The Saturday Sampler May 20th edition is a musical feast. There is something for everyone today, and, as usual, it comes from different corners of the globe.
DWNTWN – “Bloodshot Eyes” (Los Angeles, USA)
RIYL: Hærts, Savoir Adore, Broods
Indie pop band DWNTWN may hail from Los Angeles, but they have a rich musical pedigree. Front woman Jamie Leffler has music in her genes: she’s the daughter of Tom Petty bassist Howie Epstein. Since forming DWNTWN with Robert Cepeda in the summer of 2010, she has taken her natural musical talent turned it into mesmerizing indie pop. The sun-kissed brilliance of their new “Bloodshot Eyes” single radiates dreamy warmth with an ’80s New Wave undercurrent. Imagine if Beach House and Hæerts teamed up with M83, and you’ll have an idea of the lush sonic adventure that awaits you with DWNTWN.
“Bloodshot Eyes” unfolds gracefully with a dreamy, 10-second intro before the reverb-heavy guitars usher in Leffler’s crystalline vocals. This is a song that should be played at max volume and kept on repeat for an instant euphoric rush. It’s from the band’s upcoming Racing Time debut LP that’s due from Jullian Records on July 21st. You can pre-order it from iTunes.
DWNTWN are Jamie Leffler (lead vocals), Robert Cepeda (guitar/vocals), and Daniel Vanchieri (drums).
Fake Laugh – “Melt” (London, England)
RIYL: Slaughter Beach, exmagician, Day Wave
Kamran Khan, the lead singer of Fake Laugh, knows how to craft a superbly catchy indie pop song. As you hear on “Melt,” the breezy, sunny dream-pop vibes are strong, but this isn’t sugary pop. The song has just the faintest hint of melancholy to give it proper balance. On their forthcoming self-released eponymous album, the London band pair infectious summertime melodies with wistful lyrics that reflect feelings we’ve all experienced at one time or another. A bittersweet sting exists in the remembrance of something passing, but this song applies a salve to the wound with its tone of acceptance:
“And we felt / everything would turn out well / but we knew things would melt / things would fade / that’s OK”
At just under three minutes in length, “Melt” is almost too brief. It evokes memories of a brief fling or a stolen kiss that you wish would never end. Like so many sweet things that melt in the summer heat, this song does come and go, but what it leaves is an instant craving for more. Don’t be surprised if you find yourself hitting repeat a few dozen times to get your fix.
Fake Laugh are: Kamran Khan (guitar/vocals), Hassan Anderson (guitar), Nason Neill (bass), and Joe Davies (drums).
HAERTS – “No Love For The Wild” (Munich, Germany)
RIYL: Cathedrals, Sylvan Esso, CHVRCHES
At The Revue, we have our own personal favorites, but there are a couple of dozen bands and artists that we collectively adore because each and every song they release blows us away. One of those groups is HAERTS, the project of German duo Nini Fabi and Benjamin Gebert. Nearly since the first day we expanded our coverage to focus on international artists, we have gravitated to their cinematic electro-pop music. Their newest single, “No Love For The Wild”, cements our fandom.
The song is like the first ray of the sunshine following the passing of a storm. It is warm, sensual, and breathtaking, and a moment that will be cherished for days. Fabi’s vocals are sensual and emotive, as she calls out longingly to people who have lost faith or who have passed away far too soon. Gebert’s production work is spectacular, orchestrating the song like an experienced maestro. And wait for the bridge on this song – it is sensational. This song is sensational and one of the year’s most dramatic numbers. Bravo!
Holy Boy – “Lay Your Hands” (Bergen, Norway / London, England / Los Angeles, USA)
RIYL: The Raveonettes, The Kills, London Grammar
Where has Helene Alexandra Jæger – better known as Holy Boy – been all this time? How in the world has she flown under our radar despite being one of Europe’s rising stars of the past 12 to 18 months? Better late than never as they say, and this week she shared a song that makes us regret for not jumping on her bandwagon sooner.
“Lay Your Hands” is an exotic trip into a dark, mysterious place. Like such an experience, the song sends chills down one’s spin and turns goosebumps into sharp spines. The spicy production and Jæger’s radiant vocals are hypnotic, transfixing your gaze on a memory lodged deep into your psyche. It is a moment with someone you love dear, but whether or not he reciprocates is a question that goes unanswered. Despite this unsettling time, you want to experience it again and again because ingrained in it is a beauty that stays with you for eternity.
“Lay Your Hands” is from Holy Boy’s upcoming EP, which will be released June 9th via Native Habitat.
Les Big Byrd – “Two Man Gang” (Stockholm, Sweden)
RIYL: Air, Phoenix, Jónsi and Alex
Close your eyes when you listen to this song. Unless you speak Swedish, you won’t understand the lyrics, so instead of trying to decipher the words, just let the music transport you to a joyful place. Trust us: it will, and you’ll enjoy the ride.
Stockholm indie band Les Big Byrd will send your spirits soaring with their new “Two Man Gang” single. It’s their first song since their 2015 EP, Stockholm Death Star, and it definitely whets our appetite for a full album. They started working on new music immediately after concluding their tours with Brian Jonestown Massacre and Goat, but they haven’t revealed when the rest of the new material will arrive.
