And Now For Something Different: Steven A. Clark

463486_254391227980241_1461196547_oThis song is a little bit outside of what I normally post on here; it’s neither jangly nor surfy nor folksy. Instead, Steven A. Clark brings to the table what sounds to me like new wave pop with touches of hip hop influence. In this new single, “Can’t Have,” I’m definitely reminded of Twin Shadow‘s sound here, but the synths and percussion feel closer and louder in the overall mix, giving the track a huge sound. Not to mention the track is dance ready: you’ll find yourself nodding along to the whole thing if you’re not careful. If you like what you’re hearing, look out for The Lonely Roller, Clark’s upcoming LP, which is due out September 18th via Secretly Canadian. 

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Another Sweet Jam From Gardens & Villa

gardens_villas_tourA little bit ago Gardens & Villa announced the release of their upcoming record, Music For Dogs, and gave us a new single of their swirling electrified pop music. They’ve returned again with another new track from that record, called “Everybody.” Whereas the last tune they shared pushed into a garage-y soundscape at points, this tune is more straightforward synth pop; its pulsating synths provide a tone of paranoia and anxiety, which is doubled up by the fast paced falsetto vocals. Later on more piano comes quickly as the band spirals carefully out of control in this great synth pop jam. Look out for Music For Dogs, out August 21st on Secretly Canadian.

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Here We Go Magic Are Back!

unnamed-2So Here We Go Magic have finally announced their return to the music scene with a new album and by sharing this robust and snappy single, “Falling,” from that upcoming record. This newest effort from the crew is called Be Small, and it’s slated for release on October 16th via Secretly Canadian. If the sound of this new single is any indication of the caliber of tracks on said record, then it looks like we’re in for a treat. “Falling,” starts out like other Here We Go Magic tracks, as the band tends to build layer atop layer of sound; synths waft in and out and the multiple vocals blend together to create an electro pop dimensionality to the indie pop. What I’m most digging about this track though, is the break down into the real end jam at the 2:20 mark of the song where you really just want to get up out of your chair and dance along. Check out the new song and it’s official video below.


What Do You Think Of This New Gardens & Villa Track?

332994_10150324822454759_200890353_oSanta Barbara’s Gardens & Villa are back today with a new album announcement and single titled “Fixations.” It’s got a nice little groove to it, as most Gardens & Villa tracks tend to, but it spans out into a partially buzzy space. Sure, there are the pulsing synths, but the guitar parts are garage-y and the vocals provide a nice touch of lightness to the mix that make for a breezy pop track. I’m enjoying the vibe on this one and will be looking out for more from the band as we get closer to their album release. Music For Dogs is out August 21st on Secretly Canadian.


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Fresh Sunny Pop + Album Announcement From Cayucas

cayucasIt’s been a little bit of time since we’ve heard from L.A.’s Cayucas, but the good news is that they’re back with not only a sweet and spunky spring jam, but an announcement of a new album. Dancing At The Blue Lagoon is coming out June 23rd via Secretly Canadian, and judging from the sound of “Moony Eyed Walrus,” we’ll be doing a lot of dancing to this album. You get the glossy chorus of a summery pop song, but then the verses give focus to the playful guitar parts and you can also hear some orchestral elements that push the track beyond the ordinary. Jam with Cayucas.

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Austin Spotlight: I Love You But I’ve Chosen Darkness Return

I-Love-You-But-Ive-Chosen-DarknessIn the early 00s, Austin was alive, like most of the country, in the rehashing of 70s/80s influenced dance music; Red Fez, Whiskey Bar and Beauty Ballroom were the hot spots.  In the middle of that mini-musical explosion was I Love You But I’ve Chosen Darkness, who unfairly got lumped in under the genre of Joy Division copycats.  But, they’re back with a brand new album, and from the sounds on the single, they’re not really going to have to wear that mark much longer. Sure, there’s that melancholic tone, but the guitar and percussive work seemingly move more into a post-rock sphere; clearly this a band who’ve taken some time to grow.  They’re new record, Dust, will be released on Secretly Canadian on October 28th.

