Your mid-week serving of new music cocktails features six sonic gems from artists in England, Italy, Scotland, and the U.S. Today’s listening menu includes infectious indie pop, some breathtaking dream pop, a stunning singer/songwriter, and plenty of gorgeous melodies. Let’s kick things off with a UK duo who don’t let distance stand in their way.
Sacred Paws – “Ride” (Glasgow, Scotland & London, England)
RIYL: Tacocat, Frankie Cosmos, Golden Grrrls
When we wrote about UK power pop duo Sacred Paws back in September, we raved about the “infectious rhythms” on their “Everyday” single. Rachel Aggs (vocals, guitar) and Eilidh Rodgers (vocals, drums) have remained busy since then, completing their debut album despite living more than 500km apart. Ever since Strike a Match released last month, one tune has been in particularly heavy rotation.
“Ride” is one of those songs that will cause sudden outbursts of dancing. Yet again this pair have delivered some of the most upbeat, jangly modern pop around. When it comes to Sacred Paws, be warned: their sound is addictive. In fact, it’s so addictive that you’ll tell yourself you’ll only play the song “one more time” before doing whatever it is that you should be doing if you weren’t dancing around. But you know it’s a lie. You won’t be able to resist this song, so just give in and keep it on repeat. Trust us: it’s worth it.
TOMA – “Count Me Out” (Austin, USA)
RIYL: Squeeze, Todd Rundgren, White Denim
Most modern indie psych-pop bands tend to draw inspiration from present-day festival headliners. That’s fine for fans of Tame Impala who want to emulate their trippy, melodic sound – but emerging Austin band TOMA dig deeper into the music archives. This gives their music a unique, fresh sound with vintage vibes. Take their new single, for example. “Count Me Out” is a blast of sun-kissed fun that wouldn’t have felt out of place on late ‘70s-era AM radio. Their authenticity may surprise some listeners who might not expect these guys to even know who Todd Rundgren is, much less tip their proverbial hats to him. Grooves this good can only come from talented musicians who know their craft as well as their influential predecessors. It’s clear from this single that TOMA have nailed that bullseye. Fans headed to SXSW next month can find them there.
Their self-released debut album, Aroma, is due March 31. This single is available now at their Bandcamp page.
TOMA are: Willy Jay (vocals, guitar), Waldo Wittenmyer (vocals, keys), Neil Byers (bass), and Jake Hiebert (drums).
Ohyeahsumi – “Daisy” (Los Angeles, USA)
RIYL: Lianne La Havas, Ibeyi, Yael Naim, Doe Paoro
The debut single from Los Angeles-based dream-pop sister duo Lena and Rena Vernon – aka Ohyeahsumi – washes over you like a warm, tropical breeze. Their gauzy harmonies float around you as Rena’s thick bass line thumps a grounding rhythm. This atmospheric soundscape is unlike any other you’ve heard, though perhaps there are surface similarities to Ibeyi from a sibling perspective.
These twins are fairly new to the music scene, having released their debut single (“Home Invasion”) last August. Next month they will release their debut EP, Your Friends Are Looking For You, at which point the world will likely draw its collective breath. Their music takes “bedroom pop” to new heights. It’s languid and lush, and its serenity will stop you in your tracks. Do yourself a favor and spend the next three minutes with your eyes closed as you listen to “Daisy” – then try not to sigh when it’s over.
Jake Houlsby – “Howl” (Newcastle, England)
RIYL: Damien Jurado, José González, Nick Drake
“Hold your fire and clear your mind.” It’s easy to heed those words when listening to Jake Houlsby’s latest single, “Howl.” This emerging singer/songwriter from Newcastle has created an intimate, slow-burning blaze of a tune. Houlsby expertly channels the warmth of José González with the storytelling charm of Damien Jurado on this song. The result is an irresistible tale that weaves itself into the listener’s heart and mind.
Although it’s musically sparse (just an acoustic guitar and light percussion), the rich sound holds the listener rapt from start to finish. The song’s secret weapon – quietly hummed background vocals – adds a sensual layer of ethereal moodiness that would make Bon Iver envious. Houlsby is still in the early stages of his career, but songs as beautiful as this one prove he’s a superstar in the making. His is a pure talent that will entrance anyone who listens.
SOMEDAY – “Forgotten” (Collegno, Italy)
RIYL: Joy Division, The Cure, Placebo, Sparklehorse
We all have days when we wake up on the wrong side of the bed. Those days call for mood-boosting tunes. But anyone who has battled dark days knows you need to change mental gears gradually. (A sudden switch from Joy Division to Squeeze would be as jarring as a cold bath.) Fortunately for your next moody day, Italian trio SOMEDAY will guide you into an elevated state with smooth, incremental ease. Imagine blustery rain clouds that give way to breezy, bright grey skies. This is what awaits you on their debut album, This Doesn’t Exist.
Fans of Placebo and Sparklehorse will delight in the melancholy tones of “Forgotten.” Tonally, it has the perfect balance of brooding and brightness without relying on excessive melancholy reverb. The lyrics are wistful but not gloomy: “One day, far away / another city, another morning / we will be a glance…in the corner of a passerby’s eye… someday.” This song isn’t screamed at the listener like many alt-rock songs. They don’t need to raise their voices (or their amps) to convey their message. The wisdom and talent that goes into their music speaks clearly enough, and it’s beautifully therapeutic.
This Doesn’t Exist is available now from their Bandcamp page.
SOMEDAY are: Daniele Bianco (guitar, vocals), Michele Fierro (bass), and Fabio Digitali (drums).
Lunch Ladies – “Love Is Overrated” (Long Branch, NJ, USA)
RIYL: Mazzy Star, Luna
Sure, we could have shared this amazing new single from Lunch Ladies last week, but let’s face it: some people aren’t especially receptive to any songs about love during Valentine’s Day week. Now that Cupid has scurried along, this gem of a tune can shine in its deserving spotlight. But don’t be put off by the title: “Love Is Overrated” is actually an upbeat song. It’s a slice of dream-pop heaven.
The highlight of this tune is frontwoman Cynthia Rittenbach’s crystalline vocals. Her delivery of the lyrics (“Love is overrated / and I’m happy in my room”) are as tantalizing as the shimmering music over which they soar. It’s a marriage of ’60s-era girl group vocals and ’80s New Wave synth; this translates to an instant love affair for listeners. We can’t wait to hear the rest of the album.
Lunch Ladies are: Matt Whitley (vocals, guitar), Cynthia Rittenbach (vocals, bass), Matt Ramiz (vocals, guitar), Brian DeSeno (drums) and Peter Gargano (drums).
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