Candi and the Strangers: 10th of Always

RIYL: Blondie, Cocteau Twins, Lush

Forming a dream pop band is one of the ultimate acts of devotion one can commit. No band in the genre ever rose above cult status in terms of sales, but the ones that have done it well will live forever. You have to think that Austin quiintet Candi and the Strangers knows that their commercial potential has a visible ceiling, but God love them for reaching for it anyway. The band’s sophomore effort, 10th of Always, is like listening to the thoughts of a cool girl in love. She feels the same things that everyone else feels but refuses to let it show, so even when the songs swoon – and boy, do they swoon – it’s done so with impeccable taste and composure, and perhaps a bit of detachment. Cool girls don’t lose their shit, you know.


Fans of Blondie are going to lap up this album, and not just because “Femme Sonique” is a toned-down re-write of “Atomic.” “Nico Regrets” captures both the smooth and edgy aspects of Blondie’s sound, and the epic closer “The Weather Is Here, Wish You Were Beautiful” is like the Jesus and Mary Chain getting their hands on some lost girl group song and turning it inside out. “Glide,” meanwhile, is positively blissed. There are times, though, when singer Samantha Constant’s vocals are a bit too far down in the mix, and despite the album’s consistently strong songwriting, it takes several listens before some of the songs leave a visible footprint. But such is love, even with a cool girl – you take the good with the bad, and with 10th of Always, it’s all so pretty that complaining about imperfections seems petty. (Candi and the Strangers 2011)

Click here to download Candi and the Strangers – Nico Regrets

Candi and the Strangers MySpace page
Click to buy 10th of Always from Amazon


Jemina Pearl: Break It Up

It’s not all the cocaine/not a chemical reaction in my brain/that’s making me go insane.” That’s the first line to “Heartbeats,” the opening track of Jemina Pearl’s solo debut Break It Up. It’s nice to see that the lead singer of the recently departed Be Your Own Pet hasn’t lost her edge. Sure, the music behind her vicious and vindictive lyrics may be better tailored for the dance floor than the mosh pit this time around, but this is dance music in the vein of Blondie, using disco beats to accompany dark lyrics and an overall menacing feel. While the Yeah Yeah Yeahs took the same approach this year with their excellent disco revival record It’s Blitz!, Pearl instead goes even further back in time with her dance-pop, instead drawing from ’60s pop music. Songs like “Selfish Heart” and “Ecstatic Appeal” sound like punk rock covers of unreleased Ronnettes songs. And others, like the brilliant “I Hate People,” an ode to misanthropy and true love (featuring Iggy Pop!), are freakish bubblegum pop songs from hell combining easy listening sounds with twisted lyrics and themes. “I Hate People” might just become an anti-love song classic; its chorus of “I hate people but I love you” should be anthem of every punk rocker in love, maybe even becoming a new wedding song. One thing’s for sure – Jemina’s back, she’s still pissed and kicks more ass than ever. (Ecstatic Peace! 2009)

Jemina Pearl MySpace page