The Melodic Tonic ’18 May 30th edition takes you around the world in search of the newest tunes. This week’s playlist features six new sizzles from artists in Australia, UK, and the USA. Let’s begin with a double dose of blissful dream pop.
Barrie – “Tal Uno” (Brooklyn, USA)
RIYL: Alvvays, Beach House, Best Coast
The shimmering “Tal Uno” from Brooklyn-based Barrie refreshes better than ice cream on a hot summer day. It’s what you might call sunshine daydream, because its breezy layers float around your headspace and evoke sun-kissed joy. This isn’t the kind of dream pop that lulls you to sleep. Instead, this ballad puts you in the front seat with the band as they drive away from an unsalvageable relationship. Instead of glancing back at the past with wistful reservation, they simply move on and sigh.
Their lyrics are painfully relatable yet spark with freshness that often escapes emerging bands. Phrases like “You’re semi-precious and king of reckless / I think you’re better on your own” become engrained in your mind after just one spin.
This track is one of two songs available on Bandcamp from Winspear. No word yet on when they will release an album, though hopefully it will be soon. The world needs more of the luxurious sounds they create.
Totally Mild – “Take Today” (Melbourne, Australia)
RIYL: Alvvays, Belle and Sebastian, Camera Obscura
Sometimes dreams are so vivid you force yourself back to sleep so you can find out how the story ends. Those fleeting moments between a dream state and reality feel like another dimension where sound is richer, images are clearer, and music sounds like… well, it sounds like Totally Mild. This emerging Australian indie band are the soundtrack of your fever dreams, the ones you never want to wake up from. Their newest single, “Take Today,” reminds us why.
For starters, this four-piece group make dream pop that orbits the realm of Belle and Sebastian or Camera Obscura. The crystalline vocals of Elizabeth Mitchell set the tone for “Take Today” – but it’s the lushly textured instrumentation that keeps you mesmerized. Then consider their dedication: since releasing their 2015 debut album, Down Time: they’ve toured with the likes of Kurt Vile, Best Coast, DIIV, and others. Those long weeks on the road lead to this sparkling gem of a tune, and it’s only a taste of what’s on their full LP, Her.
Queue up “Take Today” and drift off to a blissful adventure with this talented group leading the way.
Totally Mild are: Elizabeth Mitchell (vocals), Zachary Schneider (guitar), Lehmann Smith (bass), and Ashley Bundang (drums).
Luluc – “Heist” (Brooklyn, USA via Melbourne, Australia)
RIYL: The Weather Station, Tiny Ruins, Phosphorescent
Now a decade into their Luluc project, Zoe Randell and Steve Hassett have mastered the art of mellow. This isn’t to say the duo aren’t capable of delivering intensity, but their forte lies in creating emotionally-driven ballads that appeal equally to heart and mind. Their new “Heist” single is a prime of example of the rich sound fans have come to love in their previous two albums.
Sculptor, the follow-up to their 2014 masterpiece, Passerby, features a galaxy’s worth of stars lending support –The National’s Aaron Dessner and Dinosaur Jr’s J Mascis, to name but two. While the album may include brief flashes from other talents, the beauty of “Heist” comes from within. Randell’s gossamer-soft vocals soothe the soul while Hassett adds textural depth in the instrumentation. “Heist” is four minutes of emotional comfort you didn’t even realize you needed. Whether you’re listening at home with headphones or seeing them perform in person (don’t ever miss the chance if they tour anywhere near you!), Luluc will absolutely take your breath away.
Jon Hopkins – “Luminous Beings” (London, England)
RIYL: Four Tet, Kiasmos, Ulrich Schnauss
It’s rare for us to share an artist’s songs twice in one month. But artists like Jon Hopkins have that certain intangible quality that makes their every creation something special. His newest offering bears the signature soaring elements of the “Singularity” single we shared on May 9th.
“Luminous Beings” reveals its depths quickly, plunging you into its pulsing layers of bright synth and effervescent percussion. Dedicated electronic fans will appreciate the vitality Hopkins infuses into this piece, while fans who normally avoid heavy synth genres might just find themselves converted. As with all of his output, Hopkins truly excels at creating mentally stimulating worlds meant for exploration. This song is an ideal accompaniment to your busiest work day or your most leisurely evening. That’s the versatility and appeal of Jon Hopkins, a true talent in his field.
And speaking of fields…if you are among the lucky ones attending Primavera Festival starting today, you can experience this music in person. Everyone else can catch Hopkins on tour through late November.
Andy Jenkins – “Genuine Heart” (Richmond, VA, USA)
RIYL: Matthew E. White, Kevin Morby, Phil Cook
Friends, let me introduce you to your summer anthem for 2018: “Genuine Heart” from Virginia singer/songwriter Andy Jenkins. While you may not know this upcoming indie star, you can tell from this song that his is a talent not to be overlooked.
Andy Jenkins is a straight shooter who values substance over style. He doesn’t mince words; in fact, he cuts to the chase from the start. You get a taste for his authenticity when he sings “All I’m good for is a genuine heart / I’ll be doing my part till my warm blood runs cold” in the first verse. From there, it’s impossible to resist his ambling, soulful delivery.
Jenkins will appeal to fans of Matthew E. White and Kevin Morby, but he’s not exactly their musical soul brother. No, Jenkins isn’t emulating anyone. Instead, he’s revealing himself one perfectly-strummed bar at a time. And if your heart isn’t genuinely won over, you should consult a qualified professional for help.
Kadhja Bonet – “Another Time Lover” (Los Angeles, USA)
RIYL: Janelle Monae, Charlotte Gainsbourg, Minnie Riperton
You can call Kadhja Bonet many things: artist, singer, multi-intrumentalist, visionary, or force of nature – all are perfectly applicable. The performer we have come to love over the last two years continues to impress us with her wide range of talents. On her upcoming Childqueen album, Bonet delivers more of her butterfly style of indie music, flitting through genres like jazz, soul, R&B and pop, cross-pollinating the sonic garden with each note she sings. Last month her “Delphine” single wowed us with its “sophisticated artistry;” now this future legend follows up with even more pizzazz on “Another Time Lover.”
Bonet’s songs are her vocal playgrounds. Each song gives her an opportunity to display her acrobatic vocal skills. While here they remain mostly demure and whispery, Bonet offers flashes of the brilliance she is capable of delivering. Like many of the great singers before her – from Minnie Riperton to Nina Simone – Bonet is an artist who knows when less is more. And in this song, her less is substantially more rewarding than just about anyone else’s all.
If you have not yet fallen in love with Kadhja Bonet, we have but one question for you: why not? Hers is a sound that is from another universe, comprised of wine and jewels and moonlit ocean breezes. “Another Time Lover” is simply dazzling. Tune in to find out why.
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