Saturday Sampler for June 25th has ten diverse and awesome new singles. There are a couple of surprise collaborations, the return of two of indie music’s favorite acts, and a healthy dose of newcomers to sate your appetite for truly new music.
Adam Torres – “Outlands” (Austin, USA )
RIYL: Shearwater, Neutral Milk Hotel, Bright Eyes
Indie folk singer/songwriter Adam Torres isn’t what you’d call a prolific recording artist. It’s been six years since he released his now cult-status debut album, Nostra Nova, when he was still a college student in Ohio. Since then, he’s kept busy doing other things – like completing a graduate degree and volunteering in Ecuador. He never stopped writing songs, but since his other interests competed for his time, he’s only just now put those songs on a new album. Pearls to Swine is due out this fall, and “Outlands” is our first taste of what’s in store.
This lush, mellow single is tender and comforting. Gentle as a spring rain, “Outlands” caresses the ear with its honest intimacy.
Amos & Emily – “Play Pretend” (London, England via Newcastle, Australia)
RIYL: Purity Ring, Electric Youth, Yumi Zouma
Moving to a new city halfway around the world is one of the most exciting yet frightening things anyone could encounter. There is the excitement of what is to come, the doubts that linger due to the uncertainty that awaits, and the sorrow which accompanies leaving loved ones behind. Highlighting some of those feelings is the debut single, “Play Pretend”, by electro-pop duo Amos & Emily, who themselves recently moved from Newcastle in Australia (which is about two hours north of Sydney) to London, England. “Got to be stripped back and built back up, light the fire or go back home”, sings Emily Leary while Amos Wellings paints a scintillating soundscape. Whether home is the place following a long journey or just returning to bed from a night out or in the arms of a lover, Amos & Emily have crafted a stunning and stirring song for every occasion.
Basement Revolver – “Words” (Hamilton, Ontario)
RIYL: Alvvays, HAERTS, Best Coast
When we first heard from Basement Revolver in April, they wowed us with their silky smooth, debut single “Johnny”. While their second single, “Words”, retains the Alvvays-esque vibe and intimacy, the Hamilton, Ontario trio are making a name for themselves with their terrific songwriting. “Words” describes the false and meaningless world around us, where value is given to inanimate objects, words strung together can be powerful despite lacking substance, and all the while meaningful engagement is often ignored. The music of Basement Revolver, however, should and cannot be ignored, as there are very few bands making thoughtful and insightful music as these newcomers.
Basement Revolver’s debut EP will arrive July 15th via Fear of Missing Out Records. The band is comprised of Chrisy Hurn, Nimal Agalawatte, and Brandon Munroe.
Bat For Lashes – “Sunday Love” (London/Brighton, England)
RIYL: St. Vincent, Cat Power, Feist
As concept albums go, the idea of a bride left at the altar because her intended died en route to the wedding seems too tragic for pop music. Yet when told by the talented Natasha Khan – aka Bat For Lashes – the story unfolds with tender grace. On her upcoming album The Bride due out next month, Khan channels the wide range of emotions felt by the jilted title character. Those feelings of heartbroken loss and anger are captured beautifully on this single.
“Sunday Love” showcases Khan’s crystalline vocals, soaring over a muted electronic beat with delicate synth flourishes. Haunting and heartfelt, the song packs such an emotional punch (especially the line “even though I’m falling apart”) that the bride’s sense of loss feels almost palpable to the listener.
Drive-By Truckers – “Surrender Under Protest” (Athens, GA, USA)
RIYL: Neil Young, My Morning Jacket, Wilco
Politics and music share a long, rich past together. In today’s volatile world, musicians are sometimes the most outspoken critics of the problems that plague society. American indie rock band Drive-By Truckers have never shied away from controversial topics, choosing to let their songs speak truth to power. On their upcoming 11th studio album, American Band, these southern rockers address current topics of injustice with a defiant raised fist. “Surrender Under Protest” is a clarion call to action set to a scorching riff. It points fingers at “aggressors and instigators” whose apathy causes history to repeat itself. It’s stirring, noble, and packs a mean right hook, like so many Drive-By Truckers songs do.
Protest songs never sounded so good.
Drive-By Truckers are: Mike Cooley (vocals, guitar, bass, harmonica), Patterson Hood (vocals, guitar, bass), Matt Patton (bass, vocals), Jay Gonzalez (keys, guitar, vocals), and Brad Morgan (drums).
