Welcome to a fresh serving of new music singles! As many in the eastern U.S. dig out from last weekend’s blizzard, it seems like a perfect time to enjoy some cold weather tunes. This week we’re sharing a mix of chill indie folk, pop, and electronic-infused music from a half dozen one-named acts whose music makes these wintry snow days more bearable. Most of these artists aren’t established on major labels yet, so you can get to know them from their earliest days. Years from now, you’ll be able to say you’ve known them since way back in the time of the Blizzard of ’16.
Alpenglow – “Solitude” (Brooklyn, USA)
Alpenglow has had great mentors while preparing this album. These Brooklyn-based, Vermont natives have played their brand of indie folk/rock while opening for Lucius, Timber Timbre, and My Morning Jacket. The influence of the latter is most evident on this single. The falsetto from lead singer Graeme Daubert has a striking resemblance to Jim James in terms of warmth and intimacy. Originally released on their 2013 debut EP, “Solitude” has gotten an polished update on their full-length debut LP, Callisto. The toned-down banjo from the original gives this version more softness than its predecessor. It’s a perfect tune to warm the heart while holed up on a winter’s day, basking in the warm glow of a fire. Callisto is out February 26 on new label Chizu Records.
Coldair – “Pretty Mind” (Warsaw, Poland)
Few people enjoy dealing with winter’s unforgiving weather and bone-chilling temps. But this electronic-infused song from Polish indie darkwave artist Coldair (aka Tobiasz Biliński) is some coolness that is refreshing and inspiring. Biliński has been making music as Coldair since 2010, and this is just his third release. His soaring vocals remain gentle throughout the song, perfectly matched to the song’s sedate tone. The Polish multi-instrumentalist (he plays guitar, piano, and drums) released The Provider on January 15 via Sub Pop Records (digital) and his own Twelves Records (CD & vinyl) label. It’s available from his site and iTunes.
This single from West London indie folk-pop band Faers has all the bright, shimmering lightness of falling snowflakes. The gently bouncing guitar riffs on “Alamere” hearken back to the world music vibe of Graceland-era Paul Simon in the modern style of Vampire Weekend and Of Monsters and Men. The song is upbeat and immediately enjoyable, so crank it up to dance away your snowbound stress. Its sunniness will make you forget about blizzards and storms. Their Waves EP released a few months ago and is available from iTunes.
Healyum – “Fools Eyes” (Bedford, UK)
Healyum are an emerging British indie pop band comprised of siblings Jeaná, Katie and Jed Healy plus two of their non-Healy friends, Nathanael Degning and Pip Benjamin. They released this debut single last month, and its dark electronic pop has enchanted listeners ever since. It’s an instantly addictive tune, but what’s most impressive is that it was written by its teenage lead vocalist, Jeaná. On this track she shows vocal poise beyond her years while the rest of the band provide depth in the additional layers. Based on this song alone, we predict that Healyum are definitely a band to watch in 2016. You can grab the song from iTunes.
Merival – “Kicking You Out” (Toronto, CAN)
Many pop songs deal with the early stages of love; conversely, many country songs deal with its aftermath. On her latest single, Canadian folk singer Anna Horvath – aka Merival – straddles the fence between the two extremes. She sings from a place of disenchantment where there is more aggravation than adoration in a relationship. “Kicking You Out” deals with the bittersweet feelings that precede a decision to remove a character from your life’s story. If the subject doesn’t stir your heart, her crystalline vocals and heartfelt delivery certainly will. Her debut EP, Lovers, is due out January 29. If you’re too impatient to wait for the whole album, you can get this single from her Bandcamp page.
Portrayal – “Solecism” (Shrewsbury, UK)
British indie alternative-shoegaze duo Portrayal (Rob Tranter on guitars, bass, and synths with Joe Crook on vocals and guitars) make hauntingly beautiful music that pulses with atmospheric moodiness. They have painted their audio canvas with broad melancholy brush strokes, but not to an overwhelming extent. The minor-keyed layers are given plenty of breathing room, letting Crook’s gorgeous tenor vocals shine through. If you like the dark indie stylings of Editors and Faunts, then give Portrayal a listen. “Solecism” was released last week as a two-song EP. It’s the follow-up to last year’s debut To the Black Sea LP, both of which are available on iTunes and their Bandcamp page.
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