Saturday Sampler October 8th edition is the early long weekend treat for those in Canada (Happy Thanksgiving!) and the United States. So before you indulge in turkey, stuffing, and pumpkin up north or in a variety of cocktails down south, warm up with these ten delectable, new music singles. We have music from New Zealand, Ireland, England, Sweden, Canada, and the USA.
Bonzai – “Bodhrán” (London, England via Dublin, Ireland)
RIYL: FKA Twigs, M.I.A., Azealia Banks
Earlier this year, Bonzai released one of the most innovative EPs of the year with Sleepy Hungry. Akin to FKA Twigs brilliant marriage of hip hop, electronica, trip-hop, R&B, and rock, the now 20-year old native of Dublin became an indie star, and her sound caught the attention of those at Columbia Records. She’s preparing to launch her third EP – and first with the mega-label – later this month, and the second single from the record is “Bodhrán”.
While the songs on Sleepy Hungry were more aggressive, edgier, and trip-hop oriented, “Bodhrán” is more nuanced and leans toward R&B / pop. The electronic production is restrained in order to allow the instrument after which the song is named to stand out. If you were wondering, a Bodhrán is a traditional Irish instrument, and its use on this track is ingenious, as Bonzai utilizes it to create a hypnotic, tribal feel. So while the approach is different, Bonzai once again demonstrates her brilliance. There is little question that she should reach star status. It is just a matter of how soon.
Bonzai’s third EP, Lunacy, will be released on October 28th.
Fake Guns – “Yellow” (Brooklyn, USA)
RIYL: Iska Dhaaf, Richard Swift, USS
It’s difficult to describe Brooklyn-based duo Fake Guns because they have done a little bit of everything. They’ve done remixes. They’ve created infectious indie pop and jangle-pop. Now they’ve released an anthemic indie-rocker with “Yellow” (not to be mistaken with the song that catapulted Coldplay to super-stardom).
Akin to the work of Iska Dhaaf and Richard Swift, the song has an eerie underbelly. The production and guitar work, however, are dazzling, bringing the number to a blistering and head-banging finish. If you happen to be throwing a Halloween party in the coming weeks, strongly consider adding “Yellow” to your playlist because this song will have your guests shaking and rocking in their costumes. With the music they have shared thus far, Fake Guns just might be one of the most underrated and underappreciated groups in music. It doesn’t help that they still remain a mystery. One day, they will unveil the people behind the masks. Maybe it will be on Halloween?
Laughed the Boy – “Indifferent” (Toronto, Canada)
RIYL: The Drums, Weezer
If any song can make you feel good about feeling cynical, it would be this track by Toronto, Canada’s Laughed the Boy. “Indifferent” brings you bright, golden guitar riffs accompanied by light and trippy drums. Dreamy vocals sing of some youthful disillusionment. And as with most situations when you’re young, that one boyfriend or girlfriend is your saving grace. Chris Panacci sings, “I’d go crazy, I think, without you.”
“Indifferent” is meant to be the opening track off their soon to be full-length album. This great emerging act consists of brothers Chris Panacci on vocals/guitar/bass and Sean Panacci on drums. When you’re in the mood for some good indie-pop, don’t stray too far from Laughed the Boy.
Little Children – “(we used to feel) Higher” (Stockholm, Sweden)
RIYL: The Twilight Sad, Lykke Li, Frightened Rabbit
Another artist who has wowed us throughout 2016 is Sweden’s Little Children – a.k.a. Linus Lutti. His songs from earlier this year had a mix of The War On Drugs and Bruce Springsteen, but on his latest track he seeks a more contemporary and intimate sound.
“(we used to feel) Higher” is a captivating song, one which should be shared by every couple. It is a song about the potential for heartbreak but the power of love. A song that acknowledges the importance of time and space in any relationship. From the vocals to the melody to the dramatic arrangements, the song is gorgeous and memorable, and one that we all should hear.
Lutti co-wrote the song with Nanna Brinckman, and rising Swedish pop star Naomi Pilgrim provides the accompanying vocals. “we used to feel) Higher” is from Little Children’s forthcoming, second full-length effort. It expected later this year from Cosmos Music.
The Lovely Bad Things – “Teenage Grown Ups” (La Mirada, California, USA)
RIYL: Bleached, Shannon and the Clams, Diarrhea Planet
The Lovely Bad Things are one of those bands that seem to have their own gravitational pull. Their energy seems to just suck you in like a tractor beam. Think the raw energy of Sonic Youth meshed with the quirkiness of the B-52’s and you’ve got The Lovely Bad Things. This is a band that didn’t just sit around and wait for fans to come to them. Back in the day when they couldn’t find a gig, they would go the DIY route and host shows in their very own rehearsal space. The Lovely Bad Pad. Now that’s punk rock.
“Teenage Grown Ups” is not just a song. It’s an anthem for the youth of today, or if their warning didn’t reach you in time and you consider yourself an adult, it’s a fresh respite from the drudgery of your day. Consider this track your warning straight from the band. Don’t grow up. It’s a trap. It’s a perfect little cheery pop-punk tune that will leave you singing along at top volume with a smile on your face.
