NEW MUSIC FRIDAY with the new music you crave

seriously..this week, we clearly have Pop on the brain.

SOFT KILL - Dead Kids, R.I.P. City [LP/CS[(Cercle Social/The Orchard)

Portland's Soft Kill is yet another stunning band in the new wave of danceable Goth Rock/Pop. "Dead Kids, R.I.P. City" is just the right mixture of desperation and doom for its black-eyeliner tale of star-crossed lovers. Its Cure-ian opener "Roses All Around" sounds EPIC with its pounding drums, stratospheric guitar, and sinister yet romantic crooning. The buzzing "Floodgate" with Tamaryn is ice cold with a muscular, smoldering bass line. The single "Pretty Face" is the standout. While it could be seen as more "sunny" than the rest (no worries, there is a hell of a dirge on here in "Oil Burner,") "Pretty Face" its violent, dark lyrics are perfectly offset by Tobias Grave's growling middle range. Also, its chorus while alarmingly simple really demonstrates its power on the way out as Grave intones "the pain has left you" ...and then disappears. Your move, Dais. 

ANNA MCCLELLAN - i saw first light [LP/CD](Father/Daughter/Secretly/AMPED)

Omaha's Anna McClellan takes her clever yet confessional songwriting to a new charming place. Like those pauses of Kim Deal in the Pixies/Breeders/Amps, McClellan's enjambment of a spate of lyrics into a line speaks volumes for how fast her thoughts are coming ("Desperate" brilliant uses it to link the first verse and the chorus.) "Feel You" is closer to McClellan singing, but her elongated chorus lines prove just as bittersweet. Performing since she was seventeen, there is something about how her songs are played for smiles (think Kimya Dawson in The Moldy Peaches) that bodes well. 

MAMALARKY [LP](Fire Talk/Redeye)

Mamalarky has Pop on the brain but is armed for some neat Rock riffs and changes. Case in Point: "Drugstore Model" starts as a sort of Garage-y Frug-oriented throwback with its double-tracked vocals and organ. However, their myriad runs and the Power Pop chorus are the locomotive power of the tune. After they stretch out and purposefully slow it down to a drunken lurch - only to then give it a huge Lemon Twigs-ish ending. That is all in one song. The Athens, GA quartet benefits from Livvy's voice and how it eases into the spaces between their instrumental trickery. The luminescent "You Make Me Smile" with its minor verses and powerful chorus is a single just waiting to happen. Mamalarky has a lot of potential.

SMUT - Power Fantasy [7"](Bayonet/Secretly/AMPED)

Not sure what is in that midwestern air, but like the Madison-to-Chicago-ites Slow Pulp, Cincinnati-to-Chicago-ites Smut live in the same dreamy Shoegaze Pop world. The three songs of "Power Fantasy" point the quartet in that very buzzy Nineties direction, but as songwriters Smut is more on the ball. The merry-go-round melody of "Fan Age" is a Juliana Hatfield-esque beauty exuding warmth, ennui, and doubt even as the chords stay sunny.  Also to their credit, they use cliches but only to reframe into an original statement ("I'll spin a web for you/The strongest me you never knew.")  "Power Fantasy" lays the groundwork for a choice band that could be bound for crossover success.


After the release of their debut in Denmark, this Jazz/Funk/Breakbeat trio garnered several awards for their sweeping Jazz with Hip-Hop undertones. The best parts of "Athletic Progression" are when they master the mood of modern Jazz (piano/bass/drums) but then quickly spin a breakbeat out of it ("3POINTPLAY") or warp their organ to sound like J.Dilla ("Embassy.")  Elsewhere, they mess with Dub on the end of "Embassy" and the all-too-brief "NCCU" toys with Lounge/Library music before its sizzling stop. However, it is "CANDY" (and its companion "AND1") with its uncanny ability not to drown the swirling beat in the subtle bass run and patience to peak late to take advantage of the massive beat shift that is most indicative that this band being used in Hip-Hop and Funk collaborations in the future.

PORT SULPHUR - Compendium [LP](Creeping Bent Organization UK)

On this vast and sprawling album (presented in three parts no less,) you have the opportunity to hear Eighties Scottish Pop put through its cycles again. In its larval portions, what could be seen as self-satisfying (the instrumentals that dot the beginning of the album) are actually developing themes and your taste for what is coming. "A Gift," while simple in structure, is the first cut that metamorphosizes into a rapidly changing creature. As you veer into the stunning Pop of "Olive Avenue," the glare of its brightness is there to carry you through the pupal synth bubbles and interwoven greys of "Dial F For Fake." These are pros. For example, James Kirk of Orange Juice on guitar is so appropriate for the Postcard jangle of "Orient Express." Elsewhere, Davy Henderson of Fire Engines, bassist Campbell of Aztec Camera, and Katy Lironi are there to help bring the Glaswegian experience into focus. However, Port Sulphur remains Douglas MacIntyre's show. After the sweeping "The Lane," the reprise of its riff slides neatly into a cover of The Sensational Alex Harvey Band's "Faith Healer" in the lengthy dance track "Alex Discord." The eight minutes of "Discord" exposes the final stage of development as the insistent Suicide-inspired/Disco-inflected beats are MacIntyre's memories of the club scene in Edinburgh.  From this beat-driven cocoon, Port Sulphur's "Compendium" emerges a butterfly whose fluttering wings are (hopefully) about to catalyze change and exploration in vast parts of the world.

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