In 2016, J Eastman and the Drunk Uncles – a bar band from Minneapolis with an Uncle Tupelo obsession – released ‘No Capo Required’, a rough and ready EP that was as much a gutsy homage to their musical heroes as a no-frills love letter to musical fun. Not all good music has to be perfect and the Uncles seemed keen to champion that message. Two years on, the follow up ‘Pleasing Some of The People…’ keeps a firm hold on their slightly sloppy but incredibly gung ho style, but trades in some of the more rootsy elements for a tough but not always entirely tuneful power pop edge. Put it this way: with mid-period Replacements as part of the blueprint, you can’t help but hear more than a trace of the best music that sprang from their geographical roots on parts of this release.
Do you like music with an eighties slant? Do you like synths? If the answer to either of those questions is yes, there’s a chance you’ll love this new single from Vandal Moon.
Mark Lane’s fourth album ‘New Memory’ continues the Californian singer-songwriter’s voyage down a rabbit hole of retro pop. So much so, that it’s hard to work out whether its title is meant to be ironic. These ten songs do not so much create things that’ll eventually become a new memory as delve into old musical memories and stir them up. To say that Lane’s work is often the sum of its many influences would be an understatement, but there’s no avoiding the fact that – assuming you like retro pop/rock with a heavy 70s bias – ‘New Memory’ is a thoroughly enjoyable record.
This Minneapolis based garage rock band is entirely unpretentious. At no point do these musicians stretch too far beyond their garage-ish musical limits – limits that are occasionally just a little too obvious – nor do they display any kind of ego. By their own admission, J. Eastman & The Drunk Uncles are rather shambolic. Still, a fairly loose and carefree attitude has got them so far and this third release works very much on a maxim of “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it”. Or in the case of the Uncles, it might even be “if it sounds a bit broke, let’s swill some booze and knock things about until they sound better.”
True to their word, bits of ‘No Capo Required’ do indeed sound sloppy. That said, you’ll have heard sloppier…and sometimes from bands who actually genuinely believe they’re the very acme of musical perfection.