Much like an exclamation point at the end of a politically charged week, the Saturday Sampler January 21st edition is full of bold, powerful music. Some of the singles share the common theme of being protest songs, while others are just pure rock & roll.
These nine songs are the work of artists from Australia, Canada, England, Italy, Scotland, and the USA. We hope you’ll enjoy these hidden gems.
RIYL: Neko Case, k.d. lang, Laura Viers
Today people all over the world are marching. Specifically, millions of men, women, and children on six continents are participating in the Women’s March on Washington. What better way to express solidarity than with a new single released specifically for the occasion from three of our favorite female singers?
This cover of Patti Smith’s “People Have the Power” has been a crowd-pleaser at recent case/lang/veirs shows. And with the arrival yesterday of a new occupant in the White House, the song’s lyrics feel especially weighty. When these three powerful vocalists belt out the line “The power to dream / to rule / to wrestle the world from fools,” it’s hard to suppress the tingle down your spine.
Electric Guest – “Back For Me” (Berkeley, CA, USA)
RIYL: Broken Bells, EL VY, The Lonely Island
Electric Guest – the duo of singer/songwriter Asa Taccone and drummer Matthew Compton – have the song that will be stuck in your head for 2017. “Back For Me” has R&B-inspired riffs to get you moving and Taccone’s signature smooth vocals that are enhanced by Haim on backing harmonies.
The duo sound just as effervescent now as they did on their 2012 debut, Mondo. And like that album, their forthcoming LP, Plural, also includes cameos from some of their well-connected friends, including Joanna Newsom and The Vaccines’ Justin Young. If your mood needs a boost, this is the song that will get you out of your funk!
Husky Loops – “Fighting Myself” (London via Bologna, Italy)
RIYL: Ought, Parquet Courts, Preoccupations, Savages
If you’re a fan of jangly post-punk that’s equally expansive and energetic, feast your ears on Husky Loops. This emerging London-based trio are three friends who met at school in Italy before relocating to the UK last year. So technically they’re a London band, comprised of three Italians. You can detect the raw energy of old-school British punk, only it’s fused with modern pop influences that give their sound a kaleidoscopic quality. “Fighting Myself” is a nearly hallucinogenic, four-minute musical trip. Between the thumping bass line and hypnotic repetition of the title line, you’re at risk of incurring whiplash from all the head shaking you’ll be doing.
It’s no wonder these guys are getting a lot of buzz lately. After hearing this infectious single, they’re officially on our Artists to Watch in 2017 list.
Husky Loops are: Pier Danio Forni, Pietro Garrone, and Tommaso Medica.
Magana – “Pages” (Brooklyn, USA)
RIYL: TORRES, Sharon Van Etten, My Morning Jacket
Last November, Jeni Magana – who simply goes by Magana – shared an incredibly rich debut, Golden Tongue. It was an eye-opening introduction to an immensely talented women who has accomplished much in her young life: acclaimed photographer, film composer, and frontwoman of OH ODESSA. As a solo singer/songwriter, however, she is able to combine her various personalities into single incredible product.
Her latest single, “Pages”, captures the complexity that is Magana. The song is a monster, starting off with a calm refrain before building to its cataclysmic finish. The approach reflects Magana’s introspective examination of her life, yet the story could be yours, mine, or the country we live in. It is the entrapment of past failures, the uncertainty of the future, the fear of isolation, and the hope that one day we can turn the pages.
The New Respects – “Money” (Nashville, USA)
RIYL: Seratones, The Suffers, Weaves
Hindsight is 20/20, but we should have included The New Respects on our Artists to Watch post last month. This family band featuring siblings Zandy Fitzgerald (guitar), Alexis Fitzgerald (bass), Darius Fitzgerald (drums), and their cousin Jasmine Mullen (lead vocals/guitar) will undoubtedly be stars. It’s just a matter of how quickly. For that matter, their popularity has increased exponentially since we first came across them in October, and they don’t appear to be slowing down anytime soon. It sure helps to release awesome, groovy new singles like “Money.”
The track is an old-school, funk-infused, rock ‘n roll number. Mullen’s vocals are infectious with a unique quality that leaves you completely mesmerized. Her cousins, meanwhile, channel a bit of Isaac Hayes and Prince’s backing band, The New Power Generation. As catchy as this tune is, it is a subtly political protest song about power, greed, and control. If The New Respects keep making such gritty music, they’ll soon separate themselves from everyone else. Heck, they already are, making them one of 2017’s most exciting bands to watch.
