Welcome to this week’s serving of new music cocktails where the menu features pairs of singles from similar genres. We’ve got some mellow British psych pop, some danceable American dream pop, and a double dose of volume cranked to 11 to shift your Monday into high speed. Let’s ease into things at a slower pace first.
Fear of Men – “Trauma” (Brighton, England)
The moody new single, “Trauma”, from Brighton-based indie dream pop trio Fear of Men is the kind of song that haunts your dreams, but in a good way. Every part of this tune – from Jessica Weiss’ lilting vocals to the staccato percussion and brooding, minor key synths – weaves its way into your head and heart with equal measure. It conjures imagery of storm clouds and icy winds whipping relentlessly, a bittersweet ode to the lasting effects of traumatic events. But it’s not entirely gloomy: the lyrics (“You’re a void to be filled”) resolve not to succumb to pain and grief but instead to plod on, memories be damned. “Trauma” is from Fear of Men’s upcoming album that’s due out this summer.
Fear of Men are: Jessica Weiss (vocals), Daniel Falvey (guitar), and Michael Miles (drums).
The Magnetic North – “A Death in the Woods” (London, England)
The Magnetic North – the trio that includes Simon Tong (former guitarist with Blur, The Verve, and Gorillaz) – have overcome the dreaded “sophomore slump” on their upcoming release. Prospect of Skelmersdale finds the indie shoegaze/pop group visiting an unlikely topic for an album: it’s a sort of homecoming to the “new town” of Skelmersdale, where Tong lived as a teen. This planned community developed in the ’60s (as an overflow suburb north of Liverpool) and became the center of the Transcendental Meditation movement. As such, a mystical vibe is to be expected, but “A Death in the Woods” delves much deeper, blending folksy shoegaze with shimmering orchestration and ambient/electronic flourishes. It’s a delightful, symphonic romp. Prospect of Skelmersdale released March 18 via Full Time Hobby and is available from the label’s online store.
The Magnetic North are: Erland Cooper, Simon Tong, and Hannah Peel.
Emotional – “Believe in Me” (San Francisco, USA)
San Francisco-based artist Brian Wakefield does it all: he sings, writes songs, directs, runs his own record label, Death Records, and makes insanely catchy indie music under the moniker Emotional. The uptempo, gently psychedelic dream pop vibe on “Believe in Me” is hazy enough to make you feel like you’ve just woken from an herbal-induced dream where you’d floated back to the ‘80s, grabbed a few New Wave artists and brought them back to the present day to jam with the likes of Kate Bush and Dan Bejar. Blissful dreams are made of this song right here. The album’s other tracks are equally refreshing, with loads of bright vocals and nostalgic synths that will quickly elevate your mood with no soporific side effects.
Dam Gila – “Slow Burn” (Chicago, USA)
Dam Gila (an anagram of its frontman, Adam Gil) is another multi-faceted artist whose brand of nostalgia-drenched music is utterly addictive. When Gil isn’t fronting his other project (Yawn) or touring with ex-Smith Westerns frontman Cullen Omori, he’s cranking out some lush, danceable indie psych-pop on his new seven-song EP, Face the Sun. The album’s opening track, “Slow Burn” has hooks for days with a glam vibe that would’ve made David Bowie proud. The swirling chorus is nothing short of jubilant, so crank this one on those dreary days when you need a dose of sonic sunshine. If this music doesn’t lift your spirits, you might need to check your pulse.
Face the Sun was self-released April 1 and can be streamed on his Soundcloud page.
Solids – “Blurs” (Montreal, Canada)
Fans of Montreal’s Solids have waited two years for a follow-up to their 2014 debut, Blame Confusion, and this new track from their latest EP, Else, proves they have not mellowed even slightly. The opening riff on “Blurs” has the fuzzy, alt-rock snarl of Dinosaur, Jr. and Pavement infused with the frenetic energy of Parquet Courts. They scale it way back halfway through before cranking up the noise again towards the end. The wall of sound here is dense and heady, exactly what we expect from a group whose music lives up to their name. As if these road warriors haven’t toured enough lately (200+ shows!), they recently embarked on a month-long North American run. They tour Europe in May and June before returning to play summer festivals in Canada.
Solids are: Xavier Germain-Poitras (guitars/vocals) and Louis Guillemette (drums/vocals).
The Subways – “Dirty Muddy Paws” (London, England)
Around this time 10 years ago, a trio of teenagers made their Coachella debut, rocking the crowd with their blistering “Rock & Roll Queen” hit. A decade later, The Subways are once again blasting fans with huge rock hooks on their latest single, “Dirty Muddy Paws”. The band decided to self-release their eponymous fourth studio LP, with frontman Billy Lunn stepping into a new role as engineer, producer, and mixer.
On a philanthropic note, April is Autism Awareness Month, and the band will donate 5% of profits from their crowd-sourced North American tour (their first in eight years) to the UK’s National Autistic Society. It’s a fitting gesture since their recent European tour was curtailed when their drummer sought help for his Asperger’s-related stage fright. Their current North American tour is underway through early May. The Subways album released in the U.S. and Canada on April 16 via Bodan Kuma Recordings and is available from Pledge Music and iTunes.
The Subways are: Billy Lunn (vocals/guitar), Charlotte Cooper (bass/vocals), and Josh Morgan (drums).
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