Neutrals, Blood Club and More May 2024 Music

Album cover for New Town Dream by Neutrals released on May 31, 2024

On Memorial Day, right after turning in my last writing assignment of the month, I headed over to Bandcamp and played the new DIIV album. It was the first time I listened to Frogs in Boiling Water.Typically, I don’t like writing about an album unless I’ve given it a few spins, but, in that moment, DIIV resonated with me and I started typing. 

Frogs in Boiling Water is an album that sounds amazing when you’re eyes are about to fall shut at 11:30 a.m. because you had a DJ gig the previous night— your third over the holiday weekend— and you had to wake up early enough to finish some work. That is a very specific situation, but it’s one that I can hear reflected in the tough, hazy sound of the album. This album is not dreamy, as people often refer to shoegaze bands. It’s the sound of pushing forward even when your shoulders slump and you have to close your eyes ever couple minutes.

The biggest drawback to living in a time where we have so much access to new music is that it’s incredibly difficult to not just keep up with what’s out there, but to find the time to connect with it. Much earlier in the month, I noticed an update on Bandcamp that Sugarcoat, the new album from Blushing, was out. I was excited enough about this to start listening to the album, add it to my wish list and text a friend with a link to the album before heading out to a show at The Moroccan Lounge. But, then I had to catch a ride to the club, so I put the listening session on hold. When I got to The Moroccan, the first thing I saw was a poster for Blushing’s date there in July. I took a photo as a reminder. Despite all that, it was at least another week before I remembered to go back and download the album. 

Eventually, though, I fell for the Texas-based band’s third full-length, Sugarcoat, which sounds like the intersection of late ‘80s/early ‘90s 4AD and Creation Records bands. There’s a nice balance of noisy atmosphere and tight melodies throughout the album. This is more in line with what I play if I’m DJing in between bands rather than in dance club sets and, in fact, I did get to drop in the title track at Harvard & Stone recently. 

I’ve spent a lot of time listening to lovesick, the latest album from Blood Club, this month. This may or may not have been inspired by a request someone flashed from the crowd at Nocturno back in March, but I’m not sure because I’m nearsighted and can’t really read cel phone screens at a distance. However, I could have sworn I saw a B and a C on that screen, which got me thinking about Blood Club, especially since I had just played a request for French Police that I think came from the same person. That possible request was still in my head when lovesick dropped at the beginning of May.

It took a good while to figure out what song might work best on the dance floor, but I ultimately went with “No Quiero Bailar.” I like the juxtaposition of the song title and the dance beat. Musically, it reminds me of New Order on songs like “Everything’s Gone Green,” when you can still hear the remnants of Joy Division in them. I played “No Quiero Bailar” for the first time at Nocturno’s San Diego show last week and the reaction was good, so it’s a keeper in my sets.

One of my favorite albums to come out this month is something I’ve been sitting on since April, when I came across a PR email for a band called Neutrals. I don’t know why I downloaded the advance, but I likely caught the references to ‘80s British post-punk bands in the email when I first scanned it. When I listened to the album, my initial reaction was disbelief. New Town Dream is a new album? I can’t even tell you how many times I re-read the press release to confirm that it wasn’t the unearthed demo that some long-forgotten band recorded in 1982. 

In fact, Neutrals is a currently active band from San Francisco with a singer who is originally from Glasgow. New Town Dream is their second album, released for the first time on the last day of May in 2024. I am hooked. The band taps into the spirit of a side of post-punk that isn’t referenced so often these days. Think of groups like The Fall, The Jam, Orange Juice and Josef K, rather than the goth stuff. I also like that they’re a little cheeky about the retro vibe. The video game sound effects at the end of “Phantom Arcade” are a nice touch. I do hope they play L.A. sometime in the near future. 

As for the other bands mentioned here, they are all playing L.A. this summer. On June 21, Blood Club headlines The Paramount, with support from Casket Cassette, Dustbowlchampion and DJ FN1. DIIV hits The Wiltern on June 29 with Lightning Bolt opening. Blushing plays Moroccan Lounge on July 6. 

Information for my upcoming DJ gigs is below

Friday, May 31

Club Underground: 2000s Night @ Grand Star Jazz Club

943 N. Broadway, Chinatown 90012

Details: 9 p.m., 21+, Tickets available on Eventbrite or Dice

Sunday, June 2

Disco Matinee @ Grand Star Jazz Club

943 N. Broadway, Chinatown 90012

Details: 3-7 p.m., 21+, Click here for tickets

Saturday, June 15

Klub Nocturno @ Catch One 

4067 W. Pico Blvd., Arlington Heights 90019

Details: 9:30 p.m., 21+, Click here for tickets

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