Saturday Sampler for June 4th once again features ten great songs. There are a handful of artists that you will recognize while some are brand new but deserve your full attention. We have everything from indie rock to electronic, folk-rock to electronic-rock, electro-pop to folk-pop. Take a listen and have a great first weekend of June!
Alex Lahey – “Let’s Go Out” (Melbourne, Australia)
RIYL: Courtney Barnett, Liz Phair, Bully
The buzz surrounding emerging Australian indie pop/rock artist Alex Lahey is warranted for one simple reason: she is on a trajectory to stardom. The self-taught musician (she plays guitar and saxophone) is the vocalist for Melbourne indie rock outfit Animaux, but she’s working on releasing a debut solo album.
Based on this infectious and immensely catchy single, “Let’s Go Out”, we predict that 2016 will be a memorable year for the 23-year-old. Earlier this week she was announced as the winner of a $7,500 grant for new artists. This should help her finish recording her debut album which doesn’t yet have a release date. Until then, you can stream her songs on her Soundcloud page.
ARMS – “Missing” (Brooklyn, USA)
RIYL: Bright Eyes, Broken Social Scene, Death Cab for Cutie
It’s hard to fathom how Brooklyn indie artist Todd Goldstein has flown under the mainstream radar for so long. Ten years have passed since the release of his debut EP as his solo project, ARMS, yet he hasn’t yet reached “universally known” status. Despite having toured with groups like LCD Soundsystem and Passion Pit, ARMS still retain indie cult status. We suspect their days of relative obscurity are numbered thanks to their third LP that released yesterday. Patterns showcases Goldstein’s musical genius, with “Missing” being a brilliant example of intelligent indie pop. It’s positive and upbeat yet far from saccharine. Goldstein is in top form here, both lyrically and musically. We recently raved about the album’s first single (“Keep It Light”); this new one is equally impressive. With its “live in the moment” philosophy, “Missing” reminds us that letting go of the past paves the way for a brighter future.
Brodka – “Santa Muerta” (Żywiec, Poland)
RIYL: Kimbra, Shivaree, Robyn
Upbeat gypsy orchestral folk pop imbued with melancholy and mischief – that’s the feeling on this new single from Polish indie pop sensation Monika Brodka, better known simply as Brodka. Last month the young singer released her first English album, Clashes, and “Santa Muerta” is its beguiling lead single. This ode to the folk saint of death was inspired by a visit to Mexico. There she noticed that people treat death with reverence instead of remorse, so the song is not depressing as its title might suggest. She recorded it in both Poland and in Los Angeles, with the latter bringing a sunny balance to the song’s wistful undertones.
The Dead Ships – “First Mistakes” (Los Angeles, USA)
RIYL: Blitzen Trapper, The Districts, Dawes
A year ago almost to the day, The Dead Ships released a great EP, Big Quiet, which was produced by Broken Social Scene’s Brendan Canning. They have teamed up again with the multi-talented Canadian for their debut album, CITYCIDE. The first single is the spirited “First Mistakes”, which is filled with an infectious, jangly hook and frontman Devin McCluskey’s soaring vocals. Listen closely to the lyrics, as the song is a tribute to close friend who passed away. But instead of mourning his friend’s passing, McCluskey gives a song that celebrates the gift of life and friendship. As you listen to the song, bellow out the words to the chorus, “Because it was good to be alive”, and feel fortunate for everything you have.
The Dead Ships are Devin McCluskey (vocals/guitar), Chris Spindelilus (drums), and Alex Moore (bass). CITYCIDE will be released on June 24th via Nevado Music.
Drowners – “Conversations With Myself” (New York City, USA)
RIYL: Arctic Monkeys, The Strokes, Interpol
We first shared news of the forthcoming Drowners album back in March. Now the New York City-based quartet has impressed us once more with their British indie pop-rock sound. The album’s first single, “Cruel Ways”, packed a hook-filled punch just like this new one. “Conversations With Myself” kicks off with more of their irresistible indie coolness courtesy of bright vocals and tight percussion but with a wave of shoegaze guitars. This band turns on the charm and leaves it cranked to 11. With their retro sound that echoes ’80s New Wave fused with modern Britpop, Drowners know how to build and keep the momentum going. If they picked up the pace any faster, our heads would never stop spinning.
