Saturday Sampler June 10th features an even 10 new music singles because one of the great bands of this generation dropped a surprise song in the wee hours of the morning. You’ll also find some familiar names on the list below and, of course, new artists (well, new to us).
decker. – “Matchstick Man” (Sedona, AZ, USA)
RIYL: Band of Skulls, Black Pistol Fire, Neil Young
When we last shared a tune from Arizona folk rocker decker. back in September, the world was a far less tumultuous place, at least politically. And like many of us, Brandon Decker is supremely unpleased by the state of things. Fortunately, he’s done us all a favor and delivered a scorching new single in response to the madness.
“Matchstick Man” directs its ire at a certain US president whose blustering ineptitude has lit fires of divisive rhetoric. But to those having to live under that regime, decker reminds us that there is strength in numbers.
“The unfathomable moment Donald Trump was elected was palpably and significantly unsettling to the masses who are deeply opposed to the racism, sexism, xenophobia and overall ignorance Donald Trump has paraded around America for the last year – as well it should be. ‘Matchstick Man’ is written to be reminder that we as individuals and a collective have a strength that supersedes these man-made constructs and that we must stand strong, resist and take action immediately.”
The song’s chorus offers this rousing call to action: “Ring the bells / raise your fists / beat the drums and sound the trumpets / you’re much stronger than a matchstick.” To this we say, “Hell yes!”
His Into the Red album arrives August 25 from Royal Potato Family.
Forever Cult – “Codeine” (Leeds, England)
RIYL: Eagulls, The Pixies
It seems like a lifetime ago when we first discovered Forever Cult. So much has changed since October 2015, but one thing remains constant: this British trio make some seriously ferocious tunes that energize you at a cellular level. We loved the intensity of their “Tunnel Vision” single, but their new track “Codeine” tops it.
The Leeds-based trio of Kieran Clarke (guitar/vocals), Alex Greaves (bass), and Aaron Snowdon (drums) unleash a fierce frenzy of tight hooks and growling guitar licks. This is in-your-face rock guaranteed to help rid you of angst and apathy. The jaunty intro may call to mind The Pixies at first but not in a derivative way. It’s clear that Forever Cult have figured out exactly how to woo their listeners. They don’t come on too strong, choosing instead to grab you by the hand as they take off on a journey. It’s a hell of fun ride, and only when the song ends do you realize just how much you want it to keep going.
Frightened Rabbit – “Fields Of Wheat” (Selkirk/Glasgow, Scotland)
RIYL: Frightened Rabbit, Owl John, Father John Misty
While the UK held an election on Thursday, one of our favorite Scottish bands was on tour in Texas. Being far from home, however, didn’t stop Frightened Rabbit from releasing a timely response. Early this morning, the Glasgow-based quartet shared “Fields of Wheat”, a gentle mocking indictment of PM Theresa May. She recently admitted that the naughtiest thing she had ever done was to “run through fields of wheat” as a child, something the local farmers “weren’t too pleased about.”
As frontman Scott Hutchison strums an acoustic guitar, he voices the concerns shared by many whose lives will be affected by the Tories and their proposed changes:
Pretty soon apart from the love we give and get back from our families
Nothing will be free,
This isn’t about me.
He then addresses what is about him:
Fast forgetting basic needs
Becoming selfish through our scrolling thumbs,
Dismissive, scared, uncomfortably numb
In depressive reveries.
If the song’s reflective tone and lyrics don’t prompt a sigh, then the lush crescendo starting at the 2:15 mark certainly will. Following the swell of layered strings, Hutchison asks of the top leaders:
Fields of wheat – are you ready to be reaved?
Are you ready for the pinch you’ll feel,
The fractured homes that will not heal.
Please believe this isn’t about me.
For a band known for their fiery live performances, this restrained ballad is especially poignant.
Frightened Rabbit are Scott Hutchison (vocals/guitar), Grant Hutchison (drums), Billy Kennedy (guitar/bass), Simon Liddel (guitar), and Andy Monaghan (guitars/keyboards).
