The Saturday Sampler February 4th edition has a little of everything for your weekend listening pleasure. From mellow indie folk to politically-driven hip-hop, today’s nine songs are a feast for the ears.
The Courtneys – “Minnesota” (Vancouver, Canada)
RIYL: Sløtface, Hinds, Best Coast
By now, most people have heard that Vancouver-based trio The Courtneys have signed with Flying Nun Records, making them the first non-New Zealand-based band to sign with the legendary label. So far, the three young ladies named Courtney are making Flying Nun look like geniuses. Their new single, “Minnesota,” is no exception.
This tune is a glorious garage-pop number. It is swimmingly warm and highly infectious. The harmonies are stunning while the music shimmers like fireflies dancing under the light of a full moon. The song will have you grooving, but if you’re not the dancing type, it will warm up these chilly nights. The lyrics are also terrific. Don’t mistake this track as another love song, as it is much more than that. It is about a person who has lost her way and the people who continue to wait for her to come home.
The Courtneys’ sophomore album, Courtneys II, arrives February 17th via Flying Nun Records.
The DeSoto Caucus – “Let It Glow” (Aarhus, Denmark)
RIYL: Howe Gelb, Giant Sand, Lord Huron
“Nordicana” isn’t a recognized music genre – yet. Maybe that’s because Denmark is quite a stone’s throw from Nashville. But once you hear this gem from The DeSoto Caucus, you will probably be surprised to hear they’re not American. Their acoustic guitar-driven lo-fi indie folk sound has the same earnest authenticity of Fleet Foxes mixed with David Bazan or Lord Huron. (The band’s American influences stem from their previous work with Tucson-based collective Giant Sand.)
“Let It Glow” is instantly warm and engaging, with lyrical depth that keeps the listener hanging on every word: “I need to find new thoughts / plausible and strong / although I’m keeping right I’m always in the wrong.”
The relaxed, almost conversational delivery of frontman Anders Pedersen on “Let It Glow” (from their new album, 4, out now from Glitterhouse Records) feels as though you’re having a heart-to-heart talk with a close friend. Once the song has ended, you’ll feel wiser and comforted.
The DeSoto Caucus are: Anders Pedersen (vocals, guitar), Peter Dombernowsky (drums/percussion), Nikolaj Heyman, Henrik Poulsen, and Thøger T. Lund (vocals, upright bass, clarinet, piano).
elbow – “All Disco” (Manchester, England)
RIYL: Badly Drawn Boy, Doves, Richard Hawley
Little Fictions, the seventh LP from elbow, was on our list of Most Anticipated Albums for 2017; now it’s on repeat since its release yesterday. As predicted, the Manchester band have delivered another set of anthemic tunes. And while “All Disco” is a mellow ballad, its simplicity is evidence of its substance and not a lack thereof. The band whose rowdy 2008 hit (“Grounds For Divorce”) painted a bleak picture now serenade us with a gentle melody inspired by love and The Pixies. (Frank Black once told elbow’s Guy Garvey that all music, whether blues, punk or rock, is all disco.)
As with previous ballads penned during the band’s 16 year history, Garvey balances the painful and the poetic with lyrics like “…sing out a tune of regret to the moon.” The music on “All Disco” shines with the rich, vibrant tones that are the band’s trademark.
elbow are: Guy Garvey (vocals, guitar), Pete Turner (bass, backing vocals), Craig Potter (keys, backing vocals), and Mark Potter (guitar, backing vocals).
Flagship – “Mexican Jackpot” (Charlotte, NC, USA)
RIYL: Future Islands, Sundara Karma, Psychedelic Furs
We are undoubtedly sticklers for feel-good, coming-of-age songs. Numbers that remind us of the great movies of the ’80s and ’90s like St. Elmo’s Fire, The Breakfast Club, Empire Records, and Singles. In these movies, there’s always at least one person, if not a couple, who undergoes a life-changing moment. What makes songs of this ilk so great is how they can compact 90 minutes of cinema into a four minute, power-packed song. This is exactly what Flagship have achieved with “Mexican Jackpot.”
Stupendous is the only word to describe the Charlotte-based duo’s new single. It is euphoric yet intimate, hopeful and inspiring, and a dream that has come alive. The vocals are terrific, and the pop-rock sound is wonderfully familiar and intimate, resembling the Psychedelic Furs’ greatest numbers. When the song hits the bridge at the 2:35 mark, you get absolutely lost in the song. Trust us, your mind will float away towards a memory that you wish you could re-live.
“Mexican Jackpot” is from the duo’s new album, The Electric Man. It will be released on March 10th via Bright Antenna Records.
Jenn Grant – “Paradise” (Lake Echo, NS, Canada)
RIYL: Hannah Georgas, Basia Bulat, Cat Power
It’s only been two months since we gushed about the first Jenn Grant single from her upcoming Paradise album. Back in December we called “Galaxies” both “cosmic and breathtaking,” two words that are equally applicable to the album’s title track that she shared yesterday. Grant has one of those voices that floats gracefully, and “Paradise” truly showcases her ethereal vocals. During these cold winter days, Jenn Grant’s warm and sensual tones are sure to ignite a fire in everyone who listens to her.
