If you’ve learned anything about me over these last 10 plus years it’s that I’m the truest sucker for a good pop song, and I was no match for this Chris Staples tune. At first, I was drawn to Chris’ voice; it has this gentle whispering intimacy that sort of makes me nostalgic for the kid I was in the late 90s. But, as I spun it a few more times, there’s these little underlying musical hooks; I love the layering of the guitar tracks upon one another, with one strumming and the other one coursing throughout..kind of reminds me of ol’ Al Hambone JR, particularly in the chorus. I don’t know; this is the way to rule a Friday. His new record Holy Moly will be out on June 28th via Barsuk.
When Ultimate Painting abruptly disbanded, I wondered what would come of Jack Cooper. He’d released stuff with Mazes, as well as his own solo stuff, so we knew he’d be okay…though how okay I didn’t know…until now. His new project is titled Modern Nature, a joint venture with Will Young (Beak>, Moon Gangs). Our first listen is a majestic construction piece of slow-core, filled with layers that build upon one another as the song inches its way forward. Tickling guitar lines are aided by great cymbal work and the heavy softness of the vocals; the song moves forward and some horns and electronic flourishes begin to bubble from beneath the surface. This is absolutely gorgeous, and not at all what I would have expected, so I’m all the better for it. How to Live will be put on August 23rd via Bella Union.
A few years ago I claimed RVG the best band at SXSW; it was a year that acts like Shame, RBCF and Stella Donnelly really broke big…but for me, it was RVG. Romy Vager’s performances were nothing short of mesmerizing, fulfilling all my expectations having spent hours going through A Quality of Mercy. For me, that’s what I hear when I hear “Alexandra;” I hear the live performance, the passion in Vager’s voice. There’s this swelling in the song, a slight bit subdued, but I can picture the band unleashing that sonic blast in my face…and as my mind drifts I fall in love with this tune. This track is slated to appear on the group’s next album, and they’ve got a few N. American tour dates planned for June too (no Austin date, sadly).
David Josephson set his Nervous City Nervous Self project a lofty goal; he wanted to be Sweden’s Leonard Cohen. But, other than the poetic leanings and the deep vocal tones, Josephson is clearly branding his own pop adventure. There’s this gentle electronic pulse that moves the song forward; it’s right in long with countless other pop songwriters from Sweden…hook laden and easily digestible. A nice little piano touch rounds the track up, fading quietly into your Monday. In the video you get a trio of travels throughout the world, with a character I think we can assume is Josephson itself…watch below to see where he goes!
Berlin’s Gurr have been bopping around for the better part of the last ten years, and this year the group really hit home with their She Says EP. Why is that important in this Jettes post, you ask? Well, Laura Lee of Gurr is also one half of Jettes, along with Melody Connor who moved from Seattle out to Berlin to write the aforementioned EP. Our first taste is this fuzzy pop number, hazy in both its video and musical presentation; I love the cascading guitar line that sort of dives in the distance if you put your ear close to the speakers. Plus, there’s this little momentary breakdown with some soundbites in it that leaves the band with plenty of room to grow in different directions. Real excited to hear more from these two!
Earlier this year, Boston’s Community College released Comco (or s/t, however you see it). There was this earnest fragility in the songs, present as soon as you pressed play. Today I’m really happy to share this live video of standout track, “Broken Back,” recorded live on VHS over at Big Nice Studio. The choice of medium is important, not only in the presentation, but in its effect on the viewer as the song moves along; it brings in this personal intimacy, as if the band was helmed by your favorite older brother and his friends who’ve been practicing in your garage for the last six weeks. Musically, it has that blend of slow-core (Bedhead) meets emo (Hovvdy) vibe, but its brevity allows for repeated listens which you can have if you grab the tape from Disposable America.
Sometimes you’ve just got to trust someone’s resume, and W.C. Beck has definitely earned his stripes through the Americana scene, most recently with NYC act Monteagle. But, while his current outings might hit out at that, his new solo work takes on a broader, almost country vibe (no complaints from this Texan). He’s got this naturally soulful voice that winds down the long stretch of dirt highway; he also gets some excellent help form the superb organ grinder and horn section, both building the ballad into an elevated piece that’s perfect for ambling about today. If you dig his style, Beck will release First Flight on June 7th!
Not too long ago, Peak Twins were getting some adoration from the masses, but they’ve been relatively quiet since 2013. Today that changes with the announcement of the group’s new LP, Beloved. “Water” is our first listen, accompanied by a gorgeous video employing mirror images, but ultimately it’s the song I’m in love with right now. All the verses reside in that casual pop arena popularized by many an Aussie outfit; they’re not pushing the envelop, merely caressing the natural melody within their songs. For my two cents, the special moment, aside from the nice little added arrangements, is the nice little change that comes for the first time around the 2 minute mark (also at 3:30); it’s just a mild directional turn, but plays in perfectly to the song’s aesthetic. Call it what you will, but Peak Twins have dropped one hell of a new number. The new LP will be out on June 28th.
Here’s the thing about Halfsour; the band can pretty much change and adopt to any style to fit their need. You want power-pop? They got it? Need a noisy rocker? They got it. This new single off Sticky is a slow-burning ballad…like I said, they got it all. It’s built up slowly, rolling drums and Zoe’s voice primarily pushing the song forward. You can hear the guitar lines pop up here and there in the first 2 minutes; it’s then that things start to get a little bit broader. The guitar goes for a solo, and the song spreads its wings, with Zoe’s voice again riding on the back of this beautiful bird. Like I said, this trio can do it all. Just wait and see when the LP drops on May 24th via Fire Talk/Disposable America.
Last Night in America is dropping next week, and with the release date just a week off, Matt Kivel is sharing another tune. It’s one of my favorite on the record, but be warned, it can induce extreme relaxation and contemplation…perhaps dangerous this early in the morning. For me, it’s the mix on this record that really serves Kivel’s goal; he’s got this fragile voice, or so it often sounds, so you’ve got to let it shine. Throughout this track, the musical element is low in the mix, at least when coming through your speakers; the percussive element is so light it’s almost a faint rhythmic whisper, with the guitar careful not to step forward until the closing moments of the song. If, by chance, your’re reading this in NYC, go see his release show this Friday featuring our friend Daphne Tunes at the Park Church Co-Op.