Field Mouse – “Out Of Context” ft. Allison Crutchfield (Brooklyn/Philadelphia, USA)
RIYL: Speedy Ortiz, Swearin’, Hole
Where some collaborations are unexpected surprises (like caselangveirs and Goodman and Morgan), some are inevitable, like indie-rock favorites Field Mouse inviting Katie Crutchfield (a.k.a. Waxahatchee) to join them on their latest single, “Out of Context”. This brilliant, shape-shifting number starts off as a dreamy, easy-listening tune before it devolves into a grungy, gritty rocker a la the ’90s. It is an awesome, awesome song.
“Out of Context” will be on Field Mouse’s forthcoming, third full-length album, Episodic, which arrives August 5th via Topshelf Records.
Hater – “First Time” (Malmö, Sweden)
RIYL: The Cranberries (Everyone Else is Doing So, Why Can’t We? era), The Pains of Being Pure of Heart, Alvvays, HAERTS
Unlike what their name may imply, Sweden’s Hater are a band that music fans will fall in love with. Akin to what bands like The Cranberries and Gin Blossoms did in the ’90s with their lush indie rock, Hater are spinning songs that tell the stories of today’s younger generations, and their latest single, “First Time”, personifies the pains of growing up. With Caroline Landahl’s creaky and emotive vocals, the band share a song about an event we can all relate to – falling in love and having one’s heart broken for the first time. The song is delicate and beautiful. If this was written twenty years earlier, it would have been perfect on the Singles soundtrack. Instead, “First Time” can be found on Hater’s debut EP, Radius, which arrives July 8th via PNKSLM Recordings.
Hater are Caroline Landahl, Måns Leonartsson, Adam Agace and Lukas Thomasson.
Katy Goodman & Greta Morgan` – “Bastards of Young (The Replacements)” (Los Angeles, USA)
RIYL: caselangveirs, Neko Case, k.d. lang, Laura Veirs
While Neko Case, k.d. lang, and Laura Veirs stole the headlines with the formation of caselangveirs, another collaboration deserves to receive an equal amount of attention. Katy Goodman of La Sera (and formerly with Vivien Girls) and Greta Morgan, better known as Springtime Carnivore and who had one of our favorite albums of 2014, announced they would release a covers album featuring classic hits from some of music’s great acts. The lead single from the album is The Replacements’ “Bastards of Young”. The two have transformed the track into a lush, Americana-inspired track. The rendition has a Neko Case air to it, but the harmonies indeed below to Goodman and Morgan, two of music’s most underrated voices. We could spin this song all weekend.
NOTS – “Entertain Me”(Memphis, USA)
RIYL: The Stooges, Wire, Wytches
Sleater-Kinney proved long, long ago that women can rock as hard and as powerful as the men. While most of the world’s most popular female artists and bands are of the sugar-pop variety, there are bands like Memphis’ NOTS who are showing that the all-women rock band is not an endangered species. With their second album coming, the lead single, “Entertain Me” is awesome. The reverb-filled guitar work, the psychedelic blasts of synthesizer, the revved up bass line, and the striking drumming combine to form an epic, seven-minute, punk-rock monster. In a year where blistering face-melters have been rare, NOTS have offered us one that not only sates our hunger for such a rocker but has given us one of the year’s most exceptional singles.
NOTS are Natalie Hoffmann (vocals/guitar), Charlotte Watson (drums), Alexandra Eastburn (keyboards), and Meredith Lones (bass).
Owen – “Settled Down” (Chicago, USA)
RIYL: American Football
Two years ago, indie singer/songwriter Mike Kinsella put out an album of covers under his side project, Owen. Now he’s back with his eighth album of original material. (It’s not that we didn’t love his spin on tunes from Depeche Mode and others, but we’ve been waiting for a full album of new songs since his 2013 release, L’Ami du People.)
The King of Whys finds the American Football frontman once again pouring his heart and soul into his craft. “Settled Down” unfolds quietly with an understated intro that sounds like it was lifted straight from an unreleased Bon Iver tune. The tranquility that winds through “Settled Down” does echo the laid-back vibe of a Justin Vernon song. Maybe it’s because Kinsella recorded this new album in Wisconsin with Bon Iver drummer S. Carey. This is the first Owen release not recorded in Chicago, and the Bon Iver connection looms large here, in the best possible way. This softly shimmering song begs to be enjoyed with few interruptions. Put on headphones and let its peacefulness wash over you.
The King of Whys is out July 29 on Polyvinyl Records (US) and Wichita Recordings (UK/EU) with pre-orders from the label and his Bandcamp page. Owen’s upcoming tour includes five North American dates in August and September plus a four-night London run in November.
Owen are: Mike Kinsella (vocals, guitar, bass, drums), Sean Carey (keys, vocals, drums, bells), Zach Hansen (engineer), Michael Noyce (violin), Ben Lester (pedal steel guitar, keys), and Jeremy Botcher (bass).
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