Welcome to another week of new music cocktails! Normally we focus on groups from across the globe, but today the spotlight is solely on North American artists. We’re serving up some Canadian indie disco-inspired pop along with two double shots of American ambient progressive, indie rock, and Americana.
o’brother – “Time Is a Length of Rope” (Atlanta, USA)
The opening strains of Atlanta-based indie-prog band o’brother will make you wonder if you’re hearing some newly discovered Jeff Buckley song. Lead vocalist Tanner Merritt bears an uncanny similarity to Buckley, which is high praise. As the song progresses, you become immersed in a heady blend of delirium-inducing progressive rock that leaves your mind blown. While the Buckley vocal comparison is undeniable, you can detect inspiration from prog stalwarts like A Perfect Circle, Porcupine Tree, Maserati, and Muse. These guys (who cite Radiohead, Mogway, and Brian Eno as influences) have been together 10 years but have a polished cohesion usually found only in bands that have been together for many decades. “Time Is a Length of Rope” is hauntingly beautiful and utterly mesmerizing.
O’Brother are: Tanner Merritt (lead vocals, guitar), Johnny Dang (guitar), Anton Dang (bass), Jordan McGhin (guitar), and Michael Martens (drums).
New Madrid – “Knots” (Athens, GA, USA)
Any music fan worth their salt knows that Athens, Georgia, is a perpetual fount of indie goodness. While the small town’s biggest exports are R.E.M. and Drive-By Truckers, indie rock quartet New Madrid is quickly gaining notoriety as future legends in the making.
“Knots” is a trippy, psychedelic-tinged single with fuzzy layers of reverb that will infiltrate your mind and take up permanent residence. It’s from their upcoming third LP, Magnetkingmagnetqueen, due out April 29 on New West Records’ imprint, Normaltown Records and available for pre-order from iTunes. The album was recorded and produced by David Barbe (the ex-Sugar member who produced most every Drive-By Truckers album) at Chase Park Transduction Studios in Athens, where other notable artists (Animal Collective, Bright Eyes, Deerhunter) have recorded.
New Madrid are: Phil McGill (guitar, vocals), Graham Powers (guitar, vocals), Ben Hackett (bass, vocals), and Alex Woolley (drums, percussion).
Brian Fallon – “Nobody Wins” (New York City, USA)
From loud punk-rock to toned-down Americana – that’s not the normal path a lead singer takes when his regular band goes on hiatus. But then again, former Gaslight Anthem frontman Brian Fallon isn’t your typical artist. Earlier this month he released his debut solo effort, Painkillers, on Island Records. “I lost most of myself pleasing everyone / I had to learn how to begin again / it’s alright, move on,” he sings on this new single. “Nobody Wins” is a look forward from an artist who’s set to redefine himself as he steps from the shadow of his old band. It sounds like he has definitely learned how to begin again, and what he’s released proves everybody wins.
Fallon’s European tour runs April 5-20 then he returns to the U.S. for festivals in May and July.
Kevin Morby – “Dorothy” (Los Angeles, USA)
Another artist we’ve featured recently is Kevin Morby, whose third album, Singing Saw, is due out next month. The thing is, we can’t stop playing this new single. “Dorothy” is impossibly catchy with uptempo garage rock sensibilities and Morby’s trademark warm vocals. It’s a great song for those first warm spring days that revive you after months of dreary weather.
When he sings “…I’ll pretend you are new / like I was just introduced to you,” it sounds like he’s serenading you directly. Only he isn’t. Sometimes the best songs are those dedicated to your best friend or constant companion – in this case, it’s an ode to his trusty guitar, which he named after his grandmother. This tune makes us appreciate his down-to-earth songwriting style even more.
Little Scream – “Love as a Weapon” (Montreal, Canada)
American-born, Montreal-based indie singer/songwriter Laurel Sprengelmeyer – aka Little Scream – has a new album due out soon. Cult Following is the follow-up to her 2011 debut album, The Golden Record, which featured supporting help from fellow Canadian indie groups Arcade Fire and Stars. That’s not the big news. The big news is the roster of high-wattage superstar musicians present this time: Sufjan Stevens, Sharon Van Etten, Arcade Fire’s Richard Reed Parry, plus members of The National and TV on the Radio, just to name a few. “Love as a Weapon” is a funky, energetic single with a disco vibe that would make ABBA jealous. This is one of those songs that you won’t be able to resist, so go ahead and surrender to the infectious beat now. We promise we won’t judge your dance moves.
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