It’s our Bandcamp Picks of the Week, featuring the nostalgic jangle pop of Old Moon’s UNDER ALL SKIES, and The Zells’ ’90s post-modern throwback greatest hits ANT FARM!
Old Moon – UNDER ALL SKIES
Genre: Jangle Pop
Favorite Tracks: “All It Takes,” “Harbor”
It doesn’t take much vision to fall under the quaint cinematic spell of UNDER ALL SKIES. Tom Weir, who records under the name Old Moon, claims to be the “Vermont post-punk king” in his Bandcamp bio—a title so cheekily specific it must be true. If you do even the smallest amount of research on Sharon, VT where he resides, the visceral charm of his latest EP takes shape. Chartered in 1761 with a current population of roughly 1,560, a picturesque New England sky sits in the foreground of Weir’s small town Americana; the infectious lo fi jangle pop and cheery ennui of his latest EP convey a sense of seasons changing even while the day-to-day idleness of life doesn’t.
Like the haziest works from The Bats, or Daivd Kilgour’s listless solo work, Old Moon similarly hones in on the cracks of light peeking out through the overcast skyline. Weir’s second record of 2022, UNDER ALL SKIES is a more melodic and pop forward collection than June’s CITIES OF THE PLAIN, where his title as Vermont’s post punk king is more earned. Highlight “All It Takes,” one of the best songs of 2022, is a warming, dreamy stroll down memory lane, the gorgeous swirl of hi hat and guitar combining into a wistfully engrossing haze of love and empathy where Weir croons of “To loop the empty space / To find your saving grace / Is it sprawled out on the page? / Is it even there? / Does life feel so unfair? / Is it more than you can take?” Elsewhere we see the cavernous echo of Weir’s post punk instincts take hold—”Harbor” is a reflective, sweeping anthem about death, closer “Crowned in Laurel” is a cavernous, hopeful dirge—but UNDER ALL SKIES always feels like an overwhelming jangle pop nostalgia trip the way Flying Nun used to do it. Under all skies, it seems, we watch the clouds move while we ourselves remain static, left only to process our lives, relationships, and shortcomings. Such is listening to Old Moon while mentally placing ourselves in Sharon, VT. It’s a quick hitting six-track EP that’s worth an immediate listen. Check it out over on Bandcamp!
The Zells – ANT FARM
Genre: Slacker Rock, Hardcore, Emo
Favorite Tracks: “Mankey,” “Finnerty’s Dream,” “Truther Uncle”
A fusion of unabashed ‘90s rock influences ranging from dogged college rockers like Guided By Voices, Archers of Loaf, and early Superchunk, into the jagged edged early emo of Jawbreaker and The Get Up Kids, The Zells’ ANT FARM kitchen sinks the most enduring names from a broad and singular era music to make one of the more fascinating post-modern explorations of this sound in a minute. There’s a Built To Spill swoop to “Finnerty’s Dream” one minute, and then a Malkmus deadpan on “Bryan Ray Trout, 1999.” The entire album, produced by Baked and Titus Andronicus’s R.J. Gordon, painstakingly captures the sawtoothed guitar sounds of those bands, giving as much space in the production as necessary to encapsulate the early grunge, emo, hardcore, slacker, and alternative rock of the time—even the track names often echo the idiosyncratic style of a band from the era, like “Truther Uncle” or “Suffer + Toil.”
The band’s shameless excitement at mining these influences is unabashedly endearing rather than derivative—sure, there is a type of 50 year old dude out there who will hear The Zells and be mad that it was made by a bunch of kids in Pittsburgh in 2022 who “weren’t there,” but even if “Payday” devolves into a Drive Like Jehu song in an era where Drive Like Jehu are as known for running a hipster donut shop in Los Angeles as they are their actual music, there’s a cinematic quality to listening to ANT FARM front-to-back and falling under the charm of a greatest hits CD that never existed. Sure, there’s pretty good albums being made by the likes of all of these influences right now (hell, Built to Spill had one come out just two weeks ago), but you’ll get all of it and more with The Zells. If this magpied approach to ‘90s indie rock sounds compelling, run don’t walk to Bandcamp now.