Welcome to your Monday serving of new music cocktails! This week we’ve got a full plate of audio delights with a slight concentration on Pacific Northwest artists. Feast your ears upon new indie folk and garage rock from Seattle, some uptempo singer/songwriter fare from Vancouver, a bit of Portland indie supergroup action, as well as some chill shoegaze from Colorado and some hot new rocksteady reggae from New York City. We’ve got your Monday soundtrack covered with these six singles. Cheers!
The Head and The Heart – “Colors” (Seattle, USA)
RIYL: Edward Sharpe & The Magnetic Zeroes, The Lumineers, The Oh Hellos
Indie folk-pop darlings The Head and The Heart seem to have a Midas touch when it comes to making music. Fans have been devoted to their heartwarming sounds since their self-titled debut album released five years ago. Now their third album, Signs of Light, is due out next month, and this is yet another endearing single. “Colors” showcases the honeyed vocals of Charity Rose Thielen albeit in a more subdued fashion. This isn’t an upbeat successor to “Sounds Like Hallelujah” or a campfire singalong classic like “Rivers and Roads” – instead, it’s the band showing their maturity, both in their songwriting and their overall sound. And like a fine wine, The Head and The Heart keep improving with age.
Signs of Light is out September 9 via Warner Brothers Records with pre-orders from the label, Amazon, and iTunes. Their autumn U.S. tour kicks off October 3 in St. Louis and wraps November 7 in Seattle. They’ll also perform at My Morning Jacket’s third annual One Big Holiday fest in Mexico next February.
The Head and The Heart are: Josiah Johnson (vocals, guitar, keys, percussion), Jonathan Russell (vocals, guitar, percussion), Charity Rose Thielen (vocals, violin, percussion), Kenny Hensley (piano), Chris Zasche (bass), and Tyler Williams (drums, percussion).
Dan Mangan – “Race to the Bottom” (Vancouver, Canada)
RIYL: Fleet Foxes, Sufjan Stevens, Damien Jurado, Noah Gundersen
Somehow in the hectic fervor of festival season, we overlooked one of the year’s best EPs, a quietly released collection from an acclaimed Canadian singer/songwriter. We loved Dan Mangan‘s Club Meds album last year, but his new EP, Unmake, has been on constant repeat lately. If you’re not already familiar with Mangan’s work, you should dive into his back catalog after giving this single a few dozen spins. He’s a consummate songwriter who pens heartfelt gems full of soaring vocals and sage lyrics. For example, take his “Race to the Bottom” single with its poignant take on the fruitless energies of looking backward at life’s rearview mirror: “Dreaming of a simpler time, it occurs to me / That the past is hypothetical fantasy / And nostalgia just ain’t what it used to be…”
Pair those lyrics with the immensely catchy, radio-friendly hooks, and you cannot resist Mangan’s musical magic. Fans of vivid storytellers (Damien Jurado, Sufjan Stevens) and dulcet-toned vocalists (Jim James, Father John Misty) will appreciate the honest warmth of Dan Mangan. The year’s not over yet, but already this Unmake EP has taken residence on my Top 10 List.
Naked Giants – “Ya Ya” (Seattle, USA)
RIYL: The Pixies, Ty Segall, Sonic Youth
All of us at The Revue love new music. We love nothing more than being the bridge between artist and audience. Sometimes, we discover music so new that the group hasn’t even released an album yet. That’s OK, too, since that means we can discover them and chart their progress together. One new band that has blown us clear into next week with their bold sound is Seattle indie rock trio Naked Giants. Brace yourself, because this single will leave you speechless. (Maybe not entirely speechless; it’s possible you might be able to emit a gasping “Holy hell!” upon the conclusion of this song, but chances are, you’ll just sit there slack-jawed, hitting repeat several times like we did. It’s that good!)
“Ya Ya” has the fierce intensity that made Gen-Xers rage hard in the early days of grunge. It features a blistering wall of sound that you might expect from a much larger group. But don’t let the size of this band fool you: what they lack in numbers (not that three members is “lacking” in any way) they make up for with unbridled energy and passion – the hallmarks of Seattle artists. There’s a reason these guys just played hometown station KEXP’s outdoor concert series last Friday: they’re insanely talented and headed for a very bright future. In fact, you can catch them on tour this fall with Car Seat Headrest after they play Seattle’s Bumbershoot Festival next month.
