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Tommy and June – Tommy and June

Tommy and June have shown us that they are very capable of terrific harmonies

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There is a mystery to Tommy and June. The duo was put together when Fat Wreck Chords founder Fat Mike decided that these two musicians had to be heard. We don’t really know much except that Fat Mike met Tommy in Israel and June on tour in South America. The duo has worked together to produce their first album revolving around the hesitation of growing up, and although a very short album, the boys still manage to get their point across. In saying this, I needed more.  

The album has no shortage of harmonies, and most songs lean towards an acoustic sound which accompanies the harmonies well. This is best heard in “Lonely Train”, “Adulthood”, “Better Life Story” and “Young Man Bones”. They all follow a similar pattern of not really having a certain structure, rather they just drift. “New Alive” is the song that stood out as having more of a standard song set up or build up. It has more of a hook and increases as it goes. “Adulthood” is the pivotal song in the album that explains their thoughts on growing up. Putting it simply, they don’t want to.  

“Ghost Of Paris” is a short burst that wakes you up. With its fast pace and electric guitar, we see a punk side of Tommy and June. Even though it still falls in and out of the acoustic sound, it is a pleasant surprise to the album. “Black Maze” holds the same entertainment. It is heavier and has a back and forth singing between each other which is amusing. The electric guitar is louder and the drums are more prominent.

“Monogamist” was my favorite song of the album. The instrumentals remind me of Dolly Parton’s “Jolene” and features a wild west type of sound. But this song only just hits one minute! I want more! It just begins and at the same time, it is ending. It’s only giving me a preview of what they can produce. Give me more!

I can’t help but feel a little disappointed with this album. I always felt like something was missing from every song. I feel like this would be a good demo to preview your talents, but as a fully recorded album, it lacks excitement. I can’t picture a situation or mood I would choose to listen to this album over others. Music doesn’t always have to be overly complicated, it can be stripped back and use the simplest of chords, but it still needs to be entertaining. In this instance, less is more just wasn’t the case.   

Tommy and June have shown us that they are very capable of terrific harmonies. They pair these harmonies with the plucking of the acoustic guitar and it works. Perhaps if the songs were a little longer they could have showcased more of what they are capable of. Tommy and June have been created based on the beliefs that their talents need to be heard, and with a backing like that, I’m sure they can prove that they are not just background music. 

(Fat Wreck Chords)

Reviews

Tennis System – Lovesick

This is furious noise

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Tennis System Lovesick

It is impossible to read music that taps into the shoegaze lineage without finding mention of My Bloody Valentine or The Jesus and Mary Chain. While the aforementioned bands are certainly the epicentre of the genre, bands like Los Angeles’ Tennis System aren’t all too interested in being just another page in the Kevin Shields songbook. Unlike the genre’s progenitors, Tennis System only graze the often plodding, overly moribund nature of shoegaze, and instead find more inspiration from uptempo punk urgency. Lovesick, their third album, is a culmination of what the band call their “putting it all on the line” mentality, wrapped in fuzzed-out, loud guitars, breezy percussion work and that ‘let’s go’ punk attitude.

Songs like “Alone” and “Esoteric” come cut from the same mold that crafted early emo band Cap N’ Jazz; manic, loud, frenzied, while opener “Shelf Life” digs deep into the fuzzy, distorted heaven of Jawbox meets Burning Airlines. The song itself feverish sudden changes, one that mimics what vocalist/guitarist Matty Taylor told Flood Magazine about the song’s “journey of realization, denial, and finally acting upon things”. It’s true then that songs on Lovesick owe more to J. Robbins than Kevin Shields, but it is not to say the album is not without its more shoegaze moments. It’s the moodier soundscapes of “Cologne” and almost whispering “Fall” that paint from that brush.

The album’s strongest outing is the terrific “Turn”. It is a song that is a well constructed effort combining early emo and elements of shoegaze with the furious noise of guitar powered alternative/punk, packing together all the best qualities of the band in alluring freneticism.

As the title track closes proceedings, the listener is left with a sense of aural delight that came with albums like Loveless, or Trail of Dead’s brilliant Source Tags & Codes. It doesn’t mean to say Lovesick is a trailblazing record, but what it does mean is that the album’s tightly wound energy and furiousness explodes in euphoric delight- even if it is temporary. In the song “Lovesick”, Taylor sings, “please don’t let me burn out”… and perhaps, with this much aural euphoria, it is inevitable. But as the saying goes, “it’s better to burn out…”

(Graveface Records)

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Pom Pom Squad – Ow EP

The latest EP by this Brooklyn four-piece is beautiful vulnerability

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Pom Pom Squad

Brooklyn “quiet grrl” band Pom Pom Squad may have a cute moniker and description of their sound, but like their riot grrl brethren that it comes from, it’s anything but tame. Pom Pom Squad is a four-piece led by vocalist and songwriter Mia Berrin, who on their second EP, have taken the twinkly sounds of Rilo Kiley and Mitski and injected it with the grungy, manic energy of Hole and Bif Naked and the distorted, punk urgency of Bratmobile.

Ow stands out from the opening “Ow (Intro)”, a song of delicate heartbreak that is both pensive and biting. It’s mostly just Berrin and her guitar, sparkling in a glow of Midwestern emo-esque strings and her voice. The song is beautifully wistful when it sings “he says he wants what’s best for me” and biting when it comes back and says “they all say they want what’s best for me / but they never try to be the best for me”. It’s from this you hear the strength of the EP; that when it gets a little brooding, melancholy, pained, it’s also gorgeous, vulnerable and definitely unafraid to show the listener honesty and character.

In songs like “Heavy Heavy” and “Honeysuckle”, Pom Pom Squad get a little dirtier, a little grungier, amping up the distortion and sludgier percussion work. The hazy bellowing of “Heavy Heavy” adds to the angry introspection of the song; its lines of “It’s getting heavy heavy / Telling everybody that I’m fine / I’m feeling heavy heavy does it mean / I wanna fucking die?” painted by lusciously loud guitar work that would make Steve Albini smile. “Honeysuckle” takes on a similar pained look inside the mind but with a more fuzzed-out, alternative-rock veneer. Berrin’s lyrics come across as vividly as she sings “If I’m nothing without you am I anything at all?” It’s songs like these, with words like these, that hint of comparisons between Pom Pom Squad’s captivating allure with that of Courtney Love and Babes in Toyland during their heydey.

“Cherry Blossom” taps into that beautiful sorrow again, plugging into the aura that is painted when it is just Berrin and her guitar again. It’s almost hypnotic at times, and just as quickly as the tension and the magnetism builds, it ends. The anger of the album works because unlike angst, it’s calculated and targeted, leaving Ow as much of a substantial outing as it is growth from their 2018 EP Hate It Here. The only real downside to Ow are some moments like on the closing notes of “Cut My Hair”- a song that builds up to its crescendo with more dazzling vulnerability but ends a little quicker than it ought to. In truth, that’s the only real con of the EP, that when the orchestral fade-out of “Owtro” howls away, you’re left searching for more, with only repeated listens as your respite. But in the end, what could be better for an artist you’ve recently discovered than to get under your skin and leave you wanting more?

(self-released)

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