Yesterday we mentioned several songs released this week by some rather popular artists. Well, we’re starting the Saturday Sampler June 3rd edition with one of those songs because A) it’s by the greatest band of the last 25 years, and B) it’s so good.
Radiohead – “I Promise” (Oxford, England)
Yes, we know Radiohead is a massive band, and our focus is usually on smaller artists. Yes, we realize “I Promise” is not necessary a new song, as it was written over 20 years ago during the OK Computer sessions. This song, though, is unbelievable. The soaring strings, the hammering of the acoustic guitar, and Thom Yorke’s escalating falsetto are all sensational.
Despite the song’s age, it feels fresh and new. More importantly, it still holds lyrical relevance today. The song could be interpreted as a protest anthem, where the people won’t let down. It could be a song about resilience, where we will overcome anything and everything. Or it could be one’s personal anthem that helps the listener overcome a traumatic event. This is what makes Radiohead incomparable – their music never grows old and perfectly reflects any given period of time. They are, in our minds, the most important and influential band since The Beatles.
The 20th Anniversary re-issue of OK Computer, titled OKNOTOK 1997 – 2017, will be available digitally on June 23rd. Physical copies will ship in July. Click here for more information.
Eli Raybon – “30 Cents” (Los Angeles via Lafayette, LA, USA)
RIYL: Talking Heads, David Byrne, Rick Astley, Ariel Pink
If Radiohead can push the rewind button and bring back a song from the past, then why can’t a 19-year old artist look for inspiration from music made over three decades ago? Seriously, not every teenager has to write music that sounds like what’s charting on Billboard’s top 100. This is exactly what Eli Raybon is doing.
His new single, “30 Cents”, illustrates the young artist’s retro approach. His beaming tenor has traces of Rick Astley, and the synth-driven, alt-pop reflects the innovation that David Byrne and Talking Heads popularized in the early ’80s. The song is quirky yet highly infectious, where you might catch yourself dancing like Astley in the video for “Never Gonna Give You Up”. Unlike these aforementioned artists, Raybon’s lyrics are quirky and whimsical, as he takes the mundane life of an ordinary guy and turns it into a suspense thriller.
Focus, fixations, sarcasm subdued
What am I really thinking,
You’ll shoot me if you knew.
When I touch foreign objects,
No my hands don’t feel clean.
I’m sitting at a stop sign
Waiting for the light to turn green.
I want to go back when everything made sense,
Even if it costs me twenty-three bucks and thirty cents.
And if you think the song is entertaining, check out the video. It’s the perfect little time waster for the weekend (and better than most movies you’ll see).
“30 Cents” is from Raybon’s forthcoming EP, Green. It will shared June 23rd.
The Growlers – “Late Bloomers” (Costa Mesa, CA, USA)
RIYL: The Growlers (duh), Ariel Pink, Mac DeMarco
For more than decade, The Growlers have entertained and humored fans around the globe. Their laid-back style redefined slacker-rock, although some interpreted their approach and antics as representing the laziness of a younger generation. This, however, was far from the case, as the Costa Mesa-based outfit are one of the most socially-conscious bands in the business. Case in point their new single, “Late Bloomers”.
The song still has a California shoreline feel. It is breezy and summery, with music that floats like the haze that engulfs Los Angeles. The ska-like vibes might entice you to fix up a Mai Tai or a similar, beachy cocktail. Listen closely to Brooks Nielsen’s lyrics, though, because he’s taking a jab at those born with silver spoons in their mouths. Heck, the song could even be considered a shot the President of the United States for his inability to understand the plight of every day Americans.
He had it good
A life too easy
On his mother’s teet too long,
Made a boy too needy.
Picture, perfect picket fences,
Robbing him his chance
To grow up right and feel heartbreak.
Your toupee is a scam.
Ah, it’s good to have The Growlers back. Well, they haven’t gone anywhere, and they’re currently finishing the European portion of their tour. They’ll be crisscrossing the US in the fall, and tour dates can be found here.