Drowners are: Matthew Hitt (vocals, guitar), Jack Ridley (guitar), Erik Lee Snyder (bass), and Lakis E. Pavlou (drums).
Holy Fuck – “Caught Up” (Toronto & Halifax, Canada and New York City, USA)
RIYL: Crystal Castles, HEALTH, SUUNS
This week, Canadian electronic-rock band Holy Fuck released their fourth album, Congrats, which has the band curtailing their experimentation for a song more visceral. From the album is “Caught Up”, arguably the highlight of the album with its tribal-esque percussion, apocalyptic melody, and intense tempo. The build in the song is fantastic, turning the tune from a head pounding number to a whirling, hypnotic one. Remember that scene at the beginning of the The Matrix Reloaded where the people of Zion are engaged in a massive rave, this song would be perfect for such an environment.
Holy Fuck’s new album, Congrats, is out now via Innovative Leisure.
The Julie Ruin – “I’m Done” (San Francisco, USA)
RIYL: The B-52’s, Bikini Kill
It’s been three years since New York City indie punk rockers The Julie Ruin released their debut album, Run Fast. Fans who have been patiently waiting for a followup won’t have to wait much longer. The group’s powerhouse sound will rock many worlds when their forthcoming album, Hit Reset, drops next month. There is a certain amount of autobiographical detail in the album’s title. After releasing their 2013 debut, the group had to cancel nearly all of their tour due to frontwoman Kathleen Hanna’s ongoing battle with Lyme Disease. Their current tour schedule includes nine North American dates between July and October, so hopefully a longer worldwide tour will follow.
The Julie Ruin are: Kathleen Hanna, Kathi Wilcox, Kenny Mellman, Carmine Covelli, and Sara Landeau.
Sat. Nite Duets – “St. Yuppie” (Milwaukee, WI USA)
RIYL: The Pixies, Pavement, The Eels
American garage rock is a cornerstone of indie/alternative music. Early ‘90s-era bands like Pavement and The Pixies helped define the genre known for fuzzy, reverb-heavy guitars that feature as prominently as irreverent lyrics. You can hear that influence in Midwestern indie rock band Sat. Nite Duets. These guys are so indie that you probably didn’t realize they have released five albums since 2009. (Kudos if you already knew that. Extra hipster points if you knew their name is a sly anagram of United States!)
Sat. Nite Duets create straightforward, unpretentious indie rock. “St. Yuppie” is full of jangly hooks, tight riffs, and immensely catchy harmonies. Give this one a spin, and any angst you might have will dissipate.
Sat. Nite Duets are: Andrew Jambura (keys, drums, vocals), Ben Gucciardi (guitar, vocals), Stephen Strupp (guitar, vocals), Joe Guszkowski (drums, vocals), Chris Frahm (bass), and John Anderson (guitar, bass).
School ’94 – “Bound” (Gothenburg, Sweden)
RIYL: Wolf Alice, Bully, Black Honey
Heavy, emotive indie-rock isn’t just relegated to England, who have monopolized the genre with the arrival of bands like Eagulls, Wolf Alice, and Black Honey. We shouldn’t overlook the Scandinavian to the east, who have brought us Makthaverskan and Westkust, bands whom we’ve covered previously. With a new EP on the horizon, people will start to mention School ’94 alongside some of these great indie-rock bands. The title track from the EP, “Bound”, mashes together shimmering guitars, crashing cymbals, and the assertive vocals of Alice Botéus into one melodic, blistering number. So get on the bus and rock out to this awesome single and get ready for the arrival of School ’94.
Shura – “What’s It Gonna Be?” (Manchester, England)
RIYL: Haim, London Grammar
NOTE: to hear the whole song you will need to click on the SoundCloud link.
Alexandra Lilah Denton – aka Shura – will release her full-length debut album next month. That statement means little unless you know why she is fast becoming such a buzzworthy artist. The ‘80s throwback vibe on “What’s It Gonna Be?” might have something to do with it. Shades of a-ha’s playful “real life-meets-animated drawing” aesthetic (à la “Take On Me”) grace the album cover and her website. The video’s Breakfast Club filming location sustains the ‘80s theme. But maybe it’s the sheer indie pop brilliance that makes this track such a stunner. Either way, we expect Shura’s star will keep shining now that the world has taken notice.
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