If you like post-punk music at all, your favorite new band will probably be Merchandise. With a bit of Pulp’s swagger, the Cure’s emotional yet economical guitarwork and the dramatic grandiosity of Morrissey’s solo work, Merchandise nail every nuance on their new album, After the End. Big, shimmering chords on “Enemy” announce their arrival with the kind of bravado that leaves you a little breathless, incredulous that this isn’t a song or band you’ve heard before. Singer Carson Cox’s throaty tenor fills the space that isn’t carved out by his bandmates nicely, on ballads like the stunning “Life Outside the Mirror.” It’s a solid listen, but After the End particularly shines on its singles, like “Little Killer,” the riff of which is catchy enough to leave you tracking back again and again to get that feeling all over again. While After the End is an immensely enjoyable album, the elephant in the room is that, however immaculately made, it’s not the most original thing you’ve ever heard—“Green Lady” is great, with its stuttering beat, big guitar riffs and sure, why not, some sitar, but it could easily be a Morrissey outtake. No matter. Originality will come in time. For now, Merchandise reach a very specific itch, that youthful feeling of discovering a new favorite band who just flat out gets it. No trickery, nothing too out of the ordinary, just some of the best pop music you’ve heard in ages.
Here are some of our most anticipated albums of the summer. Preorder to get your hands on them as soon as they come out.
Out July 22
English synthpop artist La Roux (aka Elly Jackson) broke through in a huge way with her 2009 self-titled album and its accompanying club hits like “Bulletproof.” Trouble in Paradise comes five years later, after Jackson says she was unprepared for fame and lost her voice due to anxiety and producer/collaborator Ben Langmaid left due to artistic differences. Jackson says the new album will be warmer and sexier, inspired by the likes of Grace Jones and Tom Tom Club.
Hear the smooth, downtempo “Let Me Down Gently” below:
And then write about them, like this:
Little Wings - LAST
LAST comes first not just because I'm a longtime avid supporter of Kyle Field as an artist and musician, but it just so happens that LAST was one of the very first new records I bought in 2013. LAST is one of those "total package" records about which I could spin infinite yarns of praise n' things regarding the songwriting, the recording, the artwork, and total overall vibe and I kind of already did that in the interview piece I put together last Spring and so I urge anyone interested in this two-fer plate of odd hip-hop with a lotta folk-rockin' goin' on to check it out as it'd be redundant to put further shine on this diamond.
Emily Jane White – “Keeley”
There’s nothing we like here at PST like sad girl music (or sad old man music, for that matter). Emily Jane White’s “Keeley” isn’t sad as much as morose, the feeling of an ancient ritual being carried out with no sense of self. White’s crackly voice adds to that feeling of helplessness over Julee Cruise-style synthesizer melodrama, singing lyrics seemingly pulled out of The Handmaid’s Tale—lines like “Oh Keeley, you’ll always be my maiden of the dawn” are strange, sensual and foreboding). Really paralyzing stuff. Blood / Lines is due Nov. 19 on Important Records.
So Many Wizards – “Night Chills”
Whoa, I’m digging this new sound for L.A. indie pop stalwarts So Many Wizards. It has the springy energy of their early releases with a little more sleekness for a song that doesn’t sacrifice the band’s intricate arrangements while just sounding really cool. I love how it sort of goes wild halfway through but never really loses sight of its hooks. The Night Chills 7” is due later this month; catch them at The Smell for the record release party Nov. 22. You can read my interview with So Many Wizards here.
Actress Karen Black died from cancer last month. Before she passed, she recorded this great song with singer Cass McCombs, who also dueted with Black on the memorable “Dreams-Come-True-Girl,” the opener to 2009’s Catacombs. In this song from the upcoming Big Wheel and Others, Black takes the lead, her voice sounding lively and wild. For fans of Black, this posthumous release is a beautiful gift. The 22-song Big Wheel and Others is due Oct. 15 on Domino, listen to “Brighter” below and “There Can Only Be One” here. McCombs will be at Pappy & Harriet’s in Pioneertown Nov. 12, L.A.’s The Echo Nov. 14 and S.F.’s Great American Music Hall Nov. 15.
Glasser – “Design” video
The video for the second single from L.A.-based Glasser’s upcoming Interiors album (preorder on CD or LP) features Glasser’s Cameron Mesirow in a futuristic Mad Men dress dancing with an animated sculpture. It reinforces the message: This is electro-pop fit for a museum, not just the dancefloor. Interiors is due Oct. 8 on True Panther/Matador.