The Saturday Sampler August 12th edition features summer tunes that fit every hour of your weekend. From upbeat rock to chill ambient pop to some brooding darkwave, we’ve got you covered. These songs come to you from artists in Australia, Canada, England, France, and the US.
IV Horsemen – “Gloomy Days” (Berlin, Germany via Paris, France)
RIYL: Poison Point, VAST, Tin Star, Leftfield, Chelsea Wolfe
We start things off with a song that isn’t so summery, but it will absolutely steal your mind. Actually, “Gloomy Days” by Timothée Gainet (best known for his work with Poison Point) is right out of a post-apocalyptic world, making the song perfect for these uncertain days where a phrase like “fire and fury” has become a hashtag.
Channeling the industrial, darkwave sounds of the ’80s and early ’90s, Gainet has unleashed a menacing number. The pulsating synths and the steely beats are haunting while Gainet’s distant vocals sound like a person trapped in the deep caverns of a remote and secretive complex. As the song progresses, the intensity accelerates, giving the song the feeling that we are being chased by an unknown evil. Or maybe that evil resides inside us. Inside all of us. There is only one word to describe a song that makes us feel completely absorbed within it and ourselves – brilliant!
BEACHTAPE – “Slow” (Brighton, England)
RIYL: Mac DeMarco, The Growlers, HOMESHAKE
It’s been a hot summer in much of the northern hemisphere, so Brighton four-piece BEACHTAPE have concocted the perfect elixir to beat the heat. Their new single, “Slow”, is a piece of surfy slacker rock that would make even Mac DeMarco envious.
The laid-back, chill vibe of the song makes it feel like one is spending a lazy afternoon on Venice Beach, basking in the sun’s rays while enjoying the Pacific Ocean breeze. Besides the head-swimming melody, the lyrics, too, reflect the scorching days where you just want to take things slow. There’s no need to rush things and get into a sweaty mess. These times are meant for enjoying what’s in front of us just like this cool little number.
BEACHTAPE are Rory Sear (vocals/guitar), Daniel McAuliffe (guitar), Andy Kemp (bass), and Leo Kenyon (drums).
Cool Ghouls – “Only Grey” (San Francisco, USA)
RIYL: Allah-Lahs, Ty Segall, Thee Oh Sees
We have been fans of San Francisco indie psychedelic pop-rock band Cool Ghouls since we featured their “Spectator” single last September. Their Animal Races album was a surprise late-summer favorite of ours. Now here it is nearly a year later, and we find ourselves once again in awe of their infectious sounds. If you haven’t already discovered this band, get on it. You’d be hard-pressed to find a more fitting soundtrack to your warm summer evenings than “Only Grey” from their latest LP, Gord’s Horse.
For starters, Cool Ghouls make music that can best be defined as “sneaky” because of how effortlessly it weaves its way into your headspace. One minute you’re listening to the song; the next week you find you’re still humming the melodies. This music has staying power, not simply for its intricate, jangly hooks but for its mildly euphoric tones. Whether you’re chilling out solo or gathered among friends, Cool Ghouls make sunny music that fits all the laid-back moments of your life.
Cool Ghouls are: Pat Thomas (vocals, bass, guitar), Ryan Wong (vocals, guitar, bass, mellotron), Pat McDonald (vocals, guitar, drums, mellotron), and Alex Fleshman (drums, piano).
The Heroic Enthusiasts – “When the Deal Is Done” (Rochester, NY, USA)
RIYL: Suede, Echo & The Bunnymen, Porcupine Tree
Close your eyes when you spin “When the Deal Is Done” from emerging indie rock outfit The Heroic Enthusiasts, then try to figure out who has influenced them. It won’t be easy. At times the song’s evocative tones recall beloved British rock icons (Suede, Muse, Porcupine Tree) yet a certain element of darker New Wave (Echo & The Funnymen, Gene Loves Jezebel) exists. It’s a dazzling fusion of moody guitars and synths that defies comparison. Textures this lush only come from skilled musicians whose chemistry matches their talents.
Frontman James Tabbi has rich vocals that seem to emerge from a shadowy haze. If the band had chosen a different direction and opted for an edgier goth sound, the results would be just as captivating. We will have to wait until the full album arrives to hear what else The Heroic Enthusiasts have in store for listeners. But if this song is any indication, it will be a perfect accompaniment for cloudy, grey days.
The Heroic Enthusiasts are: James Tabbi, Thomas Ferrara, Dexter Redic, and Mike James.
Jess Cornelius – “Jealousy” (Melbourne, Australia via Wellington, New Zealand)
RIYL: Fiona Apple, Emma Ruth Rundle, Aldous Harding.
