The Melodic Tonic returns to kickstart your Monday! With summer in full swing, this week’s selection includes some fresh sounds for sunny days and some contemplative singer/songwriter fare for the evening hours when you need to unwind.
Fans of American alternative/neo-psych legends Mercury Rev have waited seven long years for a follow-up to their last album, Snowflake Midnight. The wait is almost over. The first song off their upcoming album finds the band acknowledging the long wait. “Sometimes years go by it seems,” sings frontman Jonathan Donahue just before the symphony of sound reveals its layers of swirling strings, horns, and percussion. This music is both sunshine and a starry night captured simultaneously.
If you’re not familiar with Mercury Rev and this song makes you think they sound like a cousin to psych-rockers Flaming Lips, you’re not wrong. Donahue was lead guitarist on two Flaming Lips albums in the early ‘90s while Mercury Rev bassist Dave Fridmann has co-produced nearly every Lips album since 1990. The Light in You is due out 18 September on Bella Union Records with a European tour immediately following.
Another album due on 18 September is from a voice that’s familiar even if the name is not. Baio is the moniker of Vampire Weekend bassist Chris Baio, who is due to release his first full solo album, The Names, on London’s Glassnote Music label. He moved to London in 2013 – the perfect place for a guy who’s drawn inspiration for this album from both David Bowie and Bryan Ferry.
Little Racer, the indie trio from New York City, describe themselves as “garage rockers without garages” and “surf rockers who can’t swim.” All self-deprecating humor aside, band members Elliot Michaud, Wade Michael, and Ish Nazmi definitely know how to craft smart, stylish, indie pop songs that sound the way a perfect summer day feels: bright, warm, and energizing. With a sound that has faint echoes of The Shins, Vampire Weekend, ‘60s surf pop and ‘80s New Wave, Little Racer gives off plenty of good vibrations. “Montevideo” is found on the Foreign Tongues EP released last month on PaperCup Music.
Anna B. Savage is the London singer/songwriter whose intimate, ethereal sound is quickly catching the attention of music critics worldwide. She was featured last week on NPR’s “Favorite Songs of 2015 So Far” list despite having just released her debut EP in May. With one listen you’ll immediately understand why she’s garnering such attention. Unlike mass-produced pop music manufactured in a studio with multiple layers of distortion and effects, Savage strips away those layers and bares her soul to the listener. The four tracks on the EP (succinctly titled “EP”) feel so personal as to seem almost intrusive, as though you have stumbled onto her private diary and are exploring her deepest thoughts. She doesn’t bother ascribing names to the songs, opting instead for the simplicity of Roman numerals. The depth of the subject matter – a suicidal friend and feelings of self-doubt, to name but two – is matched by the warm instrumentation and her rich, lilting vocals. And that voice! It’s not every day you hear an artist who calls to mind Laura Marling, Sharon Van Etten and Jeff Buckley. You can find her next month at Green Man Festival in Wales and on the road this autumn supporting Father John Misty on his European dates.
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