On the eve of Valentine’s Day, the Saturday Sampler for February 13th presents a buffet of great new music, featuring ten artists from Australia, Canada, the UK, and the US. Get your fix of indie rock, riot grrl, a wide array of psychedelia, synth-pop, and some classic rock. Enjoy the weekend and take it to the next level with this great sampling of music.
Ashley Shadow – “Tonight” (Vancouver, Canada)
Like an unexpected cool breeze comes Ashley Shadow, the new project Ashley Webber. Unlike her time with Vancouver punk rock band The Organ and her forays with Black Mountain, Webber’s debut solo affair channels psychedelic folk. “Tonight” is a mesmerizing number, as the minimalist instrumentation creates the lonesome soundscape for Ashley’s whispery, lush voice that calls out for someone. The sense of longing and the psych-folk approach recalls another Canadian artist’s fine, first solo effort – Jessica Jalbert as Faith Healer.
“Tonight” is from Ashley’s forthcoming, eponymous debut album, which drops April 15th via Felte Records.
Good English – “The Fire Walk” (Dayton, USA)
Sister acts in rock & roll are nothing new, but they’re still not so common that you can quickly name more than a few current groups: Haim, First Aid Kit, or Tegan and Sara. That’s about to change. The sisterly trio of Elizabeth, Celia, and Leslie Rasmussen – aka Good English – is on their way to becoming the hardest rocking band of sisters since Heart or The Breeders. With scorching guitar licks and a driving pulse, this Dayton, Ohio-based band creates a wall of sound that is ferocious and focused. They have been performing together for years, as their tight sound attests. Trust us: you’ll want to crank this one to 11, which is fitting, since their newest self-titled album arrives March 11. It is available for pre-order from their Bandcamp page.
Halcyon Drive – “Untethered” (Melbourne, Australia)
Quirky alt-pop can be, well, disastrous. It’s one of the most difficult genres to master. Fortunately for us, Melbourne trio Halycon Drive have become experts, and their work over the past two years has been acknowledged by thousands of people spinning their tunes on the internet. Their new single, “Untethered”, might be their best to date. It’s a song, however, that doesn’t necessarily grab your attention immediately, but rather it sneaks up on you. The numerous shifting melodies (I counted six or was it seven?) combined with the stuttering rhythms of Field Music, the quirkiness of OK Go, and the prog tendencies of Spencer Krug (of Wolf Parade) result in one heck of a track.
“Untethered” is the second single and title track from band’s forthcoming second EP. It is expected in May via Verge Records.
Happy Hollows – “Way Home” (Los Angeles, USA)
It’s been almost a year since we’ve heard Happy Hollows, who shared the blistering “Astrid”. The indie-rock quartet from Los Angeles are finally back with another brilliant track. This euphoric track glistens with some terrific, shimmering guitar work and the Chrissy Amphlett-like vocals of frontwoman Sarah Negahdari, who gives the song its emotion and sense of urgency. It’s a song for lost souls searching for something, anything that feels familiar, comfortable, like home. What awaits next, we’re not sure, but hopefully it’s more music this year.
In addition to Negahdari, Happy Hollows are Charlie Mahoney, Matt Fry, and Dan Marcellus.
Hurdles – “Dusk and Dawn” (Belfast, UK)
Bright beats and jangly hooks for days: that’s what the mostly Irish indie pop quartet Hurdles offers on their latest single. We say “mostly Irish” because one of the four is British.) This group makes infectious indie pop that rivals anything from Phoenix, Two Door Cinema Club, or Bombay Bicycle Club. “Dust and Dawn” builds slowly before revealing its shimmering, synth-driven energy that’s guaranteed to make you move. The single is from their We Are Hurdles EP which released February 1; it’s available on the group’s Bandcamp page.
It’s Just Craig – “Lucky Rider” (Indianapolis, USA)
There is something immediately familiar on It’s Just Craig‘s single, “Lucky Rider.” It has that classic rock sound à la Neil Young and a melody that we’ve heard before. Yet we couldn’t put our finger on it, and that’s part of the brilliance of this terrific song. It sounds like something we know, yet it feels fresh and new. Lyrically, Craig Helmreich just draws you in with the story of a lone wanderer. Come to think of it, maybe this could be a Neil Young tune, the second part of “Unknown Legend.”
Pure Joy – “Katie’s Gone Home” (Merseyside, UK)
One of the best beginnings to a song this year belongs to newcomers Pure Joy, the band from Merseyside, UK. It also has one of the best endings of any song this year. This roller coaster of a track – seriously it has two climaxes – is blistering psychedelic rock, lying somewhere between Tame Impala’s glistening spaciness and Ty Segall’s fuzzed-out garage licks.
This is Pure Joy’s debut single and the lead track from their forthcoming album, Bang Flower. Their debut album drops April 1st via Fresh Goods / Republic of Music.
Relick – “I Wouldn’t Lie to You” (Denton, USA)
“Retro indie rock with a hint of psychedelia” is a jam-packed description of what you hear on this new track from Texas indie band Relick. Maybe an easier comparison is: Liz Phair hanging out with The Beatles, circa 1968. The honeyed vocals of lead singer Amber Nicholson give a warmth to the group’s ’90s-era vibe, while the band adds trippy touches on guitars and keys that sound fresh off The White Album. “I Wouldn’t Lie to You” has roots in two very influential musical eras without leaning too heavily on either. It’s a great track from the band’s upcoming debut EP, Twin House, due March 4th. You can hear more on their Soundcloud page.
Spines – “Hands High” (Atlanta, USA)
How can you go wrong when a band’s sound is part Bully, part Wolf Parade, and part Wolf Alice? Newcomers Spines‘ second single, “Hands High”, is a blistering, anthemic, indie-rock number that will have you jumping or prancing around the living room. From the glistening guitar work to Morgan Mornet’s bellowing vocals to the awesome rhythms that create the turbulent feelings in the song, “Hands High” is a mind-blowing introduction, and it offers a hint of the enormous possibilities that await Spines.
Spines are Morgan Mornet (vocals), Ryan Eastwood (guitar), Lee Kennedy (bass), and Caleb Probst (drums).
The Vryll Society – “Self Realization” (Liverpool, UK)
The Vryll Society caught our attention back in September of last year when they released the cinematic “Air”. They return with another blistering single, “Self Realization”. This psychedelic, dreamy track combines the sounds and textures of past and present psych bands like Temples, Tame Impala, and one of my all-time favorites, The Music. It’s a friggin’ awesome song.
“Self Realization” will be available for purchase on March 11th via Deltasonic Records.
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