Naked Giants are: Grant Mullen (guitar), Gianni Aiello (bass), and Henry LaVallee (drums).
Pfarmers – “Red Vermin” (Louisville, KY via Portland, OR & Brooklyn, NY USA)
RIYL: The National, Menomena, Yo La Tengo
It’s getting harder to track all the supergroup offshoots from members of Menomena and The National. (Granted, we’re not complaining about the resulting wealth of music!) First there was frontman Matt Berninger’s El Vy project with Menomena’s Brent Knopf; then came LNZNDRF, the collaboration between The National’s Bryan and Scott Devendorf with Beirut’s trombonist, Ben Lanz. Now Bryan Devendorf has teamed up again with Menomena’s Danny Seim and Dave Nelson (Sufjan Stevens, St. Vincent) for a second Pfarmers album. (Anyone else need a Venn diagram as a visual aid?)
Pfarmers’ 2015 debut, Gunnera, came about when Seim lived in Portland, Oregon. He’s relocated to Louisville, Kentucky, so this follow-up album partially deals with his departure from the Pacific Northwest. Its other focus is on Rajneeshpuram, a former cult-like compound located in the Oregon desert. It was run by a self-proclaimed prophet figure who swindled his followers before corruption forced his exile from the now-defunct community. Seim explores those themes on Our Puram, with lead single “Red Vermin” its chill lead single. At times sedate then jubilant amid staccato punctuations of swirling horns and guitars, “Red Vermin” offers everything you love about Menomena and The National in one glorious package. Don’t let this one escape your notice. It’s a contender for sleeper hit of the summer.
Eros and the Eschaton – “Cry” (Colorado Springs, CO USA)
RIYL: Yo La Tengo, Galaxie 500, Slowdive
You’d be forgiven for thinking a band with the word eschaton in their name would make apocalyptic goth or heavy metal. Doomsday connotations aside, the music of Colorado indie band Eros and the Eschaton is the complete polar opposite. (Fans of counterculture author Terrence McKenna will surely recognize the name.) Look to the eros for a clue: theirs is a lighter, psychedelic shoegaze/dream-pop that will tug at your heartstrings in a Yo La Tengo-meets-Slowdive kind of way.
On the new single from their forthcoming LP, Weight of Matter, the now Colorado-based group will envelop you in their gauzy melodies without lulling you into a soporific stupor. “Cry” has enough aural density to keep you engaged from start to finish. There is plenty of depth here, with gently rising verse plateaus and choruses marked with shimmering harmonies. This song could only be better if its 2:35 length were doubled. Perhaps they’ll expand the live version on their upcoming U.S. tour?
Eros and the Eschaton are: Kate Perdoni (vocals, guitars), Adam Hawkins (vocals, guitars), Mitch Macura (keys), Ryan Spradlin (bass), and Alex Koshak (drums).
The Frightnrs – “Dispute” (Queens, NY USA)
RIYL: Antibalas, Easy Star All Stars, Sharon Jones & the Dap Kings
The perfect rocksteady fusion of soul, reggae, and ska awaits you on Nothing More to Say, the upcoming debut album from The Frightnrs. It’s a bittersweet affair, since the album’s release is shadowed by the recent, untimely passing of frontman Dan Klein. The golden-voiced Klein, 33, succumbed to A.L.S. in June after being diagnosed while recording the album. Knowing this, the music takes on an added role of musical salve for fans’ broken hearts.
“Dispute”, the album’s final track, brings a certain catharsis via the “…and from heartache I recover” lyrics. There is no disputing the immense talent of Klein and his bandmates. Few bands out there bring such smooth, soulful delivery in their blend of mellow reggae with Motown sensibilities. They’re rooted in ’70s-era vintage vibes but with a refreshing, modern twist. The result is a unique sound that deserves to be heard at full blast. Do yourself a favor and crank this one. Play it loud in memory of Dan Klein, and for the love and healing properties of music. (It bears noting that the band will continue on, possibly with guest lead vocalists.)
Nothing More to Say, produced by Victor Axelrod (aka Tiklah), a founding member of Sharon Jones’ Dap Kings, is out September 9 via the legendary Daptone Records label. You can pre-order it from the group’s Bandcamp page or from the label, Amazon, and iTunes.
The Frightnrs are: Dan Klein (vocals), Chuck Patel (organ, piano), Preet Patel (bass), and Rich Terrana (drums).
Share This Article On...
Follow The Revue On...