Listening to East Bay’s Happy Diving it’s hard to believe that they’ve only been together since 2013. A year ago, friends Matt Berry, Samuelito Cruz, Mikey Rivera, and Matt Yankovitz decided to form a band after previous projects fell apart. Since then they’ve been busy making music that fans of Tony Molina, Connecticut’s Ovlov and early Weezer can appreciate. Their debut full-length, Big World, was recorded over a whirlwind two days at The Atomic Garden in East Palo Alto, CA, with the help of producer Jack Shirley (Deafheaven, Joyce Manor, Whirr). Big World sees the band channeling the energy first displayed on their Self-Titled EP, as well as their deafening and vivacious live shows, into ten concise, sludgy pop songs.
Sharpless began in a bedroom on a 20th birthday, in an attempt to express repressed thoughts and feelings. Frustrated by the lo-fi conventional sounds of bedroom pop, Sharpless utilizes the bedroom studio to create dense pop arrangements that weave between experimental and Top 40. They contrast these deafening hooks and celebratory genre bending rhythms, with personal lyrics that expand the mythos of the band itself. Sharpless released their debut, self-titled album in the beginning of 2011, and immediately began work on their recently released follow up album, The One I Wanted To Be. After slowly releasing singles from the album, the band began to make waves internationally. Following significant changes in their personal lives, the band began to push a more aggressive sound, combining the sonic violence of experimental punk and hip-hop with the lush melodies of Japanese pop music. The One I Wanted To Be features guest appearances from Small Wonder, Told Slant, Bellows, Eskimeaux, and many more members of The Epoch, a Brooklyn-based DIY collective. Lyrically, the album is a sprawling and personal narrative about past lives, parallel universes, and the search for home.
Rivergazer is the musical project of London-born, New York-bred songwriter, Kevin Farrant. Since 2011 he has quietly self-released demos and an EP entitled, Oh My Ego, and played in a variety of bands including guitar with childhood friend Aaron Maines’ Porches. (Exploding In Sound). On Random Nostalgia, Farrant teamed up with producer Hunter Davidsohn and longtime friend and multi-instrumentalist, Kolson Pickard to achieve a bigger conceptual sound. The album tells a tale of modern sadness — growing up in the suburbs, getting married and divorced, having no money, being in debt, driving mom’s car, friends, isolation, wanting a dog, finding zen, and making memories. Rivergazer has crafted an album that is both thematically relatable and sonically familiar, residing at the intersection of nostalgia and now.
Cocktails sound more like a frosty, cheap beer on a sweaty summer day than some pretentious potion stirred up by a mixologist, a badge of honor the San Francisco quintet proudly sports. With their debut long player in hand, Cocktails return with a mature attitude and a refined version of their no-frills blue collar power-pop. Recorded with Warm Soda’s Rob Good at his Oakland, CA Fuzz City studio, Adult Life rides an ebullient harmonic wave with twists of garage simplicity and Moog flourishes, hinting at traces of effortlessly cool outfits like The Rentals and Big Star. Adult Life is available on two different vinyl color configurations – Virgin Black or Creamsicle Haze, the later limited to 100.
Colours is the musical work of Australian born and London based producer/songwriter, Tom Cradles. After countless incarnations, Colours has manifested itself from industrial shoegaze into a mold of its own. Driving grooves pulsate beneath luscious synthesizers and jarring guitars, sending you into a lucid dream.
Spirit Kid is the musical moniker of songwriter Emeen Zarookian, backed by members of Boston bands Babydriver and Bent Shapes. Started in the mid-2000s as a solo project, Spirit Kid was officially formed in 2010 with the release of his debut self-titled album on the RPL Audio imprint. The Boston based indie-pop band has since released a string of singles (7″ and cassette) and an EP, supporting acts such as Eli “Paperboy” Reed, Zeus, Darwin Deez, and Here We Go Magic, throughout New England and down both coasts. For Is Happening, Spirit Kid’s sophomore album, Zarookian teamed up with producer Jeremy Mendicino of Boston’s Pretty & Nice. The ten track full-length spotlights the jangly power-pop and wistful harmonies that Spirit Kid is known for.
Never Young is the Bay Area noise punk band led by Christopher Adams and Nikolas Soelter. Recorded at the Secret Bathroom in Oakland, CA by Max Senna, Master Copy is an aggressive audible assault. Master Copy is available digitally and on two cassette formats – standard and an expanded edition housed in an audio album with a handmade, limited edition zine.