Prophets of Rage – “Unfuck the World” (Los Angeles, USA)
RIYL: Rage Against the Machine, Audiosoave, Public Enemy, Cypress Hill
Let’s face it: protest songs are all the rage (pun intended) these days. The current political climate has most of the world raising a fist against oppression and corruption, so who better than Tom Morello to lead the charge? The renegade of funk rock has again teamed up with members of Public Enemy and Cypress Hill for the full-length, self-titled debut album from Prophets of Rage. The world has changed since they released their debut EP last year, and the rampant negativity is fueling their fires of unrest. You can feel their rage reverberate in your chest as you listen to “Unfuck the World”the video (stream if you cannot spin the song above), including these final lyrics:
“I’m the straw that broke the camel’s back / the gun in the carjack / the night stick that keeps crackin’ down / the resistance never backin’ down.”
The video below – directed by Michael Moore – ends with the words: “The world is not going to change itself. That’s up to you.”
The band is currently on tour in Europe with a full list of dates here. Their album is due in September from Caroline International (UK) and Fantasy Records (US) with streaming and pre-order links here.
Prophets of Rage are: Tom Morello, Tim Commerford, and Brad Wilk (Rage Against the Machine), Chuck D and DJ Lord (Public Enemy), and B-Real (Cypress Hill).
Shakey Graves – “Wither” (Austin, USA)
RIYL: Trampled By Turtles, Houndmouth, Shovels & Rope
There is something irresistible about the ambling intro of “Wither” from indie Americana troubadour Shakey Graves. It’s more of a fuzzy indie rocker than his usual spirited, alt-country songs. “Wither” has more echoes of Pavement and Guided By Voices than Trampled By Turtles or Uncle Tupelo. It’s mellow and low-key. But the restless energy of this song makes you feel like you’re riding shotgun beside Alejandro Rose-Garcia on an epic road trip across America’s heartland.
“Wither” is from his new album as Shakey Graves and the Horse He Rode In On, Nobody’s Fool & The Donor Blues EP, which is an interesting title since it’s hard to classify an album of 18 tracks as an EP. But hey, any new music from this Texas legend is cause for celebration (even if the songs aren’t brand new), so we’re not complaining.
This follow-up to his 2014 LP, And The War Came, is a collection of rarities and B-sides from his previous recording sessions. It arrives from Dualtone on June 30th. You can pre-order it from the label and Bandcamp. He kicked off his summer tour last night in Austin, with the rest of the tour dates listed here.
She Keeps Bees – “Head Of Steak” (Brooklyn, USA)
RIYL: Fiona Apple, TORRES, PJ Harvey
It has been some time since She Keeps Bees shared new music. Almost three years to be exact when Jessica Larrabee (guitar/vocals) and Andy LaPlant (drums) released their underrated but fantastic album, Eight Houses. Leave it to an incompetent administration to bring the duo out from their hiatus and back into the spotlight in order to support Planned Parenthood and Earth Justice.
Yesterday, they unveiled their new 7″ single, “Head of Steak”, an unabashed protest song. The track is everything we love about She Keeps Bees. It is raw and gritty, as Larrabee’s guitars reverberate with a guttural tone and LaPlant’s drumming pounds with the intensity of a throbbing migraine. Labbabee’s vocals, though, are what command the stage. They are filled with anger, anguish, and despair, but they are powerful. Her lyrics are even more gut-wrenching and straight to the point. There are plenty of brilliant lines to quote as the band condemns Trump for his policies against the people and the environment, but the final stanza is the most striking:
Ignore the emperor with no clothes on,
Demands a crowd, bare ass in a crown.
Head of steak you deal in dying oil.
Poison our Mother for a fucking dollar,
dollar dollar a fucking dollar.
The lyrics are available on SoundCloud (click the audio above) and at the sites to purchase the single. It will cost you, not surprisingly, a single dollar, and it is available on Bandcamp and German label, BB*Island. Once again, all proceeds will be donated to Planned Parenthood and Earth Justice.
