Happy Monday. Enjoy volume 6 of the Melodic Tonic to get your day going.
The inspiration for today’s edition might surprise you. When Bon Iver’s Justin Vernon performed yesterday at Glastonbury with UK folk-pop sister trio The Staves, it reminded me of how prolific he has been lately as both a performer and producer. In addition to producing The Staves’ recent EP, If I Was, he worked with L.A.-based singer/songwriter Doe Paoro on her newest single. Vernon must operate some kind of mythical recording studio, because every song that emerges from there has an ethereal, tranquil ambience. The inspiration for “The Wind” was anything but tranquil. She wrote the song while sheltered in her Brooklyn, NY home during the ravaging Hurricane Sandy in 2012. Experiencing Mother Nature’s wrath prompted this haunting piece which features composer/multi-instrumentalist Adam Rhodes on vocals. Their dulcet harmonies – like The Staves – are enhanced by Vernon’s production, and the result is quite magical.
Doe Paoro – “The Wind (featuring Adam Rhodes)”
Small Feet – “All And Everyone”
Another magical music vibe comes from upcoming Swedish folk trio Small Feet on their new single, “All and Everyone,” which sounds like the lovechild of Neil Young and First Aid Kit. Lead singer Simon Stålhamre (along with Jacob Snavely on bass and Christopher Cantillo on drums) recorded the album in an inherited cabin that was converted into a studio. That secluded intimacy in nature permeates the songs with a crispness like fresh winter air. It’s introspective but not melancholy.
Signed to Seattle’s Barsuk Records, Small Feet will release their debut album, From Far Enough Away Everything Looks Like the Ocean, on 7 August (US), 14 August (UK), and 21 August in Europe on Control Freak Kitten Records. You can also check out the captivating video for the single “Rivers.” Small Feet are definitely a band to watch.
Foals – “What Went Down”
Speaking of Sweden, that’s where you’ll find Foals this Friday on their summer tour. They have returned with a ferocious roar on a new single, “What Went Down,” from their upcoming album of the same name. Long gone are the soothing strains of “Spanish Sahara.” This song (and its suspenseful video) channels the pace of Holy Fire‘s “Inhaler” and the energy of their live show: it is loud, bold, and unapologetically gritty in its animalistic fury. There is a certain primal rage percolating just below the surface as the song progresses, gaining momentum until frontman Yannis Philippakis explodes in full vocal beast mode with the mantra “When I see a man I see a lion” in the chorus and “I’m a sycophantic animal” in the outro. If the other nine songs on the album (due out 28 August on Warner Music) share the same intensity as this single, What Went Down will have plenty of bite to satisfy their rabid fans.
Claptone – “Dear Life” is another remarkable video that caught my eye this week.
The enigmatic German DJ/producer Claptone has taken his house beats worldwide for years but has never released a full-length album. That changes later this year. The video for the first single, “Dear Life,” is a visual feast from the sonic alchemist. It shows life as seen through a child’s eyes and features references to French artist René Magritte – not the typical elements in an electronic-genre video. But then again, Claptone isn’t your typical electronic musician. His identity remains shrouded in mystery behind his golden beak mask, but the song takes flight as he gears up to release his debut sometime this fall on Exploited Records.
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