Welcome to a fresh serving of new music cocktails on the Melodic Tonic ’16, vol. 25. This week we’re going to take you on an emotional rollercoaster ride with these five new singles. We’ll start with the upbeat energy of Canadian indie pop-rock before easing into some Australian dream pop and heartfelt British indie singer/songwriter earnestness. That segues perfectly into a pair of American tunes featuring half of the former duo The Civil Wars which leads us back to a high-energy finish with some good ol’ blues rock. Fasten your seatbelts, because this Monday is all over the road with the feels. Let’s start this musical road trip in Canada with a member of Broken Social Scene.
Brendan Canning – “Book It to Fresno” (Ajax, Ontario, Canada)
RIYL: Broken Social Scene
Some artists have a mile-wide restless streak. When their regular band is between albums, these sorts of musicians pour their creative energies into their side projects or solo work. Fortunately for us, Broken Social Scene co-founder Brendan Canning is one of those guys. He’s planning to deliver his third solo album, Home Wrecking Years, later this summer, his first since the 2013 release, You Gots 2 Chill. Apparently he either refuses to chill or is genetically incapable of sitting still, because this single pulses with buoyant energy. Fellow BSS members Justin Peroff and Sam Goldberg join Canning on this album along with Liam O’Neil from The Stills and Kings of Leon.
Lastlings – “You” (Gold Coast, Queensland, Australia)
RIYL: The XX, Broods, James Blake, Washed Out
Sibling chemistry is a powerful force in music these days. We have covered numerous sister acts here at The Revue – First Aid Kit, Good English, Haim, and Joseph – to name a few. With the exception of Broods, what we’ve not featured enough of lately are brother/sister acts.
Queensland electropop duo Lastlings are the latest group to join the roster of talented musical families. Josh and Amy Dowdle make supremely lush dream pop that floats and carries you along to a blissful place. “You” is equally chill and exhilarating, with a mesmerizing undercurrent that enhances its overall appeal. This song has melancholy echoes of The XX and Broods blended with the downtempo aura of James Blake. We’re talking white-hot talent here, with plenty of style and substance. This duo is definitely one to watch.
“You” released June 12 and is available from iTunes, as is their debut EP, Unreality.
Keaton Henson – “Alright” (London, England)
RIYL: Bright Eyes, Bon Iver, Elliott Smith
Melodically tender and graceful, this new song from London-based singer/songwriter Keaton Henson could be prescribed as an anti-anxiety drug. It’s that effective. Granted, “Alright” is a mournful tale of heartbreak and loss, so that’s a minor side effect. But misery sounds downright cathartic when he sings about it. Despite his profound shyness, Henson manages to channel such emotion that it feels as beneficial as a therapy session. This is the kind of music you listen to when you need a good cry, knowing your spirits will be revived afterwards.
If you’re not familiar with Henson’s music, you may be surprised to learn he didn’t set out to become a huge music star. He started out as an illustrator, later writing a book of poetry and a graphic novel. These artistic outlets eventually led to unexpected success after one of his singles received airplay on the BBC in 2011. The rest, as they say, is history. Though he rarely performs live due to anxiety, at least he still makes beautiful music.
John Paul White – “The Martyr” (Florence, Alabama USA)
RIYL: Jeff Buckley, Ray LaMontagne
There’s something in the water in north Alabama. That has to be the secret to the unrivaled amount of talent from an area that has produced Jason Isbell, Drive-By Truckers, and Alabama Shakes. The recording studios in and around Muscle Shoals have hosted legends from Wilson Pickett and Aretha Franklin to the Rolling Stones, Bob Dylan, The Black Keys, and countless others. Here is one more artist from that area whose talent is on par with the legends who have preceded him.
When he was half of the indie folk duo The Civil Wars, singer John Paul White won hearts and left mouths agape with his honeyed vocals. While many grieved the dissolution of the group three years ago, the collective wait for new material proved brief. He’s about to release a new solo album, and “The Martyr” reminds us yet again why Alabama is such hallowed musical ground. This song tugs at the heart and caresses the ears, making the three-year wait for its arrival a distant memory. If you loved his last musical project, you’ll be equally thrilled with this solo effort.
Moreland & Arbuckle – “When the Lights Are Burning Low” (Wichita, Kansas USA)
RIYL: Stevie Ray Vaughn, Nathaniel Rateliff & the Night Sweats, Jonny Lang
Summer is in full swing, and the only thing hotter than the scorching temps are the bluesy riffs coming from American roots rock trio Moreland & Arbuckle. When these guys released their latest album last month, we immediately loved everything we heard. One song in particular grabbed our attention, the fourth track, “When the Lights Are Burning Low”. Unrelenting in its ferocity, this tune grabs you by the scruff of the neck, gets right up in your face and dares you not to sweat. It’ll leave you quaking with its red-hot hooks. This band released their debut album in 2005, and they just keep getting better. Do yourself a favor and get to know them. There’s no better time than summer to get down and dirty with some gritty American blues rock.
Promised Land or Bust released May 6 on Alligator Records. Digital and physical copies are available from the band’s website, Amazon, and iTunes. Moreland & Arbuckle are currently on tour in Europe through the end of July. Their North American tour resumes August 6 and runs through mid-September.
Moreland & Arbuckle are: Aaron Moreland (guitar, vocals), Dustin Arbuckle (lead vocals, harmonica), and Kendall Newby (drums, vocals).
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