This week’s serving of new music cocktails features several artists who will be playing at this month’s South By Southwest (SXSW) Festival in Texas, plus some other new music that we can’t stop playing. We begin with an enormously talented Icelandic group that will entrance your ears and get your Monday off to a sublime start.
Samaris – “Wanted 2 Say” (Reykjavik, Iceland)
Icelandic indie electro-pop band Samaris has finally released a song that North American fans can sing along to. “Wanted 2 Say” is their first song in English, and what a sparkling gem it is. Lead singer Jófríður Ákadóttir’s vocals are radiant and ethereal on this track, while the rest of the band weaves layers of atmospheric magic over electronic beats. While the influences of Portishead can be heard, their music is uniquely original and utterly captivating. The band won the Icelandic Músíktilraunir award (an award also won by Of Monsters and Men), less than a year after they formed. So talented is this teenaged trio that they played Iceland Airwaves festival twice before releasing their eponymous debut in 2013. “Wanted to Say” is from their upcoming album, Black Lights, available in 12” vinyl and digitally on April 8 via iTunes and One Little Indian Records.
Samaris are: Þórður Kári Steinþórsson (programming), Áslaug Rún Magnúsdóttir (clarinet), and Jófríður Ákadóttir (vocals).
Dinner – “Turn Me On” (Denmark)
A hefty dose of ‘80s-inspired synth beats permeates Dinner’s new single, “Turn Me On.” The brainchild of Danish singer/producer Anders Rhedin (a former member of Choir of Young Believers), Dinner divides his time between Copenhagen, Berlin, and Los Angeles, giving his music a polished, cosmopolitan sound.
His debut album, Psychic Lovers, releases April 1 via Captured Tracks. It is available for pre-order here. Dinner is yet another artist performing at SXSW festival. Attendees can catch his sets there on March 18 and 20.
Drowners – “Cruel Ways” (New York City, USA)
Sounding even more European than on their first single, “Luv Hold Me Down,” from their 2014 debut, New York City indie band Drowners have returned with another scorching hit. “Cruel Ways” navigates the emotional minefields of a breakup, with piercing lyrics and an achy, minor key melancholy. This isn’t surprising considering the band’s name was inspired by Suede’s 1992 album, The Drowners. Welsh-born frontman Matthew Hitt creates a brooding atmosphere much like Suede’s dark Britpop when he delivers lyrics like “Now we sleep in separate rooms / I talk to walls instead of you.” Anyone who’s been in his shoes will find this song cathartic, especially if it’s cranked loudly.
Drowners are: Matt Hitt (vocals, guitar), Jack Ridley (guitar), Erik Lee Snyder (bass), and Daniel Jacobs (drums).
T.O.L.D. – “Return Forever” (Los Angeles, USA via Birmingham, UK)
Los Angeles-based British electronic artist Dan Smith – aka T.O.L.D. (The Order of Life and Death) – has a stunning new song that he co-wrote with Jas Shaw (Simian Mobile Disco). “Return Forever” is a darkly hypnotic synth-pop track with a contrasting bright chorus that is instantly addictive. The contrast is fitting for an artist whose name was inspired by the Gustav Klimt painting, “Death and Life.”
This track is from his upcoming full-length debut album, due out later this year. His first effort was Heaven, a three-track EP he recorded in Iceland in 2014 with the help of Birgir “Biggo” Þórarinsson from Gus Gus. Since then, he relocated to Los Angeles to submerse himself in the west coast scene. We hope to hear more details about the album soon.
Crater – “Hardly at All” (Seattle, USA)
Seattle indie electro-rock duo Crater isn’t constrained by one specific genre. Instead, the duo of Ceci Gomez and Kessiah Gordon masterfully mix electronic beats, New Wave-inspired riffs, and smart indie pop licks to create some of the most mesmerizing sounds we’ve discovered lately. You’ll be hard-pressed to find more arresting vocals than theirs on “Hardly At All.” Do yourself a favor and keep this one on repeat.
Their debut album, Talk to Me So I Can Fall Asleep, released February 26 on Help Yourself Records.
Mind Spiders – “Running” (Ft. Worth, TX, USA)
Mind Spiders unleash some sonic fury on their newest single, with a long intro that hooks you long before lead vocalist Mark Ryan (from The Marked Men and Radioactivity) sings one note. “Running” is the first we’ve heard from the Texas post-punk trio since their 2013 release, Inhumanistic. The sound here is tight and driven, with pulsing riffs that hook you instantly. That tightness stems from Ryan and drummer Mike Throneberry having played together in various bands since meeting in college more than 20 years ago. Their sound is time-tested and timeless, as “Running” proves beyond all doubt.
The band’s fourth album, Prosthesis, releases March 12 on Dirtnap Records, just in time for them to debut the new material when they play SXSW on March 17.
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