Saturday Sampler November 19th once again traverses the globe, featuring a heavy dose of songs by old favorites but also a healthy serving of newcomers. Today’s Sampler features six American artists, two from England, one originally from Australia, and one from Japan who will knock your socks off!
We are still reeling over the loss yesterday of soul legend Sharon Jones, so we turn to music to help us cope. Hopefully these 10 songs will help you as well.
Cloves – “Better Now” (London, England via Melbourne, Australia)
RIYL: Adele, Amy Winehouse, Keeva
When Melbourne native Cloves arrives on the music scene in the spring of 2015 with “Frail Love”, we were immediately hooked. Her smokey, sultry vocals were second to none, simultaneously electrifying and mind-altering. We were so enraptured by her talent that she was one of our artists to watch for 2016.
Although Cloves’ popularity has increased this year with her heavy touring schedule and the announcement she signed with Universal Music Group, she has not shared any new music. Yes, her single, “Don’t Forget About Me”, was included on the Me Before You soundtrack, but that was originally released last year. Just yesterday, she shared her first new single in over a year, “Better Now”.
The song is gorgeous. Her voice, once again, steals the show, as her deep, sensual vocals penetrate deep into your soul and stay there. There is also more urgency and an assertiveness in her lyrics not heard before, as she shares her own story about finding balance in maintaining a relationship with the incessant desire to be alone. The bursts of hard percussion are a surprising twist, reflecting the tension that is in the air. However, just hearing Cloves’ voice will calm every nerve in your body. She’s a star in a making, and “Better Now” only validates this belief. We’ll have to include her once again in our Artists to Watch for 2017.
Cloves’ debut album is expected some time next year. Needless to say, it will be a highly-anticipated one. In the meantime, Cloves will be touring with the incomparable Michael Kiwanuka, beginning November 29th. Find tour dates here.
Dana Falconberry – “Alberio” (Austin, TX USA)
RIYL: Radical Face, Agnes Obel, Tiny Ruins
Earlier this year, Dana Falconberry & her band Medicine Bow released one of the most beautiful albums of the year with From the Forest Came the Fire. The LP cemented the Austin-based singer-songwriter as one of music’s most fascinating artists with her ability to infuse the sounds of nature into her mystical approach.
One of the secrets to her method is that Falconberry is known to spend weeks in wild, completely separated from the rest of the world. Inspired from her time living in California’s Sequoia National Park, where she living as an Artist-in-Residence, she wrote her latest single, “Alberio”. In her trademark fashion, Falconberry has written a song full of mystery and fantasy. It is breathtaking and mesmerizing, like a dream taking place in the quiet beauty of an evergreen forest that is lit by the light of the full moon. Or in this case, by a double star – a.k.a. Alberio – high in the sky whose meaning remains unknown. Enchanting. Simply enchanting.
The Electric West – “Powerlines” (Los Angeles, USA)
RIYL: Preoccupations, Eagulls, Wolf Parade
Seven months ago when we first came across The Electric West, we asked the question, “How have we not heard of them?”. We’re still trying to figure out that question, but nonetheless the trio from Los Angeles is quickly emerging as a permanent favorite.
Two weeks ago, they released their second EP, Parades, and from it is a song that won’t be soon forgotten. “Powerlines” is an electrifying affair. The song blends the cathartic post-punk that Preoccupations (FKA Viet Cong) re-introduced and popularized with the searing indie rock of Wolf Parade. As such, the track is intense, blistering, and maddeningly euphoric. It just an awesome song by one of indie rock’s most underrated outfits. Their relative anonymity likely won’t last for long.
The Electric West are Byron (drums), Lee (vocals/bass), and Billy the Kid (guitar/vocals). Pick up Parades on Bandcamp.
Fear of Men – “Change Me” (Brighton, England)
RIYL: DIIV, Japanese Breakfast, Miya Folick
Earlier this year, Brighton-based Fear of Men released their stunning album, Fall Forever (via Kanine Records). The LP was like The xx taken to a post-apocalyptic world. To show a different side – or as the band expresses, “a more euphoric side of our inherent miserabilism”, the trio released yesterday an alternative version of “Erase (Aubade)”, which was one of the album’s more starker songs.
The new rendition, “Change Me”, is a slightly more upbeat and shimmering alt-pop number. Daniel Falvey’s guitar work has more of a crystalline, shoegaze vibe a la DIIV while frontwoman Jessica Weiss’ vocals are soothing and endearing. The lyrics to the track are also different, taking on an introspective approach. Listen closely and you will hear similarities to The Cranberries’ classic hit, “Linger” – two songs about perseverance and not succumbing to the wants and desires of another.
Fear of Men are Jessica Weiss (vocals), Daniel Falvey (guitar), and Michael Miles (drums).
Gregg Garvey – “One Worth Ending” (Los Angeles, USA)
RIYL: Rufus Wainwright, Teddy Thompson, Damien Jurado
The term “psychedelic Americana folk rock” makes you picture Bob Dylan on ‘shrooms, right? That’s not exactly what Los Angeles-based singer/songwriter Gregg Garvey delivers, but it’s not too far off, either. The gentler ’70s-era folk is a big part of the Minnesota native’s sound, but you also hear elements of European baroque pop.
