“How do your thoughts feel when they are drowning?”

“In Colour” by Wooing | “You know Rachel Trachtenberg?” Jeany asked me during one of our chats this week. Now I realize I have mistaken her for Michelle Trachtenberg. Jeany and I are of the same age but our references are quite different, understandably. At least me saying Rachel is an actress isn’t false. (Whew.) We were talking about her new band Wooing, another reference lost to me because now it’s clear I have not heard of Rachel before, but “In Colour”, off their just released EP DayDream Time Machine, is a boozy, woozy thing that drives while bending. I would drive fast to this but then the road would buckle and I would be upside down the next moment, with my tires still on the road. Quite interesting, this. Now, to get both our references straight. [NB]

“Fare thee well, oh honey.”

“Down By The River” by Vikesh Kapoor | I somewhat missed the deadline on this, as this dropped last Friday (and on limited translucent blue flexi disc, if that’s you thing) but, well, songs like this don’t really do well kept behind a deadline. That’s me justifying writing about Vikesh Kapoor’s new single half a week later than I should have. Four years after the release of his debut album The Ballad of Willy Robbins, he settles down with this plaintive yet striking little thing – apparently about a Ukranian girl he met by the, well, river back in Pennsylvania, where he came from – one that you better just allow to soak you all the way through. This is a thing of beauty. [NB] (Have things I should hear? Drop me a line here.)

“How do I look now? Am I a beauty?”

“Girlhood” by the Preatures | Proof that I am woefully out of the loop lately: I missed this. The Preatures – my other favorite Aussie band, but then again there are many – have returned with a track that focuses squarely on their revving sound, but still has that romp through rock history that they did the first time. But listening to this right now, as I write this, makes me harried. I have lots of work to do and I am rushing this to post because I actually scheduled nothing. Again. Here we go. Again. How do I look now? Am I clearly harangued? [NB]

Review: Harry Styles by Harry Styles

Harry Styles by Harry StylesIf you heard one of the songs from this album by chance, and you had no inkling it’s Harry Styles, you’d probably like it. I had that experience; I was picked up from the airport last weekend and my brother had “Meet Me in the Hallway” playing, and half-sleepy me had no idea. I’m not saying you’ll instantly dislike this album when you find out it’s that guy from One Direction. It’s just that the label carries so much weight. 1D were not always frothy music, by all means – they have been flirting with classic rock across their four albums – but hearing the group’s breakout go solo with a record carrying a sound that should ooze authenticity results in a bit of dissonance. He can carry the 70s rock influences – most of the songs on his eponymous solo debut are actually enjoyable, and if you don’t listen closely, even the duds do their jobs on a long drive – but he fails to make them his own, dawg, to quote Randy Jackson. (Different reality show, I know.) Remember when everyone thought of David Bowie when “Sign of the Times” was released? Perhaps it’s the baggage – you imagine Harry being that guy from 1D. But no, this isn’t a bad album. It’s good, but he’s just not there yet. It’s a challenge, this thing Harry is doing to himself. He’ll have to push more to really convince us he can embrace these influences. [NB]3/5

Review: Don’t Look Back by Lola Amour

Don't Look Back by Lola AmourLola Amour is an eight-piece jazzy thing that started shooting up in prominence after winning a slot at this year’s Wanderland – and now they’ve released a four-track EP, Don’t Look Back. All right, it’s three tracks and one 90-second interlude at the end, so momentum-wise it does not feel enough; it feels like they’re still holding back. But this is an EP, and that is pointless nitpicking. That said, there’s something budding in the band’s sound. It’s nice that we have kids who aren’t going for your typical indie-pop sound; that alone is inspiring. The songs are tight and there are some good little surprises sprinkled throughout. And I am a sucker for horns; you all know that. I’m hoping to hear them break out of this introduction in future releases, that they forge their way forward with a sound and a sensibility that’s a little more like their own. But again, that perhaps is also nitpicking. It is a good introduction, and all I’m supposed to give out now is hope. [NB]3/5