As usual, the Saturday Sampler August 6th edition features 10 new songs from the recent past. There is a lot of variety in today’s mini-playlists, featuring artists with origins in Canada, Trinidad & Tobago, England, Scotland, New Zealand, and, of course, the USA.
Duchess Says – “I Repeat Myself” (Montreal, Canada)
RIYL: The Runaways, Joy Division, Bugeye
The Sampler begins with a song that belongs back in the late ’70s and ’80s and by a band who has been reinventing the disco-punk scene of that era for more than a decade. “I Repeat Myself” is the gyrating and wildly infectious new single by Duchess Says. The track has the dizzying energy and the no-nonsense attitude of ’70s legends The Runaways and the industrial edge of Joy Division. There is, however, a modernity to the song with the proggy synths and keys that echo Spencer Krug (Wolf Parade, Moonface). This tune is awesome, and, if this is the first time hearing about Duchess Says, a terrific introduction to one of Montreal’s great underground bands
Duchess Says are Annie-Claude Deschênes (vocals/keytar/guitar), Ismael Tremblay, (keyboard/guitar), Philippe Clément (guitar/bass), and Simon Besre (lo-fi beats/drums).
Emanuel and the Fear – “I Believe” (Brooklyn, USA)
RIYL: Diane Coffee, ELO, Frank Zappa
“Indie orchestral rock” are three words that don’t seem like they belong together, right? You might think that until you hear this new single from Brooklyn six-piece band Emanuel and the Fear. The group’s collective backgrounds in classical, jazz, folk, metal, and rock aren’t common for indie bands. That just makes them even more unique. “I Believe” is a feel-good tune with swells of strings and rousing percussion. Your face muscles might hurt from smiling while you listen, so crank this one up.
Emanuel and the Fear are: Emanuel Ayvas (guitar, piano, vocals), Nic Cowles (synths, flute), Jeff Gretz (drums), Ben Backus (bass), Sarah Haines (viola, vocals), and Karolyn Bethke (violin, vocals).
Hillary Susz – “Pollution” (Boulder, CO, USA)
RIYL: Sharon Van Etten, Julia Jacklin, Angel Olsen
It has been a great week for discovering new singer-songwriters, where we have been blown away by the likes of COTE and Rachel Mallin. Add the name Hillary Susz to the list. Over the past two weeks, she has released a handful of songs, making it difficult to choose which one to share. The one that caught our attention was the soaring ballad “Pollution”. The analogy of someone’s love being akin to the toxicity of pollution and Susz’s remarkable vocals bring to mind another great singer-songwriter – Sharon Van Etten. Like Van Etten, Susz has produced a song that will stop you dead in your tracks and take notice.
Hear Susz’s other two singles, “Dead Stars” and “Make Me Make You”, on SoundCloud.
Lucia Fontaine – “Best Boy” (Glasgow, Scotland)
RIYL: The Raveonettes, The Kills, angelic milk
And a songwriter who caught our attention in a big way just last month was Glaswegian Lucia Fontaine. Her latest single, “Best Boy”, is another gem in the young artist’s arsenal. At less than two-and-a-half minutes, this garage-pop / noise-pop single is highly infectious, as Fontaine’s raspy vocals transcend her fuzzed out guitar. But what has captivated us about Fontaine is her way sharp tongue. While she sings, “you’re the best boy I ever had”, her delivery is gritty and even vengeful. The relationship in question, as such, may not be what it seems and quite the opposite of a fairy tale. Yet, as Fontaine has cleverly articulated, we often try to obscure the truth with fantasy.
“Best Boy” is the title track from Fontaine’s forthcoming, debut EP, which should (and hopefully) be released this autumn via Dead Beet Records.
Psychic Shakes – “Kings” (Southhampton, England)
RIYL: Real Estate, HOMESHAKE, Walter TV
Every Saturday playlist needs some jangle pop-rock. Music that feels like summer and is perfect to spin while driving along the beautiful shorelines of the US’ west coast, the rocky landscapes of southern England or Ireland, or the breathtaking coastlines of South Africa and Australia. This is the feeling and imagery that Psychic Shakes‘ new single, “Kings”, evokes. The song is a beauty, resonating the sonic intimacy of Real Estate and the profound lyricism of former Mac DeMarco band member HOMESHAKE. What makes the song even more impressive is that this song was written by 20 year-old Max McLellan, who is Psychic Shakes. Impressive.
“Kings” is from Psychic Shakes’ self-titled, debut EP, which is out now via Hail Hail Records.
