Today on the Saturday Sampler January 28th, we aim to lift your spirits with some new music that range from the whimsical to the heartfelt to the extremely thoughtful. In some fashion, these songs will move you.
Los Angeles Police Department – “The Plane 2” (Los Angeles, USA)
RIYL: Washed Out, Summer Heart, Youth Lagoon
It’s been a little while since we’ve heard from Ryan Pollie and his project Los Angeles Police Department. His self-titled, debut album was bedroom-pop perfection. He released a couple of songs last year that mostly flew under the radar. Well, he’s back and somewhat surprisingly delivering a song just in time for Valentine’s Day.
“The Plane 2” is a quirky and entertaining love ballad. But instead of being cheeky and cheesy musically, Pollie offers a swimmingly groovy, synth-pop number. As he expresses his undying love to a woman who has flown away, you’ll be bopping and dancing to the song’s infectious notes. Too bad not all love songs were like this because we would likely share more of them. Leave it to Pollie to put this overdone theme on its head and make it fun again.
The Moniker – “Life Is Life” (Gothenburg, Sweden)
RIYL: Cameron Avery, Tim Darcy, Lawrence Arabia
There are some great pseudonyms in music, and The Moniker is right up there. The project belongs to Daniel Karlsson, who finished fourth on the Swedish version of American Idol. For a decade, he’s established himself as one of Sweden’s more prolific singer-songwriters, tackling various subjects in a poetic matter, such as “Life Is Life”.
This song isn’t really new, as it was released in 2015. We are sharing the track for two reasons. First, the song is just terrific. Karlsson has taken a ’60s film-noir approach and made it even more dramatic and even slightly theatrical. His powerful vocals, though, grab hold of the song and send it to soaring heights. Second, the song is timely. Even back in 2015, Karlsson foresaw the fall of our societies, as divisions between people increased and the rise of far-right political parties and politicians sought to differentiate the value of one life over another. Unfortunately, the events Karlsson wrote about some 14 months ago are coming to fruition. Listen to the number carefully, and let it be a reminder of what we have done.
The New Pornographers – “High Ticket Attractions” (Vancouver, Canada)
RIYL: The New Pornographers
We should have known that The New Pornographers were releasing a new album this year when their name started popping up on festival posters. The Canadian-American super-group will unveil their eighth studio album, Whiteout Conditions, on April 7th via their own Collected Works Records label. Yesterday, they shared its lead single, “High Ticket Attractions”.
For long-time fans, the song is prototypical TNP, at least sonically. The fantastic harmonies led by A.C. Newman and supported by Kathryn Calder and Neko Case are superb, and the upbeat, pop-rock melody remains infectious and dance-oriented. But where the band often gets overlooked is their terrific songwriting, as Newman, Calder, and Case (and Dan Bejar when he’s around) often offer sharp observations and critiques of the world. “High Ticket Attractions” is no different, as the band sets their sights on the materialism and greed that have overtaken the world. The song is timely given the events in the world, where the rich get richer and the poor continue to try to catch up.
Phebe Starr – “They Keep Telling Me” (Sydney, Australia)
RIYL: Sia, Chairlift, CHVRCHES
We’ve already witnessed a number of anthems to start 2017 that protest the new American administration and others celebrating the power of the human spirit. Many have been within the rock and pop arena. Australian singer-songwriter Phebe Starr, however, has given us a powerful synth-pop number.
“They Keep Telling Me” is a euphoric and spectacular single, echoing the . Starr’s vocals are sultry and scintillating; however, it is her message about freedom that rings loudest. This song is more than just a protest song. It celebrates individuality and our diversity. It is a song about freedom and hope played to a beat that will have you moving. If Starr continues to create music as uplifting, infectious, and thoughtful as this song, she will inevitably become a major star.
Pip Hall – “Turn Over” (Preston, England)
RIYL: Stevie Nicks, Jack River, The Jezebels
There are songs that just leave an undeniable impression. Songs that leave a smile on your face from the first note and well after their completion. To find an artist who can do this with every song is a rarity. Pip Hall is one of those rare gems, and she’s just a sixteen-year old teenager.
