The Saturday Sampler for April 23rd is a bit of mixed bag in that there are several names you’ll recognize, artists who have branched out to do solo albums or form super-groups. Then there is the usual mix of emerging artists, some of whom you might know but many who have yet to make their mark (but they will soon!). Now is as good as a time to discover or rediscover these artists.
Backward Houses – “Pseudo Sane” (demo) (Norwich and London, England)
To start things off we introduce you to a Backward Houses, a trio from the Norwich and London areas. Barely a year old, this band makes soul-crushing music. They could easily have gone down the Daughter path like so many bands these days, but instead they’re traveling the indie-rock pathways that artists like Sharon Van Etten, TORRES, and Angel Olsen have laid. One of their “new” singles – it’s actually a demo – is “Pseudo Sane”, which is absolutely gorgeous. The tickling of Rob Batizon’s guitar, the strumming of Indigo Strange’s bass guitar which mimics a fluttering heart, and the stunning and immersive vocals of Neeq Serene all at first reel you into this introspective and thoughtful song. As the song builds and the intensity rises, every note and spoken word collides, thus making you feel like the protagonist spiraling into a mass of uncertainty. Such are the effects of mental illness, which Backward Houses have so adeptly conveyed on this beautiful track. And if this is a demo, we cannot wait to hear what the mastered version will sound like!
Backward Houses are Neeq Serene (vocals), Indigo Strange (bass/drum machine), and Rob Batizon (guitars/drum machine).
Big Deal – “Avalanche” (London, England)
It was only last week when Big Deal pulverized us with the awesome “Say Yes”. They’re back with another fantastic song that will have you emphatically say “Eff Yeah!” “Avalanche” perfectly describes this rocker. The opening wails of the guitars and drums are crushing, and then the piercing, intensifying vocals of Alice Costelloe (or maybe it’s Kasey Underwood) just blow you away. The song is like the Yeah Yeah Yeahs but magnified tenfold in intensity. We have to another “Eff Yeah!” for good measure.
Big Deal are: Alice Costelloe (vocals/guitar) and Kasey Underwood (guitar/vocals).
Erra Project – “Hotel Rooms” (Clonmel, Ireland)
While we start things with a familiar name, it’s time to introduce you to a new group who will blow you away in a different way. Erra Project is the brainchild of Irish duo Steffen Coonan and Ciaran O’Brien. They’ve released a couple of singles to date, including the dark and trippy “Hotel Rooms”. The song is a beautiful marriage of synth-pop, new wave, and trip-hop, where the beats and harmonies combine to form a sound that is alluring and sensual. Or in other words, what Coonan and O’Brien have here is a tantalizing project that blends Coves’ infectious catharsis with Massive Attack’s hypnotic seduction.
Fenne Lily – “Top To Toe” (Bristol, England)
While some songs may make us say “Eff Yeah!”, there are also songs that make us say on first impression, “Wow!” English newcomer Fenne Lily‘s delicate ballad, “Top to Toe”, does just that. Guided by solely an acoustic guitar, her stirring vocals, and a backup vocalist, this sombre story about losing someone is beautiful and soul crushing. If you’re a fan of artists like Tiny Ruins, you’ll absolutely fall in love with Fenne Lily. We most definitely have.
Islands – “No Milk, No Sugar” (Toronto, Canada)
When you’re in a band and you’ve got too much new music to share with your fans, what are your choices? Put out a double album, or stagger the release of one so you can promote and tour with the first? Well, if you’re Canadian indie band Islands, you release both albums simultaneously. That’s right: next month the band will deliver both Taste and Should I Remain Here, At Sea on May 13. Taste embraces the band’s electronic side with vintage synths and drum machines while the other is more organic in its approach, using old-school instruments (guitars and microphones) in a studio. Both albums can be pre-ordered at Pledge Music.
Islands are: Nick Thorburn, Evan Gordon, Geordie Gordon, and Adam Halferty.
