The Saturday Sampler November 26th takes you around the globe with 10 hot new singles from artists in Australia, England, Germany, and the USA. These artists all have a different sound, but the one thing they share is inspiration from the past. You may be surprised how many of these groups are inspired by groups from “the good ol’ days” as our relatives might way. We kick it off with some rockin’ retro vibes from Seattle.
Bread & Butter – “Desperation” (Seattle, USA)
RIYL: Thin Lizzy, T. Rex, The Knack
Retro sounds are big this year, with dozens of bands embracing a vintage vibe. But where most of them seem to draw influence from the psychedelic ‘60s or the synth-heavy ‘80s, Seattle’s Bread & Butter dare to venture into the decade of polyester and bell-bottoms. The ‘70s vibe is strong here on “Desperation” with its scorching guitars and percussion. In under three minutes, these guys manage to channel the swagger of T. Rex and the bold hooks of Cheap Trick. If Spoon’s Britt Daniel had been a musician in the ‘70s, this is the sound he would have made. And hot damn, retro has never sounded better than Bread & Butter!
Avalon Emerson – “Natural Impasse” (Berlin, Germany via San Francisco, USA)
RIYL: Aphex Twin, Chemical Brothers, Orbital
San Francisco native Avalon Emerson is quickly making a name for herself in the typically male-dominated field of electronic music. After honing her skills in Arizona and California, Emerson moved to Berlin last year. Now she is injecting fresh vibrancy all over Europe with her original creations. One listen to the effervescent “Natural Impasse” reveals her refreshing creativity. Some DJs can become slaves to the rhythm to the point that they lose their sense of fun. Not Avalon Emerson. Instead of treating her music like a job, her original pieces sound more like a vacation.
While the first minute stays safely in the confines of routine electronic fare, it soon diverges into a playful, imaginative realm. This is music that can easily fit in either a technological thriller film score or a packed Ibiza dance floor. The fact that it’s the work of a talented young American just makes it all the more delicious to savor.
Hooton Tennis Club – “Katy-Anne Bellis” (Liverpool, England)
RIYL: Pavement, Guided by Voices, Supergrass
We’ve been listening to the newest album from Liverpool’s Hooton Tennis Club since its release late last month, but somehow we have yet to share any singles from it. Their sophomore album, Big Box of Chocolates, is produced by Edwyn Collins and features this impossibly catchy single. “Katy-Anne Bellis” tells the story of frontman Ryan Murphy’s former housemate.
Most songs about bittersweet subjects (like moving out and trying to stay close) don’t sound this jovial. That’s what makes Hooton Tennis Club so great: they’re like the anti-Cure since their music can make even the greyest days seem sunny. Lively chords, shimmering layers of reverbed strings, and bright harmonies all help bring their dream-pop magic to life. Big Box of Chocolates is out now via Heavenly Recordings with orders at their online store and iTunes.
Hooton Tennis Club are: Ryan Murphy, James Madden, Harry Chalmers, and Callum McFadden.
MarthaGunn – “Honest” (Brighton, England)
RIYL: London Grammar, Florence + The Machine, Fleetwood Mac
When a band cites legendary bands from very different decades (The Beach Boys, Fleetwood Mac, and Tame Impala) as influences, you can expect great things. That’s exactly what you get with MarthaGunn. This five-piece indie rock outfit features powerhouse vocals from lead singer Abi Woodman. She stands poised to dethrone Florence Welch as the strongest female singer in music, as you can hear on the new single, “Honest.” Woodman’s delivery of the phrase “I’ll be honest with you / I never saw this coming” blends seamlessly with the blistering wall of guitars and percussion. By the time the song ends, you’ll need help picking up your jaw from the floor.
This is an emerging band, mind you: if they sound this good even before their debut album has been completed, imagine how fantastic they will be at the height of their career. “Honest” is out now via Jazz Life and available from the Communion Music Singles Club. We’re hoping to hear details about a full album next year.
MarthaGunn are: Abi Woodman (vocals), Max Hunter (guitar), Ally Mackay (bass), Humphrey Luck (guitar), and Frankie Sparrowhawk (drums).
Polyester – “Lucky Me” (Auckland, New Zealand)
RIYL: Lake Street Dive, Frankie Cosmos, Girlpool
When thinking about New Zealand, beautiful scenery, Lord of the Rings, wine, and sheep are likely the first four things that pop into mind. The music scene in the land the Maori call Aoteaora, however, is blossoming, and well beyond the great Flying Nun label. One of the latest bands to emerge are Auckland-based quintet Polyester.
Despite their name, there is nothing fake nor fabricated about this band. Their brand of pop music is typical quirky and inventive Kiwi, which is demonstrated on their new single, “Lucky Me”. The song combines indie and symphonic pop, folk, jazz, and big band. It is light, groovy, fun, and like the oncoming sunshine of a new day. So if you need a pick-me-up, this song is the perfect tonic.
