The Saturday Sampler March 25th edition sizzles with international singles from Canada, Denmark, England, Germany, and the US. These nine songs are the high-energy soundtrack to your weekend. Hopefully you’ll discover a new favorite artist while you enjoy some new tunes from established groups. Be sure to check out our Weekend Showcase tomorrow for all the music we have shared since Monday.
Baby Strange – “Motormind” (Glasgow, Scotland)
RIYL: Arctic Monkeys, Fidlar, SWMRS
This week we’ve discussed how the UK has become the rock factory of the music world. The endless supply of bands and artists making awesome music is nearly way too many to track. But one group that deserves everyone attention is Baby Strange, the Glasgow-based trio who have steadily climbed to the top of Scotland’s indie-rock echelon. It won’t be long until they reach rock stardom abroad because their music is like a rush of blood to the head (and no, we’re not talking about Coldplay-level “rock”).
Their new single, “Motormind,” is exactly why Glaswegians and fellow Scots have packed venues to see this band – the song is an adrenaline rush. Right from the start, Baby Strange hit you square in the jaw, as the fiery guitar, pounding bass line, unrelenting drums, soaring vocals, and frenetic pace explode off the mark. Forget coffee this morning. Just spin this tune and you’ll be ready to take on the world!
Baby Strangers are Johnny Madden, Connaire McCann, and Aidan McCann.
Caroline Lazar – “Trigger” (Winter Park, FL, via Atlanta, USA)
RIYL: Emma Ruth Rundle, Julien Baker, Margaret Glaspy
At the time of this writing, Caroline Lazar is a university student in Florida, splitting her time between her classes and writing music. Lazar, however, might have to put her studies temporarily aside and fully dedicate herself to her music career. We don’t say this lightly because we think a post-secondary education is invaluable, but the Georgia native is an extremely artist. Check that; she’s a singer-songwriter who is mature well beyond her years. As evidence, just hear her new single, “Trigger,” once, and you will agree that she must be someone in her late-20s or early-30s.
“Trigger” is a stunner. With the lyrical prowess of Emma Ruth Rundle, Fiona Apple, and Sharon Van Etten, Lazar has crafted a masterful story of a lone wolf returning home. It is one part a story about two former lovers and another part the decimation of one person’s will. “You are the trigger of the whole damn gun,” Lazar exclaims with the urgency of a desperate person. Where the gun is targeted is unknown, but we can surmise that the protagonist’s aim was unfortunately true. Lazar, meanwhile, has delivered a song that is poetic elegance.
The single is out via My Little Empire Records.
Future Islands – “Cave” (Baltimore, MD USA)
RIYL: Future Islands, Metronomy, Toro y Moi, Dan Deacon
You would need to have been living under a rock these last few years not to know about the incendiary energy of Baltimore indie pop-rock stars Future Islands. The trio known as much for their synth-driven anthems as the high-octane performance antics of frontman Samuel T. Herring next month will deliver their fifth album, The Far Field. And like the album’s first single (“Ran”), this latest is another instant classic. “Cave” shares the same uptempo pulse of “Ran,” with its 136bpm pace sure to get your blood pumping. “Cave” is a perfect fine example of Herring’s signature style. He pairs poetic lyrics with jubilant beats that have therapeutic effects on the listener.
Too many critics and fans focus on the band’s exuberant sound and fail to acknowledge the depth in Herring’s lyrics. Beneath its pop veneer, “Cave” explores death and fear, just as American poet Theodore Roethke did in his 1964 poem that inspired both this album’s title and Future Island’s 2010 LP, In Evening Air. (Maybes the album’s release during National Poetry Month is no coincidence?) Herring’s poetic style really shines in the song’s second verse:
Is this a desperate wish for dying?
Or a wish that dying cease?
The fear that keeps me going and going and going
Is the same fear that brings me to my knees
The energy of “Cave” (and Samuel Herring in particular) can be summed up in one line from the Roethke poem: “His spirit moves like a monumental wind.” Future Islands have delivered another monumental single and an equally engaging video. If you don’t have SoundCloud Go, the lyric video is below. It features Jonathan Lamberton (the interpreter for New York City Mayor Bill DiBlasio) giving an impassioned delivery.
