For the first weekend of summer, the Saturday Sampler June 24th edition offers plenty of sizzling tunes. These nine singles from artists in Australia, England, Ireland, Norway, and the US are the perfect soundtrack for your weekend plans. We hope you’ll discover a new favorite among these gems! Check back tomorrow when our Weekend Showcase will include every tune we’ve shared this week.
BERRIES – “Wild Vow” (London, England)
RIYL: Black Honey, Sleater-Kinney, Wolf Alice
On the list of bands we cannot get enough of, BERRIES rank high. Back in November we praised their debut EP, Those Funny Things, and yesterday we shared a photo of their recent show in our London Live Music Roundup. Now we are chuffed to share their rockin’ new single, “Wild Vow.” What an absolute banger it is!
Full admission: we’re suckers for female musicians who wield their instruments like weapons, and that’s exactly what Holly Carter and Lauren Cooper do on their guitar and bass, respectively. On this tune they blaze a path of fierce hooks guided by Lucie Hartmann’s ferocious percussion. “Wild Vow” doesn’t cold cock you in the jaw with blatant jabs; instead the three let the song simmer, gradually increasing the grit and growl until you emit an enthusiastic cry of “Bloody hell!” at the bridge. The song is 12 seconds shy of three perfect minutes, but the dynamic range on display during that timeframe – equal parts subdued and savage – prove why BERRIES are a force of nature.
“Wild Vow” is from their sophomore effort due out later this year.
BERRIES are: Holly Carter (guitar/vocals), Lauren Cooper (bass/vocals), and Lucie Hartmann (drums/vocals).
FEWS – “Metal” (London, England)
RIYL: Gary Numan, Joy Division, Preoccupations, Eagulls
Gary Numan will forever be known as the goth king of New Wave and industrial and for inspiring generations of future musicians. Now to cover his work and re-imagine it in a way that still respects his genius takes a lot of courage, and indie-rock quartet FEWS have never backed down from a challenge. For that matter, they may have done the unthinkable.
The London-based band have taken Numan’s classic tune, “Metal”, and re-imagined it. More accurately, they have fired it up and transformed it into a darker, harder, post-punk number. It is an unrelenting maelstrom of searing guitars, throbbing rhythms, and harrowing vocals. It is, in other words, a monster that will absolutely blow your mind. No wonder these guys have emerged as one of our favorite bands of the past 18 months, as they continue to unleash jaw-dropping music. It also explains why Play It Again Sam have signed them.
FEWS are Frederick Rundqvist (vocals/guitar), David Alexander (guitar), Rasmus Andersson (drums), and Jay Clifton (bass).
Jack River – “Fool’s Gold” (Forster, NSW, Australia)
RIYL: Lisa Loeb, Cat Power, Ashley Shadow
Most first impressions are like the perfect summer day: it puts a smile immediately on your face and for a few hours you bask in its glory. Suddenly, it’s all over. Then there are the rare ones that are like scars that are so permanently imprinted on you that you never forget when and how you got them. Holly Rankin’s project, Jack River, is the latter.
We have been dazzled with the singer-songwriter since we first heard her single, “Palo Alto.” Her EP, Lost Highway Songs No. 2, further cemented her place in our hearts as well as all of Australia. As evidence, next week her highly-anticipated, inaugural Electric Lady Festival will be held in Sydney (June 30th) and Melbourne (July 1st), and it features a Who’s Who of female Australian artists. Bec Sandridge, Alex Lahey, Ali Barter, and Gretta Ray are just some of the names on the lineup. And of course, Rankin will be performing.
With the festival less than a week away, Rankin has shared her first single of 2017, and it’s everything you would expect from her. “Fool’s Gold” is a rarity in today’s music world – a guitar-driven pop tune that sounds more like an intimate folk number. It recalls the music of the ’90s when a wave of artists fronted by Lisa Loeb, Cat Power, and Jewel emerged and washed over listeners with stunning vocals and endearing stories. Rankin, in many respects, is a throwback akin to those artists. As displayed on this song, she’s knows how to capture our hearts with a lush, stirring melody while grabbing our souls with a story about want, love, and hope.