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More Sweet Jams From Gardens & Villa

Gardens & VillaI’m a bit late on this new number from Gardens & Villa, but this matters not to me as it is just too good to pass up.  Be ready to dance, sing along, and have an all around good time as you jam out to “Colony Glen”.  This song comes after we’ve already shared with you guys the impeccable track “Bullet Train”.

Once again, you can pick up new album Dunes on February 4th via Secretly Canadian.

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New Music from War on Drugs

WaronDrugsWe’ve long appreciated the work of Adam Granduciel and his project War on Drugs.  His last effort, Slave Ambient, came out in 2011, and he’s definitely grown from album to album, so his upcoming release will surely show the next step.  When listening to this first single, I can sort of hear bits of Arcade Fire in the way the vocals are recorded, but I definitely appreciate his guitar playing here.  Secretly Canadian will be releasing his new effort, Lost in the Dream, on March18th, so be prepared for another solid release from Adam and his band.

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Dance & Drift with Gardens & Villa

dunesThe California based Gardens & Villa have always had this underlying electronic influence in their music, even though they’re often labeled as a band with folk influences (see flute solo below), and that aspect is pushed even further on the latest single released from the band.  There’s a natural groove to the song, fitting perfectly with the high pitch of the vocals on the tune.  Their new record is titled Dunes, and it’s going to see a February 4th release from Secretly Canadian.  This is like a less-pretentious version of what Arcade Fire seems to be doing…which in the end makes it pretty enjoyable.  I’m going to enjoy this jam for the rest of the day.

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Nightlands – Oak Island

Rating: ★★★☆☆

When I first heard Forget the Mantra, the first album from Dave Hartley’s Nightlands project, I was completely enamored.  From the moment I pressed play, it somehow matched my life, fitting in nicely like only few records could at the time.  Now, a few years later, Hartley returns with Oak Island, his newest effort via Secretly Canadian. For me, this is a different beast; yet, it’s solid through and through.

When “Time and Place” opens the record, the song revolves around Hartley’s gently draped vocal, seemingly hanging in mid-air.  Slowly, drums make an appearance just after the 1 minute mark, pushing the song forward ever-so-slightly. Reflecting back, Oak Island begins much in the same manner as the previous effort, but by the time one arrives at the following track “So Far So Long,” one can see that there’s a bit more clarity present: a bit more focus if you will.  That being said, it takes a bit of the mystery away from it all.

Juxtaposed to Forget the Mantra, the layering of the music here definitely has a less ethereal quality.  For instance, “Nico” has somewhat of a flamenco influence with the guitar and drumbeat.  These direct approaches make Nightlands both more accessible, yet less thoughtful. Sure, the usage of horns on tracks like “I Fell in Love With a Feeling” adds a little bit of nostalgic pop grooving, but it’s seemingly open; there’s nothing to be discerned, nowhere to find yourself lost.  Therein lays the one issue I’ve found in this listen, while more immediately approachable, it doesn’t seem to have the longevity that I felt with the first release. 

Of course, there is one issue that still remains for me, which could change the whole game…the title, Oak Island.  Thematically, one tends to look immediately at the references to love (they’re even mentioned in press).  But, Oak Island is a mysterious place, with a mysterious treasure; people have spent their lives hunting for said prize.  Perhaps I’ve faltered here in my quick judgment of Hartley’s work.  Knowing the history of Oak Island, it could be possible that he built obvious hooks atop his detailed layering, hoping to trick listeners into discarding the LP, or at least with comparing it to Forget the Mantra. 

In the end, the album is an enjoyable listen, although a dozen listens finds it a little bit more obvious than the previous release.  Multiple stand-out tracks exist, such as “Nico” or “I Fell in Love with a Feeling,” but their presence alters the overall cohesiveness just slightly.  Nightlands originated by crafting one man’s dream-scape, which flowed from beginning to end.  Oak Island on the other hand seems like a collection of songs, good songs mind you, but with songs that stand alone.  Still, you’ve got to spend time with the entirety of the album to full appreciate it all.  I suggest you start there.

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