“Two Man Gang” is exuberant, thanks in large part to frontman Joakim Åhlund. (He is probably best known to non-European audiences for his band Caesars’ 2003 smash hit, “Jerk It Out.”) On this song, his warm vocals are reminiscent of Sigur Ros’ Jónsi, while the band’s overall sound incorporates the light synth flourishes of Air and Phoenix.
Les Big Byrd are Joakim Åhlund, Frans Johansson, Martin Ehrencrona, and Nino Keller.
Lucky+Love – “Digging in the Earth” (Los Angeles, US)
RIYL: Ladytron, Goldfrapp, Blondie
The Los Angeles-based synthpop duo Lucky+Love call this single “Digging in the Earth,” but the song’s swirling layers have a celestial luminance that sound, in a word, cosmic. Their sound – best described as the magical lovechild of Ladytron and Blondie – will knock you off your feet with its hypnotic appeal.
“Digging in the Earth” begins with a pulsing synth and April Love’s smoky vocals. It’s safe to say we haven’t heard such an alluring duo since Phantogram. The intensity of this song sneaks up on you, like a champagne rush. The first sonic sips are pleasing then quickly become intoxicating. By the time the rapturous finale arrives, you realize you’re so entranced you can barely breathe. Do yourself a favor and listen to this one in a place where you have plenty of room to dance, because you’ll be unable to keep still while it’s playing.
“Digging in the Earth” single is available for pre-order here with help from Southern Record Distributors. It arrives June 30th.
Lucky+Love are Loren Luck (drums, synths) and April Love (vocals, keyboards, guitar).
Pickwick – “Turncoat” (Seattle, USA)
RIYL: The Black Keys, The Shins, Tame Impala
Pickwick are a band that defy genre categorization. Trying to condense their sound into one word is damn near impossible! They’re a little bit bluesy with elements of R&B, funk, and psychedelic rock thrown into the mix. If you think that sounds like a feast for your ears, you’re absolutely right. Those aspects of their broad-ranging sound are what fans have loved about the Seattle group since they formed in 2008. Now they are poised to deliver their first album since 2013 when LoveJoys arrives in July.
Based on the funky, almost disco-esque riffs of “Turncoat,” you’d never know they started out playing folk music. They wisely shifted their sound after their first album and embraced the magic of their unique and kaleidoscopic style. Quite simply, “Turncoat” is your new favorite ear worm. It will wash over you with delirium-inducing waves. Trust us when we tell you that you won’t be able to get this one out of your head once you hear it. Between the hypnotic bass line and frontman Galen Disston’s soaring falsetto, “Turncoat” has lethal charm.
White Room – “Take Me Away” (Brighton, England)
RIYL: Pond, Dungen, Brian Jamestown Massacre meets James
British indie psych rockers White Room continue to impress us with each release. Back in November we sang the praises of their “Stole the I.V” single, calling it an “escapade into delirium…to a lush, exotic place” in your mind. Now the Brighton band has wowed us yet again with their new song, “Take Me Away.” It’s equally powerful in its understated psychedelic haze.
This tune is part of a double AA side release with “Stole the I.V” It further explores the fever dream adventure that song initially created. To call White Room one of the most promising psych rock bands we’ve heard in a while isn’t hyperbole; it’s the damn truth. This five-piece band possess a killer sound that hooks you immediately and never lets go. With the swirling haze of Dungen, Pond, and Brian Jonestown Massacre mixed with the powerhouse vocals of James’ Tim Booth, there is no denying the talent and appeal of White Room. One spin of “Take Me Away” will send you into their dream world where you’ll be a firm believer. When frontman Jake Smallwood sings, “waking up still in a dream / have you seen something more to believe?”, you’ll know you’ve found a new favorite band.
This song is out now via Havana Affair.
White Room are: Jake Smallwood (vocals), Jacob Newman (guitar), Tristan Sava (guitar/keys), Josie McNamara (bass), and Hen Sava (drums).
Zola Blood – “The Only Thing” (London, England)
RIYL: North Downs, Maribou State, Pedestrian
In their short time as a band, Zola Blood have not merely amazed us, but they have completely devastated us with their euphoric indietronica. This has happened with every single song. There aren’t many bands or artists that can say this – not even Radiohead or My Morning Jacket. Their new single, “The Only Thing”, continues the streak.
Whereas their past singles have been more dark and breathtaking in their delivery, the London-based quartet brighten up the soundscape a touch while amping up the intensity and tempo. The result is a song that is still captivating and hypnotic. However, instead of falling into the rabbit hole, this time we’re taken on an endless drive through the darkness trying to escape our past. Everything about the song is ravishing and mesmerizing – from the soaring vocals, the trippy production work, and the heart-pounding percussion. You’ll want to be sitting down and absorbing every second and every detail because you will be lost in “The Only Thing”.
We similarly expect that their debut album, Infinite Games, will have the same effect. It arrives on Friday, May 26th. Indie label and management company Pond Life will be distributing the record. We cannot wait.
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