In fronting the band Teeth & Tongue, Jess Cornelius proved she was a chameleon of her art, creating music that ranged from synth-pop to art-rock to alt-pop. Now she’s opted to go solo for her latest work, which only further demonstrates her versatility and artistic brilliance.
Her first single under her own name, “Jealousy”, is a brooding, indie-rock beauty. Dark and penetrating the soul like Fiona Apple’s and Emma Ruth Rundle’s fare but with spine-tingling delivery of Aldous Harding, Cornelius challenges our notions of self and individuality while accentuating the self-doubt that lingers in all of us.
“They say you get want you need.
I’ll guess I’ll need jea-lou-sy.
I want to be a better human
And I feel like dirt when all those get the things I want.”
Cornelius has written some remarkable songs, but “Jealousy” is the most powerful number she has crafted to date. Hopefully, there is more to come in the future and a solo debut album on the way. In the meantime, catch Cornelius on tour, which commences August 23rd in Los Angeles.
Jump the Shark – “Sooner Said” (Wolverhampton, England)
RIYL: Saltwater Sun, The Orielles, Fickle Friends
Another week and another band vying to be England’s next great group, and Jump the Shark have all the goods to be reach the heights of Wolf Alice and Black Honey. Like their more famous cousins, the Wolverhampton-based quartet create anthemic indie-rock that sticks in your days. Their latest single is all the evidence one needs to understand their potential.
Combining powerful guitar riffs, pounding rhythms, and smooth melodies, “Sooner Said” is an absolute gem. What makes the song, however, is the nuance demonstrated by the band, who slowly build up the intensity before the track cascades into a serene pool of hushed notes. Just as relaxation sets in, the song escalates again and a wall of sound is unleashed. To think, not even veteran bands with an army of collaborators are able to build drama like this little indie band has done.
“Sooner Said” is from the band’s album, Wake Up / Go to Sleep, which is out now on Bandcamp.
Jump the Shark are Tasha Jones (drums/vocals), Theo Williams (guitar/vocals), Jon Murphy (guitar/vocals), and Matt Gregory (bass).
Matt Pond PA – “Spark” (Kingston, NY, USA)
RIYL: Guster, The Jayhawks, Nada Surf
Last year, Matt Pond PA released Winter Lives; now for the band’s final album under their current name (Matt Pond plans to drop the PA suffix on future solo efforts), the feel is decidedly brighter. Still Summer finds the band so relaxed that it’s a bit wistful.
Despite its driving tempo and warm tones, “Spark” is tinged with sunset-hued melancholy. Remember the pangs of bittersweet goodbyes said at the end of summer camp? That mix of conflicting emotions permeates this short track. Throughout its two minutes, you feel torn as you realize this band that formed in 1998 is on its final chapter. But it’s a glorious ride, no matter how short it is. As founder and frontman Matt Pond sings, “Don’t leave me behind / May I walk beside you,” you know the feelings of summers past will remain with you.
Tree House – “Water Fountain” (London, England)
RIYL: C. Duncan, Bayonne, Todd Slant
It’s not easy to describe the kaleidoscopic sound of Tree House‘s music. That’s because Will Fortna, the mastermind behind the project, has a diverse range of influences that shape his unique textures, including David Byrne and Philip Glass. The tones in “Water Fountain” are both ambient and lo-fi but also jazzy and experimental. The result is a breathtaking, cosmic-infused odyssey for the listener to enjoy.
Fortna’s skills as a multi-instrumentalist are the heart of this project. From the warm bass lines to the shimmering synth effects, “Water Fountain” instantly transports you to a place of calm where the cares of the world float away. His vocals have an equally soothing quality that only adds to the overall magic of this tune. This is minimalism at its ethereal best. Lose yourself in the blissful world of Tree House. It’s the escape you didn’t know you needed, but now that you’ve found it, you may not want to leave.
VHS Collection – “Fire” (New York City, USA)
RIYL: TV on the Radio, M83, Caveman
Summer may be winding down, but that doesn’t mean you can’t fire scorching tunes. Take the new single from New York City’s VHS Collection. There is plenty of heat coming from the “Fire” they create. Built on a foundation of ‘80s synths is a thoroughly modern indie pop-rock hit that echoes TV on the Radio and Caveman. It’s smooth with plenty of swagger, not to mention irresistible hooks from start to finish.
“Fire” will mesmerize you, so prepare to have this tune stuck in your head for weeks. You can get the single now on iTunes; the band’s debut album is due later this year.
VHS Collection are: James Bohannon (vocals), Conor Cook (guitar), and Nils Vanderlip (synths).
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