Saturday Sampler October 1st edition has a worldly feel. Of the 10 artists and bands featured today, only one comes from the United States. Scotland, Sweden, Ireland, England, Norway, Portugal, and Australia are all represented on this fun, playful, and awesome mini-playlist.
Be Charlotte – “Machines That Breathe” (Dundee, Scotland)
RIYL: Miya Folick, Lucia Fontaine, Lorde
Alloysious Massaquoi of Young Fathers once told us that making pop music is the most difficult thing to do in music because it is difficult to perfect it. Fellow Scottish trio Be Charlotte, though, come awfully close to achieving perfection.
Their new single “Machines That Breathe” is catchy and vibrant yet lush, personable, and dramatic. It combines the personable, melodic approach of ’90s indie-pop with contemporary alt-pop’s cinematic and oft-kilter approach. The storytelling and lyricism are also terrific, as project mastermind Charlotte Brimner has written a song that could be an except out of an Arthur C. Clarke novel.
As such, this isn’t sugar-coated, mind-numbing pop music. On the contrary, Be Charlotte have crafted an intelligible, thoughtful, and completely fascinating indie-pop tune. No wonder these three have become one of Scotland’s fastest-rising bands.
In addition to Charlotte Brimner, Be Charlotte are James Smith and Jack Boyce.
The Duke Spirit – “Serenade” (London, England)
RIYL: The Kills, The Jesus and Mary Chain, early The Raveonettes
It wasn’t long ago that veteran indie-rock band The Duke Spirit was considered to be one of England’s best kept secrets. Since the release of their fourth album, KIN, the London quartet’s popularity has increased. To keep the momentum going, the band will be releasing a new EP less than six months since Kin. The title track is “Serenade”, which represents a whole different side of the band.
Before you press play, you better be sitting down because “Serenade” is enchantment personified. While the song still retains the psychedelic vibes of their past efforts, The Duke Spirit slow things down to create a dazzling, smooth, flirtatious rocker. The song is lush and hypnotic, as the piano, keys, guitar, bass, and drums merge together in perfect harmony. Frontwoman Liela Moss’s vocals are sultry and smoky, leaving one completely paralyzed within the psychedelic delirium.
The Duke Spirit’s new EP, Serenade, will be released out October 14th via Red Essential.
The band is comprised of Liela Moss (vocals/piano/harmonica), Luke Ford (guitar/keyboards), Toby Butler (guitar/bass/keyboards), and Olly Betts (drums/keyboards).
The Gift (feat. Brian Eno) – “Love Without Violins” (Alcobaça, Portugal)
RIYL: Brian Eno, Kate Bush, Depeche Mode
If you’re not already a fan of Portuguese band The Gift, their newest single will convert you. “Love Without Violins” is a stunning track that features Brian Eno. In addition to lending his vocals, Eno also receives co-writing and producing credits.
Sonia Tavares takes lead vocal duties for the first half. The song’s darker, industrial electro-pop vibe lingers throughout the start. The suspense increases as the volume and layers crescendo into its peak around the 2:43 mark. That’s when its metamorphosis transforms it into a brilliant pop tune with dazzling effects.
Eno’s magic touch is evident. It’s a fantastic collaboration that evokes both David Bowie and David Byrne. You may need a few listens to truly appreciate all of its nuance, but it’s worth repeated spins. After 22 years together, The Gift know how to effortlessly fuse elements of jazz, electronica, and pop into a sophisticated product. The addition of Brian Eno is but another layer of elegance. “Love Without Violins” is from their new EP that is out now on their La Folie label. You can grab it from iTunes.
The Gift are: Sónia Tavares, Nuno Gonçalves,
Heroes in Hiding – “Hospital” (Dublin, Ireland)
RIYL: Public Service Broadcasting, Bombay Bicycle Club, Foals
Carpe Diem. Seize the Day. Life is short. Those pithy aphorisms seen on motivational posters or coffee mugs rarely inspire great action. However, life has a way of creating situations that make you appreciate those sentiments. Falling from a moving bus onto the motorway and ending up in hospital is one example. For the Dublin-based indie rock quartet Heroes in Hiding, that near-death experience is the inspiration for great action in the form a song. And it’s a song that sounds quite upbeat considering its nearly tragic outcome.