Str8 Sh00ter is a 4-song EP from Bent Shapes drummer, Andy Sadoway. Sadoway’s comfort with syncopated rhythm and knack for hooks is the foundation to his songwriting. Catchy melody drives everything: on his debut release he draws influence from his favorite 60’s pop legends Roy Orbison and Neil Sedaka, with nods to early crooners like Johnny Mathis and Eddy Arnold.
Small Wonder is the brainchild of Brooklyn, NY native, Henry Crawford. It began as an outlet for creating more electronic based music but has since evolved into Crawford’s principle moniker for any and all material. The makings of Wendy, Small Wonder’s new album (available digitally now and on cassette May 6th), began when Crawford dropped out of college. Over the course of two years, he rewrote and reworked the album several times before beginning the recording process. Crawford enlisted the bedroom production of friend and colleague, Jack Greenleaf (Sharpless), starting in his parent’s house in New York and eventually moving to Chicago to finish. Wendy is loosely based on the metaphors and imagery of Peter Pan, as a means of exploring Crawford’s own insecurities about coming of age, and the loss of youth.
Love Hard is Flagland’s third album, and at twenty tracks, speaks volumes to the Brooklyn trio’s songwriting stamina and dedication to doing things on their own terms. The recording process was piecemeal, done sporadically by the band between shows, and with the exception of drums at Let ‘Em In Music in Brooklyn, was recorded and mixed in Dooley’s apartment. The themes weaving throughout Love Hard can be summed up with a few key words: Love hard. Fight hard. Live hard. The same can be said for the variance of musical styles. Equal amounts of ferocity are heard on the bipolar “Comfortable Life” and bleak, hard-hitting “Monster,” as on their musical antithesis, the jubilant power-pop “Sugarcube.” Flagland is a multi-dimensional band that is impossible to label or define. Everything is open to interpretation.
Happy Diving is a band from Northern California consisting of Matthew Berry (guitar/vocals), Matthew Yankovich (guitar), Mikey Rivera (bass) and Samuelito Cruz (drums). They formed Happy Diving after certain members left previous projects and decided to start something new. Within less than a month, they recorded with Jack Shirley at Atomic Gardens and released their self-titled debut, available now digitally and on limited cassette run on February 18, 2014.
Running In The Fog is the moniker of San Francisco’s Amanda Harper. Harper’s deep seeded affinity for ‘90s R&B sets the scene for the project’s self-penned soul-infused space pop. Spending the better part of her adolescence singing and playing saxophone in jazz outfits, followed by a cross-country journey that took her to Philadelphia to study music and theater, her eclectic inspirations can be heard throughout everything she touches. On Silver, the six alluring tracks spotlight Harper’s silky vocals and hypnotic production.
Body Parts mobilizes a singularly elegant experimental pop idiom to explore the contours of modern devotion and doctrines of self-improvement alongside the immoderate reverberations of remembrance. Weaving together influences as varied as the rationalist prescriptions of the self-made seeker-healer- Scientology mastermind L. Ron Hubbard, the sensual guitar-scapes of Prince, and the haunting vocals and surrealist melodrama of Kate Bush, Ryder Bach and Alina Cutrono form the group’s core. The vital rhythmic infrastructure and frankly infectious groove found both live and on the album comes thanks to the formidable duo of Raymond Proudfoot, bass and Taylor Dexter, drums. Newcomer Derek Coburn on keys and synthesizer completes their superlative live sound. Body Parts debut album, Fire Dream is out now.
Bent Shapes is Andy Sadoway, Ben Potrykus, and Supriya Gunda. Since forming under the name Girlfriends in 2009, the Boston trio has released a string of cassettes and 7”s full of fuzzy garage, frantic jangle pop, and scrappy post-punk on various labels (including band members’ own imprints). The band’s myriad of influences reference touchstones like Josef K, The Feelies, Jonathan Richman, Billy Childish, and The Fall. Bent Shapes Feels Weird will be available August 20th on vinyl/CD/digital.
The self-titled debut from songwriter Samuel Hill’s project, The Everywheres, summons scrappy yet masterful psych-pop. Glowing garlands take shape from a cocktail of Davies odes, Brian Jonestown candidness and nomadic adventures. Swirling guitar wanes smooth to build a delicate, jewel-toned backbone from which peyote induced tambourines and blissed-out harmonies stem. Hill started making music as The Everywheres in the summer of 2012. The notorious drifter found himself back in his native Halifax, Nova Scotia, more specifically in the basement of his childhood home. It was there (along with time spent along the ocean shores in LaHave) that Hill was inspired to recount his journeys thru the power of song. He shacked up with his Tascam 4-track and every instrument he could get his hands on, laying down what would become The Everywheres’ debut.
