This column covers what we're listening to from the far flung branches of Indie music. Read on for tips from lo-fi to shoegaze, post-punk to emo, indie-folk to art-pop, and anything between.
The return of THE SEA & CAKE:
We haven't heard from the Sea & Cake since 2012's Runner. Well they are back with their signature sound intact, immaculately produced breezy pop, with the new record Any Day. There is something so comforting about a band that can drop a record 25 years into their run that holds its' own with the classics of their catalog. Available from Thrill Jockey on CD and LP.
Future mystic folk experiments from DEAR NORA:
Another great artist we haven't heard from in years, Dear Nora returns to the fold with Skulls Example released on Ordinal Records. This is a record full of mystic ruminations on the strangeness of modern living, all told over beautifully spare arrangements, gently played guitar, and soft drones. This feels right at home in the northwest's rich tradition of intimate idiosyncratic folk records. Vinyl only.
Dream-pop Russian style from PINKSHINYULTRABLAST:
We've been stocking records from these guys for a little bit now and they keep delivering high-quality contemporary shoegaze LPs. The new one Miserable Miracles is no exception. Dialing back their thick wall of sound a bit, this new one explores more exotic and electronic textures. Old heads might find shades of Lush. CD and LP (probably in pretty limited quantity) from the Shelflife Label.
SOFT KILL vibes down with a wall-of-sound:
Portland's Soft Kill are back with Savior on the Profound Lore label, a label better known for its avant-metal output. Though not metal this is a record with heaviness, but a heaviness more akin to The Cure's Disintegration, a record with which this one shares some DNA. The echoed guitar, rolling rhythms, and oppressive moodiness pull from the 80s post-punk playbook, but they definitely do the lineage justice. Available on CD and LP.
Sweden's SHITKID makes raw homemade pop:
Shitkid's new EP This is It, and by extension her debut LP Fish, are records full of exciting spontaneous pop, raw and minimal in all the ways you'd hope. These are records that properly update the magic of that early K records aesthetic of putting heart and attitude ahead of perfectionism. Two unpolished gems here available on LP from the exciting new PNKSLM label
Energized northwestern post-punk from LITHICS:
Mating Surfaces from Portland's Lithics is the bands' second full length and first for the legendary Kill Rock Stars label. They're making a timeless brand of wirey, buzzy, post-punk. Singer Aubrey Horner's delivery is cool as a cucumber while the band pulls of all sorts of jittery angular moves around her voice. You'll know in a second if this is your style, but if it is these guys are doing it at a top level.