Music, Singles, The Revue — April 12, 2017 at 5:20 am

Melodic Tonic ’17, April 12th

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Today’s mid-week serving of new music cocktails is light and refreshing. From singer/songwriter fare to upbeat indie pop, these six new singles from artists in Canada, England, Norway, Wales, and the USA will bring some sunshine to your day.

 

Seadog – “As I Am” (Brighton, England)

RIYL: Elliott Smith, Midlake, Grandaddy

When you hear this new song from Seadog, you’ll realize why they opened for American indie icons Grandaddy earlier this month. The way these emerging Brighton talents channel not just Grandaddy but also beloved singer/songwriter Elliott Smith makes them ideally suited to set a tone for endearing, heartfelt music. They already have those aspects mastered on this single. “As I Am” is the closest thing we have to new Elliott Smith music. Should Hollywood need a vocal stand-in for a future biopic about Smith, then Seadog frontman Mark Benton is the only logical choice.

The gentle intro will take you back to the first time you heard Smith’s Either/Or. Its intimate warmth draws you in as the song then reveals richer tones that echo Texas indie band Midlake. The melody floats along, enhanced by exquisite yet delicate touches of a glockenspiel. “As I Am” is a song you can hear a thousand times and its rhythmic quietude will caress your senses anew each time.

This 7” single is available from Bandcamp as a limited edition, hand-numbered vinyl. Seadog’s earlier releases are on Bandcamp as well.

Mark Benton (vocals, lyrics, instrumentation, artwork) is joined on this song by Lee Childs (electric guitar, backing vocals), Max Numajiri (bass, glockenspiel), and Sam Clarke (drums).

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Poliça – “Lipstick Stains (feat. Boys Noize)” (Minneapolis, USA)

RIYL: Daughter, Austra, Sylvan Esso

Poliça frontwoman Channy Leaneagh has recognizably angelic vocals, so hearing her share the spotlight on this special double-A side 7″ with German electronic DJ Alexander Ridha (aka Boys Noize) is a cool twist. “Lipstick Stains” (along with “Still Counts”) is Poliça’s contribution to Record Store Day 2017 happening next Saturday.

The same electronic inspirations heard on Polića’s previous albums, especially the 2014 standout Shulamith and last year’s United Crushers, are present here, yet “Lipstick Stains” has a hypnotic quality paired with a jagged synth pulse.

The percussion of the first 15 seconds will stir your heart; the last minute of the song will send chills up your spine. This dichotomy of power and grace is something Poliça executes brilliantly with nearly every single. However, “Lipstick Stains” drifts out with such an ethereal lightness that you find yourself gasping at its beauty. If you’ve been waiting for new material until a new LP arrives, this single will not disappoint.

United Crushers LP is out now. The “Lipstick Stains” 7” is an exclusive Record Store Day 2017 release via Memphis Industries, limited to just 450 copies. If you want a copy, queue up early at your nearest participating vinyl store.

Poliça are: Channy Leaneagh, Chris Bierden, Drew Christopherson, Ben Ivascu, and Ryan Olson.

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Mac DeMarco – “On The Level” (Los Angeles via Brooklyn, NY & Edmonton, Canada)

RIYL: Ty Segall, Juan Waters, HOMESHAKE

By the time the new Mac DeMarco double album arrives next month, you will have heard several singles. Yesterday he dropped the newest track, and the chill factor of “On The Level” is exactly that: it rests atop a pinnacle of stress-free bliss. DeMarco has been on a voyage of late, between relocating to California and taking his time finishing the forthcoming This Old Dog. He’s been freeing his mind and experimenting with his sound by choosing a more synth-heavy direction over guitar-heavy sounds. In doing so, he has maintained his feel-good, easy-going reputation and poured all of those heady California feels into these new songs.

