The Saturday Sampler May 13th edition is strongly European for a change, with only two American bands represented. Take these nine new songs for a spin, then check back tomorrow when our Weekend Showcase will include all the music we have shared since Monday.
BAIO – “PHILOSOPHY!” (London, England via New York City)
RIYL: Phoenix, Spoon, Todd Terje
Vampire Weekend bassist Chris Baio releases his second solo album next month, and the first single is a perfect weekend tune. “PHILOSOPHY!” has tropical tones more reminiscent of his Glassnote Records label mates Phoenix than Vampire Weekend, but that’s understandable coming from this European resident. (The native New Yorker has been living in London for the last four years.) Or maybe this cosmopolitan sound is due to his constant touring. That’s definitely the inspiration for the album’s title: Man of the World.
He wrote this follow-up to his 2014 debut, The Names, in response to last year’s negativity. The chorus lyrics “No time for philosophy / got to get to heart of the issues that I have with you,” are equally applicable to a relationship with one person or to politicians. “PHILOSOPHY!” contains sage advice wrapped up in a glossy, danceable pop package.
Caitlyn Scarlett – “Shangri-La” (Windsor/London, England)
RIYL: Kate Bush, M.I.A., NAO
Many emerging artists will focus on the tried-and-true themes and focusing on being the next big pop star; Caitlyn Scarlett is an exception. The young singer-songwriter from Windsor is a human time bridge, as she is linking the past, present, and future in her music. Her new single perfectly personifies her gifts and creativity.
“Shangri-La” defines cool, which was the word immediately dripping from our mouths when we first heard the song. The song is one part Kate Bush, a dark, theatrical anthem that fills one’s mind with sonic fireworks due to the infusion Middle Eastern and the Oriental elements. It is another part M.I.A. with Scarlett’s assertive and booming vocals, quick wordplay, and focus on what the world could be. In her own way, this is a protest song, and it is done intelligently. Her lyrics are what freedom could and should be while the music is the chaos and insanity that exist around us. This song is more than just cool; it reflects the genius of a rising star everyone should be watching.
This single is available from iTunes.
Dahlia Sleeps – “Burn” (London, England)
RIYL: London Grammar, Daughter, Phoria
Let’s put it out there: we love Dahlia Sleeps. For over 18 months, they have repeatedly enraptured us with their silky, R&B-infused electropop. Every song they’ve released – whether as a duet featuring Lucy Hill and Luke Hester or expanded to a quartet to include Spencer Buckley and Callum Sharp – has been breathtaking. It doesn’t take long to realize that their latest release, “Burn”, is another remarkable achievement.
“Burn” is spectacular work of art, exquisite in its beauty and transfixing with its brooding, sonic expanse. Hill’s vocals are intoxicating while Hester, Buckley, and Sharp create a soundscape that seems to be from another dimension. This song must be heard in the early hours of the morning with just candles lighting up the room, so you can completely experience Dahlia Sleep’s artistry. Spin it again to appreciate Hill’s songwriting. This isn’t a love song, but rather she tells of a person struggling to overcome a personal tragedy (or possibly an illness) that has overtaken her. The lyrics are another reason why we love this band.
“Burn” is the title track of their forthcoming debut EP. It is expected later this year via Olympia Records.
EAT FAST – “Immortal Kombat” (Newcastle, England)
RIYL: Wavves, Twin Peaks, Hey Rococo
Another band we’ve been high on lately is EAT FAST, the garage-rock quartet from Newcastle, England. They’re not quite like most English indie rock bands, as their music is more like some of the quirkier music coming out of the US. They’re basically the UK’s equivalent of Twin Peaks, and there’s absolutely nothing wrong with that. This single reveals why we have become massive fans.
“Immortal Kombat” is a reverb-filled sonic treat that will get the adrenaline pumping. The guitars are gnarly, the rhythms are executed with military precision, and the vocals are hazy and delirious. With its grungy foundation, this song was made for small venues where the intimate setting would let the patrons go ballistic. As such, it’s OK if you want to start a one-person mosh pit wherever you listen to this song, because we will be doing likewise.
The band is comprised of Adam Pearson, Mark Brown, James King, and John Edgar.
Fleet Foxes – “Fool’s Errand” (Seattle, USA)
RIYL: Fleet Foxes, Simon & Garfunkel
After waiting six years for Fleet Foxes to release a new album, we could be shouting out exclamations about how great their second single, “Fool’s Errand”, is. We could say that the warm, dreamy folk approach is more radiant than anything they’ve written before. Maybe we could say the band channels quite a bit of Simon & Garfunkel in the songwriting and vocal delivery. Or maybe we’ll just say listen to the song with your eyes closed and enjoy it because “Fool’s Errand” is the Fleet Foxes we’ve come to adore over the years. In other words, it is a nearly five-minute escape from the chains of reality.
Fleet Foxes are Robin Pecknold, Skyler Skjelset, Casey Wescott, Christian Wargo, and Morgan Henderson.
