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The Best & The Rest | This Week’s Top Indie-Pop Releases

Heart Bones dish, Coin head to dreamland and Pictish Trail are all thumbs.

Most major-label pop is aimed at kids. Fortunately, the indie ranks tend to aim a little higher. Here are the best offerings I came across this week, in order of preference:


Heart Bones
Hot Dish

MY TWO CENTS: Talk about a dynamic duo: Twin Cities twosome Heart Bones co-stars shirtless sex-god Har Mar Superstar‘s alter-ego (and sometime Ron Jeremy doppelganger) Sean Tillman, along with Texas rock outfit A Giant Dog’s volcanic vocalist Sabrina Ellis. My, what big libidos they have. All the better to get their funky freak-pop on. Drop your pants and get ready to dance.

THE PRESS RELEASE:Heart Bones is a rare thing — a new band with a long history — which heightens both expectations and standards. See, I think that when a new thing, a creative thing, clicks into place just right and does so immediately on a level that you just know and feel is true all at once, often it’s all the little ways it dares to be just a little bit off that actually makes it work. And striking this ideal ratio of The Familiar and The New is the specialist’s true skill. This is exactly how Heart Bones excels. It’s not hard to imagine that they shouldn’t exist at all: Sabrina Ellis and Sean Tillmann are obviously both tirelessly bustling and juggling and geographically separated by the entire height of the middle of the country. But put on their debut album Hot Dish and as soon as Sabrina’s first line enters, completing the inversion of Sean’s first line which has just spun your head around, the collaboration feels inevitable. Inevitable like, “Damn, right. Heart Bones. Guarding the center of vulnerabilities. Why do we have things called chest cavities instead of heart bones?” The anatomical warping of their name makes more sense given how fragile our meaty bodies actually are.”



MY TWO CENTS: These Nashvillians put enough guitar-rock edge and experimental sonics into their third album to elevate them above and beyond their less-adventurous peers. Definitely worth your coin.

THE PRESS RELEASE: “Since the arrival of their 2016 breakthrough single Talk Too Much, Coin have continually turned out sublimely catchy alt-pop, equally built on effervescent hooks and an understated complexity. With that dynamic earning them a passionate following, the Nashville-based trio have spent much of the past few years bringing their sing-along-heavy live set to frenzied crowds all across the globe. Coin embrace their pop instincts more fully than ever in their third studio album titled Dreamland, featuring their most sonically adventurous yet emotionally direct batch of songs to date.”

Pictish Trail
Thumb World

MY TWO CENTS: Scottish singer-songwriter Johnny Lynch, who records under the unique moniker Pictish Trail, is new to me. But based on his charmingly strange sophomore album Thumb World — and the fact that its predecessor Future Echoes won the public vote for Scottish Album of the Year back in 2016 — he’s clearly got something. Even if it is something you can’t always put your finger on — and even if he is all thumbs.

THE PRESS RELEASE: “Bold, weird, wild, wired, sonically luxurious yet never losing touch with its DIY-‘til-I-die roots, Thumb World is a voyage to the outer rings of Pictish Trail’s mind at its darkest, funniest and most inventive – a plugged-in, fuzzed-out, fucked-up contemplation on, as he puts it, “life repeating and gradually degrading, the inevitable cyclical nature of things, and the sense of their ultimately being no escape.” Expect alien abductions, thumping beats, Trump-haired pigs, paternal panic, astronaut sex, bad acid trips, worse hangovers, lashings of distortion and a lot of anthropomorphic thumbs. “Our opposable thumbs are the things that separate us from most other animals on Earth,” Pictish explains, of the fat digit symbolism, “they are also the things that we use to swipe on screens, to separate ourselves from our normal lives, but which in turn trap us within an artificial reality.”

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