Today’s mid-week serving of new music cocktails features mostly downtempo, soothing tunes. With the exception of one high-octane scorcher, these songs provide some sonic relief to the craziness of the world. Feast your ears on new singles from artists in the USA, Australia, and Wales.
Maggie Rogers – “On + Off” (New York City, USA)
RIYL: The XX, Austra
The debut EP from indie-pop phenom Maggie Rogers is still a month away, but this third single from it should help fans endure the wait. The downtempo “On + Off” showcases her shimmering vocals even more than her stunning “Alaska” debut from last year. She might “be coming up slowly” according to the opening lyrics of this tune, but that’s far from applicable to her career. There’s no denying the bright future that lies ahead of this young talent, or that 2017 will be her year.
Strand of Oaks – “Rest of It” (Philadelphia, USA)
RIYL: Bruce Springsteen, My Morning Jacket
Strand of Oaks frontman Tim Showalter doesn’t do quiet (or subtle), but he does do vintage. On his latest single from his forthcoming Hard Love album, indie rock’s bearded man in black harkens back to the ‘80s with a blast of scuzzed-out, Springsteen-esque hooks. The wall of sound on “Rest of It” is – like the man himself – fierce, driven, and charged with boundless energy. All of us here at The Revue are Strand of Oaks fans for one simple reason: you won’t find an artist pouring more heart and soul into their music than this guy.
Surfer Blood – “Frozen” (West Palm Beach, FL USA)
RIYL: Guided By Voices, Best Coast, Real Estate
It’s easy to call Surfer Blood “comeback kids” considering their resilience in the face of adversity. Last year took its toll on the band. (They lost guitarist Thomas Fekete to cancer while bassist Kevin Williams moved on.) However, no personnel shuffle can diminish their powerful sound. On “Frozen” from their forthcoming Snowdonia album, the band’s signature uplifting, jangly guitars reminds listeners of their vitality. Surfer Blood are embarking on a new chapter with a fresh sound sure to please old fans and new ones alike.
Surfer Blood’s current roster includes John Paul Pitts (vocals/guitar), Michael McCleary (guitar), Lindsey Mills (bass), and Tyler Schwarz (drums).
Kidsmoke – “Waves” (Wrexham, North Wales)
RIYL: Wild Nothing, Real Estate, Deerhunter
You should not listen to “Waves” from Welsh four-piece Kidsmoke whilst operating heavy machinery. It’s so euphoric that it will absolutely steal your focus – and your heart. Its gently understated intro bequeaths feelings of calm that are soon replaced by waves of harmony-induced bliss. This isn’t soporific dream pop sure to lull you into a midday nap. No, quite the opposite: this song will transport you to a stress-free place where creativity abounds and dreams seem within reach. Go, escape to that place with them.
Kidsmoke are: Lance Williams (vocals, guitar), James Stickels (vocals, bass), Sophie Ballamy (guitar, vocals), and Ash Turner (drums).
Soft Sleep – “Heartbeats” (Seattle, USA)
RIYL: The Lonely Forest, Silver Torches, Death Cab for Cutie
Music fans always breathe a sigh of relief when a disbanded group they loved reemerges. That’s the case with Seattle’s Soft Sleep, a band born from the ashes of The Lonely Forest and Silver Torches. We welcome their return to the indie spotlight with their new single, “Heartbeats.” Evocative and haunting at first, this song has a killer crescendo that takes your breath away. While it’s not a dark song, the gauzy layers conjure foggy drives in mountainous terrain. It’s invigorating and inviting, making you want to follow these guys wherever they might lead. (The fact that fellow Seattle musician Noah Gundersen lends support on backing vocals and piano is an added bonus.)
Their Endless Circles album is due February 17 from Rocket Heart Records with pre-orders from the label and the group’s Bandcamp page. Fans in the Pacific Northwest can catch them on tour starting January 27 at the Tractor Tavern in Seattle.
Soft Sleep are: Tony Ruland (vocals, bass, guitars), Erik Walters (vocals, bass, guitars), and Andy Park (bass, keys, mellotron).
Shining Bird – “Morning Light” (Austinmer, NSW, Australia)
RIYL: The Church, Echo & The Bunnymen, Peter Murphy
We are still finding hidden gems from 2016 we never got to share. One particularly sparking treasure is this single from Australian indie dream-pop purveyors Shining Bird. Their sophomore release, Black Opal, contains the breathtaking “Morning Light” – a tune sure to cause swooning among fans of New Wave/shoegaze. When you hear frontman Dane Taylor sing “I think about…” on the first verse, you’re inclined to finish with the line “the loveless fascination” from The Church’s “Under the Milky Way” as these two songs are woven with beautifully synchronous threads. Block out an hour or two for repeated spins of this tune because its rich textures (not to mention Taylor’s deep vocals) will keep you spellbound the entire time.
Shining Bird are: Dane Taylor (vocals/guitar), Alastair Webster (guitar), Nathan Stratton (bass), Russell Webster (keys), Michael Slater (sax), James Kates (percussion), and Ricci Quirke (drums).
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