“Hospital” is the result of lead vocalist Joe Carroll surviving that nasty tumble. With its jangly intro interspersed with hospital PA sound clips, the song makes you feel like a first-person witness to the event. The band’s sound is tight and lively, with the energy of Total Life Forever-era Foals. The band have been together since 2005, so it’s a wonder the world has taken so long to notice their talent. This single (and the previously released “No, You’re a Rabbit”) proves that Heroes in Hiding are an emerging band with a bright future – provided they don’t risk life and limb to find inspiration for their future songs!
Their upcoming album, Curtains, releases next Friday with pre-orders on iTunes. Until then, you can explore their back catalog over at their Bandcamp page. Their album launch party is scheduled for October 20 in Dublin with details here.
Heroes in Hiding are: Joe Carroll (lead vocals, guitar), Oisin Jacob (vocals, guitar), Liam McCabe (vocals, bass, sax, violin), and Cian Donohoe (drums, percussion).
Jack River – “Palo Alto” (Forster, NSW, Australia)
RIYL: Jenny Lewis, Pearl Charles, Ashley Shadow
She has released just three singles to date, but Jack River, the project of Holly Rankin, is already a huge sensation in Australia. Her popularity is quickly trickling overseas because the singer-songwriter has proven to be the Swiss Army knife of music. Whatever the occasion, whatever the genre, she can sing, play and perform it expertly. Whether it is the electro-pop of “Talk Like That” or the gritty alt-rock of “Nothing’s Gonna Hurt You Baby”, you immediately get captivated by her sound and wonderful songwriting.
Now she takes her hand at guitar-driven pop with “Palo Alto”. The song is absolutely awesome with clean guitar lines, the infectious but warm melodies, and Rankin’s captivating vocals. But like her previous songs, her songwriting is outrageously fantastic. There are songs that are cinematic because of the music, but Rankin’s songs reach these levels due to her vivid and expressive storytelling. Consequently, one feels like they are sitting in the passenger seat as Rankin drives us to Mexico in order to escape the past and to seek something new. The only place that Rankin will be headed is to the top of the indie charts, especially if she continues to write instant classic like “Palo Alto”.
Jack River’s debut EP, Highway Songs No.2, releases October 7th via I OH YOU and Hopeless Utopian Records.
Jagwar Ma – “Slipping” (Sydney, Australia)
RIYL: Tame Impala, Pond, Unknown Mortal Orchestra
“Time is slipping away…so fast,” is sung at such a languid pace that the notes practically float by on a breeze. But the slow pace doesn’t last, since this is Jagwar Ma. We’ve waited nearly three years to type the words “new Jagwar Ma album.” The only thing slipping away so fast is our wait for their anticipated sophomore album. Based on this and the two previously released singles (“O B 1” and “Give Me a Reason”), Jagwar Ma have successfully avoided the “sophomore slump” on the follow-up to 2013’s Howlin’ LP.
This new track from Every Now & Then is gently trippy with a hazy, dreamlike intro. When the drums kick in at the 1:40 mark, you find yourself transported to a dazzling place. It’s as though you’ve been flying upward through clouds only to break through to blazing sunshine as you reach cruising altitude. The ride does not disappoint.
Speaking of drums…did we mention the album features Warpaint’s Stella Mozgawa on percussion? Every Now & Then releases October 14 on Mom+Pop Records (US), Future Classic (AUS), and Marathon Artists (EU). Pre-orders and tour dates are available online.
Jagwar Ma are: Jono Ma, Gabriel Winterfiel
Many Voices Speak – “Video Child” (Stockholm, Sweden)
RIYL: Mazzy Starr, Francis, Cloves
For every artist who finds instant success, there are dozens if not hundreds who take years to find their sound and voice. Swedish singer-songwriter Matilda Mård is one of those individuals. For years, she toiled within Stockholm’s music scene but never could breakthrough. She opted to leave the big city for the smaller confines of Borlänge, where she spent days writing. It was in the unlikeliest of places where Mård discovered her artistry: the karaoke bar.
