The Saturday Sampler for March 19th is the perfect remedy for the hangover you might have from the extended St. Patrick’s Day binging or the booster you need to get the weekend started on the right foot. These 10 singles are hypnotic and even dark, haunting, and a touch eerie. Regardless if they stun or startle you, each one is a must-listen. And like most of our playlists, it’s global, featuring artists from Australia, Germany, New Zealand, Sweden, the UK, and the US.
Big Thief – “Real Love” (Brooklyn, USA)
We start things off with a single from a band who blew us away with their first single two weeks ago. Indie-rock quartet Big Thief are receiving some big buzz and rightfully so, especially following the release of their second single, “Real Love”. With the splendid songwriting of frontwoman Adrienne Lenker, who explains the power of love and how quickly it can fade away, and the quiet and brilliant chaos provided by Buck Meek (guitar), Max Oleartchik (bass), and James Krivchenia (drums), the song is a burner. With lyrics like, “Real love is a heartache” and “Mom got drunk and Dad got crazy”, the song resonates with the emotional power of Sharon Van Etten, TORRES, and Angel Olsen. “Real Love” only makes us become more impatient for the release of the band’s debut album, Masterpiece, which drops May 27th via Saddle Creek.
The Bones of J.R. Jones – “Hammers And Nails” (Brooklyn, USA)
Last year, Nathaniel Rateliff & The Night Sweats were the breakout stars of the roots-folk scene. This year, it could be Jonathon Linaberry’s outfit, The Bones of J.R. Jones. Their latest single, “Hammers And Nails”, is a song that could only be heard if one dug really deep inside one’s soul to reveal a dark secret. It’s a crippling tune but mesmerizing at the same time. It’s a rare song where you can hear your own heart pounding to the throbbing rhythms and Linaberry’s stirring vocals.
“Hammers And Nails” is the lead single from The Bones of J.R. Jones’ forthcoming album, Spirit’s Furnace, which will be released on April 15th.
Daniel Trakell – “Wasted Light” (Melbourne, Australia)
A recent find by Triple J Unearthed is Melbourne-based singer-songwriter Daniel Trakell, who released his debut single, “Wasted Light” only a few weeks ago. This psychedelic pop brims with heavy doses of The Beatles and John Lennon but with Trakelll’s Elliott Smith-style falsetto. As Trakell sings, “just like a beautiful dream”, you’re left with that exact some thought in listening to this superb track by an emerging artist to watch.
Hunter As A Horse – “The Passenger” (London, UK & Berlin, Germany)
Dark, mysterious, and pulsating numbers: we love them. “The Passenger” by Hunter As A Horse, the project of Mia van Wyk (vocals/guitar) and Paul Gala (piano/synths/machines), is creepy good, matching the stark splendor of Chelsea Wolfe and Sarah Brightman. The first words, “Someone is watching you”, sets the tone for the entire song, leaving one with chills. This song is masterfully hypnotic and awesome. If the producers who are turning Stephen King’s The Dark Tower into a film series are searching for a theme song, this should be it.
i.e. crazy – “An Incident on the Edge of Town” (Auckland, New Zealand)
Although she goes by the moniker i.e. crazy, there’s nothing insane nor made about Claire Duncan’s music. It leans heavy on the experimental side; beneath the blur of reverb and the crashing of different percussion instruments, there is a undeniable brilliance. In her new single, “An Incident on the Edge of Town”, the collision of noise provides the perfect backdrop to the intense situation playing around and inside the mind of the protagonist. The combination of music and lyrics like “In the passenger seat, there’s a hanging head / As though it’s attached to a taut and jerking thread / There’s a shop en route that sells mannequins / I will take one home just to eat with it” is Björk-esque. This young singer-songwriter has that type of potential. Get the single on her Bandcamp page.
MAVRICK – “Funeral” (Stockholm, Sweden)
A newcomer gaining some buzz in Europe is Stockholm’s MAVRICK, and it’s not difficult to understand why after listening to “Funeral”. This scintillating number echoes of the trailblazing electro-R&B and soul fusion of Twin Shadow in his early days, and one of last year’s breakthrough artists, Steven A. Clark. It’s a heck of a track by a young artist who should start to make waves overseas with his immersive style and versatile, soulful voice.
Nifty Earth – “Kutana” (Athens, GA, USA)
We often don’t share much electronic or ambient fields, but when an artist creates something as beautiful as Nifty Earth‘s new single, “Kutana”, we have to share it. The song mixes ambient textures with South American rhythms and vibes. The ethereal yet “earthy” soundscapes are akin to the immersive approach of Tycho, a favorite of ours. Just close your eyes and be transfixed by the gorgeous combination of the production by Joseph Thrash and the instrumentation of Joey Tuholski (drummer), Jose Moran (saxophonist) and Megan Li (violin).
Plastic Flowers – “Mary (Del)” (London, UK)
We’ve been familiar with George Samaras’ work as Plastic Flowers for a little while, although to our surprise this is the first time we’ve featured any of his music. Better late than never, and what a track to share. His latest single, “Mary (Del)”, is glacial dream-pop perfected. From the ethereal instrumentation and production to Samaras’ delicate vocals which soar above the music like a celestial body, “Mary (Del)” is the type of song you need to be sitting down to listen to because you could very well lose consciousness. As you listen to it over and over again, you might hear the melody to The Cure’s “Letter to Elise”, but slowed to a point that is simply breathless.
This is the second single from Plastic Flowers’ forthcoming, new album, Heavenly, which drops April 22nd. (How the heck is he not signed to a label?)
Reykjavik Kids – “Moneymaker” (London/Newcastle, UK)
Reykjavik Kids aren’t exactly from Iceland; they’re actually from the UK. Their music isn’t like the post-rock or experimental stuff that’s coming from the little island country known for its stunning landscapes, hot pools, and volcanoes. Instead, Paul Tissington and Scott Munro are creating some awesome garage rock. Their second-ever single is the blistering “Moneymaker”, which has echoes of Cold War Kids and Canadian favorites USS (Ubiquitous Synergy Seeker). The song demonstrates that the duo know how to create an infectious song through clever guitar hooks and controlling the tempo to create a bit of drama. We kind of wonder, though, what would Reykjavik Kids sound like if they really let loose. Probably just as awesome.
San Mei – “Revel” (Gold Coast, Australia)
Continuing our set of stunning songs is “Revel”, the latest single by burgeoning Aussie star San Mei, which is the project of Emily Hamilton. This cinematic tune echoes of the majestic sounds of Ladyhawke while shimmering like La Roux’s infectious indie pop. It is an hypnotic monster of a track. Remember the name San Mei, as she could be Australia’s next greatest pop export since Sia.
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