Welcome to your mid-week serving of new music cocktails – better known as the Melodic Tonic ’16, vol. 39! This week’s singles come from artists in Australia, Austria, England, and the U.S., and all five songs feature incredibly talented singers and musicians. Maybe you’ll discover a new favorite artist among these gems. Let’s get things started with an indie pop singer who’s spreading her wings on a new solo venture.
Laura Burhenn – “Good Medicine” (Los Angeles, USA)
RIYL: The Mynabirds, Cowboy Junkies, Dusty Springfield
Laura Burhenn, the voice of American indie folk-pop outfit The Mynabirds, has two brand-new songs out as of yesterday. She’s preparing for an upcoming solo tour, and these singles are enough to leave fans swooning as they purchase tickets. “Good Medicine” is a stirring, piano-driven ballad that features Burhenn’s warm vocals dancing over the melody with the grace of a butterfly flitting among wildflowers. While the piano takes center stage musically, the bright layers (is that a piccolo in the background?) give the song the feel of a pastoral romp on a sunny day.
We’ve loved the warmth of Burhenn’s vocals since her days as a member of Bright Eyes and The Postal Service, but “Good Medicine” just reinforces all that’s endearing about her solo work. Her music is charming, inspiring, and inventive – as this song and its companion (“Apples and Oranges”) prove. Both songs are available via Saddle Creek Records from iTunes and her Soundcloud page.
Her upcoming North American with William Fitzsimmons tour runs from October 31 through December 4 with event details here.
Son of the Velvet Rat – “Blood Red Shoes” (Yucca Valley, CA, USA via Graz, Austria)
SoundCloud link has been removed.
RIYL: Bob Dylan, Tom Waits, Leonard Cohen
When you think of Americana folk music, Bob Dylan and Tom Waits might be the first names that come to mind. The last place you expect to hear heartfelt, lonesome cowboy ballads is…Austria. But that’s exactly where Son of the Velvet Rat began making Dylan-esque music in 2003. The founding members (vocalist Georg Altziebler and his wife, Heike Binder) now live in California, and their new album, Dorado, is due out early next year. It features their frequent collaborator, American folk legend Lucinda Williams. “Blood Red Shoes” is full of aching tenderness that will appeal to fans of Leonard Cohen and the raw edginess of Tom Waits. This music begs for an uninterrupted listening session, perhaps in front of a fire while sipping a fine whiskey.
Son of the Velvet Rat include: Georg Altziebler (vocals), Heike Binder (backing vocals, keys, accordion), Gar Robertson (guitar, lap steel, mandolin), Eric McCann (standup bass), Kolja Radenkovic (guitar, trumpet), Albrecht Klinger (bass, guitar), Leah Luna (percussion), Felix Krüger (percussion), Joel Patterson (drums), and Michael Willmann (drums).
Colouring – “Everything Has Grown” (London, England)
RIYL: Bon Iver, Volcano Choir, José González
On these crisp autumn days when a cool breeze rustles the fallen leaves, you need three things: a cozy scarf, a warm beverage, and a gently soothing song. British indie band Colouring probably can’t provide the first two, but they more than deliver on the latter. Their latest single, “Everything Has Grown”, is a gorgeous gem of a tune that deserves a few dozen repeated spins. If you think Bon Iver has a lock on dreamy, soul-stirring melodies, think again. These guys are giving Justin Vernon a run for his money in terms of beautifully layered musical elegance.
This song captures the bittersweet feelings that emerge this time of year: you’re wistful about times that have passed yet hopeful about what the future holds. Between the understated piano accompaniment and the vocals (oh, those vocals – you will have chills, I promise!), it is impossible to suppress a contented sigh once it’s ended. This song exceeds five minutes in length, but you’ll wish it were ten times longer if only to extend the heartwarming euphoria it produces.
Colouring are: Jack Kenworthy (vocals, piano), Sean Reilly (guitar), Dom Potts (bass), and Alex Johnson (drums).
Trudy and the Romance – “My Baby’s Gone Away” (Liverpool, England)
RIYL: Mac DeMarco, Shannon & The Clams, King Krule
Trudy and The Romance – the Liverpool trio who are quickly becoming one of the up-and-coming “it bands” on the scene – are back with yet another scorcher of a tune. Their self-described “mutant ‘50s pop” sound isn’t so much a throwback to a bygone era as it is a reworking of a fun genre made even more irresistible thanks to their personal touch.
“My Baby’s Gone Away” bears the trademark chords and harmonies of a doo-wop classic, but with a twist. Unlike old-school ‘50s tunes that dripped with saccharine sweetness, this song has more bite. When frontman Oliver Taylor sings, you can practically envision him sporting a disenchanted snarl as he howls over the playful melody. This is rockabilly with an attitude, and it’s brilliant. If you’ve ever had a case of the “my baby’s gone away and left me” blues, don’t cry in your beer. Instead, crank this one and let Trudy & The Romance work their therapeutic magic. In three minutes’ time, you’ll be right as rain.
Trudy and the Romance are: Oliver Taylor (vocals, guitar), Lewis Rollinson (bass), and Brad Mullins (drums).
The Montreals – “Indigo Club” (Adelaide, Australia)
RIYL: Two Door Cinema Club, The Strokes, Arctic Monkeys
Emerging Australian indie pop group The Montreals seem to have perfected the recipe for an indie smash hit. Take some catchy pop hooks, add a balance of jangly guitars and breezy harmonies, and mix in strong vocals paired with smart lyrics. Granted, the lyrics are about drunken mistakes, but hey – that just increases the song’s universal appeal, right? Simply put, the catchiness of “Indigo Club” is undeniable.
It’s hard to believe this band has just two other songs in their catalog so far. Their 2015 debut single (“Becoming Strangers”) garnered a lot of attention in Australia, but we expect this song will bring them global acclaim. They clearly have the talent and the hooks; now all they need is a completed album and a worldwide tour. Hopefully these guys will make their summer festival circuit debut in Europe and North America next year, because music this fun should be heard in a live, sweaty, outdoor setting.
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