While the April weather can be highly unpredictable in many parts of the world, within the realm of indie music it’s the time of year when the delicate songs get more intimate while the anthemic ones are more summery, more explosive, and a whole lot more boisterous. Saturday Sampler has a bit of everything, although we’ve often for more energetic tunes to kick off the weekend. Bands from England, Scotland, Australia, and the US all take center stage.
Andrew Bird – “Roma Fade” (Los Angeles, USA via Chicago)
There’s an odd Venn diagram with classical violin in one circle and electronic loops in the other; in the middle is American indie folkish singer/songwriter Andrew Bird. He is known as much for his inventive looping as for his sweetly hypnotic whistling, and both are on full display in this new single. “Roma Fade” is from his 13th studio album, Are You Serious?, which released yesterday on Loma Vista Recordings. The song’s playful energy and upbeat tempo make this one of his catchiest melodies since “Skin Is, My” from his 2005 album. If you like eclectic indie folk-pop with a heavy dose of whistling, this could be your new favorite tune. His North American tour kicked off Wednesday night in Nashville. He’s in North America all month before heading to Europe on April 30. Are You Serious? is available from his online store, Amazon, and iTunes.
Anteros – “Breakfast” (London, England)
A year ago, Anteros exploded onto the indie scene with their breathtaking, self-titled single. They followed “Anteros” with a few other singles “Fade to Grey” and “Lonely Tonight”, which we covered back in September, which was accompanied by a heavy tour schedule within the UK. The London-based quartet are finally back with a new single, and “Breakfast” is an indie-pop gem. The song combines the infectious indie-pop of Alvvays, the synth-sensibilities of CHRVCHES, and the poignant lyricism akin of Lauren Mayberry, and the result is a song that makes living with a self-indulgent individual sound fun and euphoric. Of course it isn’t, but the track demonstrates the cleverness of this rising band.
This is the band’s first single of 2016, and they’ve promised quite a bit more this year. Maybe there will be an EP or LP on the horizon?
The Belligerents – “Before, I Am” (Brisbane, Australia)
The Belligerents will be the next great rock band from Australia, a statement that we made nearly a year ago. It’s taken a bit of time for people to catch on, but their popularity has been steadily growing. In the past 10 months, they’ve released some great singles like “Voices”, a terrific EP Outside/Inside, and one of the best covers ever done when they reinterpreted Fat Boy Slim’s “Praise You”. These were reasons enough for us to name them as one of the band we would invite to RevueFest, should it ever happen.
Now they’ve given us another reason to get excited about their future, as they recently announced they will be releasing their debut full-length album later this year. The lead single, “Before, I Am”, is a blazing psychedelic number. It has all the trademarks that The Belligerents one of indie rock’s most exciting band – an ability to make a blistering rocker into a song that is also dreamy and breathtaking. You’ll be sucked into the the sweeping tempo and melody transitions; the fiery, glistening guitars; the cathartic rhythms and keys; and frontman Lewis Stephenson’s sweeping vocals. This song is brilliant, only increasing our anticipation for their debut.
In addition to Stephenson, The Belligerents are James Griffin, Konstantin Kersting, Andy Balzat, and Samuel Sargent.
Ben Watt – “Gradually” (London, England)
Millennials who didn’t grow up listening to the sophisticated pop of Everything But the Girl (aka EBTG for short) may not recognize Ben Watt‘s name, but music fans over the age of, say, 30 will recognize his voice as half of that duo. EBTG performed together from the early-’80s until 2000 when Watt and musical partner Tracey Thorn began pursuing solo careers. Fast-forward to this month when Watt releases his third solo album. “Gradually” captures the smart, stylish indie jazz-pop that EBTG fans knew and loved for nearly two decades. This single features guest vocals from Hiss Golden Messenger’s M.C. Taylor, and the album includes cameos from Marissa Nadler and Suede’s Bernard Butler. If you don’t already know Ben Watt, this is the perfect time to cozy up to his intimate sounds before catching his European tour that runs from April to mid-June.
Black Honey – “All My Pride” (Brighton, England)
If we eventually host a RevueFest, Black Honey will likely be on the short list. Already receiving buzz for their cinematic, indie-rock approach, the Brighton-based quartet are drawing comparisons to last year’s wunderkinds Wolf Alice. No offence to that great UK band, but the comparison might be shortchanging Black Honey, as here is a band that puts the word anthem into anthemic. Their latest single, “All My Pride”, however, the band’s flagship song to date. While their previous songs were dizzying and dazzling in different ways (like the Lush-esque “Corrine” or the gritty and fiery “Madonna”), “All My Pride” is explosive from the start. There’s no slow build in this one, just a brisk two-minutes and forty seconds of heart-racing, cathartic rock. Although the band desires to remain under-the-radar, with their blistering sound, they’ll be one of the most sought-after bands in 2017.
