Welcome to your mid-week serving of new music cocktails!
Today’s six singles provide the soundtrack to your entire day. These artists provide everything from ambient and electronic to ease you into your first caffeine fix to rockin’ power-punk to keep you going through the afternoon and even downtempo fare for your chill evening hours. Treat your ears to these six new gems from artists in the U.S., England, and Scotland.
BRÅVES – “Joan of Arc” (Los Angeles, USA)
RIYL: Autre Ne Veut, Flume, Majical Cloudz
The Los Angeles-based electro-pop trio BRÅVES includes American producer Johnny What and two Australian brothers Jericho and Thorald (The Wood). The buzz around this project continues thanks to the evocative world they create with each song. Their earlier singles this year (“Lovely Bones” and “Me the Thief”) each have a powerful message to match the music’s wow factor. “Joan of Arc” is still shrouded in darker ambient tones yet it flirts with the brighter side of electronic pop.
What is particularly hypnotic about this single is the way the falsetto backing vocals (“You are Joan of Arc”) interweave with the downtempo percussion. Be careful if you’re listening to this in public with headphones: you won’t be able to keep from dancing.
Drakkar Nowhere – “Chippewa” (New York City, USA)
RIYL: The Amazing, Django Django
Sometimes the hardest part of reviewing a band’s new song is choosing which adjectives best describe their sound. That is definitely the case with emerging “pastoral psychedelia” duo Drakkar Nowhere. Their mind-bending psych-rock conjures such vivid imagery that it’s possible to call it magical, hallucinogenic, intoxicating, and fantastical while still never quite summing up what makes it such a delight. You’ll just have to spin “Chippewa” several times to fully appreciate it.
The trippy, psychedelic elements are no surprise. The self-titled Drakkar Nowhere debut album began when the duo (Daniel Collás and Morgan Phalen) were living in Stockholm. There their paths crossed with members of The Amazing and Dungen, and musical magic ensued.
C Duncan – “On Course” (Glasgow, Scotland)
RIYL: Emancipator, Goldmund
We have been under the spell of Glasgow musician C Duncan since February when we shared his Cocteau Twins cover of “Pearly Dewdrop’s Drops.” This virtuoso musician plays an orchestra’s worth of instruments, including piano and viola plus guitar, bass, and drums. Still in his 20s, Chris Duncan is already a veteran of Glastonbury and Electric Fields festivals – as an artist, mind you, not merely as an attendee. So what is it about this guy that has music industry folks across the globe gushing? Quite simply, he’s a brilliant artist whose classical-inspired ambient electronic creations will make your jaw drop.
“On Course” is a testament to his talent. The melody soars around your headspace while the electronic flourishes keep your focus transfixed. It’s celestial, cosmic, and otherworldly. You may find yourself lost in a daydream while you listen – one that you won’t want to wake from.
High Lucia (feat. Eliza Shaddad) – “Arid Land” (London, England)
RIYL: Massive Attack, Emancipator, Portishead
British ambient/electronic producer Lex Marcus – aka High Lucia – is back with yet another tantalizing audio treat. His newest effort features the ethereal vocals of Eliza Shaddad, and it is her voice on “Arid Land” that makes it truly shine. The fact that Marcus is so skilled as a producer means this track orbits in its own special realm of ambient bliss. Combine that with his ability to convey deep emotion with every lush layer, and you’ve got yourself a soundtrack to sonic escapism. This sparkling gem of a tune deserves repeated listens.
Terry Malts – “Seen Everything” (San Francisco, USA)
RIYL: Buzzcocks, The Chills, The Undertones
Listening to the new Terry Malts single takes me back to the early ‘90s when Hüsker Dü fans argued with Sugar fans about the direction Bob Mould had taken. While the more pop-inclined fans devoured File Under: Easy Listening, harder-edged purists clung to Zen Arcade with clenched fists and snarled lips. Things get heated when a once-punk band dips a toe into the waters of pop music. Not so with this San Francisco-based post-punk/power noise pop trio.
On their newest album, Lost at the Party, Terry Malts sounds only a bit distanced from their power punk origins. And while “Seen Everything” has more of a pop flavor than their earlier works, the song’s unabashedly fun originality likely won’t incite grumblings like Hüsker Dü once did. “Seen Everything” is the first we’ve heard from these guys in three years. This song finds them acknowledging their punk roots without straying too far from them.
Terry Malts are: Corey Cunningham (guitars, vocals), Phil Benson (bass, vocals), and Jake Sprecher (guitar).
Valerie June – “Astral Plane” (Memphis, USA)
RIYL: Adia Victoria, Billie Holiday, Norah Jones
In 2014 an emerging artist from Tennessee rocked the music world with her Pushin’ Against a Stone LP. Valerie June – the artist whose “moonshine roots music” has no equal –will soon release a follow-up album. The first track, “Astral Plane”, features her distinctive southern drawl that evokes both old-school country legends (Loretta Lynn and Dolly Parton) and modern legends-in-the-making like Rhiannon Giddens and Norah Jones. Equal parts jazzy and soulful, you only need to hear “Astral Plane” once to know this album will secure Valerie June’s place in the pantheon of female singers, regardless of genre.
It’s from her forthcoming album, The Order of Time, which is due January 27 from Concord Music Group. Pre-orders are from the artist’s online store, Amazon, and iTunes. Her website lists her 2017 tour dates.
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