In Notes From Left of the Dial this week, Nooga.com spends time with new music from My Little Hum, Broken Bellows, The Sighs and Dead Stars. What have you been listening to lately?
My Little Hum, “Rise Over Run”
The music of husband-wife duo My Little Hum (AKA Yuri and Dan Jewett) evokes a vibrant pop history that includes bands like Echo & the Bunnymen and The Apples in Stereo. Equal parts expressive guitar technique and mesmeric pop distillation, the band runs through these sounds with a carefree attitude, borrowing and rearranging bits of noise and tonality as they see fit. They are getting ready to release their debut record, “Remembering Houses,” set to come out Sept. 8 via Mystery Lawn Music. It finds them further exploring this indie pop wonderland, and though they obviously share a common thread with their inspirations, their work is distinctly their own.
On their recent single, “Rise Over Run,” the duo sprinkles a bit of jangle pop wonder across lyrics inspired by a geography class Yuri attended wherein the state of the Bay Area in California is explored through a breakdown of the difficulties that exist between longtime artists and the encroaching noise of the tech industry. The guitars shimmer and sparkle, with just enough shadows clinging to their notes to keep them from feeling edgeless and rote. Vocals rise and harmonize, with the music spiraling up into the lower atmosphere. Joy and spry determination are built into these sounds, and they allow these loose rhythms and wavering melodies to form an agile and formidable pop momentum.
Broken Bellows, “In the Deep”
Born from the ashes of pop-punk band Reckless Serenade and built from the twin inspirations of architects Cory Brent and Will Prinzi, Broken Bellows finds the two musicians working through their mutual love and admiration of dense indie pop. But it was during the long nights on the road with their previous band that they first began messing around with the sounds that would eventually find resolution in their work under this new moniker. Making beats from the stereo and singing hooks back and forth to one another while the others slept, the idea of what Broken Bellows could be was developed from those spontaneous late-night road sessions. Their debut EP, “The Card Table,” is set for release Aug. 25.
On the band’s buzzy new single, “In the Deep,” they create a fuzzed-up indie pop maelstrom that finds them exploring a staticky shoegaze landscape. The effects-heavy noise is layered with airy electronics and soaring vocals, revealing a catchy, melody-driven approach that suits Brent and Prinzi’s altered pop instincts. Taking a cue from Iron & Wine’s last album or the fizzy wash of The Shins, the song pours across your skin like a series of liquid rhythms, leaving trails of fluorescent memories in its wake. “In the Deep” does recall the synth pop release of CHVRCHES but evokes its own ethereal reality where experience and inspiration collide and burst apart in showers of shimmering pop brilliance.
The Sighs, “It’s Real”
It’s been 20 years since we last heard from Massachusetts rock band The Sighs-since the release of their last record, 1996’s “Different.” But after finding a box of early demos and analog tapes that were made at the band’s house studio back in the ’90s, the band found the inspiration to rework these songs and revisit the sounds that feel so revitalized now. With producer John DeNicola manning the boards at his studio in upstate New York, they approached the recording of these tracks with a newfound sense of creativity and freedom. The resulting sessions would form the basis of their forthcoming album, “Wait on Another Day,” due Sept. 8 via Omad Records.
On their latest single, “It’s Real,” the band roars through a power-pop environment where guitars lash out and melodies cut through the air in front of your face. Full of ecstatic hooks and driving rhythms, the track imagines what might happen if Big Star and The Replacements were ever to jam together in an enclosed space. There’s definitely a bit of nostalgia in their uproarious alt pop noise, but the band isn’t merely ceding to their desire to reclaim some past glories. The music is imbued with a fierce catchiness, giving the band a perfect foundation from which to refamiliarize people with their unique brand of primordial pop catharsis and revitalize a sound that hasn’t felt relevant in quite some time.
Dead Stars, “Pink Clouds”
The work of Brooklyn-based indie rock band Dead Stars is instantly familiar but isn’t bound by any obvious comparisons. Over the years, the band has favored a foggy and fuzzed-out pop-rock clatter, but their recent music feels far more stripped-down and aggressive, combining a collection of ebullient rhythms with a darker, more austere production. Their affinity for classic rock attitude and ’90s college rock authenticity has led them to adopt a sound that functions as both homage and original perspective. With the release of their new LP, “Perfect Patterns” (due out Sept. 1), the band is looking to continue this investigation into the murkier and minimalist side of modern indie rock.
With their new single, “Pink Clouds,” they power through a ferocious pop-punk explosion, fueled by some truly incendiary guitar riffs and chest-thudding percussion. You can hear the influence of bands like Dinosaur Jr. and Weezer living within these sounds. But Dead Stars don’t deal in imitation-they’re adapting these well-worn rhythms to suit their own needs and wants. Buzzing licks streak across the sky while dense melodies crackle like sparklers in the darkness. Filled with ample distortion and classic rock inclinations, the song never fails to impress and exudes an incomparable energy in its depiction of a certain punk rock evolution. They deliver these raucous revelations in a fitting manner that raises the hair on your neck and reminds you why rock ‘n’ roll mattered in the first place.
Joshua Pickard covers local and national music, film and other aspects of pop culture. You can contact him on Facebook, Twitter or by email. The opinions expressed in this column belong solely to the author, not Nooga.com or its employees.