Future Islands are Samuel T. Herring (vocals/lyrics), William Cashion (bass/guitars), and Gerrit Welmers (keys/programming).
Hills – “Desert Driver” (Austin, TX USA)
RIYL: Grizzly Bear, Alberta Cross, Phosphorescent
SXSW may have just finished, but new music continues to channel out of Austin, Texas. While many are still fawning over Spoon’s performance or Garth Brooks’ surprise gig at a local tavern, it’s time to open one’s ears and pay attention to the emerging bands and artists who could be gracing the festival a year from now. One such group is Hills, the project started by Aaron Zachary.
The band is getting ready to release its debut album, Satellite, in May, and earlier this week they released its lead single, “Desert Driver.” This song is a titanic number. Zachary and his band mates have brilliantly merged Americana, indie rock, and cinematic indie into one devastating single. The melodies and harmonies are a mix of Grizzly Bear’s oft-kilter euphoria and Phosphorescent’s cinematic take of Americana and folk-rock. “Desert Driver,” consequently, is mesmerizing, immersive, and euphoric, and its finale is a mind-blowing eruption. The songwriting on the song is also stupendous, as Zachary tells the tale of drifter in an apocalyptic world. Sheer brilliance. Simply remarkable.
The song is available on Hills’ Bandcamp page (make sure to leave a tip).
Land Of Talk – “This Time” (Montreal, Canada)
RIYL: Amber Arcades, Sharon Van Etten, Ryan Adams
Earlier this month we shared the first new single from Canadian indie band Land of Talk. The hopeful message of “Inner Lover” is echoed here on the forthcoming Life After Youth album’s second single, “This Time.” Lead singer Elizabeth Powell is even more energized and optimistic on this sweeping tune that also features the ever-stunning Sharon Van Etten on backing vocals.
When she sings “I don’t wanna waste any of this time / I don’t wanna waste it, my life,” you can sense her resolve. Considering all she went through to make this album (including losing the hard drive containing all her lyrics plus undergoing vocal chord surgery), you realize what makes this song such a triumph. Her resilience is contagious here. Powell’s vocals are warm and rich, and accented by Van Etten’s, they make you wish they would form a duo immediately. “This Time” starts out with a straightforward, mid-tempo Americana feel that reveals a wash of fuzzy guitars as it gallops along. If you have a road trip coming up, be sure to play this tune often. It’s the perfect song for singing along to while you’re on a great adventure. Powell has been on a personal journey of her own, and this time she’s inviting you to join her as she discovers what the future holds.
And much like the band’s 2010 album, Cloak and Cypher, this new album also includes a star-studded support cast. Powell reunites with original drummer Bucky Wheaton plus members of Besnard Lakes, Roxy Music, and Sonic Youth. Life After Youth arrives May 19th via Saddle Creek (US) and Dine Alone (CAN). Check their Facebook page for upcoming tour dates.
Masasolo – “Ordinary Day” (Copenhagen, Denmark)
RIYL: Tame Impala, Pond, Unknown Mortal Orchestra
This has been the week for great psychedelic music. POND, The Black Angels, and The Black Lips all shared new singles. Not to be lost in the shuffle are Masasolo, the Danish quartet who have long been favorites of ours since their inception. Like the aforementioned bands, Masasolo have ranged far and wide across the psychedelic realm – from cosmic beautifies to blazing hair-raisers. Their latest effort, though, goes in a different direction.
“Ordinary Day” is like a cool breeze on a hot summer day. It is a hazy but immaculate number, possessing the same dreamy, hallucinating qualities of Tame Impala’s Currents. Frontman Morten Søgaard’s vocals even have a touch of Kevin Parker’s cool enchantment. This is the type of song where you want to grab your favorite drink, lie back in the hot sun, close your eyes, and imagine you are enjoying a moment in an exotic place. Alternatively, if it’s too cold outside, spin Lou Reed’s classic “Perfect Day” immediately after, and you’ll have the perfect music tonic.
This is Masasolo’s first single from their forthcoming debut album which is currently in development. It is expected late in 2017 or early in 2018.
Masasolo are Morten Søgaard, Jacob Haubjerg, Anders Haaning, and Martin Birksteen.
