Your mid-week serving of new music cocktails takes you from high noon to midnight. These five singles from artists in Belgium, England, and the USA run the gamut from soulful indie rock to tranquil ambient pop. Today’s musical journey starts in Manchester and concludes in Brussels, giving you plenty of variety in between.
The Breath – “Chilli Salt” (Manchester, England)
RIYL: Cowboy Junkies meet Alabama Shakes
Last summer an album from Peter Gabriel’s Real World Records made its way into the world, though without much fanfare. For inexplicable reasons, the Carry Your Kin LP from The Breath didn’t receive the hype it so richly deserved. Their music is soulful, bluesy, indie folk that draws inspiration from ambient, jazz, and rock – in other words, they hit the sweet spot for fans of every genre. The Breath are without a doubt one of the best bands you need to know right now.
Hopefully the powerful charm of “Chilli Salt” will be the fuse that ignites this band’s global blaze of recognition. Whether you like to sing in the shower or the car, “Chilli Salt” is the kind of tune you’ll want to belt at the top of your lungs. Just don’t think you can emulate Ríoghnach Connolly. There is simply no matching her velvety smooth yet fierce vocals.
The Breath are: Ríoghnach Connolly (vocals), Stuart McCallum (guitar), John Ellis (keys), and Luke Flowers (drums).
The Heliocentrics – “Oh Brother” (London, England)
RIYL: The Velvet Underground meets DJ Shadow and Nina Simone
The hardest part of describing The Heliocentrics is choosing succinct terms to describe their kaleidoscopic sound. So let’s settle on these three: cosmic psychedelic soul. Their musical fluidity defies genre boundaries, as “Oh Brother” proves from the first notes. It transcends decades by fusing ‘60s soul elements with modern electronic flourishes. Imagine if Nina Simone had collaborated with The Velvet Underground and DJ Shadow, then you’ll have a starting point for the magic that awaits you on this offering from the London-based veterans.
“Oh Brother” comes to you almost from a distance, the way a melody floats on the breeze from the stereo of an approaching convertible. Once you’re close enough to the vehicle to make out the lyrics, you’re already lost in the swirl of funky layers. Be warned: nothing can prepare you for the devastating allure of frontwoman Barbora Patkova’s vocals. When you dive into this song, you’ll understand.
The Heliocentrics are: Barbora Patkova (vocals), Adrian Owusu (guitar), Jake Ferguson (bass), Oliver Parfitt (keys), Jack Yglesias (flute, percussion), Tom Hodges (electronics), and Malcom Catto (drums).
Sun Seeker – “Won’t Keep Me Up at Night” (Nashville, USA)
RIYL: Grandaddy, Ryley Walker, Kevin Morby, Soft Pyramids
Sunny, mellow Americana with just a hint of vintage AM radio haziness: if that sounds like the recipe for an irresistible sound, then you’ll fall hard for Nashville-based Sun Seeker. These four guys capture the carefree joys of summer evenings on “Won’t Keep Me Up at Night.” Fans of Grandaddy, Wilco, and Ryley Walker will be especially vulnerable to Sun Seeker’s charms, because they’re just so damn good.
At its heart this song is as southern as sweet tea and backyard cookouts. But their brand of Americana has global appeal because mellow is universal. We all long for those lazy, barefoot in the grass, easy livin’ summertime moments. “Won’t Keep Me Up at Night” takes you there. Even though the calendar says summer hasn’t officially arrived, this song from their upcoming Biddeford albums says otherwise. It’s a strong contender for Song of the Summer because it encapsulates other universal feelings:
“Now it’s been a year and not too much has changed / I’m still a bit in fear / I’m a bit insane / only now I’m a bit drained”
Sun Seeker are: Alex Benick (guitar/vocals), Asher Horton (bass), Rodrigo Avendano (keys), and Ben Parks (drums).
Beach Fossils – “Social Jetlag” (Brooklyn, USA)
RIYL: Real Estate, Craft Spells, Wild Nothing
When we shared the first single from Beach Fossils’ upcoming fourth LP, Somersault, back in March, we called it “cinematic” and “reflective.” In hindsight, we should have saved those terms for “Social Jetlag” since it has the same lush qualities as “This Year.” However, it’s the sparkling piano accents on “Social Jetlag” that prompt a contented sigh.
The title is one we can all relate to, especially after spending time with friends and strangers over the long holiday weekend. Once again Beach Fossils prove why they’ve got our devoted admiration on lock with another single that hits the bullseye of our heart. “Social Jetlag” is low-key perfection. This band – now a trio of Dustin Payseur, Jack Doyle Smith, and Tommy Davidson – has gone through some changes since forming in 2009, but their signature sound remains as breathtaking as ever.
Girls in Hawaii – “This Light” (Brussels, Belgium)
RIYL: Mogwai, Radiohead, The National
Girls in Hawaii will soon deliver a long-awaited follow-up to their 2013 Everest LP. “This Light” is the luminous new single from the Belgian masters of brooding indie pop. But don’t be fooled by how gently the long intro on “This Light” caresses your ears: this is not a lullaby. Instead it more closely resembles the sonic journeys that Mogwai and Radiohead are known for creating. It’s subdued during the instrumental first half, then the hypnotizing refrain of “keep yourself unconscious now” transports you to a soul-stirring place. Cinematic and elegant, “This Light” is the soundtrack to peaceful evenings of contemplation, star gazing, or any activity where you are pondering the world around you.
The band says their forthcoming album, Nocturne, is about “being alone in the heart of a night, seemingly lost in reverie. It is about that magical space of freedom the night can be.” Don’t be surprised if the nocturnal reverie of “This Light” leaves you breathless. PIAS Belgium will release Nocturne on September 29 with pre-orders from iTunes.
Girls in Hawaii are: Antoine Wielemans (vocals/guitar), Lionel Vancauwenberghe (vocals/guitar), Brice Vancauwenberghe (guitar), François Gustin (guitar/keys), Daniel Offermann (bass), and Boris Gronemberger (drums).
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