His new single, “One Worth Ending”, has the sophistication of a Rufus Wainwright ballad while it also possesses the modern folk psychedelia of Damien Jurado. But what makes Garvey’s voice so enticing is its similarities to David Bowie. We’re not saying that Garvey is channeling Bowie, but it’s not the craziest notion we’ve ever heard either. Put on some headphones and get to know Gregg Garvey. We think you’ll fall hard for him like we have.
Golden Gardens – “Mirror of Silver” (Seattle, USA)
RIYL: Austra, Röyksopp, Tori Amos, Cocteau Twins
The arrival of the “Supermoon” last week got us thinking back to the darker goth pop days of the late-’80s/early-90s. Songs about moons and magical nights were common when Sisters of Mercy and Tori Amos ruled indie airwaves. Then by sweet coincidence we discovered this shimmering gem by Seattle indie alternative duo Golden Gardens.
Their latest single, “Mirror of Silver”, is a perfect blend of hauntingly beautiful goth-shoegaze with modern electronica. If you’re a fan of Austra or Phantogram, then you’ll be enthralled by this single. It’s hard to pinpoint just what is so hypnotic about it, because it offers plenty to love. From the sweeping layers of Aubrey Bramble’s ethereal vocals built upon Gregg Neville’s dark synth foundations to the mesmerizing percussion, “Mirror of Silver” will haunt you – in the best possible way! It’s from their newest self-released album, Reign, out now on their Bandcamp page.
LITE – “D” (Tokyo, Japan)
RIYL: Galactic, Preservation Hall Jazz Band, Toubab Krewe
We LOVE discovering talented new artists. But sometimes a new discovery is actually a group that isn’t exactly new. That’s the case with Japanese instrumental rock band LITE. They’re now in their 14th year together, yet we are just now learning about their music. Better late than never, right? Wow, do these guys have serious musical skills! “D” is one particularly stunning single that’s full of uptempo riffs and catchy rhythmic loops that will stay with you.
If you love the intricately layered, technical string work of progressive rock (Porcupine Tree, MONO) and the quirky styles of American funk and jazz bands (Galactic, Toubab Krewe), then LITE is a strong contender for your new favorite band. We’re kicking ourselves for being late to the party, but man, we are delighted to know this incredible group! Their ninth LP, Cubic, is out now on iTunes via I Want The Moon (Japan), Topshelf Records (North America), and Blood and Biscuits Records (EU). The group’s Bandcamp page has their full discography.
LITE are: Nobuyuki Takeda (guitar), Kozo Kusumoto (guitar /
Molly Burch – “Try” (Austin, TX USA)
RIYL: Patti Smith, PJ Harvey, Aimee Mann, Margaret Glaspy
The allure of emerging indie singer Molly Burch is three-fold. First, she’s got the smoky allure of Patti Smith. Add to that her beguiling delivery akin to PJ Harvey and the warm intimacy of Aimee Mann, and you’ve got yourself a new musical crush. Burch is an LA native who’s intimately acquainted with bohemian towns. Now based in Austin, Texas, she spent her college days in the eclectic hippie hamlet of Asheville, North Carolina. Growing up listening to vocal legends like Nina Simone and Patsy Cline, Burch’s idols may have influenced her sound, but only to an extent. Talent is something you can’t mimic or discover in a classroom; you either have it or you don’t. Burch has plenty, and it’s on full display on her new single.
“Try” sounds less jazzy than you might expect from someone who studied jazz vocal performance in college. Instead of pure jazz, it has old-school swing and romantic pop charm. If this single is any indication of what’s in store on her debut album that’s due the Friday after Valentine’s Day, we’re already smitten.
Natives – “Passion” (Lymington, England)
RIYL: Matt & Kim, Passion Pit
Emerging indie pop outfit Natives deliver a bold dose of upbeat cheer on their latest single, “Passion“. The emerging four-piece from the New Forest district in southern England isn’t brand new, exactly. They have a debut album from 2014 under their belts, but we think this single has everything they need to break through next year.
First, it’s got infectious beats with huge, radio-friendly hooks. Their equally dynamic vocals bring plenty of vitality to the track. You can easily picture these guys hitting the summer festival circuit because their exuberance is on par with indie power pop legends like Matt & Kim and Passion Pit. For this reason, we’re sure to hear more from them in 2017 and beyond.
Psychic Love – “Self Soother” (Echo Park, CA, USA)
RIYL: DIANA, Angel Olsen, Teeth & Tongue
Psychic Love, the project started by Laura Peters, defines hidden gem, although in this case it is self-induced. Despite having a fantastic voice, a great sense of drama, and actively involved in the Los Angeles-area music scene, Peters had a fear of performing in front of people. As you hear her music, such as the delirious “Ultralight” that had us saying “Wow!” at first listen, you immediately become aware she is just too talented to stay behind the scenes.
Fortunately, she has not. Yesterday, Peters and her band Psychic Love‘s debut album, The Hive Mind, was released. It’s a lengthy album by today’s standards (12 songs), and one of the singles is the infectious “Self Soother”. The song highlights Peters’ and her bandmates’ cinematic tendencies. The song starts off as a soothing, catchy pop tune before it turns into a gnarly, gritty rocker. It’s an awesome transition to reveal the tension enrapturing the central figure’s mind. Hmm, this could be a song featured on a future episode of Stranger Things.
Psychic Love are Laura Peters, Liam McCormack, Max Harrison, and Chris Dunn. The Hive Mind is streaming on Noisey. The interview with Peters is well worth the read.
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