So Below – “Ruin” (Auckland, New Zealand)
RIYL: Austra, Nikki & The Dove, Ladyhawke
It’s been more than six months since we last heard from Madeline North, who is better known as So Below. She actually impressed us more than a year ago when she shared her sensational, goth-pop anthem, “Far”, in this very space. Now the the fast-rising New Zealand artist is making waves in her home country. Less than 36 hours ago, the Kiwi national station Hauraki – which is mostly (though not entirely) known for playing rock ‘n roll and alternative music – agreed to premiere her new single, “Ruin.” This in itself is a huge achievement and a testament of her talent.
The song is a departure from the Gothic vibes of her previous work. Instead, it is a tantalizing synth-pop number that blends in elements of industrial and Krautrock. As such, “Ruin” is haunting and frighteningly gorgeous, as the sparse synths and production create a chilling atmosphere. At the same time, the song would perfectly reside in the most exclusive, underground night clubs of Berlin, Prague, and Stockholm. North’s radiant vocals and the increasing intensity in the second half (the transition is fabulous) are intoxicating and spellbinding, causing one to lose herself within the song’s energy. We said in March 2016 and we’ll say it again, North is a young woman with some serious talent. Her star is really starting to shine brightly.
Trevor Sensor – “Andy Warhol’s Dream” (Sterling, IL, USA)
RIYL: The Beatles, Kevin Morby, Kyle Craft, Father John Misty
Back in April, we shared the “High Beams” single from emerging artist Trevor Sensor. His debut album, Andy Warhol’s Dream, is due to arrive this month, and the title track is a sumptuous sonic feast. It has such strong echoes of The Beatles that it feels authentically vintage and British. Maybe it’s because the 50th anniversary this week of Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band has everyone thinking about the Fab Four. Or maybe it’s because “Andy Warhol’s Dream” features the word submarine and has a Beatles-esque piano passage that its psychedelically-tinged layers seem to swirl around in a technicolor haze. No matter the associations, Sensor will win over fans of all ages and genres with this song. While his vocals are more akin to Kevin Morby than Sujan Stevens or Bon Iver’s Justin Vernon, you can detect some cinematic and ambient elements of the latter.
The song’s simple piano intro flourishes into a grand, dazzling piece at the bridge. Sensor marries a swell of synths to dramatic percussion, and the result is simply breathtaking. Do yourself a favor and get to know Trevor Sensor now. Though he’s only 23, he displays the talent, lyrical wisdom, and maturity of musicians more than twice his age. Just have a listen and you will understand.
Warsaw Radio – “Still Have You to Hold” (Brighton, England)
RIYL: The Frames, The Waterboys, Hothouse Flowers
Soaring strings, plaintive vocals, and intimate lyrics: these are just three facets of the gem that is the debut single from Warsaw Radio. These Brighton-based musicians originally hail from Limerick, Ireland. Although this doesn’t explain why Warsaw is part of their name, it does explain the sonic similarities they share with The Frames. In fact, Warsaw Radio come closer than any other current bands to filling the folk/rock void left by The Frames.
On “Still Have You to Hold,” frontman Brian McNamara will stir your soul with his denim lyrics. His timbre has a cozy yet slightly rough-hewn quality, with the comfortable closeness of your favorite, well-worn blue jeans. Meanwhile the delicate grace of the violin from Nicola Bates will have you uttering an appreciative sigh. If this song is any indication, Warsaw Radio are definitely an emerging band to watch. With all the negativity in the world, having a band like Warsaw Radio to offer musical comfort is a sweet gift. So kick back, have a pint, and let these talented musicians remind you there is still plenty of good to be found.
You can get a digital copy of this song from Amazon.
Warsaw Radio are: Brían McNamara (vocals/guitar), Chris Webber (guitar), Laurance Bridge (bass), Nicola Bates (vocals/violin), and Paul Lennox (drums).
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