Kyle Forester – “Won’t Go Crazy” (Brooklyn, USA)
Another artist going the solo route is Crystal Stilts‘ member, keyboardist Kyle Forester. While some artists follow the pat of their more popular main project, Forester has opted to mirror a couple of other iconic bands. The first single from this self-titled debut is “Won’t Go Crazy” – a dreamy indie-rock tune that resonates with the beautiful balladry of The Verve and the warm, lush melodies of Nada Surf. It’s probably one of the most stunning break-up songs you’ll hear this year, and Forester’s vocals will completely draw you in.
Forester’s debut album will drop on May 20 via Flying Moonlight Records.
Look Park – “Aeroplane” (Northampton, MA, USA)
It’s been five years since we last heard any new music from ’90s-indie band Fountains of Wayne. That’s because lead singer Chris Collingwood is keeping busy these days writing and recording under the name Look Park. His debut solo album (recorded with famed veteran producer Mitchell Froom) is due out this summer, and “Aeroplane” is the first single. It’s an upbeat, jaunty number with a playful chorus reminiscent of They Might Be Giants’ “Ana Ng”. As if to acknowledge the question that’s on everyone’s mind, he asks “Do you wonder where I’ve been?” The voices we knew and loved from ’90s bands may have grown up, but Collingwood hasn’t lost his youthful charm. Look Park’s self-titled debut LP releases July 22 via Yep Roc Records with pre-orders available from their website.
Maiah Wynne – “Monster in a Human Suit” (Missoula, MT, USA)
It’s not just established stars and new super-groups that are making us go “Whoa!”, but plenty of newcomers are blowing us away. Take Maiah Wynne, who resides in Missoula, Montana. Her single, “Monster in a Human Suit”, which is from her EP Lights and Shadows, is gorgeous, haunting indie-folk, where every note and lyric penetrates deep into your skin. The allegory and imagery of the song is that of a seasoned creative writer, yet Wynne is only 19-years old. Could she be the next Brandi Carlile? The skies is clearly the limit for this rising folk star.
You can hear her EP, Lights and Shadows, on SoundCloud.
Minor Victories – “Scattered Ashes (Song for Richard)” (Reading, Stafford, and Glasgow, UK)
When a new U.K. supergroup recruits another outstanding guest vocalist for a cameo role, you’d better brace yourself for the inevitable brilliance. Earlier this week, Minor Victories – the impossibly talented collective featuring members of Mogwai, Editors, and Slowdive – released their newest single. “Scattered Ashes (Song for Richard)” boasts The Twilight Sad’s frontman James Graham in a supporting vocal role, and the result is triumph of sweeping moodiness. This is the second announced duet from the album; the band previously dropped news that Mark Kozelek (Sun Kil Moon, Red House Painters) has teamed up with Rachel Goswell for one song.
“Scattered Ashes” is from the group’s self-titled debut album due out June 3 via Fat Possum Records (U.S.) and Play It Again Sam (worldwide). The band’s inaugural tour runs from May through August with nine North American dates in June.
Minor Victories are: Rachel Goswell (Slowdive), Stuart Braithwaite (Mogwai), Justin Lockey (Editors), and James Lockey (Hand Held Cine Club).
Trevor Sensor – “Judas Said to be a Man” (Illinois, USA)
With his new single, “Judas Said to be a Man”, we have to wonder if Trevor Sensor had this song going through his head after his hair-raising, smoke-filled experience at SXSW. But regarding his music, he has been compared to Bob Dylan for his expressive and vivid storytelling, and this single only further validates the comparison. And like the iconic folk artist, Sensor mixes in a number of Biblical and pop culture references while spinning a rocking, high-tempo number, which matches the conflict and chaos in the song. It’s songwriting at its finest, and a great introduction to one of indie-folk’s unheralded storytellers.
“Judas Said to be a Man” will be shared as part of a split 7″ – the other side featuring “Endless Shame” – and it will be released on May 27th via Jagjaguwar.
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