FALL BREAK: The debut EP from fresh-faced duo The DuPonts is named Too Soon, and it’s a mixed bag of a couple of great things but about three-fifths filler, too. The opening track, “Green World (Too Soon Version),” is a great example of measured but steady songwriting with a very cool main guitar refrain that is not at all unlike a very smooth adult contemporary hit from, say, 1983 or so. The rest of the record isn’t nearly as enjoyable, and it’s not so much that the ideas are bad; just for example, “Melt” has a very pretty U2-ish melody but is performed here halfheartedly. Similarly, “Lost Kids” is supported by a catchy keyboard and digital drum track but is ultimately a little dead on arrival. The vocals and melody on “Tide,” though, show a solid direction, and I hope they keep going this way. Check it out at theduponts.bandcamp.com.
ROCK ON: Sloan Simpson, the years-long live-show recordist and webhost of Southern Shelter—a repository of literally hundreds of live recordings—has made the entry into songwriting. Writing and publishing under the band name Sloan Brothers, Simpson’s compositional ear is crafted by his expansive tastes but thus far feels influenced by 1970s FM radio (album format radio) and classic power pop. His first single, “For You,” is very indicative of the first, and his second single, “Live On,” is emblematic of the second. Lyrically, “For You” reveals a certain level of vulnerability, and “Live On” is kind of a masked tribute to those who have left us, but with a wish for their memory to, you know, live on. Sloan Brothers is a perfect vehicle to invite guests to contribute, and these first two tracks have guest guitar from Kevin Sweeney (Hayride). I’m excited to see where this project goes, as I have it on good authority that more songs are already written and that additional collaborators are lined up, too. Check it out at sloanbrothers.bandcamp.com.
LET’S MAKE A RECORD THAT THE RADIO HAS TO ACCOUNT FOR: We enjoyed a taste of the new album by Little Gold last June when the band released the smokin’ single “Rear House.” The whole new record, Wake Up & Die Right, is being released this Friday, Nov. 13. Nothing else on the record cooks in exactly the same kind of Replacements-ish abandon as the single, but there are multiple instances of top-notch songwriting. The domestic unrest of “Living Under Books” increases in urgency as it glides along a locomotive beat nicely underscored by a poignant vibrato. Similarly, ”Friends Are Hard To Bury” deceptively lilts along a minor-chord progression in a lighthearted way, but when matched with the exceedingly sad and suspicious lyrics, these chords actually just drive the whole thing into the ground. The album runs a very complete nine tracks, and I think that any more would have been too emotionally heavy to lift. Sit back and listen to this alone for a while. It’s available via both digital download and vinyl. Please see littlegold.bandcamp.com for more information.
LEAN IN: It’s been over three years since Julianna Money, now living in Atlanta, released her EP My Star—a collaborative effort with WesdaRuler—but she has a new album out Nov. 12 named In The Valley. The record is a slowly burning candle that doesn’t have any a-ha! moments or things that scream at the listener. What it is, though, is a great collection of thoughtful and incredibly well-arranged songs that do a wonderful job of showcasing Money’s strong vocal range. This album follows a tradition of artistic statements very similar to those made by Sade, Kate Bush and Joni Mitchell. Money’s melodic instinct really shines here, and she never resorts to obvious structures. Highlights include “Pretty Words,” “Sad Sack” and “27,” but those are a mere three songs, and there are 12 total. So find your own highlights on all major streaming services and juliannamoney.bandcamp.com.
THIS BAND IS ¿BANANA? B-A-N-A-N-A: Folksters ¿Banana? have gone from a trio to a duo but haven’t slowed down their songwriting at all. The latest example is the band’s new 11-song album Reading the Room. Just as they demonstrated on last year’s Highway Robbery, they’ve got a great grasp of the folk tradition and are generally adept at placing humor in just the right places while never letting it devolve into rote silliness. That said, the sentimentality of “Prancing Pony” is already a weak spot, and when the track slides into goofy laughs, it just falls flat. Alternately, “Keep Me on the Water,” “Cancer Season” and “Here I Am (So Glad You Are)” are each nicely achieved modern acoustic tunes that support themselves very well. I’m probably much more on the fence with this one that I was with Highway Robbery, but it’s cool to see they’re still writing and recording when so many have given up. Check it out at bananatheband.bandcamp.com.
INTRODUCE YOURSELF: Local rockers PSYOP released the new album Utopia Now a couple of weeks ago. It was engineered, mixed and mastered by Kyle Spence, and the group is composed of current and ex-members of The Grawks, Honey Sliders and others. This whole thing—from the title, to the music, to the band name and concept—is super reminiscent of a particular type of punk-metal hybrid that reared its head in the late 1980s. While not exactly “crossover” metal by any stretch, there’s still a distinctive denim-vest and Pony-high-top-sneakers feel about this. For the most part, this rocks a pretty steady line of chuggy and tuneful heavy rock with occasional deviations (e.g. the noodly psych tune “Homicidal Daydream”). Cover your buddy’s shift in the dish pit and then drop your tip-out bucks over at psyop.bandcamp.com.
Like what you just read? Support Flagpole by making a donation today. Every dollar you give helps fund our ongoing mission to provide Athens with quality, independent journalism.