every month since. Not only are there a ton of releases steadily coming out, but there’s also been a ton of great stuff, no matter your tastes. It’s almost overwhelming— but in all the best ways. Below are a few of the releases that have caught my attention recently.
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Palm Ghosts- I Love You, Burn In Hell
Nashville, Tennessee seems like an odd place for a post-punk, synth wave band, but it’s where Palm Ghosts call home. The band’s sound seamlessly fuses moody lyrics with dynamic beats that command you to hit the dance floor.
Their latest, I Love You, Burn In Hell, keeps that going. Frontman Joe Lekkas has again managed to write songs about the world's discontent, strife, and betrayal in 2023, all set to beats to make you move. Tracks like “Automatic For The Modern Age” are all gas and no brakes, while ‘She Came Playfully’ will remind you of Echo & The Bunnymen.
A good post-punk band can be hard to find; too often, it’s either great vocals and a lousy beat or vice versa. Finding Palm Ghosts has been a revelation. It turns out we should’ve been looking in Music City all along.
Royal Ottawa- Carcosa
Wally Salem is a friend of On Repeat. His emails also represent an existential threat to my wallet.
He might be the most voracious buyer of music I’ve ever met, and our tastes align closely. When he sends a rec my way, it’s pretty much a lock that I’m going to love it.
He recently turned me on to Royal Ottawa, a band that has been putting out music off and on for 40+ years now. Starting as Bugs Harvey Oswald, the band disappeared in the 80s after playing a ton of shows and releasing one single. They returned as Royal Ottawa, releasing a CD in the 90s that Wally describes as “not easy to locate” before disappearing back into the ether for almost 20 years.
My brother and I probably saw Bugs Harvey Oswald around a dozen times in the '80s, making them one of the bands that we saw more than any other band (excluding Jonathan Richman, who we probably saw a few more times) and for good reason as they were a great live band. They appeared on the Ottawa scene as if from nowhere, but fully formed and sounding exceptionally brilliant blending punk and post-punk energy with the sophistication of bands like Roxy Music and Bowie, so it's easy to see why we were hooked.... They seemed to be everywhere and played opening sets for many bands that visited Ottawa, like Mission Of Burma and even The Fall, and their music was being played on all the cool radio stations like CKCU and CBC when they released a 7" single "Bye Bye" (1982). Then it all ended and that album that we eagerly wished for never materialized…Now skip to 2023, and I'm listening to DJ Tic on CKCU, and there is an interview with the band Royal Ottawa, and my ears perk up when I hear there is a brand new double album called Carcosa in the works and I didn't have to wait another 20 years for a new release.
In 2015, they released The World We Knew. This time on vinyl and, again, extremely tough to find. In a bit of kismet, he happened to tune into a radio station just as they were interviewing the band, who were announcing their return and upcoming record.
That record would turn out to be Carcosa, a 19-track double LP. With that much real estate, the band has a lot of room to roam, and they take full advantage of it; there are some slower tracks, but where they really shine is on rockers like Three Seven Zero, a track seemingly born for a road trip.
Trying to describe their sound can be tough. They sound like so many, yet sound so unique. I would include Soul Asylum, Graham Parker, The Pursuit of Happiness, and the Dream Syndicate here.
Much to my wallet’s relief, the record is set as “name your price” on Bandcamp, but whatever it was marked at would be a steal.
Big Cry Country- Living Conditions EP
Big Cry Country describes its style as “energetic rock for the kind of people who think a cathartic cry can be improved by dancing.” Their latest EP was inspired by frontwoman Roxanne Bublitz’s move from Washington DC to New York City and all of the turmoil that comes with a move like that.
Opening track ‘Pest Control’ was on last week’s Playlist (#218) with good reason. Its infectious energy meant lots of repeat play for me. ‘Call It In’ starts slow before a nice run-up. ‘Friends With Dogs’ is a lively end to a spirited EP.
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Teenage Tom Petties- Hotbox Daydreams
Portland, Maine’s Repeating Cloud and British Label Safe Suburban Homes are both known for putting out great releases, so it stands to reason that a band with the heads of both labels in it would create more of the same.
Following up on last year’s self-titled debut, Hotbox Daydreams was recorded in Providence, Rhode Island, and is almost twice as long despite only having one more track. The band themselves have continued to build on that, the result being a more consistent record, and to my ear, one with more of a pop feel to it. With a title like “Hotbox Daydreams,” a slacker vibe was almost a given, and it’s there in the jangle of tracks like ‘Find Me,’ but on tracks like ‘Stoner’ their ambitious sound really shines through.
Also out recently:
Bakers Duz’n-Vol. 1 (full record to be released on Dec. 1st.)- From the funk capital of (checks notes) Halifax, Nova Scotia, comes Bakers Duz’n and 13 tracks of funky rhythm, slinky grooves, and beats fatter than they have any right to be. The record does well to acknowledge the OG influences on the band without ever being derivative. And like any good party record, the keys & horns show up early and often. It takes a lot of heat to stay warm in the Maritime Provinces. Vol 1 brings it. Best played loud.
Blue Stoplights-Bouquet- The Chicago band is back with their 3rd record and first in 4 years. Blue Stoplights is ostensibly an alt-country band, but other elements in the mix push back against easy categorization. Bouquet is a fantastic exercise in languid rhythms and tracks that take their time to stretch out.
Sadkin-Carrera- Continuing our theme of odd city/band mixes, the synthpop band Sadkin comes to us from Duluth, Minnesota. Carrera is their sophomore release. Whereas their debut, Elan Vital, was more introspective, this release focuses on the external. The record is multilayered, revealing new bits of itself with each successive listen. Occasionally elaborate, often detailed. Always enjoyable.
As always, I’d love to hear your thoughts on any (or all) of these records! Did I get it right, or am I way off the mark?
Thanks for being here,