Joy Downer – “Goddamnit” (Los Angeles, USA)
RIYL: Eleanor Friedberger, Freedom Fry, Jenny Lewis
In the short period time that we’ve been exposed to the music of Joy Downer, we have learned two things. First, she sure likes to take us around the world with her music. Not literally but figuratively. Second, she writes some of the most beautiful and intimate love songs without the cheesy, eye roll factor. On “Caught Under Your Spell”, she gave us a geography lesson to explain how love knows no boundaries. Her new single, “Goddamnit”, is a continuation of that story, but in this case optimism is replaced by isolation and longing.
Her storytelling is immaculate, as she recants the story of a love affair that has ended and how one’s world is slowly coming apart. We feel like we are that person who has been left behind. Her soft and aching vocals add to the song’s emotion, yet they whisk us inside the heart of the protagonist. The instrumentation is superb with the addition of the horns adding a rousing element to this solemn pop number.
We don’t often gravitate towards love songs, but in the hands of Joy Downer we become servants to her musical mastery.
Nathan Oliver – “Sing Blue Silver” (Chapel Hill, NC, USA)
RIYL: Interpol, Franz Ferdinand, The Cure (early- to mid-’80s)
If you mention the phrase “sing blue silver” to members of a certain age group (*ahem, GenX*), you’ll likely be met with a melancholy sigh. Those three little words from Duran Duran’s classic song “The Chaffeur” have, to our knowledge, never been used in other songs – until now. Enter the North Carolina-based indie pop/rock outfit Nathan Oliver. Their new tune with that title isn’t an homage to those kings of ‘80s pop; it’s merely a coincidence.
“Sing Blue Silver” does have a bass-driven intro from Duncan Webster that would make John Taylor proud, but that’s where the similarities fade. Robert Biggers provides the pulsing tempo that draws you in with a sense of urgency while frontman Nathan White’s commanding vocals keep you entranced. Together the trio maintain an urgent energy throughout the song with strategically timed moments to catch your breath before they really crank it up at the bridge. Fans of ’80s New Wave (The Cure) and modern indie rock/post-punk (Interpol, Franz Ferdinand) have plenty to savor in “Sing Blue Silver.” While Head in the Sand, the follow-up to their 2009 album Cloud Animals, is just over 20 minutes in length, fans will be too busy hitting repeat on this tune to notice.
Nelson Can – “Move Forward” (Copenhagen, Denmark)
RIYL: Royal Blood, Red Blood Shoes, The White Stripes
This week, we’ve featured plenty of artists from Copenhagen, whose music scene is flourishing and starting rival Amsterdam, Gothenburg, Stockholm, and Oslo as Scandinavia’s go-to metropolis. Like these cities, the creativity of its artists is off the charts. Take for example garage-rock trio Nelson Can, who perform every song with just vocals, bass, and drums. Yep, there is not a single guitar riff to be heard in their music, and they’ve been doing this for the better part of six years.
If this is the first time you’re learning about them, you’re not alone, as we, too, are in the same boat. Hearing their latest single, “Move Forward”, was a true WTF moment, and we questioned how we did not learn about these three young women sooner. Regardless, we are officially on the bandwagon thanks to this gritty, assertive song that echoes Royal Blood and The White Stripes in its intensity. There is, however, much more to their music, where despite relying on two rhythm instruments they are able to create music that is dark, hypnotic, and completely enrapturing. So not only will you be thrusting your head, you’ll also be lost in this mesmerizing world of “Move Forward”. Awesome. We cannot wait to see Selina Gin (vocals), Maria Juntunen (drums), and Signe SigneSigne (bass) perform live one day.
The song is out now, and it’s available via Alcopop Records.
Peaking Lights – “Love Can Move Mountains” (Los Angeles, USA)
RIYL: Young Galaxy, Crystal Castles, Nite Jewel
The first time we came across Peaking Lights, the project of Indra Dunis and Aaron Coyes, they did an incredible remix of Young Galaxy’s “Pretty Boy”. It is to this day one of the best remixes we’ve heard, if not the very best. Despite making a great first impression, we, like many others, honestly haven’t given the duo a fair shot. Things started to change when they shared the throbbing epic, “Everytime I See the Light” in April. Could they wow us again?