The single is out now via I OH YOU.
Living – “Path” (Bergen, Norway)
RIYL: Tame Impala, Toro y Moi, Washed Out
Two things we have come to learn about Living, the Norwegian group led by Brazilian-born Lucas de Almeida: first, their music is some of the most sun-drenched, uplifting on the planet, and we say this in all sincerity. Second, their take on psychedelic pop is so innovative and refreshing, it deserves its own label. Living call it “Zen pop”, while we think of it as “tropical psychedelia.” Whichever term you prefer (and maybe someone else has another description), one thing is certain: you’ll be left in a happier state after hearing their songs.
“Path,” their newest single, further builds upon the band’s legacy. It is the perfect wake-up song – bright, radiant, and full of energy. Forget about hearing birds singing outside your window; this is much more pleasant and idyllic. The cool, summer grooves are addictive, and de Almeida’s soothing vocals are like the first rays of sunshine breaking over the horizon. We could listen to this song again and again, for in these fleeting moments everything feels pristine. Such is the charm and alluring power of Living, and we’ve succumbed to every one of their advances.
The single is out now via Brilliance. Here’s hoping more smile-inducing songs are on the horizon.
Living are Lucas de Almeida (vocals), Nora Tårnesvik (bass), Sturla Kverneng (drums), and James Kalinoski (electronics).
OTHERKIN – “React” (Dublin, Ireland)
RIYL: Wavves, early Arctic Monkeys, Jay Reatard
Move over U2; another band is about to take the title of Dublin’s favorite group. In just 2.5 years, OTHERKIN have developed a rabid following across the UK and even abroad. Frenetic live songs, unpretentious, fiery post-punk, and whimsical storylines have helped them rise quickly within indie circles while having tastemakers like us go delirious with excitement every time they release a new tune. Thankfully the weekend is here because if we were to spin “React” during the week, we might be unemployed for blasting it too loudly throughout the office.
This song is the definition of a sonic explosion. It is an all-out party condensed into a fiery three minutes and seven seconds. The guitar work is exhilarating, and the rhythms are head-bobbing delightful. Frontman Luke Reilly’s vocals are controlled fury, wailing energetically and adding to the adrenaline rush that is this song. But as is always the case with this band, never ignore what they have to say. While this song is a full-blown anthem, “React” is essentially a protest tune, criticizing certain world leaders for their unorthodox ways. “Are you going to resist?” he asks us at the end. If OTHERKIN are leading the charge, there is only one answer.
If you’ll be in Europe come September, you can follow the band, as they embark on a cross-continental tour. Dates can be found here.
OTHERKIN are Luke Reilly (vocals/guitar), Conor Wynne (guitar), David Anthony (bass), and Rob Summons (drums).
Pastel Felt – “Take It Out On Me” (Los Angeles, USA)
RIYL: Chastity Belt, Fazerdaze, Hopalong
If you somehow missed Charming Lait, the stunning debut of Los Angeles-based indie shoegaze/dream pop band Pastel Felt last fall, don’t beat yourself up too much. You have a second chance to discover their lush sound now that the fine folks at Lolipop Records have released it on cassette. Fans of dreamy, mildly psychedelic bedroom surf pop will find “Take It Out on Me” is the equivalent of sonic kryptonite. The layers of warm vocals and jangly chords swirl around in a kaleidoscopic haze that will leave you weak in the knees.
As you listen to this song, you’ll likely ask yourself, “Why isn’t Tara Milch’s voice prescribed as an anti-anxiety prescription?” The caramel richness of her dulcet tones instantly calms you from head to toe. Seriously, it’s downright impossible to feel stressed while she sings. Then add in the equally dreamlike backing vocals, and you’ll feel like you’re floating towards another dimension. The song still rocks, but with breezy, sun-kissed charm. It won’t be long until Pastel Felt are luring in scores of new fans with their siren’s song. If there is any justice in this world, they will soon find their name on festival lineups across the globe. Summertime bliss, thy name is Pastel Felt.
