So full disclosure I run a record label and I’ve come to an agreement with Blood Makes Noise to let me promote releases every week. The idea is every week I will present a playlist with some new Mint 400 Records music and what I think inspired our songwriters. This week feels like we touch a lot of different ends of the spectrum from Indie Pop to Post Punk to Surf. We start right here in the Garden State with Lowlight and their newest album which is a departure from their previous work. When I would think of Lowlight in the past genre’s like rock and Americana would come up, but on their newest record the band returns to some of their prog roots and adds lots of indie pop and indie rock elements. It’s an album that is layered and hits many moods and feels especially throughout the first 15 minutes which are available collected as one track known as “The Quarantino Mixtape” but is also available on the “Strange Light” album broken up into smaller tracks so listeners can add them to playlists. Lowlight feels like they have such an immense amount of influences that I tried to just focus on small things on this new record that I thought were similar to a few other things. First on “Dream Of You” I immediately thought of the Beirut keyboard line in “No No No” even though that may not be what influenced the band. Next on the track “Backwards Up The Slide” it hit me that maybe unintentionally the end product comes off sounding a little bit like Paul Simon’s 80’s stuff. Fleshed out songs that feel full of instrumentation and a vibe that encompasses Americana but is packed with so many other influences. 

Dread Eyes from Northern New Jersey couldn’t sound further from Lowlight. Joe Pugsley of The 65’s and Ryan Struck of Scary Hours combine to make this super group of pop punk hits. On the track “Do You Really Wanna Work This Out?” Ryan takes over the lead vocals and it really does harken back to the pop punk of the late 90’s. I compared it to New Found Glory because it does have a striking similarity but just knowing the guys personally and their in depth knowledge of rock and punk I suspect it’s merely inspired by the same music that inspired NFG. The EP has a weird dynamic where as when Joe sings it takes on more old school qualities and feels like something Social Distortion or Mike Ness would sing but punky and without country twang and then Ryan’s voice shifts the songs into feeling more modern and akin to everything from Blink 182 to My Chemical Romance. Overall the wide variety of influence poured into this makes it hard to pin down exactly what inspires this band and I’m sure at this point they just write songs and they come out sounding how they sound because of the mood they are in. 

Finally from Chicago, Ryan Miera of The Limbos offers up another solo record, the mostly instrumental Yellow Pills album “Machines That Go Beep”. Ryan’s idea behind this project is to just create music he likes that doesn’t quite fit with The Limbos or that is easier to just lay down to tape himself without getting the full band involved. He definitely tries to pick a little bit of every genre he likes and infuse it into this record. We start with a surf tune and it masterfully mimics everything we love about surf and things like The Ventures. This is basically what The Limbos mostly do but with a horn section added. On other tracks the genre shifts to modern instrumental indie pop and I had a hard time finding a track that encompasses what Ryan does on his albums mostly because it feels like he uses the tones of someone like Trent Reznor but mixes it with the optimism of a Jon Brion soundtrack to construct these poppy yet dark songs. Overall a manic release that hits lots of genre’s but a very fun ride. 


- Neil Sabatino

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