Welcome to your weekly serving of new music cocktails!
This week’s selections come from artists in Australia, England, Norway, Sweden, and the U.S. Whether you prefer Americana, electronic funk, or indie dream pop, these six songs will help ease you into your week. Let’s get things started with a native Norwegian whose music is always a delight.
Sondre Lerche – “I’m Always Watching You” (Brooklyn, NY via Bergen, Norway)
RIYL: Peter Bjorn & John, Phoenix, Destroyer
It’s been two years since we’ve had new music one of our favourite Scandinavian singers. Last week Sondre Lerche delivered a new retro-inspired single (and an equally eye-catching video!). “I’m Always Watching You” may sound like a throwback to The Police’s classic stalker anthem, but this isn’t a modern re-working of that hit. This song has a bolder ’80s-era synth-pop sound. It’s upbeat, bold, and fun.
The voyeuristic lyrics (“Call it voyeurism or masochism / I’m always watching you watching me watching you”) don’t sound threatening. Instead, the uptempo beat and slick production give this song more of an unrequited love feel. Details about the new Pleasure album are scant, though the first wave of European tour dates is available on his website. The single is available now from iTunes.
Man & The Echo – “Operation Margarine” (Warrington, England)
RIYL: Pulp, Jarvis Cocker, Kings of Convenience
Most people don’t associate the great Irish poet W.B. Yeats with lively indie pop music. So it seems unlikely that a new British group have named themselves after a Yeats poem. Yet it was that rebranding for Man & The Echo that seems to have breathed new life into their success.
This rousing single from their upcoming debut album will have you nodding and foot-tapping as its blue-eyed soul riffs intoxicate your senses. It’s irresistibly catchy with a danceable vibe. (Let’s just say this review took hours to write due to an impromptu living room dance session. Trust me: this song’s funky grooves will get under your skin and make you move, no matter how hard you try to fight it.)
Lost Animal – “Too Late to Die Young” (Melbourne, Australia)
RIYL: Kurt Vile, The War on Drugs, Youth Lagoon
Another group with an irresistible sound is the Australian electro-funk duo Lost Animal. Their newest single “Too Late to Die Young” has much of the same buoyant vibrance of their 2013 album, Ex Tropical. Over five minutes in length, this is a song that pulls you in and quickly washes over you with the force of a crashing wave.
The depth of the layers (keys, hypnotic percussion) keeps revealing unheard nuance with each repeated spin. The first time you might focus on the lyrics; next you may pick up more of the keys. But no matter how many times you listen, you’ll probably still find a new aspect of it to love. That’s half of the genius of frontman Jarrod Quarrell. He’s one of music’s most underrated artists, with vocals that echo both Bob Dylan and Kurt Vile. Quarrell’s collaboration in this project with Ariel Pink’s Shags Chamberlain makes Lost Animal a force to be reckoned with.
Johnny V. Lewis – “Red Door Blues” (New York City)
RIYL: Phosphorescent, Kurt Vile, or a milder Strand of Oaks
New York City-based emerging Americana talent Johnny V. Lewis grew up in Minnesota on a musical diet of legends from Dylan and Bowie to Prince, Frank Zappa, and David Byrne. Fortunately for his fans, Lewis incorporates the best of those artists into his own work. And what an incredible work this new single is!
The first thing you notice about “Red Door Blues” is its lush instrumentation on par with Phosphorescent. (That’s because this album is produced by John Agnello, known for his work with Phosphorescent, Kurt Vile, and Dinosaur Jr.) This song is a vibrant tapestry woven with soul-stirring strings and keys that highlight Lewis’s vocals. If you feel like taking a drive on a crisp autumn day, the brilliance of this song will match the beauty of the scenery. This is sophisticated Americana done right.
Johnny Lewis is backed on this album by a stellar roster of musicians, including: Grant Zubritsky (bass), K. Marie Kim (strings, piano), Alfonso Velez (vocals), Karlie Bruce (vocals), Kirk Shoenherr (guitar), Yoojin Park (viola), Patrick Morrissey (keys), and Justin Hoffman (drums).
His self-titled second album, In Cars Passing, will be out November 4.
Jennie Abrahamson – “Bloodlines” (Stockholm, Sweden)
RIYL: Ane Brun, Emilíana Torrini
Swedish singer Jennie Abrahamson is no stranger to the stage. After touring with both Peter Gabriel and Peter, Bjorn and John, she is set to once again stand solo in the spotlight. She has been a solo artist since 2006, though her popularity has not yet made her a worldwide household name. That’s certainly not for lack of talent! Her newest single, “Bloodlines”, is the first we heard from her since her 2014 album, Gemini Gemini.
This song a shimming gem of smart indie pop. Its bold synth lines and gorgeous electronic flourishes will take your breath away – that is, if her beautiful soprano vocals haven’t already.
“Bloodlines” is from her forthcoming album that’s due in January.
Suntrodden – “All We Are” (Atlanta, USA)
RIYL: José Gonzalez, Beach House, Elliott Smith, Belle & Sebastian
Combine the brooding genius of Elliott Smith with the cozy warmth of José González and the baroque pop charm of Belle & Sebastian – that’s a good start to describing the ear-caressing melodies from Atlanta indie pop artist Suntrodden.
Equally hazy and bright yet understated and calm, this project from singer/songwriter Erik Stephansson will seduce and charm you. The first installment of a trilogy of EPs came in February with Suntrodden I. Now he’s poised to deliver its follow-up later this month. Like cats relaxing in a sunny spot, so too will Suntrodden’s music prompt you to bask in the golden rays of its blissful indie pop. A dream state awaits on Suntrodden II; heed its call. Music this good should be prescribed as a cure-all for multiple ailments.
Suntrodden II is out October 28 from with pre-orders from his Bandcamp page.
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