Happy Monday! If today’s collection of melodic singles had a theme, it would be “beards and ballads.”  Hold onto your proverbial hat, because this first tune will get you moving!

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Nathaniel Rateliff & the Night Sweats – S.O.B.

Music that moves you from your head to your toes: that’s the easiest way to describe the sounds of soulful Colorado band Nathaniel Rateliff & the Night Sweats. Remember the scene from The Blues Brothers movie when Jake and Elwood perform in the prison? That’s the vibe here, so it makes sense that the video has a jailhouse settings. “S.O.B.” has all the trademarks of an instant classic. It’s unapologetically gritty soul, the kind of raucous music that makes you want to grab a beer and dance with everyone. Even if you can’t dance, this song makes it impossible to suppress the urge. Between the infectious beat, Rateliff’s throaty vocals, and the lively horns, this song is huge – not just in its sound but in its well-deserved explosion all over the music scene. The band delivered an energetic show last month at Newport Folk Fest and an equally impressive performance last week on The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon. The new self-titled album (which releases August 21 on Stax Records), is Rateliff’s fifth studio effort. The band tours Europe in October then returns to the U.S. for a full tour in November.

Official links: Website | Facebook | Twitter | Soundcloud | YouTube


Lou Barlow – Moving

Never content to rest on his laurels as it were, alternative/lo-fi music icon Lou Barlow (Dinosaur Jr., Sebadoh, The Folk Implosion) has a new album coming out next month. He releases a new solo album about every five years, so this one, Brace the Wave (due out September 4 on Joyful Noise Recordings), is right on track following 2009’s Goodnight Unknown. The first single, “Moving,” is aptly titled since he has relocated from Los Angeles to his former home turf of western Massachusetts. The song is pared down but not spare. It’s intimate and introspective, the kind of song you’d expect to hear if you were sitting in his living room instead of in a noisy, crowded concert venue. This only adds to its appeal. You know how exhausted you feel after you’ve spent a long day moving furniture? And when you finally relax after finishing, a wave of satisfied relief washes over you? That’s the way this song greets you. If the rest of the album is any indication, it will feel immensely satisfying. Barlow will tour select cities in the U.S. next month (read: mostly California with a scant few on the East Coast) plus two October shows in London and Paris.

Official links: Website | Facebook | Twitter | YouTube


Evening Hymns – All My Life I Have Been Running

The lead single from Ontario-based Evening Hymns has an urgent feel, as though singer Jonas Bonnetta is trying to summon clarity during a storm. With a driving guitar crescendo accentuated by sweeping strings, “All My Life I Have Been Running” finds Bonnetta searching for ways “to clear my mind / to bury all of the demons / to put them all behind.” He must have found clarity while recording the album, Quiet Energies, as one of its tracks has been selected for Cameron Crowe’s upcoming film, Aloha. The album releases September 18 on Outside Music (US), Shuffling Feet Records (CA), and Tin Angel Records (UK), just in time for a month-long European tour.

Official links: Website | Facebook | Twitter | Soundcloud | YouTube


Summer Fiction – On and On

Summer Fiction is the moniker of Philadelphia native singer/songwriter Bill Ricchini. He was “raised on a diet of The Beach Boys and The Smiths,” so it’s only fitting that he recorded his debut album, Himalaya, in Manchester, UK. The bright sunniness of the former and the less-sunny climate of the latter account for the balanced sound of the first single, “On and On.” With plenty of upbeat, jangly guitars and lyrics like “Inside I’m dying; I’m tired of crying over you,” Summer Fiction captures the best of his two influencing bands. The music, as the band name implies, is summery. But it’s the dazzling hybrid of upbeat melodies with a hefty dose of realism that makes Summer Fiction so palatable. Summer Fiction has four August tour dates in France and Spain before returning to New York City for a show in October. The album, which released June 16, is available on Bandcamp and iTunes.

Official links: Website | Facebook | Twitter | Soundcloud | YouTube


ON AN ON – Icon Love

Continuing with the “on and on” theme, Minneapolis trio ON AN ON just released “Icon Love,” the next single from their sophomore album, And The Wave Has Two Sides. It’s a melancholy-drenched dream pop number with a hypnotic bass line infused with ’80s electronic synth. The album was produced by the Grammy Award-winning Joe Chiccarelli (whose previous credits include My Morning Jacket, The White Stripes, and The Shins) and released July 24 on Roll Call Records (US) and City Slang (UK/EU).

The band will tour the U.S. and Canada in August and September, including a stop at Seattle’s Bumbershoot Festival on September 5th.

Official links: Website | Facebook | Twitter

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