Last autumn, she amazed us with “Devil You Don’t”. Now she returns with “Turn Over”, which is an absolute stunner. Her voice is warm and dreamy, offering the comfort of a bright sun on a cool spring morning. The music is something out of a late-’80s / early-’90s love story; specifically that moment where all seems lost but then fortune and fate step in and hope is restored. When hearing Hall sing, it gives us hope that the future of music is in excellent hands. This young woman is a massive talent who one day will be headlining Shepherd’s Bush and even the O2. Her potential is limitless.
Her second EP is expected some time this year. In the meantime, the song is out now via My Little Empire Records.
Summer Moon – “Happenin'” (New York City, USA)
RIYL: Ride, Neutral Milk Hotel, Richard Swift
When band members of some of the top rock bands form a super-group, the expectation is that they will release a tour-de-force, flame-throwing single. You know, a song that will absolutely leave your neck and shoulders sore from all head banging and fist pumping. So when Summer Moon – the band formed by The Strokes’ bassist Nikolai Fraiture along with Stephen Perkins of Jane’s Addiction, Camila Grey of Uh Huh Her and Noah Harmon of Airborne Toxic Event – shared “Happenin'”, it had us doing double takes. But for a very good reason.
The track surprisingly has a lo-fi, film-noir vibe. It is groovy yet cinematic, catchy but dark. Instead of feeling like you should be flinging your head back and forth, a strong sensation to just run overcomes you. This is a song – musically and lyrically – that defines the late-night chase, as one tries to escape the leering eyes on him. “Happenin'” may not be what we had expected, but it sure is awesome.
Summer Moon’s debut album, With You Tonight, will be released February 24th.
Torandaga – “After Life” (Toronto, Canada)
RIYL: Wild Nothing, Small Black, The Radio Dept.
Very little is known about newcomers Torandaga. We do know that the band is comprised of life-long friends Andrew Juurinen and Jared Bellenie, and they’re based out of Toronto. How long they have been playing music is unclear, but their debut single would indicate they’ve been experimenting for awhile to perfect the sound. If not, then these two are musical geniuses because “After Life” is remarkable.
The single is from another dimension. The music is a unique blend of ambient, electronic, indie rock, and shoegaze that has no peers. Whether it is Juurinen or Bellenie, his distant vocals are incredibly enrapturing, sucking the listener further in to the song. Bring these two components together, the result is a soundscape that is otherworldly, dream like, and absolutely stunning.
Vagabon – “Minneapolis” (New York City, USA)
RIYL: Liz Phair, Diet Cig, Colleen Green
We often make bold statements and predictions, and sometimes they come true. We don’t think we’re going out on much of a limb when we say Lætitia Tamko – a.k.a. Vagabon – will be one of 2017’s biggest breakout artists. Pitchfork recently did a feature on the Cameroon-born, New York-based singer-songwriter, and Billboard premiered her latest single, “Minneapolis”. Things are on the up and up for Tamko.
But for such good fortune to happen, one needs to have serious talent, which Tamko has in spades. “Minneapolis” is but a microcosm of her potential, yet it encapsulates why her forthcoming, debut album is among our 51 most anticipated albums of 2017. Musically, the song is gritty, rocking with the intensity of a young Liz Phair and the who-gives-a-sh*t attitude of the Crutchfield sisters (Allison and Katie). Lyrically, Tamko’s tongue is sharp and witty, but it is also honest as she shares her thoughts and feelings about a harrowing flight to the Twin Cities. In such instances, reality suddenly becomes awfully important.
The Vryll Society – “Sacred Flight” (Liverpool, England)
RIYL: Temples, Pond, Tame Impala
Will 2017 finally be the year when The Vryll Society breakout in a big way? Not since Temples arrived on the scene in 2014 has another band made such trippy yet engrossing psychedelic music. We should know because The Vryll Society have been blowing our minds for over a year-and-a-half, and their newest single, “Sacred Flight”, continues the tradition.
This song is really unlike anything the band has created before. It is simultaneously hazy, dreamy, trippy, catchy, and mind-altering. It is like driving along the sunny, California coast while in a state of delirium. In other words, “Sacred Flight” is a wonderful experience that you want to re-live again and again. While we’ve always been impressed by the Liverpool-based quartet’s work, this new tune reveals a band that continues grow and is on the cusp of creating something extremely special.
“Sacred Flight” is out now via Deltasonic Records. The Vryll Society are Michael Ellis, Ryan Ellis, Lewis McGuinness, Lloyd Shearer, and Benjamin Robinson.
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