This single (and their other song, “Ordinary Day”) is available on their Bandcamp page (name your own price).
The Proper Ornaments – “Cremated (Blown Away)” (London, England)
RIYL: Whitney, Ultimate Painting, EZTV
It might be wintry in some parts of North America and Europe, but there is always a place for a song that reminds of us the hazy, lazy days of summer. A song that makes us feel all warm and relaxed, like The Proper Ornaments‘ new single.
“Cremated (Blown Away)” follows the path set forth by Woods, Real Estate, Whitney, Ultimate Painting, and other bands who have successfully revived the folk-rock of the ’60s and ’70s. Like these groups, the London-based quartet offer a single that softly sizzles under the surface while the smooth harmonies are like a cool, ocean breeze. The lyrics, though, are more about what awaits us in the afterlife. We guess it’s never too late to plan for the future, but for now live in the present to this groovy tune.
Satellite Mode – “Warm Fire Lightning” (New York City, USA)
RIYL: Meadowlark, early Phantogram, Florence + The Machine
Before you press play to Satellite Mode‘s new single, close your eyes. Trust us. Close your eyes. This is the only way to experience “Warm Fire Lightning”, which will stir all sorts of emotions. It is arousing and breathtaking. It mesmerizes, enchants, and uplifts your soul.
This song about new beginnings is perfect for this weekend and quite timely with Thanksgiving having just passed in the US and the December holidays around the corner. Singer Jessica Carvo’s warm and intoxicating vocals reel you in to the song, as she channels everyone from Phantogram’s Sarah Bethel to Florence Welch. Alex Marko’s instrumentation, meanwhile, is luxurious, taking a page out of Anthony Gonzalez’s (M83) playbook by offering a range of layers and textures to create a stunning palette of sound. Together they have truly captured lightning in a bottle, creating a song that will thankfully stick in our heads for days if not weeks.
Skin & Bones – “Wait No More” (Venice Beach, CA, USA)
RIYL: Shakey Graves, Phil Cook, Ryan Bingham
Earlier this year, Calfornia duo Skin & Bones captured our attention with their EP, Ghost In This Town. They aren’t your typical beach-based twosome, though. Nope, they’re not an electronic act nor a garage band. They’re not even a pop group. Instead, they are two guys who would gladly be called throwbacks with their interpretation of country and Americana.
The duo are not preparing for the release of their second EP, and earlier this week they shared the title track, “Wait No More”. Like their debut EP, frontman Taylor Borsuk’s husky, Hank Williams-esque vocals and Peter Blackwelder’s fiddle playing are the two things that immediately stands out. The song, though, is not your typical knee-slapping, “ooh ooh”-filled chorus, Americana tune. Instead, it is more closely related to a bygone era when Americana and country music told stories about everyday folk and issues. In this case, the song is about freedom and hope, two things currently on many people’s minds.
Spencer Arbuckle – “Shelf” (Perth, Australia)
RIYL: Bon Iver, The War on Drugs, Unknown Mortal Orchestra
Jack Arbuckle, the 19-year-old musician who performs as Spencer Arbuckle, is another emerging talent with a broad range of influences. The next generation of performers has grown up in Gen-X families who cut their own musical teeth on New Wave and grunge. When these teenage artists begin their careers armed with a solid musical foundation, they deliver exceptional results.
While you don’t hear Pearl Jam or Nirvana on his debut single, Arbuckle does manage to channel a bit of David Bowie and The War on Drugs on “Shelf.” The ethereal synth layers give the song its moody atmosphere while his soaring vocals keep you mesmerized. You’ll want to keep a watchful eye on Spencer Arbuckle. If this single is any indication, 2017 will be a huge year for this guy.
Sugarmen – “Nothing But Respect (demo)” (Liverpool, England)
RIYL: The Districts, Doug Tuttle, Blue Rodeo
It has been nearly a year since we’ve heard from Liverpool quartet Sugarmen when they shared “Plastic Ocean”. They have kept a relatively low profile since, but about a month ago they quietly released a new single. Well, it would be a mistake to call it a new single because “Nothing But Respect” is still in demo form. When you hear this song that echoes classic, ’80s rock, however, you will likely draw the same conclusion as us – this tune is great and flawless.
The guitar riffs are off-the-hook. The drum work is great while the bass line is channels the ’60s and ’70s. Luke Fenlon’s vocals, meanwhile, have a Jim Cuddy (of Blue Rodeo) air to them. His songwriting also echoes the great Canadian singer-songwriter, as he shares the band’s experiences about growing up and the importance of honesty and truth. By now, we should not be surprised by the maturity of this young foursome, who continue to impress us with each single. Here’s hoping for more material and a breakout performance in 2017 for Sugarmen.
The band is comprised of Luke Fenlon, Chay Heney, Sam McVann and Tom Shields.
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