Welcome to the Melodic Tonic, vol. 28 – a.k.a. your regular Monday serving of new music cocktails. This week we’re shining our spotlight on six collaborative gems. The term “supergroup” seems to be used more frequently these days, with many artists joining forces faster than we can keep up with them. As music fans, we at The Revue always welcome these collective efforts, especially when it involves artist pairings we didn’t expect. With the holiday season upon us, we appreciate the musical gifts from these supergroups. Let’s get started in the U.S. with a genre-bending single from some well-known voices.
Nevermen – “Mr. Mistake” (USA)
Tunde Adebimpe (TV on the Radio), Mike Patton (Faith No More), and rapper doseone (aka Adam Drucker) recently united to form new supergroup trio, Nevermen. “Mr. Mistake” is the second single they’ve shared from their self-titled debut album. You can hear the distinctive elements each brings to the effort, but trying to keep track of whose vocals you are hearing can be head-spinningly aggravating. Such is the nature of their fused talents: the sum is greater than its already great individual parts. It’s a fun, quirky combination of rock, funk, rap, and soul all rolled into one tightly executed product that defies a specific genre label. The album is due out January 29 on Ipecac Recordings and Lex Records and is available for pre-order in digital format from iTunes and in CD/LP from the label’s online store.
Marcus Marr & Chet Faker – “The Trouble With Us” (UK, Australia)
Good friends don’t let a matter of geography stand in their way when it comes to making music. Take, for example, British DJ Marcus Marr and New York-based Australian electronic artist/producer Nick Murphy (aka Chet Faker): their first collaborative EP, Work, features four tracks the duo recorded earlier this year. This first funk-filled single blends the best of both artists: Chet Faker’s smooth falsetto built on a foundation of Marr’s electronic hooks and a very groovy, disco-drenched bass line that will help you dance away the Monday blues. The EP, released Friday on Faker’s label, Detail Records, is available from iTunes.
Starwalker – “Le President” (France, Iceland)
Starwalker, the electro-pop French/Icelandic duo of Jean-Benoît Dunckel (Air) and Barði Jóhannsson (Bang Gang), wowed listeners in 2014 with their EP, Losers Can Win. If you’ve been under the impression that was a one-time effort, think again. The duo will release an as-yet-unnamed full-length debut album early next year, and this first single is nothing short of majestic. Fused with moody layers of shimmering synth that sparkle like sunlight dancing on water, “Le President” is a treat for the senses. The repeated lyrics of “You will remember me” are no understatement: there is no forgetting this haunting, mesmerizing gem of a tune. The single is available from iTunes. The new album’s release date remains unknown, but we hope to report back with details as soon as we learn more.
Choir of Young Believers – “Serious Lover” (Copenhagen, Denmark)
It seems fitting to hear a new Choir of Young Believers single this time of year. Between the angelic vocals of lead singer Jannis Noya Makrigiannis and the group’s ethereal backing harmonies, listening to this Copenhagen-based orchestral-pop outfit (whose rotating cast of choral characters changes often and can include nearly a dozen performers onstage) generates the same thrill as watching the season’s first snowfall. There’s a delicate grace to the interplay of the notes amid a backdrop of ‘80s-inspired synth layers. Absorbing every intricate detail requires a certain amount of quiet introspection; however, listeners will find this song offers a multi-faceted respite to the hectic pace of the holidays. So sit back, immerse yourself in this one, and feel life’s stress melt away. “Serious Lover” is from the group’s upcoming album, Grasque, due out February 19 on Ghostly International. It is available for pre-order from the label’s online store.
Mass Gothic – “Nice Night” (New York City, USA)
Noel Heroux parted ways with his band Hooray for Earth around this time last year, but he hasn’t wasted any time channeling his focus into a new solo effort. The New York City-based, Massachusetts native is back as Mass Gothic. On this project he is joined by his collaborator and wife, Jessica Zambri (aka Solvey). This first single is full of beautifully aching and majestic dark alt/pop. (And no, the project’s name is not a nod to his home state, in case you’re wondering.) The ballad pace of “Nice Night” builds incrementally before reaching its emotional apex around the 2:40 mark. If you haven’t cranked it by then, you’ll be powerless not to, as it’s such a cathartic moment. The self-titled EP is due out on February 5 via SubPop Records. Pre-orders are available now from Amazon, iTunes, and the SubPop online store. Mass Gothic launches an American tour on February 4 that runs through mid-March.
Babes – “Lonely Forever” (Los Angeles, USA)
Back in October, Los Angeles indie band Babes released a full-length debut LP that we somehow missed until now. This quartet (made up of siblings Aaron, Zach, and Sarah Rayne Leigh with their cousins, Brian Harris and Jeff Baird) makes incredibly delicious indie pop that’s a paradox of sorts: it’s upbeat but not sugary the way most (read: “mainstream”) pop tends to be. In fact, this single could easily become the favored anthem of those who loathe this time of year when it seems everyone is in love, getting engaged, or otherwise blissfully paired in an idyllic relationship. “Don’t fall in love,” they admonish on the opening lines. “I used to feel good about being in love / and being in love felt like a movie / but the movie got bad and everyone walked out on me” – sure, those aren’t the most upbeat lyrics, but the beauty of the song is its genuinely joyful vibe. Instead of pairing those lyrics with a morose minor key and slow pace, this one shines with its bright, sweeping keys and honeyed harmonies. It’s a modern Christmas carol for single folks who know they’re never lonely as long as they have music. Partners come and go, and life’s joys can often be fleeting, but great music is forever, and Babes reminds us of exactly that. The ten-track EP, Untitled (Five Tears), released October 30 on Barsuk Records. It’s available in CD, digital, and vinyl formats from the Barsuk online store.
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