“All My Pride” is from Black Honey’s forthcoming, debut EP, Headspin, which drops April 29th via Foxfive Records.
Man Of Moon – “Sign” (Edinburgh, Scotland)
Another band that caught our attention last year was Scotland duo Man of Moon. At the time when they released “The Road”, they were just starting to get their feet firmly planted in the indie-rock sphere. Now, they’ve firmly arrived, as they will be playing various festivals throughout the year despite only releasing music for the past year-plus. 2016 will also see Chris Bainbridge and Mikey Reid release their debut EP, Machine, and the lead single is “Sign”. It’s probably the most loopy, psych-rock tune you’ll hear this side of Wire. Don’t mistaken this track as a delicate, enchanting one. On the contrary, it is a slow-building rocker that quickly explodes with some great glistening guitars and tons of reverb. Say with us, “Eff yeah!”
Medicine drops June 5th via Melodic Records.
Although Wolf Parade have announced they are reuniting this summer and will be releasing new music this year, the band’s co-frontman, Dan Boeckner and Spencer Krug, are still pursuing their own individual projects on the side. Boeckner’s Operators released their debut full-length yesterday and know Krug under the moniker Moonface is getting set to drop his new album with Finnish band, Siinai. The lead single is “Risto’s Riff”, which is quintessential Krug. An anthemic rocker, the song teeters on the edge of prog to give the song the trademark delirium we’ve become accustomed to hearing on Krug’s work with Wolf Parade. Wolf Parade is back – and then some!
“Risto’s Riff” is from Moonface and Siinai’s forthcoming album, My Best Human Face, which drops June 3rd via Jagjaguwar.
Sad Culture – “Raspberry Ooze” (London, England)
We’ll admit: when we first encountered this new single from emerging London indie band Sad Culture, we were intrigued based on its title alone. There’s just something about raspberry songs – whether it’s Prince’s classic tune about a beret or Tori Amos singing about a swirl – that piques our curiosity. This single is short and sweet, with just the right amount of fun, jangly riffs to put it in the pop-leaning category but aloof enough to be considered proper DIY indie. This is a summer song that’s about embracing life, even to the point of partying extremes. It’s from Art Is Hard Records‘ Pin Pal Club which includes – yes, you guessed it – an actual limited edition pin with the purchase. As if you needed a better reason to go grab it from their online store!
Seratones – “Sun” (Shreveport, Louisiana, USA)
Before they set foot on the Mecca known as SXSW last week, Seratones were already a band to watch this year. “Chandelier”, which was released over a month ago and is the lead first single from their forthcoming debut album, Get Gone, introduced us to the band’s soulful, dance floor-cutting indie rock and to one of the genre’s great, new voices, AJ Haynes. They’ve now shared song number 2, “Sun”, a boisterous, dizzying track that will have you whirling around like the Tasmanian devil. If every song on Get Gone has this effect, we could in for one of the most talked about albums come December.
Get Gone drops May 6th via Fat Possum. Seratones are AJ Haynes (vocals), Connor Davis (guitar), Adam Davis (bass), and Jesse Gabriel (drums).
Xenia Rubinos – “Lonely Lover” (Brooklyn, USA)
It’s been three years since soulful singer Xenia Rubinos dazzled audiences with her debut album, Magic Trix. An artist who defies genre categorization, Rubbings blends soul, funk, jazz, hip-hop, and Caribbean beats to create an entirely unique sound. Her impressive vocals have a rich warmth that channels Billie Holiday one minute and Erykah Badu or Lianne La Havas the next. Rubinos celebrates her Cuban and Puerto Rican heritage with lyrics sung in both English and Spanish, further stymying efforts to define her specific genre. To call her sound a “fusion” is too easy, even though that’s the closest descriptor. Much like the French-Cuban duo Ibeyi whose bilingual music appeals to a broad audience, so too does Xenia Rubinos. “Lonely Lover” sparkles with effervescent breeziness (and a funky bass line) that gives it a carefree, summertime vibe.
Rubinos is currently touring the U.S. through the end of May. Black Terry Cat is slated for a June 16 release via Anti- Records, with pre-orders available from Amazon, iTunes, and the label’s online store.
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