No Joy

No Joy is a Canadian four piece that has an outstanding amount of force in their music. With a wall of guitars and shoegazey vocals, they remind me of another Canadian band, The Besnard Lakes. No Joy has a well polished sound for how much noise they put out. The main standout for this album is the lovely vocals and crunchy guitars. The songs to check out are “E”, “Lunar Phobia” and “Ignored Pets.”

Another new album came out last week from Young Galaxy. This new full length, Ultramarine, is just as fresh as their previous releases. There is a lot of arpeggio-ed blips that add a new layer to the already dense repertoire of YG’s electro-pop music. Though it may take a few listens to totally get down on Ultramarine, Young Galaxy has some incredible tunes on this album. My favorites are “New Summer” and “What We Want.”

Jamaican Queens

The debut album from Detroit’s Jamaican Queens really hits all the right spots. They have a unique blend of glitch-pop, hip-hop, and singer-songwriter types of styles. Wormfood is filled with great lyrics and songwriting, with topics from relationships to hospitalizations to being selfish. The album starts out with one of my favorite tracks “Water.” This track has a great build to an epic climax of three verses being layered over one another. The next song, “Kids Get Away,” keeps up the energy with a hard hitting synth line and well delivered chorus. Along with those two tracks, the closer, “Caitlin,” are my favorite on this debut full length. I have a feeling these guys are the next big up-and-comers and I’m excited to see what they come up with next. Jamaican Queens are on tour right now and are playing Cozmic Pizza in Eugene on May 7th, and Mississippi Studios on May 8th.

This week saw the release of Oberhofer’s latest EP Notalgia. Filled with catchy guitar riffs and overall positive feeling rock-pop. The opening track, “You + Me” is such a lovely song about friendship. Definitely one of my favorite artists over the last several years, you don’t want to miss this EP.

Charts – Vacation EP

Charts Vacation EP

Charts is a band who ascends an enormous pile of post punk, new wave, and garage rock revival. These guys pretty much don’t give a shit. But when you listen to their new Vacation EP, you can’t help but wonder if they’re actually criminal masterminds plotting to take over Portland with their contagious party rock. They’ve moved towards higher quality production techniques, and can we just say it sounds so good.

There are a lot of elements working together to make Charts the delicious new wave candy with a creamy doo-wop center it is. The album kicks off with the energetic reverb’d vocals and guitars of “Settling Down,” a distant tribute to the aesthetics of great 80’s bands like New Order. But then the listener is warped back another 20 years in history for the next two tracks “Burn Out,” and “I Don’t Mind.” This diptych draws on the slowly walking bass-lines of early 1960’s pop, Phil Spector, and doo-wop for a subdued, dreamy sound. It’s reminiscent of an episode of American Band Stand where the audience dances and sways as the music dissolves their anxieties completely. Instead of singing about holding someone’s hand or being anybody’s baby, Charts uses more current themes like being close to a hopeless stoner or maintaining indifference in the face of (passive) aggression. Also working to update the vintage sound are fuzzy guitar and vocal effects, which point towards Chart’s lo-fi history while giving us a glimpse of what their music sounds like if it were produced by one of the nation’s best producers. The album comes full circle with “Get On The Bus,” a great surf-y, garage-y track like the first, the perfect closer as it ends with the imagery of leaving town on a beach-bound booze-cruisin party bus with Charts.

Vacation EP was released earlier this month. Have yourself a listen. Fork over the five bucks for the digital download, or Portlanders can see their outrageous live show Friday April 26 at Record Room and pick up a physical album there. The rest of the nation will have to sit tight for the next time Charts literally gets on the bus.

Ghost Ease

As soon as you hit the play button on Ghost Ease’s self-titled debut album, you are immediately transported to a smoke filled garage. Almost a sense of foreboding as the beautifully haunting vocals come in to start the verse. The first track tells you why this band is called Ghost Ease. They play on the edge of unsettledness, but with great song structure and amazing vocal work. With Ghost Ease being their first full length release, it will be a real treat to see what this local Portland band will do next.

On to a more punk influenced band with Thee Oh Sees. Their latest album is called Floating Coffin. This is their seventh full length release in the last five years and it doesn’t disappoint in the slightest. This high energy band loves putting in inspiring guitar riffs with fast pumping drum beats. When Thee Oh Sees do slow it down it becomes a more psychedelic affair that is pleasing to everyone’s ears.

The Besnard Lakes

The Besnard Lakes has been a force of experimental pop music over the last decade. Hailing from Montreal, their soundscape matches the expansive tundra that covers most of Canada. The new full length Until Excess, Imperceptible UFO feels like a timeless venture through a dream-space that almost seems familiar. Each song has a moment of existence that bleeds the line of post-rock and pop to create a true sense of art. The Besnard Lakes put out another classic gem that should not be overlooked, listen to it above.

Another new release this week was Young Man from Chicago. The sophomoric album is called Beyond Was All Around Me. Staying with the experimental pop category, Young Man plays a more upbeat type of pop mixed with influences like Pink Floyd and Twin Shadow. They bring a chill element to a rather eccentric style of electro-pop that has a lot of unique drum beats. “In A Sense” and “Josie” are my favorite tracks.