Music, Singles, The Revue — April 11, 2018 at 5:00 am

The Melodic Tonic ’18 April 11th

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The six songs on the Melodic Tonic April 11th edition will make you sigh and smile in appreciation. These artists from Canada, England, Ireland, Scotland, and the US offer some musical encouragement to help you get through whatever this week throws at you. So sit back and let yourself get lost in these tunes.

Neko Case – “Bad Luck” (Vermont, USA)

RIYL: New Pornographers, Laura Viers, Kelly Hogan

“Chipped my tooth on an engagement ring – that’s bad luck,” sings Neko Case on her newest single from Hell-OnThe reigning queen of indie badassery puts a positive spin on misfortune with “Bad Luck. Even as she lists things that have gone wrong lately (like “ate a black fly in the cream”), the uptempo percussion and soaring backing vocals from Kelly Hogan add plenty of sunny charm. And of course, Case has no equal when it comes to belting out powerhouse ballads with a wry smile.

“Bad Luck” isn’t meant to be a modern companion to Alanis Morissette’s ’90s classic “Ironic.” However, its similar feeling-OK-about-feeling-bad message is one we can all appreciate and sing along to at the top of our lungs.

Hell-On arrives June 1st from Anti-. You can pre-order it from the label and Bandcamp.

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Peach Kelli Pop – “Hello Kitty Knife” (Los Angeles, USA & Ottawa, Canada)

RIYL: La Sera, Aquadolls

The next time you sleep through your alarm clock, Peach Kelli Pop will save your life (and possibly, your job) with this turbo-charged anthem. “Hello Kitty Knife” will instantly rev your mental engine from zero to 60. Its high-energy jangly punk-pop has just the right amount of sugary sweetness to wake you, but it doesn’t stop there. Allie Hanlon delivers sizzling vocals that make you want to dance with reckless abandon. No time for a shower or coffee? This tune has you covered. You’ll be alert and ready to tackle the world after just one listen.

We adored Peach Kelli Pop’s first single (“Crooked & Crazy” that we shared back in February) from their upcoming Gentle Leader LP because it was so “fun and infectious.” Based on what we’ve heard from that album, Peach Kelli Pop will be our soundtrack for the summer.

Gentle Leader is due May 25 via Mint Records with pre-orders here.

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Hvmmingbyrd – “Papillon” (Dublin, Ireland)

RIYL: Lucius, Daughter, Warpaint

If you wanted to create the perfect musical duo, you’d probably use elements from several genres. You might take the fierce harmonies of Lucius and add the sultry textures of Warpaint. You might also mix in a bit of Daughter to heighten the evocative vibe for guaranteed “take your breath away” results. When you were finished, you would call this magical creation Hvmmingbyrd. Indeed, this Dublin duo possess all of those qualities and showcase them to stunning effect on their new “Papillon” single.

The lush textures of this song are mesmerizing. You are drawn into the downtempo soundscape immediately, but what keeps you spellbound is the vocal interplay of Deborah Byrne and Suzette Das. There is no way a human can listen to their stunning harmonies without experiencing chills. The silky elegance of their voices evoke Warpaint and Daughter, especially on the haunting “Now I can’t breathe” refrain. Brace yourself lest your weak knees buckle from the experience.

“Papillon” is available now on iTunes. Hopefully a full-length album will soon follow.

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David Hopkins – “C’est La” (Dublin, Ireland)

RIYL: LiR, Phoenix, Fleet Foxes, Damien Jurado

You probably weren’t expecting to hear an Irish guy singing in French, right? Don’t question it; just enjoy the coolly psychedelic “C’est La” from David Hopkins. (And in case you are worried, oui: il chante en français et en anglais.)

Hopkins is not a new artist; he was originally in Irish prog-folk band LiR back in the ’90s then later worked with Damien Rice and The Who. But these days he is establishing himself as a solo artist and producer. This tune in all its delirium-inducing glory will win over countless new fans. For starters, “C’est La” belongs to no specific era. You hear echoes of ’70s-era psychedelic prog rock fused with ’80s synth-pop while the vocals call to mind Damien Jurado and Fleet Foxes. Then there’s the fusion of funky riffs with orchestral strings. Together those shouldn’t work. But here they do – and brilliantly. Queue up this tune ce soir and keep it on repeat. You’ll be glad you did. Then check out the trippy video.

“C’est La” is from the forthcoming Overlook album, due April 20 from St. August Records. You can pre-order from iTunes and Amazon.

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wojtek the bear – “made out of maps” (Glasgow, Scotland)

RIYL: Belle and Sebastian, Mt. Doubt, Snow Patrol

Back in 2016 a new Scottish band released an impressive debut single. There was much to love about wojtek the bear and their (also uncapitalized) dead from the waist up tune. We praised the soaring tones and vivid imagery, not realizing it would be a while before they offered a follow-up. Finally their anticipated debut album arrives next month. The lead single from a talent for being unreasonable is a fine reminder of why these guys are one of our favourite hidden gems.

“made out of maps” is a rich slice of unmistakably Scottish indie pop. Tonally this tune draws more from Belle and Sebastian and Frightened Rabbit than Twilight Sad. (The vocal similarities to the latter are strong, though wojtek the bear’s music is the warm springtime to James Graham’s dreich winter.) In just over three minutes, your senses are treated to shimmering melodies and infectious hooks that will stay with you for days. These guys have a talent for weaving together tight layers that make them shine collectively instead of placing the focus on the lead singer. It’s that cohesion that lets you fall under the spell they cast with each chord.

Their new album, a talent for being unreasonable, is out May 25 via Scottish Fiction. You can pre-order it on Bandcamp.

wojtek the bear are: Thomas Killean, Graham Norris, Martin McClements, and Paul Kirkwood.

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Jamie Cruickshank – “Loserville” (Bristol, England)

RIYL: Nick Drake, José González, Glen Hansard, Ray LaMontagne

Today’s playlist began with Neko Case bemoaning bad luck and ends with emerging British singer/songwriter Jamie Cruickshank sharing his view from “Loserville.” It’s a fitting bookend that brings some introspective tranquility to your day.

If you aren’t acquainted with this Bristol-based talent, “Loserville” is an ideal introduction. Who can resist Cruickshank’s intimate delivery of heartfelt lyrics? There is a humility to his music that only makes you appreciate his low-key delivery all the more. Slip on a pair of quality headphones so you can fully bask in his cashmere-soft vocals. Fans of mellow indie folk crooners (particularly Nick Drake, Glen Hansard) will find in Jamie Cruickshank an artist they can turn to for his calming, therapeutic benefits. His languid whispers of “I’m on a losing streak / Living on Loser Street” may elicit sighs or swooning. Better still: your next rainy day of the soul will be improved by simply keeping “Loserville” on repeat.

You can find this tune on Breakfast Records‘ 40-track compilation titled #3. It’s due out April 23 with pre-orders here. UK fans can catch Cruickshank touring with the lovely and talented Lucy Dacus over the next few weeks. Check his social media links for details.

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