The New Pornographers – “Whiteout Conditions” (Vancouver, Canada)
RIYL: The New Pornographers, Broken Social Scene, The Shins
After more than 20 years together, The New Pornographers remain one of indie music’s safest bets. Every album they release is packed with tantalizing gems that you can’t help but fall in love with. That tradition will continue when they deliver their seventh full-length, Whiteout Conditions, in two weeks. The title track simply bursts with infectious energy from the very start. The pop-heavy brilliance of their 2014 album, Brill Bruisers, is prominent on Whiteout Conditions, with Carl Newman and Neko Case taking turns on lead vocals.
If you only focus on the cool synths and furious percussion, you might not notice this is a song about depression. But knowing that Newman wrote the song during a depressive episode gives insight into the meaning behind the lyrics “you crumbled and doubled your dosage.” This song could easily be prescribed in lieu of serotonin inhibitors, because its upbeat effervescence will leave you invigorated and ready to conquer the world.
Whiteout Conditions arrives April 7th via their own Collected Works Records label and Dine Alone Records (US). You can pre-order it (and immediately receive three singles, including “High Ticket Attractions” and “This is the World of Theatre”) here. The New Pornographers will hit the road next month along with Waxahatchee and Spoon. Tour dates are listed on their website. If you don’t have a SoundCloud Go account, here’s the video:
The New Pornographers are: A.C. Newman, Blaine Thurier, Joe Seiders, John Collins, Kathryn Calder, Neko Case, and Todd Fancey.
Nilüfer Yanya – “The Florist” (London, England)
RIYL: Alex Lahey, Tash Sultana, Courtney Barnett
While mainstream radio is still dominated by generic pop, hip hop, electro-pop, and pop-rock music that is being labeled as “alternative,” we believe we are experiencing a great wave of singer-songwriters. The past seven to 10 years have given us some of the most extraordinary talents to arrive on the scene since the Laurel Canyon eruption. Every corner of the planet has someone who has wowed tastemakers and become acclaimed artists – Angel Olsen, Father John Misty, Courtney Barnett, and the list goes on and on. We’ll have to add Nilüfer Yanya to this list.
Just 21 years old, the London-based singer-songwriter has piqued the ears of BBC Radio 1’s Huw Stephens and Annie Mac plus a slew of tastemakers across the planet. Her smokey voice is the first thing you notice, but it is her witty tongue and colorful storytelling that keep people interested, like her latest single, “Florist.” This tune is a gem of a story. As the light, unfurling guitars and subtle beats tickle in the background, Yanya takes us by the hand to follow a day in the life of a florist. This isn’t any ordinary florist, though, as she could be you or us. As Yanya sings:
Living off plant seed and fertilizer.
This one is a fighter.
Although I can’t see, this isn’t healthy
Can see why this should stop.
But I know this too well when I just can’t tell when enough is enough.
There is no doubt in our mind that Nilüfer Yanya is a star in the making. If the singing career doesn’t work out, we could see her being a successful writer.
The song is out on Blue Flowers Music.
SOFTSPOT – “Heat Seeker” (Brooklyn, NY USA)
RIYL: Teeth & Tongue, The Pretenders, Frankie Rose
It has been over a year since we featured Brooklyn-based quartet SOFTSPOT. The wait, though, was worth it – well worth it! For starters, they announced they would be releasing a new album, which they have been working on for more than a year. Then they shared the album’s second single, and it is nothing short of awesome.
There is only one way to describe “Heat Seeker” – a masterpiece. Like the great innovators and inventors throughout history, SOFTSPOT have taken something from the past and advanced it into the future. Their ’80s-era punk-pop, synth-pop, and New Wave influences glide effortlessly across the track. Add in a crystalline guitar; front woman Sarah Kinlaw’s sweltering vocals, which have an air of Chrissie Hynde; a cinematic approach; and a voyeuristic storyline, and you get a song that is more 2020 than 1980. The mélange of genres is simply brilliant, and “Heat Seeker” could provide the template for future songs.
The band is comprised of Sarah Kinlaw, Bryan Keller Jr, Blaze Bateh, and Jonathan Campolo.
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