Close your eyes when you listen to this one. Let its rich tones caress your ears as she utters the phrase “I’m your paradise.” Your sighing heart will thank you.
K.Flay – “Black Wave” (Brooklyn via San Francisco, USA)
RIYL: Kate Tempest, Björk, Adia Victoria
Hold your breath, because Kristen Flaherty – aka K. Flay – will leave you breathless. This promising star in the making cannot be defined by any specific genre, nor can she be silenced when it comes to her views. Both of these facts add to her charm. Whether you classify her as indie/alternative or hip-hop, there is no denying her immediate appeal across the board.
Her new “Black Wave” single packs a punch, both lyrically and musically. With the hard-hitting, truth-spitting flair of Kate Tempest she speaks to society’s ills. With the vocal acrobatics of Björk she mesmerizes you. And with the raw honesty of Adia Victoria she addresses the concerns of those fighting back against fear. She says “Black Wave” is about “facing something immense and menacing and choosing not to cower, but to rise up.” While we may not have an answer for her question “How did a girl like me end up in a world so mean?”, it’s reassuring to hear such a fierce voice speaking for so many.
Masasolo – “On My Own” (Copenhagen, Denmark)
RIYL: Tame Impala, Connan Mockasin, DIIV
It’s been a little while since we’ve heard from Danish trio Masasolo. Just to remind us and everyone else they’re still around, they released a new video for their single, “On My Own.”
Before we get to the video, we have to talk about the song. This tune is a celebratory groove, where even the most stubborn person will be moving in some manner. It is Tame Impala infused with a heavy, heavy dose of disco, and everyone will pretend they are either John Travolta or Kevin Parker dancing down the streets of Manhattan. If the song won’t get you moving, the video well. Similar to Mac DeMarco’s videos, frontman Morten Søgaard is followed and shown singing and dancing in various places. It’s like watching a ’70s cult movie that you cannot turn off. View the video on YouTube.
The single is from Masasolo’s debut EP, which was released last September via Antiphonics. Masasolo are Morten Søgaard, Jacob Haubjerg, and Olaf Olsen.
The Octopus Project – “Wrong Gong” (Austin, TX, USA)
RIYL: Talking Heads, Joy Atlas, Polyphonic Spree
To see a band succeed without having to revert to formulaic arrangements or being limited to just one sound is a pleasure to see. But for The Octopus Project, the path to relevancy and now indie stardom has been a long road. They’ve tackled everything from rock ‘n roll to orchestral pop to even a bit of psychedelic. Now they’re tackling another genre: alt-pop. Their new focus is revealed on their latest single, “Wrong Gong.”
This song is like David Byrne and the Talking Heads brought into the future. The lyrics are quirky, the arrangements are oft-kilter, and the melody is delightful. These three characterizations don’t usually go together, but The Octopus Project have someone done it. The song is like a Salvador Dali painting – you may not quite understand what the heck is going on, but you find yourself amazed, stunned, and suddenly a fan. But in this case, you might yourself wiggling your hips to the smooth grooves of “Wrong Gong.”
The song is from The Octopus Project’s new album, Memory Mirror. It arrives April 7th via Robot High School with pre-orders here. The band is comprised of Toto Miranda, Yvonne Lambert, Josh Lambert, and Lauren Gurgiolo.
The Right Now – “Too Late” (Chicago, USA)
RIYL: Joss Stone, Alicia Keys, Empty Houses
Prepare to put some sizzle in your life courtesy of The Right Now on their new single, “Too Late.” This tune from the Chicago-based indie soul/pop group will have you swooning over the smooth, sultry vocals of powerhouse singer Stefanie Berecz. You might find yourself uttering “Wow!” many times throughout the song. “Too Late” also features a tight horn section that can give the Dap-Kings a run for their money. Between the horns and the vocals, you may need to sit down while you listen lest you find yourself knocked over (and possibly knocked out) by the force of it all.
If you’re a fan of strong female singers (Joss Stone, Alicia Keys) and soul-stirring bands (St. Paul & The Broken Bones) that shake you right down to your socks, then you will fall hard for The Right Now. This band is a force of nature. It’s baffling that their newest album, Starlight, isn’t being released on a major label. It’s as if Chicago has been keeping them a secret all these years! If they keep putting out jaw-dropping tunes like this one, it won’t be long until the rest of the world is in the know.
Look for Starlight when it releases February 24th. Pre-orders are available from the band’s website.
In addition to Stefanie Berecz, The Right Now are Brendan O’Connell (keyboards), Chris Corsale (guitar), Jim Schram (tenor sax), Greg Nergaard (bass), Caleb Mitchell (trumpet), and Lucas Gillan (drums).
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