Well, obviously they have because we otherwise wouldn’t be writing about them. Their new “Love Can Move Mountains” single is an electronic-pop number that spans the past thirty-plus years of the genre. Touches of new wave bubble below the surface. The shimmering synth-pop of the late ’80s and early ’90s gleam throughout while modern-day tropical house vibes add bite to the track. This is a song that you want to spin endlessly tonight and dance until the sun comes up. It is the perfect late-spring track. “Wow” is the only way to describe this gem.
The song is from Peaking Lights’ forthcoming album, The Fifth State Of Consciousness. It arrives June 16th via Two Flower Records.
Sebastian Blanck – “Among The Ones You Love” ft. Sharon Van Etten (New York City, USA)
RIYL: Pickwick, Carter Tanton, Waxahatchee
For years, Sebastian Blanck has spent his day painting portraits and images of every day scenes. His approach mixes a bit of Andy Warhol’s pop-art with Jean-Baptiste-Camille Corot’s realism. Now he’s taking a stab at mastering a new art, and like with his paintings he’s merging time periods. Specifically, he’s taking the emotive, classic rock of the late ’80s and early ’90s and combining it with contemporary indie rock and alt-pop. He must be doing something right because his recent singles feature two of the very best indie artists on the planet.
Last month, he released the vibrant “Convince Me”, which featured the sweet vocals of Hannah Cohen. This song will have hearts swooning for a long time. For his new single, he has enlisted the support of one of our all-time favorites, Sharon Van Etten and offered an edgier yet still stirring number.
Together on “Among The Ones We Love”, the two have crafted one of the warmest and intimate indie-rock tunes you will hear this year. Their vocals mesh beautifully, like Kenny Rogers and Dolly Parton singing “Islands in the Stream”. But instead of singing to each other, the two tell different stories about the people they’ve loved and to whom said goodbye. Blanck’s guitar work is slight at first. As the song progresses, it gets a little louder and a little edgier, reflecting the aching and pain in one’s heart. Master painter now superb singer-songwriter. We cannot wait for when Blanck unveils his full exhibition of art and song.
Surfer Rosie – “Worms” (Portland, USA)
RIYL: The Breeders, The Pixies
Evolution is a beautiful, magical thing. Like when four musicians come together and form a Pixies cover band, only to morph into a kickass group who are making their own equally kickass original music. That’s the case with Portland’s Surfer Rosie. Their new “Worms” single walks the fine line between vintage grunge and modern garage rock. It’s a hat tip to their influences (you can definitely hear as much Pixies as Breeders in their tight licks) while still showing off their musical talents.
This song confirms Surfer Rosie are most definitely an emerging band poised to make a huge splash with their upcoming debut. A cannonball of a splash, if you will…
Surfer Rosie are: Gillian Brase, Gillian Avina, Laura Daegling, and Noah Johanson.
Thea & The Wild – “City Of Gold” (Oslo, Norway)
RIYL: HAIM, Ladyhawke, Prince, Blood Orange
Of all the Norwegian artists we’ve featured over the years, the future of Thea Glenton Raknes – or Thea & The Wild – may be the one for which we are most excited. Despite her young age, she is the bridge between the youthful, innocent days of the ’80s and the forward thinking ways of the 2010s. For us, she is like Stevie Nicks, The Bangels, Sia, and HAIM all rolled into one artist. Her latest single further validates her talent and brilliance.
“City Of Gold” is a stunning and stirring number. The stuttering synths, the cool keys, the percolating electric drums, and the tickling bass create a breathtaking soundscape that belongs on the soundtrack of an ’80s movie. Raknes’ vocals are lush and enrapturing, where you want to bottle it up and save it for a rainy day. Her songwriting is also stellar, telling the story of a woman whose heart has been broken but she has found solace in a new place. This song is just “wow”! If we didn’t know better, we would have thought it was either one of Prince’s unearthed treasures or written by the brilliant Dev Hynes (a.k.a. Blood Orange). Just goes to show you how gifted Raknes is, and why we think she will be a huge star one day.
The single is out now via Propeller Recordings. In addition to Raknes, The Wild are Kamilla Waal, Jørgen Apeness, and Filip Roshauw.
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