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Those Darlins are a garage/punk/country band from Tennessee. The three core members who make up Those Darlins are Nikki, Jesse, and Kelley, and last year they released their second full-length album Screws Get Loose via Oh Wow Dang Records. The sounds on Screws Get Loose is quite a departure from the band’s self-titled debut. Where their previous recordings focused more on backwoods folk with a hint of dirty garage crunchiness, the newer material is more rooted in 50’s and 60’s style garage rock ala Shannon and The Clams and Hunx and His Punx. I’m a huge fan of the darlins early output and was a little thrown off by the drastic shift in songwriting, but after a few spins I can honestly say that I’m happy with the direction they’ve chosen. It would have been damn near impossible for Those Darlins to continue on the backwoods roads they traversed back in 2009, and the songwriting styles on Screws Get Loose allows the band a lot more room to grow. I won’t say that I love the new album to the degree I love their debut, but I see them sticking around for a lot longer (which is a really good thing).

Recommended if you like: JEFF The Brotherhood, Frankie Rose, La Sera, or Shannon and The Clams.

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Siamese Twins are a dream pop trio who play slightly gothy, slightly twee sounding post punk. In the tradition of early 4AD and current Slumberland artists like Frankie Rose and Black Tambourine, Siamese Twins’ particular brand of jangly, albeit by-the-books, indie pop is as simple as it is catchy. Vocals are traded back and forth, one of higher register and one on the lower end, to great effect. The band self released a demo cassette last year and has a 7” due on Labor of Love Records in the coming months. With summer just around the corner (or already at our doors for the Austin, TX crowd) it’s time to start spinning some poppy goodness to get your mind right, and Siamese Twins are precisely what you need.

Grab their demo here.

Recommended if you like: Frankie Rose, Seapony, La Sera, or Screaming Females.

Miniature Tundras bands to watch at SXSW 2012

It’s that time of year again; SXSW 2012. A time when Austin basically shuts down and everyone spends a few hard earned days off getting day-drunk and building up a massive hangover that will have them secretly puking into the garbage cans under their desks. I’ve done SXSW the last two years and my biggest problem has always been knowing exactly who’s playing. I went to the trouble of digging through the official SXSW band list, and I jotted down the names of the bands I think you need to see. This is basically just a big-ass list of bands, but you can get all the relevant showtime info over at the official SXSW page.

SXSW 2012 Bands to Watch:

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Terry Malts are a garage pop band from San Francisco, CA. The band recently released their debut album Killing Time on Slumberland Records, and it basically rules. A combination of uber-fuzzy punk riffs with the pop sensibility of bands like FIDLAR (one of my current favorites) and Dum Dum Girls, Terry Malts deftly blend genres into one hulking mass of power. Killing Time is the kind of record you play during unruly house parties and long summer drives; it’s catchy enough to have you whistling along, and dirty enough to soundtrack that perfect night of alcohol fueled debauchery. Terry Malts are most definitely a band to watch this year.

Recommended if you like: FIDLAR, Mikal Cronin, Bleached, Wax Idols, or Big Troubles.

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Holograms are four Swedish punks who work together in a factory. They recently signed a deal with underground-ish label Captured Tracks and are set to release their debut 7” ABC City on April 3rd. So far there isn’t much of a point of reference for Holograms other than the single track they’ve released, but luckily that track is good as hell. If Holograms can continue to release music this good, they will be a force in the garage scene. Here’s hoping they aren’t a one trick pony.

Recommended if you like: Iceage, Total Control, X, Wipers, or Pissed Jeans.

Top 40 Albums of 2011: Part 3 (20-11)

We’re getting close to the end. Here are some of the albums that managed to break the top 20. Enjoy.

20. PJ Harvey – Let England Shake - I have been a huge PJ Harvey fan for years and I always get excited when she drops a new album, but her last few releases have left much to be desired. That is not the case with Let England Shake. This concept album shows a gigantic growth in Harvey’s art, and is all but irresistible.

19. Ty Segall – Goodbye Bread - Long time underground garage rock savant Ty Segall ditched his Big Muff and instead focused on writing timeless songs with pop sensibility. Ty Segall is one of my favorite artists, and Goodbye Bread ushered in a whole new era for his sound.

18. Atlas Sound – Parallax - This album sounds a lot like the last Deerhunter album, but I don’t really count that as a bad thing. Parallax shows Bradford Cox at the very top of his game. The album is subtle, catchy, and accessible. A real gem.

17. FIDLAR – DIYDUI 7” - FIDLAR are a recent discovery for me, and I could not get enough of their DIYDUI 7” this year. It’s so fucking catchy! Everyone I’ve forced to listen to FIDLAR all say the same thing…”Whoa, that’s good!”