Saskatchewan began as the project of Orlando, Florida based multi-instrumentalist Chandler Strang, whose inspiration was culled from the passion and intensity of muses like Tears for Fears and Phil Collins. Strang began collaborating with several other Orlando based musicians to further develop the dreamy aesthetic of his initial solo material. After the release of several EPs, the now full-fledged band, who has toured with Gauntlet Hair, Mister Heavenly, Hundred Waters, and Levek, amongst others, has released their debut album, Occasion.
Cocktails, San Francisco’s best kept after hours secret, have stepped into the sunlight with their self-titled EP. Recorded over three days in the summer of 2012 at Fuzz City with Matthew Melton and Rob Good (of Bay Area bands Warm Soda and Bare Wires,) Cocktails is the first official offering from the self described “slop pop” quartet. Their energetic power-pop punch hits somewhere between late 70s punk and fuzzed out 90s alt (think Teenage Fanclub or GBV anthems combined with the disarming honesty and pent-up aggression of This Year’s Model era Elvis Costello). They crank out big melodies, loud guitars, and loads of sticky sweet boy/girl vocal harmonies that will surely kick some pep into your step. Cocktails’ 4-song 7” EP is available digitally and on virgin black and “blonde” (limited to 150) colored vinyl.
Losing Face is the debut 5-song EP from Brooklyn, NY quartet, Leapling. Leapling began as home recordings, written by singer/guitarist Dan Arnes over the course of several months. From there, Dan and drummer, Yoni David, edited the tracks down to what would ultimately become Losing Face and also assembled a live band, which includes bassist R.J. Gordon (who also mastered the EP) and Joey Postiglione on lead guitar. They are the hearts and minds behind the Bushwick DIY venue/art space Big Snow Buffalo Lodge and the artist collective known as American Buffalo Recordings. You’d be hard pressed to find a group of people more committed to the local music community than these four dudes.
Daniel Hindman and Sarah Versprille began writing songs together in 2009 while living in Brooklyn, NY. In 2011, the duo packed up their lives, moved to Portland, OR and realized that it was time to put a name to the new project — Pure Bathing Culture was born. Through various serendipitous connections, multi-instrumentalist and producer Richard Swift heard their early demos and immediately invited them to record with him at his National Freedom studio in Cottage Grove, OR. Pure Bathing Culture’s S/T EP is an elegant collection of four beautifully crafted songs, constructed with smooth melodies embodying the nostalgia of soft soulful 80s pop but with a freshness all of their own.
High School Lover is the new 7″ from Santa Monica, CA’s Oregon Bike Trails (now known as Cayucas). Zach Yudin originally created OBT as a solo project but has since expanded to a full band. The bass-y strut on “High School Lover” gets your head bobbing and at the same time, recalls a certain nostalgic nod to pop songs of the 1960s. The B-Side “Cayucas” is a previously unreleased track that is sure to bring to mind summer weekend trips with friends, riding to the beach in a fire red Thunderbird convertible with the top down. The 7″ is pressed on white vinyl and comes with an instant digital download.
Mutual Spirits is split 12″ with Holy Spirits (New York, NY) and Mutual Benefit (Boston, MA). Mutual Benefit’s quirky and youthful arrangements are a welcomed companion to the textured delicacy of Holy Spirits. Mutual Spirits is pressed on gorgeous cream swirl vinyl with album art designed by Nathaniel Whitcomb of Think or Smile, limited to 250. Each 12″ purchase comes with an instant digital download.
David Levesque aka Levek has been crafting some incredible a capella meets Afrobeat meets Disney vibes for a while now and we became instant fans at first listen. This 7″ includes two new tracks — “Look on the Bright Side” and “Slow” and is pressed on red vinyl (limited to 500). Every order comes with an instant digital download bundle including both songs on the 7″ + 3 bonus tracks.
Skin is the first 7″ from Burlington, VT’s tooth ache. (aka Alexandria Hall). tooth ache. perfects her masterfully crafted downer pop on the 2-song 7″, available now. Skin is pressed on clear vinyl, limited to 500 and comes with an instant digital download.
Dream Talkin is the debut 7″ from Brooklyn’s Family Trees, available now from Father/Daughter Records. The trio cranks out delicious, pocket-sized beach pop jams that leave you thirsty for more. The vinyl is pressed on clear wax, limited to 500 and comes with immediate digital download.