Quiet Hounds – “Emperors” (Atlanta, USA)
RIYL: Band of Horses, Futurebirds, My Morning Jacket
“Are we not rock stars? Part-time demigods?” That’s the question Georgia-based indie Americana/pop-rock outfit Quiet Hounds ask on their new “Emperors” single. While they may not be a global household name yet, we have no doubt these guys are heading in that direction. From the very first notes, this song gives you a good idea of why the band is one of the best unknown bands around. We say “unknown” because each band member’s identity remains a mystery. This collective of veteran musicians has been making music together since 2011, choosing to focus on the quality of their product than seek stardom for those behind the masks they wear. (As disguises go, those masks are far less restricting than, say, the full-body costumes worn by Here Come the Mummies!)
“Emperors” begins with an insanely hypnotic and addictive guitar riff – the kind you hear once that stays on repeat in your head for a month. Imagine stumbling upon a small stream while on a woodland hike: you follow the water’s path as the stream grows wider. It soon leads to a breathtaking waterfall. This is the refreshing quality that echoes through every Quiet Hounds song. Maybe their Georgia heritage accounts for the warmth of their music? Like many southern bands (especially Futurebirds and My Morning Jacket), Quiet Hounds have a gift for creating bright sonic tones that uplift your spirit and energize your soul. Do yourself a favor and get to know these guys. You don’t need to know their names to appreciate the musical magic they make.
Rare Monk – “Happy Haunting” (Portland, OR, USA)
RIYL: Two Door Cinema Club, Menomena, Bombay Bicycle Club
Two years ago, Rare Monk left us in awe with their self-titled sophomore EP, which was an emotional roller coaster that pushed the boundaries of alt-pop. The Oregon band, though, have kept a low profile since, and we’ve only recently learned why. A year ago, Rare Monk experienced a number of changes, including being reduced from a five-piece to a quartet and adding Hugh Jepson as the new lead guitarist and vocalist. With the changes, the band moved away from its experimental origins to creating bigger, guitar-driven songs. Does the band still impress despite the new approach?
Their first single as a four-piece is “Happy Haunting,” a gentle but sublime guitar-pop tune. It is the perfect song for these hot, sticky days – a song that leaves you smiling and feeling at ease without having to move very much. The jangly notes are summery and warm, while Jepson’s vocals are light and dreamy. Rare Monk, however, haven’t completely set aside their “alt-pop” ways, as the bridge features a collision of reverb-drenched guitars and stuttering rhythms that is more indie rock than pop. So while much has changed, there is still quite a bit familiar about this new Rare Monk.
The band is preparing for the release of their debut full-length which is expected later this summer. Like “Happy Haunting,” the album will focus on themes of death and agency. This should be interesting.
Triptides – “Rewind” (Los Angeles, USA)
RIYL: Whitney, Woods, Ultimate Painting
Grab your sun hats, visors, and sunglasses (you may even want to put on the sunscreen) because this next single is like sunshine. Fittingly, the band performing the song is from Los Angeles, which seems to always be basking in the bright rays of our nearest star. Without further ado, meet Triptides, who share one of most pleasing songs you’ll hear in a long time with “Rewind.”
The track is reminiscent of the body-swaying, smile-inducing, psychedelic pop of the ‘70s. It is music that immediately leaves you in an ethereal state where all your problems momentarily wash away. The sun-drenched harmonies are immensely soothing while the instrumentation is worth a few shoulder shimmies. Triptides’ songwriting, too, is terrific, reminiscent of the storytelling approach of contemporary re-imaginers like Whitney and Woods. So be swept away by the band’s dizzying sound and romantic story, which is perfect for the lazy, hazy days of summer.
Triptides are Glenn Brigman (guitar/organ/vocals), Josh Menashe (guitar/vocals), Dylan Sizemore (bass), and Shaughnessy Starr (drums).
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