The Saturday Sampler April 22nd edition falls on Record Store Day! Today’s playlist features artists from Canada, Denmark, England, Norway, and the US. You might not find all nine of these singles in stock at your local record store, but you can listen while you’re standing in line or shopping. So whether you prefer to enjoy music on vinyl, digital, cassette, or live, we hope you will keep supporting indie artists. Check back tomorrow when our Weekend Showcase includes all the music we have shared this week.
Dabble – “Wait” (Los Angeles, USA)
RIYL: Novelle Vague, Orenda Fink, Lower Dens
For the past three months, Los Angeles-based Dabble have captured our imaginations with their self-described “experimental, neu-dream, hip hop.” Their music is unlike anything being produced today, and their latest single further reveals their creative brilliance.
“Wait” is a stirring, crippling number. It is like a song from a ‘60s film-noir taken to the outer limits of the galaxy. It’s slightly trippy, as psychedelic textures stream throughout the song. Frontwoman Danielle Evans’ vocals are literally and figuratively intoxicating in delivery and loopy quality. The song, however, reaches an evocative point due to the jazzy/bossa nova elements, specifically the timid horns and the tickling of the cymbals and snare drum. This track is a trip, where no substance is required to be taken on a crazy, mental ride.
Dabble are David von Hegedus, Danielle Evans, Daniel Bonilla, Austin Pacheco, and Jordan Fielder.
Devan DuBois – “Changing” (Los Angeles, USA)
RIYL: Summer Heart, Washed Out, Beck
It’s still April and spring has just bloomed in some parts of the world, but it’s not too early to start thinking about summer. The warmer weather, the mindless days spent at the beach, and feeling the cool, ocean breeze blowing through one’s hair. With a new season on the horizon, the music, too, starts to reflect the sunnier days. The perfect summertime tune, in our opinion anyway, has arrived with “Changing”, the new single by Los Angeles-based singer/songwriter Devan DuBois.
This song personifies July and August. It is tinged with some sweet guitar riffs but soothes with a breezy, surf-pop vibe. This song was meant for the beach, whether lying on a hammock and drinking a cocktail or dancing next to a late-night bonfire. DuBois’ songwriting also reflects the changing of seasons, as he shares an uplifting song about second chances and leaving behind the people and habits that cause one to fall in the first place. In other words, this song is one made for celebration.
The Golden Dregs – “Congratulations” (Falmouth, England)
RIYL: The Velvet Underground, The Dandy Warhols, Belle and Sebastian, The Silver Jews
Ben Woods of the British indie psych/surf rock band The Golden Dregs channels Lou Reed on the band’s new single, “Congratulations.” Whether it’s intentional or not, we’re not sure, but his gravelly timbre paired with the song’s psychedelic tones put The Golden Dregs at the center of a Velvet Underground/Dandy Warhols Venn diagram. It’s simultaneously retro yet modern and very, very groovy.
“Congratulations” maintains an easygoing, mid-tempo pace throughout, as Woods delivers the lyrics more like spoken word poetry, much like Lou Reed: “And to ignore is to escape / and to escape must be to live.” Escapism from the everyday routine is both possible and pleasurable with this sun-kissed tune. On days when you can’t make it to a beach, just crank this one and slip away as its vintage vibes work their magic through your headphones.
The Golden Dregs are: Ben Woods (vocals), Sam Stacpoole (guitar), Jake Wilbourne (keys), Hannah Woods (sax), Ryan Cleave (bass), and Matt Cleave (drums).
The Harmaleighs – “Lady Brain” (Nashville, USA)
RIYL: Brandi Carlile, Feist, Lucius, Joseph
You would think that talented female artists would be appreciated in 2017. By this point – in the year of the pink pussy hat, no less – you would expect blatant sexism and condescension would have subsided. Unfortunately for Nashville-based indie Americana band The Harmaleighs, they still encounter it. Their response to being told “you play pretty good for girls” is this melodic middle-finger salute to those whose chauvinistic attitudes need calibrating. The duo of Haley Grant (lead vocals/guitar) and Kaylee Jasperson (backing vocals/bass) have one of the freshest sounds in Americana/folk music, thanks to their remarkable chemistry and stunning voices.
Their new single “Lady Brain” takes an infuriating situation and puts a wry spin on it. (Kudos if you recognize the title’s origins from an Orange Is the New Black episode.) By the time Haley delivers the line “Boys will be boys / but I’m sick of this noise,” you’ll already be smitten by their shimmering harmonies that evoke First Aid Kit and Lucius. Maybe you missed The Harmaleighs’ 2015 independent debut, Pretty Picture, Dirty Brush. It’s not too late to get on the bandwagon of this talented duo. Their next self-released EP, called Hiraeth (meaning “longing for a home”), arrives May 5 with pre-orders from Amazon and iTunes.
The Harmaleighs’ summer U.S. tour starts next month in Nashville. Check their website for details.
Highasakite – “5 Million Miles” (Oslo, Norway)
RIYL: Lykke Li, Dagny, Purity Ring
The new single from Highasakite has been out just one day now, and it’s already poised to be the “song of the summer” that becomes a global sensation. The Norwegian indie synth-pop group’s “5 Million Miles” features hypnotic synths and bursts of percussion that rain down upon you in waves. It’s sleek from start to finish, but what really grabs you is the dynamic layering of singer Ingrid Helene Håvik’s bold vocals. One minute they’re front and center, demanding your attention, while at other moments they flutter around with the grace of a butterfly.