Rodes Rollins – “Wes Come Back” (Los Angeles via Boulder, CO, USA)
RIYL: Agnes Obel, Jenny Hval, Marika Hackman
One of our Artists to Watch delivers her first single of the new year, and she doesn’t disappoint. Actually, Talia Taxman – a.k.a. Rodes Rollins – exceeds even our grandest expectations with her second single, “Wes Come Back.”
Enchanting is the first word we uttered when hearing the song. It is a beautiful and enrapturing piece of storytelling and fantasy, as if The Brothers Grimm’s stories were set to music. In this case, we are sent deep into the forests in search for the loved one who never returned, holding close to our hearts that diminishing feeling of a specific moment. The instrumentation is lush and stirring, but it is Taxman’s whispery, Agnes Obel-like delivery that sweeps us away into her mystical world.
Rodes Rollins’ debut EP, Young Adult, which has been produced by Alex Goose (Kevin Gates, Weezer), is expected later this year.
Soulin Wild – “Instinctive Echoes” (Fremantle, Australia)
RIYL: Jacco Gardner, Woods
Sensual. Psychedelic. Mesmerizing. All of these terms are accurate descriptors of Soulin Wild‘s music, which presents a unique challenge when trying to compare them to any other artists. They simply don’t sound like any other bands out there – not that we’re complaining!
The thirty-second intro sets the chill tone of “Indistinctive Echoes” and lures you in immediately. The jaunty bass line puts a smile on your face while its sun-kissed warmth radiates down to a cellular level. This isn’t music you simply listen to; this is the kind of melodic pool that you dive into head-first and swim around in for a good long while.
Soulin Wild are: Matthew Bracknell, Dan Gunn, Sarah Gamble, Jake Edwards, Luke Olejnik, and Owen McGinnity.
St. Dukes – “Easy Money” (Glasgow, Scotland)
RIYL: Black Honey, Estrons, Jeff the Brotherhood
You know that feeling you get when a band really blows you away the first time you hear them? That’s the reaction we got upon spinning this new tune from St. Dukes, an emerging four-piece blues-rock outfit from Glasgow. Within seconds of hitting play on “Easy Money,” our jaws went slack and we uttered an enthusiastic “Oh, hell yeah!” The reason is because this song packs a huge wallop from the very first note. Imagine if Johnny Cash had collaborated with Nirvana instead of covering a Nine Inch Nails song: that’s the kind of sonic mayhem at play here. It’s fierce! Blues rock with a bite is exactly what the world needs, especially this weekend. So raise your fist in the air and rock out to this gem of a tune.
While we don’t have any details about when “Easy Money” will find its way to a full album (if there’s any justice in this world, it will be ASAP), for now you can stream it on Spotify and Soundcloud. Our only suggestion is that you crank it up loud when you do. It’ll rattle your bones in the best possible way.
St. Dukes are: Lewis Allan Douglas (guitar/vocals), Sarah Connor (guitar/vocals), Craig Williams (bass), Norman Duncan (harmonica/keys/banjo/), and Max Orr (drums).
Tall Tall Trees – “Backroads” (New York City, USA)
RIYL: Lord Huron, Fleet Foxes, Kishi Bashi, The Tallest Man on Earth
When Mike Savino isn’t touring with his fellow Joyful Noise Recordings label mate, Kishi Bashi, the banjo player makes music as Tall Tall Trees. Though he spent much of 2016 touring, he still found time to prepare a new album of his own. On “Backroads” from his forthcoming third LP, Freedays, listeners are treated to the similar style of experimental, shimmering indie sounds heard on Kishi Bashi’s 2016 album, Sonderlust album – only with the banjo in a starring role instead of a violin.
Sabino’s inventive style makes for excellent listening, and “Backroads” is a sonic woodland adventure accentuated by coyote howls. Animal noises aside, the upbeat song is refreshing, thanks to Savino’s warm vocals and laid-back style. Considering how stressful the news has been of late, having an uplifting number like “Backroads” to lose yourself in feels downright therapeutic. Tall Tall Trees once again delivers a product that nurtures both heart and soul.
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