Today’s mid-week serving of new music cocktails is a strictly American playlist for a change. The Melodic Tonic May 17th edition features sun-kissed singles from the four corners of the U.S., from the Pacific Northwest and southern California to New York City and down to Florida. Escape into these tunes for some sweet relief from the news!
RAC – “I Still Wanna Know” (feat. Rivers Cuomo) (Portland, OR USA)
RIYL: Weezer, Passion Pit, Tokyo Police Club
André Allen Anjos is the first Portuguese artist to win a Grammy award, but you probably don’t recognize his name. That’s because he records his original music and remixes of other artists under the RAC (Remix Artist Collective) moniker. His recent “This Song” collaboration with former Vampire Weekend member Rostam has amassed nearly a quarter million streams in the last month. Now he’s delivered an equally infectious new single, this time featuring the song’s co-writer, Weezer frontman Rivers Cuomo.
“I Still Wanna Know” taps into Anjos’ proven formula of pairing sun-kissed, uptempo beats with lyrics that make you feel alive. When they sing, “Life is a mystery / are you with me / there’s so much more to explore,” you’ll be nodding in agreement while you dance with reckless abandon.
Great Grandpa – “Fade” (Seattle, USA)
RIYL: Alvvays, Tacocat, Speedy Ortiz, Frankie Cosmos, White Lung
Seattle is home to hundreds of indie bands. You can probably rattle off a dozen names without taking a breath, right? Between Seattle and Portland, the Pacific Northwest is a magical incubator for musical talent. The five-piece Great Grandpa are one such band on a trajectory toward superstardom thanks to the undeniable appeal of their sound. Their 2015 EP, Can Opener, pummeled listeners with effervescent grunge-pop hooks. Since then they’ve turned those hooks into incredible riffs you won’t be able to get out of your head.
“Fade” (from their forthcoming Plastic Cough album) is a three-minute slice of indie pop perfection. The undercurrents of garage rock give it a subtle infusion of snarl, as though they’re winking at the sonic mayhem they’re capable of unleashing if they want. Except they hold back here, and in doing so, they draw you in even more. It’s a bit of a tease move, but it’s really effective. You’ll have to check out the full album to find out whether they tease or deliver. Our money is definitely on the latter.
Great Grandpa are: Alex Menne (lead vocals), Patrick Goodwin (guitar/vocals), Dylan Hanwright (guitar/vocals), Carrie Miller (bass/vocals), and Cam LaFlam (drums/vocals).
Soccer Mommy – “Out Worn” (New York City via Nashville, USA)
RIYL: Frankie Cosmos, Eskimeau, Liz Phair
If you list the reasons why indie artists so often put mainstream pop singers to shame, then emerging star Soccer Mommy should be in the Top 5. The reasons, of course, are songwriting skills and impressive AF musicianship. Nashville native Sophie Allison might be a college student, but her indie bona fides are beyond question. Starting with her 2015 debut, Songs for the Recently Sad, Allison has shown remarkable nuance in her compositions. Tender yet strong, her music wraps one arm of comfort around the listener while wielding an upturned middle finger with the other. While her upcoming Collection LP features several previously released tracks, “Out Worn” is a fresh gem sure to win her scores of new fans.
It’s got a wistful, amber sunset hue, yet it’s not a brooding bedroom pop number. Instead its matter-of-fact lyrics (“I feel stupid now / keeping you around”) and subtle jangly guitar evoke a mellow Liz Phair. This song is all the proof you need that indie music is in capable hands with this generation of female artists.
Faze Wave – “Chemistry” (Jacksonville, USA)
RIYL: Portugal.The Man, Band of Horses, Caveman, Yeasayer
Within seconds of hearing “Chemistry” from Florida-based indie duo Faze Wave, you’re hooked. The soaring vocals greet you, accompanied by breezy instrumentation with faint whiffs of ’80s-era pop. (Think a blend of Portugal.The Man with the newest Band of Horses and Caveman for a starting reference.) This is warm, bold, stirring music designed to quicken your pulse and revive your sagging spirits. No wonder they called this single “Chemistry” since its radio-friendly chorus elicits an immediate reaction. Matthew Flynn (vocals/guitar) and Zachary Stickler (vocals/drums) are onto something special with their sound here.
The duo released their last album, Melt, back in November. While we don’t have details about the follow-up, this single gives fans a good idea of the sonic richness that’s in store. If this single is any indication, our summer jams are now sorted.
Dent May – “Across the Multiverse” (feat. Frankie Cosmos) (Los Angeles, USA)
RIYL: Air, Phoenix, Kishi Bashi, Animal Collective
The swoon-inducing indie dream pop of Dent May is the ideal soundtrack for hazy summer evenings. We’ve been fans of James Dent May, Jr., since the release of his Face Down in the Gutter of Your Love album last July. That album’s title track won us over, and his newest single is doing the same.
“Across the Multiverse” makes a bold first impression with its technicolor layers of dreamy synths and warm vocals. Once again the Mississippi native woos listeners with his southern charm and genre-defying melodies. It’s got the cosmopolitan pop appeal of Phoenix with echoes of Kishi Bashi. But what makes this single really pop (aside from those quirky sonic accents) is the presence of indie favorite Frankie Cosmos. Together they make this song positively soar. Crank this tune on a sunny day to feel energized and in love with life.
Alex Siegel – “Good Leg” (Santa Monica, USA)
RIYL: José González, James Taylor, Nick Drake, Nine Pound Shadow
The vibe of Alex Siegel’s debut album is equal parts laid-back, sunny California and carefree, cool Scandinavia. When this American indie folk/pop artist recorded his forthcoming Röykkä album in Finland, he captured the best of both environments – as you can hear on the gorgeous lead single, “Good Leg.”
What strikes you first about this song is the retro quality of Siegel’s vocals. The softness of ’70s crooners (Nick Drake, James Taylor) is there, as are the gently chiming background vocals and tropical beats that give the song a certain AM radio mellowness. You’d be hard-pressed to find a more perfect tune to spin on a warm spring evening than “Good Leg.” When he sings “Half of my life is gone gone gone / and I need a good leg to stand on,” you can’t help but smile, knowing you’ve just discovered one of indie music’s most underrated talents. (Unless you’re already familiar with Siegel’s work with Waterstrider, Nine Pound Shadow, or Omar Velasco and the Mother Tongues.)
Siegel was backed on this song by Matti Kari (mellotron/organ), Rasmus Harinen (bass), and Ville Luukkonen (drums).
You can pre-order Röykkä via Bandcamp ahead of its release on Friday.
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