Sometimes a record label finds a sweet spot, locking in on an aesthetic that keeps you enthralled. That’s exactly what Bill and Lisa Roe of Trouble in Mind Records have been doing for me with one irresistibly hooky rock band after another. Not every act has staying power, and some are unapologetically mining aesthetics developed decades ago, but nearly every Trouble in Mind release over the past couple years has sounded great to me. This time next year I might not still be itching to listen to the self-titled debut from Oakland four-piece Rays, which came out in late March, but right now it’s doing a killer job kicking off my summer.
Rays borrow from various strains of late-70s and early-80s postpunk, with a dash of numb scratchiness complementing their herky-jerky riffs. The clanging, clambering guitars often surge and stumble in and out of the loose, almost sloppy grooves, but they always take me along for the ride. A handful of songs on Rays put me in mind of the early output of New Zealand band the Clean, including today’s 12 O’Clock Track, “Over and Over.” The band rolls into town for a set on Saturday at the Do Division Street Fest; they also play an underground show on Sunday that you can probably find with some modest Googling skills.
Mariel Roberts, Cartography (New Focus)
Florian Weber, Criss Cross (Enja)
Anna Meredith, Varmints (Moshi Moshi)
Eddie Bert, Crosstown (Fresh Sound)
Cristián Alvear, Michael Pisaro: Melody, Silence (For Solo Guitar) (Potlatch)