Ten lip-smacking courses are on the menu for the Saturday Sampler. There is a sizable portion of American entrées to savior, a couple of Swedish delights to taste, some English sweets to whet the appetite, and an Aussie treat that will keep you coming back for more. So with that, let’s get to the Sampler.
Goodbye Heart – “Lives On Lives” (Seattle, USA)
Back in December, we featured an artist (Benjamin Verdoes of Iska Dhaaf) who relocated from Seattle to New York City. Today we’re sharing a single from an emerging group who took the opposite journey. Indie electronic dreampop duo Goodbye Heart left NYC nearly a decade ago for the rainy, artist-friendly enclave of Seattle.
The pair have a sneaky trick or two up their talented sleeves: they are releasing their new singles bi-weekly via email. This direct approach might be an unconventional distribution method, but they know fans will become hooked on their lush beats, so what better way to get them hooked than with a steady stream? Their 2014 EP, Restless Nights, was recorded and produced by Shawn Simmons whose previously worked with Hey Marseilles and The Head and The Heart. This latest single, “Lives On Lives”, released May 13. Its downtempo chillness and spacious delivery is reminiscent of a warmer, gentler Phantogram. We can’t wait to hear what else this duo has in store. The band will self-release a new song every other Friday through November via their email list. You can grab “Lives On Lives” from their Bandcamp page.
Goodbye Heart are: Nila Leigh (synth, vocals) and Sam Ford (guitar, vocals).
Happyness – “SB’s Truck” (London, England)
Imagine if Wilco frontman Jeff Tweedy bumped his head in London and woke up thinking he was Bob Dylan. Picture that, and you’ll have a good idea for the sound of British indie rock trio Happyness on their new single. “SB’s Truck” is the first we’ve heard from them since their 2014 debut, Weird Little Birthday. Fans, don’t get your hopes up for a new album to be released immediately. Happyness will head to the studio to record their second album after they complete their UK tour with The Dandy Warhols at the end of the month. Until then, they’ve released a video for this new track. “SB’s Truck” is available for purchase from iTunes.
Happyness are: Jonny Allan (bass, guitar, vocals), Benji Compston (guitars, vocals), and Ash Cooper (drums).
Lisa Prank – “Take It All” (Seattle, USA)
Lisa Prank is a Seattle indie punk/pop artist whose name isn’t really Lisa Prank. That’s half the prank. The other half of the prank (not that it’s a prank at all) is that this new single has plenty of bite. Breakups can make you angry and bitter. Musicians have long treated their broken hearts with songwriting. In this case, singer/songwriter Robin Edwards deals with breakups with plenty of amped-up, guitar-driven pop that just happens to have a punk mentality. It’s not fair to call this “bubblegum” music because “Take It All” has substance. It’s just so damn catchy with its repetitive chorus that you can’t help but experience the music equivalent of a sugar rush. And just like sugar, this single makes you crave more. “Take It All” is from her upcoming album, Adult Teen, which follows her 2014 debut, Crush on the World.
Adult Teen releases June 24 via Father/Daughter Records. The vinyl version includes a book of stickers and is available for pre-order from the label or on cassette via Miscreant Records on her Bandcamp page.
NE-HI – “Buried On The Moon” (Chicago, USA)
Is Chicago the new scuzz-rock / garage-rock capital of the US? With bands like Twin Peaks and now NE-HI, a strong argument could be made. Recently signed to Grand Jury Music, NE-HI are following in the footsteps of their more popular brethren and creating some engaging garage-rock. The first single with the label, “Buried On The Moon”, echoes the early ’70s, a time when reverb-filled guitars, laid-back melodies, and socially-conscious songs filled the airwaves. The track, like the band’s back catalogue, is indie rock for the thoughtful – those who want to be entertained while also being intelligently provoked – which makes NE-HI an awfully unique group in today’s industry.
NE-HI are Jason Balla, Alex Otake, Michael Wells, and James Weir. Details of a new album are forthcoming.
Öhrn – “What Are You Waiting For” (Stockholm, Sweden)
Frida Öhrn may not be a household name overseas, but she’s a well-known artist in her homeland, having performed in bands Oh Laura and Cookies ‘N’ Beans and collaborated with a number of the countries’ leading producers. Öhrn is now branching out on a solo career, and her debut single is “What Are You Waiting For”, a euphoric song that bursts with the cosmic radiance of Ladyhawke and the infectious arias of Florence Welch of Florence + The Machine. It’s a song made for moving, so what are you waiting for – get up and dance!
