STATE COWS – Stealing The Show EP

In 2011, something unexpected happened. The most perfect homage to American westcoast pop sounds appeared in the shape of a debut album by a band named State Cows. Bits of Toto, Airplay, Maxus and pretty much everything with that vibe from 1978-81 was reborn in an almost flawless contemporary recording. It was almost impossible to tell whether the recordings had been sitting in a vault since 1980. Even more unbelieveable, these wondrous American sounds were recreated in a much less sunny Sweden. For westcost lovers, tracks like ‘New York Town’ and the wryly humorous ‘Stella By The Barlight’ became fast and firm favourites. Two years on, the aptly named ‘The Second One’ brought more of the same, but was perhaps a little weaker in places. Not that State Cows had lost their knack for retro sounds – the songs were very strong; it was more that element of surprise was gone.

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NIGHT MARKET – White Seasons EP

Comprising the talents of Evan Effres and Jon Swan, both of whom wield acoustic guitars and show a love of a simple vocal harmony, it’s impossible to hear Night Market and not be transported back into the world of the sadly missed Eric Lowen & Dan Navarro. Their second EP, 2019’s ‘White Seasons’ very much marks the duo as an act that deserve more attention, since its three songs are finely crafted, soft and often have a mood that gently lifts the spirits.

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DARTS – The Albums: 1977-81

The 70s were an incredibly fertile time for music. The decade began with the earlier purveyors of hard rock and metal – Deep Purple, Black Sabbath et al – and ended in a similar fashion with bands like Iron Maiden and Saxon spearheading what had been dubbed the New Wave of Heavy Metal. Somewhere between the two metal-oriented goalposts, funk begat disco and progressive rock roamed the landscape like a giant self-indulgent behemoth; punk inspired a generation to create DIY sounds and the likes of ELO, David Essex, 10cc and Pilot were at the forefront of pop perfection. David Bowie and Marc Bolan bought androgyny into the mainstream and Roxy Music looked and sounded like they’d been dropped to earth by aliens. Looking back – maybe with some rose-tinted glasses – the 1970s seemed to be a time when new musical ground was being broken month after month.

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Listen: Honeychain deliver a future classic on new 7″

Honeychain released their debut LP in 2017.  Produced by Kim Shattuck, the record often drew parallels with The Muffs in that the bulk of the material straddled a fine line between hard edged power pop and melodic punk.   In some ways, the lesser known act showed themselves to be better than Shattuck’s own band in that Hillary Burton’s vocals were often much sharper.

A new full length is expected from the Los Angeles based punks before the end of 2019. In the meantime, the band have shared a single, ‘Go Away’.  If the single is a measure of things to come then the second Honeychain LP will be one of the best discs of the year.

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