Blue Skies for Black Hearts, lovingly dubbed Portland’s “Princes of Power Pop”, have come roaring back on their sixth, self-titled release, penning their strongest songs to date and featuring a wall of four-part harmonies and a smoking new rhythm section. Lead singer/songwriter Pat Kearns’ tunes draw from a diverse span of American rock, past and present, like the Smokey Robinson and the Miracles-esque call and response of “It’s Gone on Too Long,” the doo-wop crooning on “Love Scenes, or the Otis Redding-inspired falsetto breakdown of “Waiting to Run” before launching into an epic double guitar closer.
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The gritty distortion that drives “Bravely Fade Away”, the newest cut by the transcontinental supergroup Three Minute Tease, is but one of many reasons why the trio’s sound has been called “pre-apocalyptic psychedelic pop”. The band, consisting of the Berlin-based Anton Barbeau, London bassist Andy Metcalfe, and Morris Windsor (who hails from England’s west coast), has an approachability that has a darkness underneath it. Barbeau’s lead vocal on “Bravely Fade Away” isn’t too far from the friendlier environs of singer/songwriter territory, but the almost sludgy guitars on the song’s chorus add an ominous dimension to the tune.
If you’re finding your summer in need of a sun-bleached, indie pop ditty, the Yugos have served up something to fill the void. “Follow You” is a rambunctious slice of lo-fi rock, catchy as hell in its up-tempo rhythms and noodly guitar work. With unabashed optimism, the Covington, Kentucky, quartet delivers a feisty paean that, despite their musical similarity to acts like Pavement and Archers of Loaf, is entirely sincere.
The LA-based duo of Holiday J and Nicole Turley have taken on the name Amoureux in making their romantic, hazy dream-pop. A remarkable distinctive for the duo, however, is that rather than getting caught up on the treble end of the sonic spectrum, as many dream-pop bands do, the duo emphasizes rhythm instruments, particularly Holiday J’s distinctive bass playing. “Lost the Plot”, a track from their soon-to-be-released debut EP Never Young As Tonight, balances washes of textural sound with a pronounced low end. Like the rest of the EP, the song retains a loose, improvisatory feel, due in large part to the fact that most of the tracks on the EP were recorded in one take.
The Chicago-based duo of Dan Zima and Xoe Wise, who go by the attention-grabbing name Kinky Love, are in the business of textural, spacey synth-pop. With their recently released Promise EP, the two garnered some attention to their take on this increasingly popular genre, and now with “Hush”, available for stream and download here on PopMatters, they are demonstrating their continuing interest in the craft. The clipped beat of the song, combined with its layers of synthesizers, proves to be an appropriately understated backing to Wise’s airy vocals.
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