PWR BTTM – “Projection” (Brooklyn, USA)
RIYL: Diet Cig, Joyce Manor, Joanna Gruesome
Bold, brash, and unflinching: the music of PWR BTTM is all of these things and more. The New York duo calls their music queer punk; we call it defiantly glorious. “Projection” is a sonic middle-finger salute to societal norms. It’s an anthem for anyone who’s tolerated being told how to dress or act in order to fit in. PWR BTTM doesn’t care about fitting in. Their bold attitudes are inspiring, and their music will have you raising a few digits in protest as well.
The single released in July via Father Daughter Records (US) and Big Scary Monsters (EU) and is available from their Bandcamp page. It will be included on the special UK release of their latest album, Ugly Cherries, due in October. It’s out now (without “Projection”) in the US from the label’s online store.
PWR BTTM are comprised of Ben Hopkins (guitar, vocals) and Liv Bruce (drums, vocals).
Reignwolf – “Hardcore” (Seattle via Saskatoon, SK Canada)
RIYL: Jack White, The White Stripes
Jordan Cook — aka Reignwolf — already has a devoted cult following, even before his debut album has released. He’s just that good. Call him a guitar prodigy, if you will. As a teenager, he shared the stage with B.B. King and Van Morrison. He’s already opened for Black Sabbath on tour. Now he’s got a cameo stint playing this song in the new Cameron Crowe TV show “Roadies”. If you haven’t discovered this electrifying artist, it’s not too late to hop on the Reignwolf bandwagon. His gritty, bluesy guitar is an intense ride that will leave you asking for more.
Skux – “More Than 10 Things” (New York City, USA via Auckland, New Zealand)
RIYL: Sleater-Kinney, Karen O, Le Butcherette
In the “F*** yeah!” category comes Skux, the new project of New Zealand-born, New York City-based Ayisha Jaffer. This week, she released her first two singles, which were both outstanding. We have opted for the boisterous “More Than 10 Things”, which has a Sleater-Kinney vibe with its in-your-face, I’ll-do-it-my-way attitude. The song is blistering post-punk rock personified – from the frenetic energy to Jaffer’s assertive and confident vocals. But what makes the song are Jaffer’s clever, honest, and at times humorous lyrics, which illustrate how one can love and hate a person at the same time. This is the best kiss-off song we have heard in some time and one of the best debuts of the year.
If you like this track, take a listen to the more melodic, second single, “On Her Way” on SoundCloud.
The Spook School – “Gone Home” (Edinburgh, Scotland)
RIYL: Swearin’, Speedy Ortiz, Joanna Gruesome
Edinburgh is an awfully underrated and underappreciated music city. It has brought us Boards of Canada and We Were Promised Jetpacks plus some of indie music’s great innovators in Young Fathers and Django Django. Now make room in your discography for The Spook School. For four years, the indie-rock / queer-pop quartet have been rocking Scotland’s capital. In that time, they have released two albums and have been mentioned as the country’s answer to Swearin’ and Joanna Gruesome. The band has stayed busy, and they are readying their third album. The lead single from Try To Be Hopeful is the wildly fun “Gone Home”. Like their better known, North American counterparts, The Spook School have crafted a song that will make you want to jump around or uncontrollably gyrate your body wherever you may be. The blistering pace, however, masks a story of not wanting to be tied by anyone or anything. It is a call out to be set free. For three minutes, we can allow our true selves to be unleashed.
The Spook School are Anna Cory (bass/vocals), Adam Todd (guitar/vocals), Nye Todd (guitar/vocals) and Niall McCamley (drums). Try To Be Hopeful is expected August 26th via Slumberland Records.
TRISHES – “Day Jobs” (Los Angeles, USA via Trinidad & Tobago)
RIYL: Banks, Kimbra Alessia Cara
We are the first to admit that we are highly critical of the current movement in mainstream music. So many songs on the radio blur together, as melodies and rhythms are repeated and the storylines are meaningless. Once in a while, though, an artist emerges with a song that goes beyond the ordinary. That is TRISHES‘s new single, “Day Jobs”. The alumnus of Boston’s prestigious Berklee College of Music has created a song for the working individual and everyone struggling to make it day to day. The production work is restrained yet catchy in order to match TRISHES’ sincere lyrics. As the Trinidadian artist explains:
“This is my love song to the working class. It’s as equally about my friends waiting tables all day and in the studio all night as it is about the parents picking up extra shifts to make sure they can send their kids to college… I find so much beauty in human struggle and I wanted to convey that in this single and in my upcoming album.”
If she continues to make music that everyone can relate to, TRISHES should be a star in no time.
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