New & featured releases, updated September 3, 2021

The Umbrellas "The Umbrellas"

[CD » $9.00] [more info]
The Umbrellas

The Umbrellas The Umbrellas CD

Joining a long line of SF bay area indie bands, The Umbrellas are sure to dazzle with their new self-titled debut album. Classic indiepop influences abound, from The Byrds to Orange Juice, The Pastels, Comet Gain and Belle & Sebastian, along with a noticeable garage-pop/Paisley Underground flavor that is a hallmark of San Francisco's best bands. Lead-off single "She Buys Herself Flowers" introduces us to a band that's both intimately conversant with indiepop history but also unburdened by it, a group with the song-crafting chops and spirit to take familiar elements and create for themselves a fresh new sound. The album goes from strength to strength, studded with pop gems like "Near You," "Lonely" and "Pictures" -- tunes that sound like classics from the first listen, as timeless and elemental as all great pop.


The Reds, Pinks and Purples "I'd Rather Astral Project"

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I'd Rather Astral Project

The Reds, Pinks and Purples I'd Rather Astral Project

Glenn Donaldson has really seized the moment with his new project The Reds, Pinks & Purples. A long-standing fixture on San Francisco's DIY indie scene, Glenn has concentrated his efforts lately on making downcast perfect with The RPPs and people are listening. He's so prolific that "I'd Rather Astral Project" and "Work It Out While You Can" were originally released as a limited edition bonus 7", but the songs are 100% top quality pop in the classic Cherry Red/Flying Nun/early Creation vein and hence more than worthy of a wider airing. These gorgeous, melancholic and melodic tunes are both an ideal addendum to "Uncommon Weather" and a terrific intro to the project for newcomers. Brilliant, as always.


Tony Molina "Confront The Truth"

[12" vinyl » $14.00] [more info]
Confront The Truth

Tony Molina Confront The Truth 12" vinyl

We've all been waiting WAY too long for a new Tony Molina record, and this here eight song EP delivers in spades. Leaving the guitar crunch behind, Tony spotlights his formidable songwriting with spare, mostly acoustic arrangements that owe as much to early Bee Gees and Teenage Fanclub's mellower moments as they do to Georges Harrison and Martin. The sadness of this music has precedents in pop's past indeed, but in these songs you hear exactly what Tony found in those influences that shaped his experience -- years upon years of focus and isolation in developing his guitar and writing skills to speak to these truths. The main difference here is that where Tony's previous works felt casual and easy to digest, here we feel the full weight of his emotional needs pressed against the gentlest and most careful music of his career. The record's coda, a highlight reel of Thin Lizzy's "Banshee," indicates that the Tony you knew is still in there, but the game has changed, and the rules are entirely his own. Tony Molina is in complete control of his own destiny, and we should all care about where he's going.


Lunchbox "After School Special"

[LP » $16.00] [CD » $9.00] [more info]
After School Special

Lunchbox After School Special LP/CD

Lunchbox's Tim Brown and Donna McKean have been making records for two decades, inspired by 1960s/70s AM-radio pop and TV show theme music, punk, C86, and mod à la the Creation and the Jam. "After School Special" finds them at the height of their powers of songcraft and performance. From the shimmering opener "Dream Parade" to the horn-driven mod-pop of "Hide and Seek" and the haunting male-female vocal stylings of the title track and album closer, the textures shift while the unity of artistic vision remains. Catchy as hell and beautifully packaged, this is Lunchbox at their very best.


Peel Dream Magazine "Agitprop Alterna "

[LP » $16.00] [CD » $9.00] [more info]
Agitprop Alterna

Peel Dream Magazine Agitprop Alterna LP/CD

Peel Dream Magazine is the musical vehicle for NYC's Joe Stevens, who launched the band in 2018 with the critically acclaimed album Modern Meta Physic, a mysterious, liminal tribute to the hazy end of ‘90s dream-pop that found its place on numerous "Best of 2018" lists. Now Peel Dream are back with Agitprop Alterna, an album that pays homage to the fuzzy, mod-ish pop of acts like My Bloody Valentine and early Stereolab, but it's also indebted to stateside bands like Yo La Tengo and Rocketship that were cut from a similar cloth. Agitprop Alterna finds Stevens deepening the connection between the existential and the interpretive first explored on Modern Meta Physic. It is a rejection of manipulation in all its forms and a buzzsaw against complacency; it's a rare trick to agitate without being obvious, and perhaps that makes Agitprop Alterna the most Peel Dream Magazine-like statement yet.


Peel Dream Magazine "Moral Panics"

[12" vinyl » $15.00] [more info]
Moral Panics

Peel Dream Magazine Moral Panics 12" vinyl

NYC's Peel Dream Magazine dazzled listeners with their recent release "Agitprop Alterna," a smart album that draws from a wide set of post-punk, shoegaze and indiepop influences but still has an assured, unique sound. Now they're following up with "Moral Panics," a companion EP that features unreleased songs from the "Agitprop Alterna" sessions. Far from being outtakes, these are all songs that stand strong on their own, and gathered together function as a useful corollary to the album. Songs like "New Culture," "Verfremdungseffekt" and "Life At The Movies" continue Peel Dream's investigations into those frought areas where art, culture and commerce meet. Bristling with both ideas and solid tunes, the EP as a whole comprises a crucial piece of the band's discography.


 

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