MANKIND – “Ghost” (Stockholm, Sweden)
RIYL: The Verve, Oasis, Pulp
Less than two weeks ago, we were introduced to Stockholm-based, indie-rock quartet MANKIND, who rocked our minds with their blistering single, “Three Handfuls of Dirt.” Showing that they’re more than a one-trick pony, MANKIND have unveiled a softer side with their new single, “Ghost.”
The song echoes The Verve in every facet – from the melodic rock approach to the thoughtful songwriting to the swirling harmonies. “Ghost” is like a spell that leaves us hypnotized by the crisp guitar riffs, the teetering rhythms, and Arthur Onion’s quivering vocals. The storyline is right out of a movie, as Onion sings of a person who cannot escape the vision and shadow of either a loved one or someone who haunts his mind for the wrong reasons. For us, this song will be haunting our minds for days if not weeks. It’s brilliant.
MANKIND’s new EP, Death, is out now via Lazy Octopus Records.
The band is comprised of Arthur Onion, Fredrik Diffner, Oliver Boson, and Alex Ceci.
SEAZOO – “Roy’s World” (Wrexham, Wales)
RIYL: Belle and Sebastian, Yo La Tengo, Super Furry Animals, Meilyr Jones
Indie pop fans, get to know your new favorite band: SEAZOO have the charm turned up to 11 on their new “Roy’s World” single. It’s infectious and completely irresistible. The sun-kissed baroque pop hooks echo modern Belle and Sebastian with just a hint of vintage psychedelia. One spin of this tune and you’ll understand why SEAZOO wowed crowds at their Canadian Music Week performances last month.
It’s rare to hear a song that mentions “nuclear war” so nonchalantly that you don’t bat an eye. When frontman Ben Trow then adds, “I’m afraid,” you still feel cheerful. Let’s face it: we all need music to take our minds off the content of the daily news. Songs like this remind us that refuge can be found, if only in music. “Roy’s World” is a sunny place where we can escape from talking heads and unhinged world leaders.
This single is available now from Bandcamp. Grab it now while you wait for the arrival of the band’s debut album this summer.
SEAZOO are: Ben Trow, Llinos Griffiths, Mike Smith, Steffan Owens and Dan West.
See Through Dresses – “Violet” (Omaha, USA)
RIYL: Bright Eyes/Conor Oberst, The Cure
Dreamy yet hopeful shoegaze: the terms seem contradictory, but that’s exactly what Nebraska indie band See Through Dresses deliver on this single from their upcoming Horse of the Other World LP.
“Violet” is a dazzling gem full of soaring, reverb-drenched synths and warm vocals that are reminiscent of another Omaha artist. See Through Dresses don’t sound exactly like Bright Eyes, yet there is similarity between the earnest delivery of frontman Mathew Carroll and Conor Oberst. The intimate conversational quality to his singing style on this song makes you feel like he’s singing directly to you. This only draws you further into the song as its works its magic on you. The layers of synth and percussion echo the majestic tones of The Cure’s “Pictures of You,” so prepare to swoon if you’re a fan of evocative music that gently tugs at your heartstrings.
You can get this single now at Bandcamp. Horse of the Other World arrives June 30th from Tiny Engines with pre-orders from the label, Bandcamp, and iTunes. The band’s summer tour starts tonight in Minneapolis.
See Through Dresses are: Mathew Carroll (guitar/vocals), Sara Bertuldo, Alex Kirts (bass), and Nate Van Fleet (drums).
YONAKA – “Wouldn’t Wanna Be Ya” (Brighton, England)
RIYL: Savages, Warpaint, Black Honey
From the indie-rock factory of Brighton comes one of the UK’s biggest secrets: YONAKA. The quartet’s anthemic sound has put them in the conversation as the UK’s next great rock band, alongside the likes of Wolf Alice and Black Honey. Believing in their potential are Asylum Records and Atlantic Records UK, who recently signed them to a deal. And to show what the labels are getting for their investment, YONAKA released a new single just yesterday.
“Wouldn’t Wanna Be Ya” is a seismic song that will have your ears ringing for days. Dissonant guitars open the song and immediately inform us that we need to buckle up because this ride will be explosive. The hammering percussion and bass line pound directly on our temples, offering a post-punk/Gothic vibe à la Eagulls. But when frontwoman Theresa Jarvis’s vocals enter, the song is taken to darker depths, as she menacingly taunts her oppressor for his foolish and arcane ways. There is an air of Jehnny Beth in her delivery that reminds us she is a woman who will not back down from anyone or anything. YONAKA, as a result, will be going to high places very, very soon.
To hear the full SoundCloud audio, click the stream above but you will need a Go account. Alternatively, you can spin the video.
YONAKA are Theresa Jarvis (vocals), George Edwards (guitar), Alex Crosby (bass/keys), and Robert Mason (drums).
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