“On The Level” has the hazy glow you expect from the Canadian indie tunesmith. He’s still a bit of a goofball and definitely in no rush to grow up – not that anyone is expecting such. Here he’s clearly enjoying the supreme leisure vibes of his new locale and letting it permeate every synth-driven note.

This Old Dog is due May 5 from Captured Tracks and Royal Mountain Records with pre-orders here and from iTunes.

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Saint Etienne – “Magpie Eyes” (London, England)

RIYL: Broken Social Scene, Metric, Gsldfrapp

When we look back next year on 2017, we will likely recall this was the year of comebacks. Established bands who have been on hiatus (or simply had a long gap between albums) keep delivering new music at such a dizzying pace that fans are both delighted and deluged. Following the new arrivals from The Jesus and Mary Chain and Slowdive is another long-awaited release – Home Counties from British indie synthpop trio Saint Etienne. The follow-up to their 2012 LP Words and Music by Saint Etienne arrives in June, and “Magpie Eyes” makes the wait worthwhile.

This sleek dose of danceable indie pop reminds us why we fell in love with them in the ’90s. Only now, this older, wiser version of the band has an understandably different focus. Over a luscious chorus they repeat the refrain, “Guess I was blind / now all I want to do / is spend more time with you.” They’re aware of how hard it can be to stay engaged in the moment amidst non-stop distractions. With this song, they might be singing to their families or their fans; the message is still clear. They want to savor every moment.

The original lineup of Sarah Cracknell, Bob Stanley, and Pete Wiggs sound better than ever.

Home Counties arrives June 2 from Heavenly Recordings with pre-orders here. Saint Etienne return to the U.S. for a brief tour starting September 24.

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H.Hawkline – “Engineers” (Los Angeles via Cardiff, Wales)

RIYL: The Beta Band, Belle and Sebastian, Meilyr Jones, Talking Heads

When we shared a new H.Hawkline single back in January, his “Last Thing on Your Mind” was the only concrete proof we had of an upcoming album. Now we have a follow-up single and album details.

The jangly “Engineers” is the second track on his I Romanticize album that’s due in June. On this upbeat song, Huw Evans appears poised to dethrone David Byrne as the reigning king of quirky indie pop. You hear hints of ’70s-era post-punk guitar riffs punctuated by bubbly percussion. Talking Heads didn’t take themselves too seriously, nor does H.Hawkline. The result is an infectious blend of old and new that is irresistible and charming.

The new album features Huw Evans reuniting with his frequent collaborator, Cate LeBon, along with Warpaint drummer Stella Mozgawa and psychedelic composer/producer Josiah Steinbrick. H.Hawkline tours the UK this summer with his friend Devendra Banhart.

Heavenly Recordings will issue I Romanticize on June 2. You can pre-order it from the label or iTunes.

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The Fjords – “Alchemy” (Trondheim, Norway)

RIYL: Apothek, Dagny, Highasakite, Of Monsters and Men

Majestic and awe-inspiring: Norway’s fjords cast a bold presence on the landscape there, just as The Fjords do on the country’s musical scene. The emerging indie pop band’s newest single, “Alchemy,” is elegant and stirring, with bright layers of synth and harmonies that set so many Norwegian artists apart. Maybe the Icelandic winters are responsible for the infusion of warmth in The Fjords’ music? To compensate for the cold, they make music that warms your heart and soul, much like Iceland’s Of Monsters and Men? Whatever the reason, this band seems to posses the recipe for creating musical magic.

With last year’s “All In” single, they sizzled with brooding synth tones and rousing harmonies. Now on “Alchemy” they expand their sound with more cinematic scope. You can easily hear this song featured in a pivotal moment of a film where the protagonist with “an iron heart” overcomes incredible odds and emerges victorious. Until that day comes, we’ll just keep “Alchemy” on repeat for the inspiration it gives.

This single is available now at iTunes via Propeller Recordings.

The Fjords are: Petter Vågan, Vegard Lien Bjerkan, Bárður Reinert Poulsen, and Kim Christer Hylland.

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