There’s one thing you won’t be able to do while you listen: there is no way you can be still. The percussion flourishes will elicit movement from every limb. (Take caution if you listen while driving, as you’ll want to throw both hands in the air and dance.) It’s just that seductive and effective. Highasakite are Nordic superstars, having performed at last year’s Nobel Peace Prize ceremonies. While they have not confirmed a release date for the follow-up to last year’s Camp Echo LP, this single gives us something to dance to while we wait.
Highasakite are: Ingrid Helene Håvik (lead vocals), Øystein Skar and Marte Eberson (synths/keys), Kristoffer Lo (guitar), and Trond Bersu (drums/percussion).
Hot Curl – “Silver” (Brooklyn, USA)
RIYL: The Brian Jonestown Massacre, DIIV, Night Beats
For all the cool, new songs we have today, we needed something to ground us and bring us back to the hinterland. A song that gives us chills, as if we were spending a cool night in the desolation of the desert and the only things we can hear are the beating of our heart and the howl of the coyotes. It isn’t Santa Fe that we head to or even El Paso, but our sights are set on Brooklyn, which is where we find newcomers Hot Curl.
Last week, the quartet shared their latest single, “Silver.” It is the perfection mixture of The Brian Jonestown Massacre’s gritty psychedelic-rock and the crystalline echoes in DIIV’s modern take of the genre. There is, however, an undeniable cinematic vibe that percolates across the track. A vision of a lone gunslinger on horseback arriving in town comes into mind. She’s come for revenge, and she won’t stop until she has found her prey. This track, though, is actually creepier than this vision, as the band tells about the fear that grows within and then consumes us. The victim is each of us, not the person who has done us wrong.
Hot Curl are Prescott Horn (guitar/vocals), Alejandro Triana (guitar), Sharif Mekawy (bass/vocals), and Justin Lisa (drums).
Kingdom of Birds – “Awkward” (Toronto, Canada)
RIYL: The Runaways, The Regrettes, Queue
We’re always impressed by the talents of bands comprised of individuals in their late teens and early twenties, but we are speechless when coming across a group of kids just hitting adolescence. In the case of Kingdom of Birds, who first caught our attention in January, they are three young teens and one who hasn’t even hit double digits. That’s right, one member is 9 years old!
But unlike the Jackson 5 and Hanson, this quartet isn’t writing love ballads. Instead, their songwriting has the maturity of artists twice their age, and they’ve opted for an indie-rock and fiery rock-and-roll sound. Their newest single, “Awkward”, showcases the talent of this young band. For those who have long followed the rock scene, the song recalls The Runaways’ unrelenting approach. The guitar work is gritty, reverb-filled, and the rhythm section is cathartic. The combination perfectly provides the framework for this story about the changes encountered during adolescence and the feeling of loneliness that comes with being a teenager. We’ve all encountered that feeling of awkwardness, but never have we heard it sound this great.
Kingdom of Birds are Ása (vocals/guitar), Brighid (vocals/guitar/keys/more), and Zeul (bass). The other is nine-year-old Sam, the drum prodigy.
MEW – “Twist Quest” (Copenhagen, Denmark)
RIYL: Passion Pit, Shout Out Louds, Bombay Bicycle Club
We all agree: 2017 seems to be the year of the comeback. This phrase doesn’t apply just to bands returning after a long hiatus, like Slowdive and The Jesus and Mary Chain. It also applies to veteran bands reclaiming their rightful spots among music’s elite and overcoming the tidal wave of new artists emerging onto the scene. Danish superstars MEW, for instance, are seeking to recapture the love of Scandinavia and abroad as their seventh studio album arrives in a week.
The latest single from the record is something else. “Twist Quest” is a summertime gem. It is a mix of euphoric indie pop with a touch of bossa nova. It is groovy, a little sultry, and completely contagious. The melody is light and breezy, where you want to sway endlessly to the sweet harmonies. The horns, meanwhile, will have you getting up to dance while you absorb every note. Summer cannot arrive soon enough, but MEW have given us a song with hints of what is to come.
Terror Watts – “So Alone” (Birmingham, England)
RIYL: Superchunk, Jacuzzi Boys, Weezer
You can call this debut single from British indie rockers Terror Watts “short and sweet” – but “condensed awesome” fits it better. “So Alone” is a concentrated serving of garage surf rock/post-punk that hits you like a vodka and Red Bull. That’s not to imply this tune rocks so hard it’ll leave your grey matter all jiggly. It’s not that hard on the punk scale. However, it does have enough edgy, punk-inspired riffs to warrant comparisons to ’90s-era indie greats Superchunk and Weezer, while its unstoppable energy is similar to Jacuzzi Boys.
Terror Watts’ music is cathartic, vibrant fun. With all the madness going on in the world lately, we need tunes that can do two things: distract us from reality and satisfy our need to escape into the music. This trio of Tom Hughes (vocals/guitar), Jake Wilks (bass), and Olly Caunce (drums) achieves both, with ease and style. In fact, they are so successful on this debut single that it took us a dozen listens before we even realized the song is less than two minutes long. It’s so irresistibly catchy you’ll find yourself swept up in its tight hooks and unable to focus on banal matters like time.
We’re glad to see their upcoming self-titled EP is being put out by the fine folks at PNKSLM Recordings. Terror Watts seems like a perfect fit for that label. You can pre-order it from Bandcamp ahead of its May 26th release date.
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