Sarah Klang – “Sleep” (Gothenburg, Sweden)
We hope you’re sitting down at this point because the debut single by Swedish newcomer Sarah Klang, “Sleep”, is one of the most crippling songs you will hear this week. The subtle instrumentation and the choral vocals in the background provide the dramatic backdrop to Klang’s powerful and emotive voice, which carries the song. It is Klang’s unique voice that is unforgettable, as it has a western twang a la Patsy Cline mixed with the surging power of Adele. While some may want to compare Klang to Adele, this track, however, isn’t “music for grannies”, but rather a song that will touch every soul, making her more like another great singer-songwriter, Laura Pergolizzi – otherwise known as LP.
Sasha – “Fall On My Feet” (London via Surrey, England)
A year ago, a young singer-songwriter sent us an email and asked us to listen to her debut EP, Bloodlines. Her tender voice and intimate stories captured our hearts that we had no other choice but to succumb to the spell that she put over us. Not only did we share Sasha Gurney‘s EP but she also provided a track-by-track commentary that gave us insights to the young singer-songwriter’s approach.
Now twenty years old, Gurney, who now simply goes by her first name Sasha, returns with a split single with the main track being “Fall On My Feet”. Like back then, the first thing you notice is her angelic voice, which is captivating and lush, perfectly complementing the breathtaking dream-folk of her music. After your head has cleared, listen to the song another time and hear the story that Sasha shares, one of letting go, trust, belief, hope, and disappointment.
“Fall On My Feet” was released yesterday via Lemon Zen Records.
Tash Sultana – “Gemini” (Melbourne, Australia)
Twenty-year-old Australian singer/songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Tash Sultana will mesmerise you with her hypnotic electronic beats. This self-taught musician plays nearly a dozen instruments (guitar, keys, mandolin, sax, trumpet, just to name a few!), and this latest single, “Gemini”, mirrors her many influences: a hefty dose of electronica, a dash of roots and reggae, and a hint of jazz, all blended with a world beat vibe and dazzling vocals. This is midnight beach music that’s perfectly suited for dancing or just chilling. She has an inventive style of beatboxing and looping that proves she’s a talent who will soon make her name known outside of Australia.
The Wild Reeds – “Everything Looks Better (In Hindsight)” (Los Angeles, USA)
In 2014, Los Angeles-based quintet The Wild Reeds released one of the best indie-folk albums of the year with Blind and Brave, which was a quietly expansive and engaging record that amazed us with its mix of classic folk and contemporary dream folk. From the three-part harmonies of Kinsey Lee (vocals/banjo), Sharon Silva (vocals/guitar), and Mackenzie Howe (vocals/guitar/banjo) to the deft rhythms of Nick Jones (drummer) and Nick Phakpiseth (bass), The Wild Reeds brought a sound that was unforgettable.
Almost two years to the day that Blind and Brave was released, The Wild Reeds have returned with a new single that retains much of the intimacy of their debut full-length. “Everything Looks Better (In Hindsight)” is a gorgeous dream-folk tune. The harmonies, the melody, and the instrumentation (particularly the addition of keys, which is a new twist for the band) are all impeccable. This is dream-folk perfection. Hopefully “Everything Looks Better (In Hindsight)” is a signal that another album is on the way.
Will Courtney – “The Pain (Song for Dennis Wilson)” (Santa Fe, NM, USA)
Will Courtney has established a bit of reputation within the Austin music scene as a poignant lyricist and pretty great guitar player through his work with Brothers and Sisters. Courtney is now heading out on his own for a little while, and if people did not know Courtney nor Brothers and Sisters they will now. “The Pain (Song for Dennis Wilson)”, which is the lead single from his forthcoming, solo debut album, is an absolute monster of a folk-rock tune. It is Damien Jurado, Timothy Showalter (Strand of Oaks), and Ray Lamontagne packaged into one artist, whose name we will now place alongside these three great singer-songwriters. Pay attention to the lyrics, though, as it is a tribute to a friend who was taken away from this earth too early.
“The Pain (Song for Dennis Wilson)” is from Planning Escapes, which arrives on July 15 via Wren & Shark. Pick up two versions of the song – this studio recording and a live rendition – on Courtney’s Bandcamp site.
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