While most will shy away from baring their souls in public, Mård excelled. It was, as she explains, “far away from my own self-doubts and prestige about music.” With her new sound, Mård adopted the moniker Many Voices Speak, which would seem to be a nod to her past life and the welcoming of a new one. Her debut single as this new entity is “Video Child”.
The minimalist production is delicate, light, and simply beautiful. The touch of the horns adds a cinematic quality. Mård’s vocals are lush and gorgeous – a voice that you want to hear every night before you go to bed. While the song will stir every emotion, the story she shares is just as moving. The track acknowledges the many events in her life that shaped her today, from her previous singer-songwriter incarnation to all the singers and musicians who inspired her to sing. That “Video Child” is Mård, but it could easily be any one of us.
Marthe Valle – “Modig” (Bergen, Norway)
RIYL: Ane Brun, Agnes Obel, Kate Havnevik
Music is a universal language. If you start singing The Beatles’ “Let It Be” (or even “Let It Go” from Frozen) in a foreign land, there is a good chance that people will join you and sing along. That’s because melodies unite hearts and spirits divided by language barriers. No matter what language you speak, a beautiful song will still move you. That’s what it going on here with Marthe Valle‘s new single. The gorgeous melody on “Modig” charms you even if you cannot understand its Norwegian lyrics. If you sense that the song’s message is positive and uplifting based solely on the vibe – then you are correct. Valle wrote this ode to bravery as a reminder of all the times she herself was brave. She means for “Modig” (Norwegian for “brave’) to be an encouraging inspiration to others.
Valle’s light, soaring vocals are full of vibrant expression. The song’s sweeping electronic flourishes keep it breezy yet mature. When you listen, it feels like you’re receiving advice or a pep talk from your sister. There is warmth and wisdom in the delivery of the message, so it doesn’t matter if you can’t understand the words. This song is a prime example that music is one thing that can unite and uplift us all.
Miles Mosley – “Young Lion” (Los Angeles, USA)
RIYL: Kamasi Washington, Kendrick Lamar, Eric Krasno, Galactic
When you’re a musician who has played on the latest albums from Kamasi Washington and Kendrick Lamar, you’re doing all right. When you’re a musician who has done that plus toured with Rihanna, Lauryn Hill, and Jeff Beck, then you’re doing more than all right. When you’re a musician who has done all of those things, you’re probably Miles Mosley. This renowned double bassist (who’s also a composer/arranger, musician, producer, and singer) is one of the hottest musicians in the business. You may have heard his work even if you didn’t realize it. He’s been working hard in the background, but now is his time to bask in the spotlight.
From his forthcoming Uprising album due out next year, this talented artist gives us his fierce new single, “Young Lion“. Upright bass never sounded so fresh, so funky, and so irresistible. The scorching horn section is pure fire, punctuating Mosley’s infectious bass and strut-inducing lyrics. “Thank God for me / ain’t nothin’ been funky since ’73.” When he sings “They don’t make brothers like me,” you nod in agreement and hit play again. This is a song that you can’t hear just once. If you want to hear it live, check out Mosley’s upcoming tour dates. Uprising is due out in January on Alpha Pup Records, but the single is available now on iTunes.
Martin Forsell – “Liberations” (Nässjö, Sweden)
RIYL: The Tallest Man on Earth, Andy Shauf, Trampled by Turtles
Kristian Matsson (a.k.a. The Tallest Man on Earth)… José González… Hokan Hellström… Sweden has no shortage of great singer-songwriters and indie-folk musicians. But make room for Martin Forsell, who is well on his way to being one of the Tre Kronor’s next great artists.
Like these great artists, this native of Nässjö, which lies to the east of Gothenburg, has a beautiful warmth and mystic to his music. His second single, “Liberations”, is immaculate and stunning, like a sparkling diamond shining brightly in the rough that you cannot keep your eyes off. Forsell’s vocals are unique with a slightly rough edge, but when the “oohs” arrive they are breathtaking. The arrangements are terrific, giving this indie-folk tune a mythical and cinematic vibe. The use of the banjo as the rhythm guitar, in particular, is a really clever move.
Forsell also demonstrates the nuance of a seasoned songwriter. As you listen to the lyrics, imagine running through the forest endlessly seeking the one you have lost. “Liberations” is utterly enchanting.
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