Two from Little Pocket Records

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Little Pocket Records is a Toledo, Ohio-based microlabel managed by The Hat Company, a lo-fi pop band that's also behind the city's local indie Popfest. The Hat Company has produced a marvelous full-length, (ironically) titled Fair Weathered Friends, with ten tracks of brief, tightly-constructed songs. You will want to check any cyncism at the door; "When I said I was cynical, you know that was just one big joke," Kyle Bliss sings on "A Cloud in Minor," ooh-ing backing vocals backing up his sentiments. Often his intentionally listless vocals drag against the tempo and pull each song into a dreamier terrain. Standouts include "Cutest Couple on Campus" and "Tide," a lovely ode to a detergent that gets all the stain out. ("That stain is totally out of sight.") Very good twee for those who keep the twee flame burning.

Labelmates The Homeville Circle are move overtly ambitious, deliberately evoking America in the early-20th century with tales of immigrants and disasters big and small. Midwestern Shambling is a concept album based on an antique postcard, following John and Sadie as they struggle to survive in the Midwest of the 1920's. You've got to love a band that works the great stock market crash into their lyrics. But those lyrics are smart and eloquent, and the sound, by sharp contrast, is full-blooded rock and roll. The effect is like an absinthe-fuelled fever dream, manic, pitched to a nervous breakdown. The limited-edition release of Midwestern Shambling has only 100 copies, each decorated with an antique photograph pasted to a yellow square envelope.

MP3: The Hat Company - Tide

MP3: The Homeville Circle - Bloodmoon

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