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WEGL's Weekly Picks: Sep 20-27

Pot Valiant - Never Return - September 22, 2023

Legendary archival record label The Numero Group have become a godsend and a necessity for hardcore fans of Music's historic underground, releasing reissues of classic records from hidden discographies that often were not accessible to anyone without a close connection to the band or artist themselves. The label comes through with gems on a near daily basis, and their latest project is no exception. After wiping the dust off of lesser-known California rockers Pot Valiant's cassettes and singles from the bands short-lived early 90s excursions, they had no choice but to fill listeners ears with a hearty blend of early emo, shoegaze, and outsider punk. On first listen, nothing about the bands sound is particularly attention grabbing, but upon further examination, it becomes clear how ahead of their time the group really was. Constantly oscillating between a clean tone and a slowcore style spaciness to an absolutely deafening wall of sound in most of the choruses, Pot Valiant knew how to keep listeners interested with simple chord progressions and nothing more than a fuzz pedal. Their house-show sound executed with serious technical proficiency allowed the band to craft 22 dense, well written tracks that offer something to every flavor of rock enjoyer.

Favorite Tracks: "Oar" ; "Last Sun" ; "Nugget Killer"

- Will Lewis

Slaughter Beach, Dog - Crying, Laughing, Waving, Smiling - September 22, 2023

Slaughter Beach, Dog’s 5th album Crying, Laughing, Waving Smiling, represents a new chapter for the band and for lead singer Jake Ewald. Ewald, recently 30, takes a step to further distance the angst-ridden days of fronting emo giant Modern Baseball and into something that feels more becoming of him & the life he intends to live. Crying, Laughing, Waving, Smiling feels lived in, as if a Nashville dive bar was relocated to a log cabin in the Poconos. The band effortlessly plays Jason Molina inspired tunes, giving honest, earnest Alt-Country.  Slaughter Beach, Dog fits nicely alongside Wednesday, MJ Lenderman and Pinegrove in this new wave of literary americana, where lyrics resemble that of a Murakami novel more than traditional americana. Imagery is aplenty with accompanying acoustic guitar and hints of percussion, electric guitar, and keys helping to guide the story along. “Empire” exemplifies this style with the lyrics guiding the listener, but not telling, as if for the listener to create their own personal attachment to the tune. When the lyrics do giveaway, it is to a beautiful but slight guitar solo. “Float Away,'' provides perhaps the best look into Ewald's literate lyricism with verses laden with imagery. You can almost feel the cool mountain air as the song progresses, leaving yearning for your own personal americana. Crying, Laughing, Waving, Smiling represents a triumph in the new, special, character driven universe of Alt-Country with Slaughter Beach, Dog being the sun as if for the rest to orbit.

Favorite tracks: “Float Away"; "My Sister in Jesus Christ"; "Empire”

- Walker Greene

underscores - Wallsocket - September 22, 2023

“underscores” is the hyperpop project of April Harper Grey. Rising to the hyperpop scene with the well received album fishmonger, fans were eager to see what direction she would take the project next. fishmonger left the hyperpop scene with new sounds and a well executed blending of pop and punk. “Cops and robbers”, the first track of the new album, Wallsocket, promises listeners that the pop punk style isn’t gone, but is rather refined. Beginning with a simple warbly guitar and then pushing into a full band backed by electronic embellishments and tape stops, the promise of “underscores” unique sound is kept. My personal favorite on the album is “Old money bitch”. It’s sonically based around a folky guitar lick but still maintains its hyperpop flavor. Its title and lyrics challenge the idea of the “nepo-baby” by accounting the different examples of status that the protagonist’s family has and how she fails to act as her stereotype. The rest of the album wanes back and forth between upbeat sing-along songs and slower, more emotional, lyric focused songs. “underscores” is an artist that sets hyperpop as more than a niche subculture, but as a style to look out for in the mainstream.

Favorite Tracks: “Cops and robbers”, “Johnny johnny johnny”, and “Old money bitch”

- Trey Hibbard

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