Marlon Chaplin – “Annabelle + Someone” (Toronto, Canada)
RIYL: Peter, Bjorn & John, Anthonie Tonnon, Simple Minds
Canadian singer-songwriter Marlon Chaplin has been more known for his work in folk and roots music. For his new single, he takes a significant departure. This isn’t a U-turn nor a detour; the Toronto-based artist travels way back into the past for inspiration. “Annabelle + Someone” is a pop tune that would have been perfect as far back as the ’60s yet could have been on the soundtrack of a coming-to-age, ’80s movie. The song is bright and warm due in large part to the smile-inducing melodies and Chaplin’s vocals.
The songwriting is also a standout. Instead of telling a personal story, Chaplin takes the role as the narrative, recanting the problems and challenges experienced by Annabelle. Sounds like the script of an ’80s movies. Instead, it’s the storyline for this little pop surprise.
North Downs – “Nothin'” (somewhere in the UK?)
RIYL: Massive Attack, Lane 8, ODESZA
By now, you realize that the electronic songs we share are not the typical EDM or indietronica stuff. We’re always on the look out for electronica that moves us, physically and psychologically. Music that is layered and goes beyond the standard arrangements and samples. The debut single by North Downs meets all these criteria and then some.
The first words out of our mouths when hearing “Nothin'” were, “This. Is. Awesome!” The song is the beautiful marriage of electronica, trip-hop, and post-rock. It is cinematic and like a long drive down an endless tunnel, yet “Nothin'” is vividly introspective. The multiple textures in the song stimulate these strong emotions. The electronic production, the struts from the electric guitar, and the percussion are groovy and funky, creating a dance-oriented vibe. The bass lines (from an actual bass) are deep and haunting, and each pluck penetrates deep in to one’s soul. The vocals, meanwhile, are shallow and haunting with each word accentuated to add more suspense.
But North Downs don’t limit themselves to tones and textures. The tempo, the progression, and the hesitation in the middle of the track add to the spectacular experience that is “Nothin'”. With such a refined sound, this must be the work of veteran musicians. Unfortunately, we have no idea because the identity of North Downs is a mystery. Maybe that is for the best so that we can enjoy this masterpiece and hopefully others that are to come.
Parlour Tricks – “Leave Your Light On” (New York City, USA)
RIYL: Springtime Carnivore, Tennis, La Sera
Just when you start investing the time and energy in a band’s catalogue, they announce the unthinkable – they’re calling it a day! That’s the case with New York City band Parlour Tricks, who after seven years will be going their own separate ways. This isn’t a messy break up by any means – just life getting in the way, as three of the original band members have headed west for love and new opportunities. Before they bid adieu, Parlour Tricks will be sharing one final EP. From it is the “Leave Your Light On”.
The catchy and euphoric nature of the song reveals why the indie-pop band were one of the decade’s fastest and more celebrated groups. The track is uplifting and euphoric, bursting with bright moments like a fireworks display on the Fourth of July. While the song may speak to a person coming home after being away for a long time, it could very well be an ode to the band. That is, while they may traveling along separate paths, one day they will converge again, and who knows what might happen. One can always go home, right?
Parlour Tracks’ final EP, (what I think about when I think about) BODIES, is expected later this year.
Rubita – “Sober Kisses” (Dunedin, New Zealand)
RIYL: Janelle Monae, Natalie Prass, Jessica Pratt
What were you doing when you were in college / university? Probably studying. Partying every weekend to the wee hours of the morning. Well, Rubita, the project of Rachel K, is writing music with her friends, but it is not what you would expect. She hasn’t taken out her MP3 player and turned on Taylor Swift, Kanye West, or Beyoncé. Instead, she’s gone into her grandparents’ and parents’ vinyl collection for inspiration.
The young Dunedin resident’s new single, “Sober Kisses”, is straight out of the ’50s. It is a little bit jazzy. It flashes with pop melodies and infectiousness. There is a sultry, soulful element, too, that gives the song a bit of spice. And for good measure, there is a summery vibe thanks to the Hawaiian beach undertones. “Sober Kisses” may at first sound like another shimmering pop tune, but it is deeply complex. If Ms. K continues to write music this stunning, she might not be a student at Otago University for much longer.
Troup – “Always On Fire” (Los Angeles, California, USA)
RIYL: The Rolling Stones, Tom Petty, classic rock
All good love stories or partnerships should start with “we met in a record store”. That record store happened to be the infamous Amoeba Records in Los Angeles. And that is precisely how British singer/songwriter Alex Troup (namesake of the band) met producer, keyboard player, and future bandmate Evan Beigel. Troup began with a combined love of ’70’s classic rock, Brit pop, and analog synths.
“Always On Fire” shows us that although Troup puts a little pop in their songs, they are most definitely not a pop band. Solid atmospheric guitar driven rock assaults you with it’s raw energy. There’s a gorgeous gravelly textured quality to Alex Troup’s vocals. A slight strain that makes you think of nights on the road. Rock. And. Roll.
Troup will be releasing a new EP on October 21st. Titled Mercury and Gold, you can pre-order through the band and even get instant download of two singles with your pre-order.
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