Summer is upon us, and today’s serving of new music cocktails is a sun-kissed delight. From the unexpected return of a legacy band to an emerging powerhouse indie pop star and a promising Manchester indie rock trio, these six tunes will help you usher in the season.
The Dream Syndicate – “How Do I Find Myself Here” (Los Angeles, USA)
RIYL: The Velvet Underground, The Stooges, The Black Crowes
We’re halfway through 2017, and it’s already shaping up to be the year of shoegaze reunions. First came The Jesus and Mary Chain with a comeback album, followed by the return of Slowdive and Ride. Now it’s time for The Dream Syndicate to again wow longtime fans while winning over scores of new followers. In the early hours of this first day of summer, the Los Angeles indie veterans unleashed “How Do I Find Myself Here,” a mindbending exploration of their past and future sounds. It’s the first new music from the shoegaze/psych-rock legends since their 1988 Ghost Stories LP.
Led by Steve Wynn (vocals), Dennis Duck (drums), Mark Walton (bass), and Jason Victor (guitar), The Dream Syndicate have returned after nearly 30 years. “How Do I Find Myself Here” is everything you hoped it would be – all 11 minutes and 13 seconds of it. News of their forthcoming album of the same title will make some fans’ heads spin. But you don’t have to be a die-hard member of their fan club to appreciate the dizzying effects of this song. It’s trippy and funky with a swampy instrumental section as thick as it is steamy. Just sit back, absorb every note, and rejoice.
Petite League – “Sun Dogs” (Queens, NY USA)
RIYL: Arctic Monkeys, BAIO, Jacuzzi Boys
You may not find a sunnier tune today than the irresistible “Sun Dogs” from Queens-based indie pop/punk outfit Petite League. There is nothing small about their sound, as this single attests. With its tropical-infused riffs and kaleidoscopic chords, this emerging band has harnessed the brightness of a thousand suns and injected it into every note.
Call it lo-fi jangle pop or post-punk garage rock – labels aren’t what matters here. All you need to know is that frontman Lorzeno Gillis Cook (who grew up in Belgium and previously recorded under the name Spark Alaska) is your new favorite supplier of mood-altering musical substances. Like the band’s previous singles (“Zookeeper” and “French New York”), “Sun Dogs” is another example of Petite League making massive, major-league sounds that are instantly addictive.
Look for this song on Petite League’s new LP, Rips One Into the Night. It’s available for pre-order on Bandcamp ahead of its September 1st release date via the band’s own Scarier Dome label.
Petite League are: Lorenzo Gillis Cook, Henry Schoonmaker, Adam Greenberg, and Dan Pugh.
Allison Weiss – “Runaway” (Los Angeles, USA)
RIYL: Tegan & Sara, Kate Bush, Goldfrapp
Imagine if Tegan and Sara chanelled Kate Bush and Goldfrapp – you’d get intensely moving melodies with piercing vocals. You’d find yourself wanting to crawl inside each verse and swim in the soaring choruses. If you wished this sound into reality, the result would be Allison Weiss. That’s because the Los Angeles-based, Georgia native indie pop artist is the living embodiment of those voices. In fact, Weiss co-wrote her latest single with Tegan Quin.
“Runaway” is a bright slice of indie pop perfection that nudges you from your comfort zone. It urges you to break free from the safety of the known to fully explore what exists beyond the unknown. The song is hopeful, exhilarating, and pulse-quickening:
“All your life you stayed tame
Safe and sound is how you played the game
The time has come to rearrange
It’s time to take a chance and make a change.”
There is no denying the immediate charm of Allison Weiss. Music critics have known she is an “artist to watch” since the release of her 2015 LP, New Love. While details about a full-length follow-up aren’t available yet, “Runaway” is out now on Bandcamp and iTunes via SideOne Dummy.
Saint Cecilia – “Perfect Prize” (Los Angeles, USA)
RIYL: The Beatles crossed with Joy Division and Siouxie Sioux
Picture yourself on a towel at the ocean. No, we’re not trying to re-create The Beatles’ “Lucy in the Sky With Diamonds” here, although the dreamy qualities of this song pair nicely with that classic from The Fab Four.
“Perfect Prize” from Los Angeles-based Saint Cecilia guides you on a mildly hallucinatory trip from the days of ’60s psychedelic pop and ’80s New Wave back to modern shoegaze/dream pop. You’ll feel the ocean breezes on your face while Cecilia Enriquez charms you with sunny chord progressions and ethereal vocals. Meanwhile the synths at the bridge have echoes of Joy Division that bring perfect balance to the song’s overall tone.
Even though “Perfect Prize” clocks in at just over two-and-a-half minutes, you don’t sense anything is missing. Every passage is executed perfectly, as though the song has been blessed by the patroness of musicians herself. Saint Cecilia makes the kind of music you can lose yourself in, only to return to reality feeling wide-eyed and enchanted.
Saint Cecilia is Cecilia Enriquez (vocals, guitars, synths) along with Leah Provencher (bass) and Joey Welcher (drums).
Stalagmites – “Binary” (Salford/Greater Manchester, England)
RIYL: Arctic Monkeys, Interpol, Echo & The Bunnymen
Beneath the moody veneer of “Binary” from emerging UK trio Stalagmites lies a faint echo of American indie rock. For a fleeting moment you’ll hear echoes of The Replacements’ “Bastards of Young” with the jangly guitar riff first made famous in 1985. But just as quickly, this song’s chameleonic traits reveal its decidedly Mancunian sound. As the melancholy bass lines take the spotlight, you can almost picture storm clouds rolling in overhead. The tones shift into Stone Roses territory with hints of Echo & The Bunnymen.
Frontman Bradley Lynch has powerful vocals despite not fully putting them to the test here. His restraint actually enhances the song as it allows the music to churn in the background until it erupts at the bridge. “Binary” isn’t a face-melting banger along the lines of Foals or Kasabian, though Stalagmites definitely possess the talent to produce anthemic crowd pleasers. Instead of going for bombastic volume here, Stalagmites maintain control of the musical maelstrom by holding back – this, of course, only makes you want more. They take a brooding, Interpol-esque approach on “Binary” to tantalizing effect. It’s no wonder Stalagmites continue to receive increasing airplay in the UK. They are most definitely a band on the rise worth watching.
You can grab this single on iTunes.
Stalagmites are: Bradley Lynch (vocals/bass), Alex Hardman (guitar), and Nick Toft (drums).
Deep Cuts – “Friends” (Houston, USA)
RIYL: Neon Indian, Holy Ghost, The Drums, Wavves
If you close your eyes when you listen to “Friends” from Texas indie band Deep Cuts, you’ll be transported instantly to a neon-accented retro party. The synth-heavy ‘80s sound they create is so legitimate you expect the band members to sport Flock Of Seagulls hairdos. (Fear not; they don’t.) The secret to their soft neon melodies is their use of vintage instruments. That, and a tongue-in-cheek view of nightlife regardless of the decade or the current fashion trends.
The duo of Chase Harris and Zach Alderman is a force of nature when it comes to musical expression. The first thing you notice about “Friends” is its Latin-inspired percussion that ushers in the synths that evoke a dream sequence from when Miami Vice dominated popular culture. The song’s lyrics mirror the indulgence of the ’80s (“I only came to this party to get high”) while still sounding relevant to modern times. Deep Cuts prove you can wink in the rearview mirror (while sporting Wayfarers) as you zoom onto the music charts of 2017.
The band plans to release their debut album later this year. This (along with “Hang on to Your Love”) is out now via Go Bang Go Records on Amazon and iTunes. Deep Cuts’ upcoming tour starts next week in Houston.
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