16. Grimes – Geidi Primes - After a stunning performance on last year’s Darkbloom split 12” with d’Eon, Grimes returned in 2011 with a fantastically weird and off kilter electro-pop album. The melodies on Geidi Primes will throw you for a loop at first, but they will be stuck in your head for months.

15. Iceage – New Brigade - Lo-fi garage punk from Denmark that is equal parts 80’s darkwave and hardcore punk. New Brigade is one hell of a great debut, and managed to stay fresh and charming all year.

14. Oneohtrix Point Never – Replica - Experimental music with a dark core. I absolutely love Oneohtrix Point Never and Replica is exactly what I wanted it to be. It’s eerie, haunting, sinister, and gorgeous. A shinning moment in an already stellar career.

13. Tom Waits – Bad As Me - Bad As Me doesn’t show any major shifts in Tom Waits’ style, but who the fuck cares? This is Tom Waits doing what he does best; writing weirdo circus folk. He sounds as good as ever, and the vocals on Bad As Me are his best in years.

12. The Men – Leave Home - I fucking love this band. These dudes really know how to lay on the grime, and Leave Home is a barn burner from beginning to end. Post-punk chaos with the pop sensibility of garage rock? What could be better?

11. Fucked Up – David’s Town (Record Store Day release) - This “album” was released as a companion to Fucked Up’s 2011 rock opera, David Comes Alive. While I enjoyed David Comes Alive I found myself uninterested after a dozen or so listens, but David’s Town is drastically different from said rock opera and I have listened to it every few days since I grabbed it. This is NOT a Fucked Up album, it’s a faux soundtrack that fits into the story told in David Comes Alive. The cool thing about this record is that every song is by a different made up band (all played by the members of Fucked Up), and each track sounds different. A truly stunning experiment that went largely unnoticed this year.

Top 40 Albums of 2011: Part 1 (40-31)

1 year ago I made the first post on Miniature Tundras showcasing my top 20 albums of 2010. Well, the time has come for another edition of my year-end favorites. This time around I managed to pick my top 40 albums of the year but, instead of just plopping down a big list, I’m releasing it in stages. For the next few days I will be counting down my favorites (with brief commentary) until I reach the coveted number 1 spot. Enjoy!

MINIATURE TUNDRAS TOP 40 ALBUMS OF 2011: Pt. 1 (40-31)

40. Amen Dunes – Through Donkey Jaw - Super satisfying psych folk from upstate NY.

39. James Blake – James Blake - This was a great album at the start of the year, but it was eclipsed by many others and lost much of its luster after repeat listens.

38. Kurt Vile – Smoke Ring for My Halo - Easily Vile’s most consistent output. A great rainy day album.

37. St. Vincent – Strange Mercy - Weirder than Actor, but oh so much more involved. Annie Clark is a fucking peach.

36. Jens Lekman – An Argument With Myself - I’m a sucker for Lekman’s dry wit, and this EP did not disappoint.

35. JEFF The Brotherhood – We Are The Champions - This album reminds me of Weezer, but in the best possibly way. Ridiculously catchy garage rock for every occasion.

34. Grouper – A I A: Alien Observer/Dream Loss - Personally I don’t think Grouper gets enough love. This double album is blissful collection of hazy soundscapes that will tuck you in and whisk you off to dreamland.

33. Crystal Stilts – In Love With Oblivion - Not terribly different from their 2009 debut, but more focused and to-the-point. A fun record.

32. Girls – Father, Son, Holy Ghost - I wasn’t a huge fan of this album at first but it slowly won me over and now I’m hooked. Best mixtape of the year.

31. A Winged Victory for the Sullen – s/t - Achingly beautiful ambient/modern classical from the genre’s finest. This album is stunning.

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Bleached is the new project from former Mika Miko members (and sisters) Jennifer and Jessie Clavin. Recently the band released their Francis 7” on Ooga Booga Records. The similarities between Mika Miko and Bleached  are easy to spot but, instead of carrying the riot grrrl torch that Mika Miko was so well known for, Bleached is more focused on vintage pop/garage rock sensibilities. I like what I’ve heard from the Clavin sisters thus far, and I will definitely be on the lookout for a full-length in the future.

Recommended if you like: Wild Flag, Heaven’s Gate, Harlem, The Beets, or Seapony.

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I know that most people are adjusting their playlists to better fit the season. I, however, am spinning lo-fi sleaze punk.

FIDLAR are a Los Angeles based skate punk band. These dudes seriously know how to write a hook, which can be heard up and down the band’s recent release for White Iris, DIYDUI 7”. I don’t want to spoil the surprise by telling you too much about FIDLAR’s sound, but needless to say it rules. It’s catchy as fuck, loaded with drug and alcohol references, and promotes a slacker ideal above all else. You should do yourself a huge favor and ditch your overrated Fleet Foxes and Bon Iver albums and extend the summer with FIDLAR.

Recommended if you like: Bass Drum of Death, Marked Men, Mind Spiders, Wavves, or The Men.