Happy Canada Day! We could have prepared a Canada Day playlist, but in true Canadian spirit we’ve decided to celebrate the beautiful mosaic of new music across the globe. Some of the songs are by recognizable artists, and they are standing next to bands and musicians awaiting their major breakthrough. Enjoy the holiday weekend Canada and may everyone else have a wonderful start to July.
Mogwai – “Party in the Dark” (Glasgow, Scotland)
RIYL: Mogwai, Slowdive
We kick off today’s playlist with the newest from Scottish post-rock legends Mogwai. This stunning tune from their forthcoming ninth studio LP, Every Country’s Sun, takes a decidedly softer route than their trademark thunderous fare. In fact, “Party in the Dark” veers deep into the dream-pop realm with its hazy tones. This is the band’s second preview from the new album, and it follows the gorgeous “Coolverine” released last month. Both singles will steal your breath away, because that is the effect Mogwai have on listeners. But where instrumental “Coolverine” was gently mesmerizing with foggy, melancholic tones akin to Explosions in the Sky, “Party in the Dark” is a bolder soundscape.
Did we mention lyrics yet? Sure, Mogwai fans realize that Stuart Braithwaite’s vocals are often relegated to cameo appearances on albums since the band are heavily instrumental. But here his voice soars clearly atop layers of fuzzed-out guitars and synths. Though the song’s undercurrent of retro tones calls to mind The Cure and Joy Division, “Party in the Dark” is neither gloomy nor brooding. It’s a lush, elegant affair that demonstrates why Mogwai remain, after 22 years together, innovators in the post-rock genre.
Every Country’s Sun is produced by the band’s longtime friend, Dave Fridmann (Tame Impala, The Flaming Lips), and it arrives September 1st via Rock Action (UK), Spunk (AUS), and Temporary Residence (US). Pre-orders are available here.
Mogwai are Stuart Braithwaite (guitar/vocals), John Cummings (guitar/vocals), Barry Burns (guitar/keys/vocals), Dominic Aitchison (bass), and Martin Bulloch (drums).
St. Vincent – “New York” (New York City, USA)
RIYL: Perfume Genius, Sufjan Stevens, San Fermin
Annie Clark, the woman behind St. Vincent, has long been unpredictable, which is a part of her wonderful genius. In 2012, she collaborated with David Byrne on the critically acclaimed, Love This Giant. Her 2014 self-titled album, which to this day is one of the best LPs of the decade, was revered for its intelligence and taking indie rock to greater cinematic heights. Earlier this year, she made her directorial debut with the release of XX, a short film that is the first part of an all-female horror anthology. Now with her first song of 2017, she once again has astounded us.
“New York” is an unexpected love ballad to the people of her current hometown and to the city itself. Maybe it’s the influence of working on film or being in the presence of David Byrne, whatever the case may be the song represents a side of Clark we have not seen in some time. Her searing guitar has been replaced with the tender notes of the piano, and her assertive indie rock has been set aside for a lush and cinematic orchestra-pop approach. The strings add an ethereal element to the song, but Clark’s voice, which are soft and vulnerable, is what captivates as do her words.
You’re the only motherfucker in the city who would forgive me.
I have lost a hero.
I have lost a friend.
But for you darling, I would do it all again.
If you cannot hear the song, click on this link to watch the colorful video. No official word on whether a new album is coming soon, but Clark is headed out on tour this autumn. Tour dates are on her website. Catch this once-in-a-lifetime artist while you still can.
Amy O – “Lavender Night” (Bloomington, IN, USA)
RIYL: Sleater-Kinney, Helium
Hold onto your hat, because Amy Oelsner – aka Amy O – is about to blow you away with her new single, “Lavender Night.” The Arkansas-born, Indiana-based artist cranks up the volume to 11 as she unleashes a torrent of scorching indie rock riffs. After one listen, we were scrambling to pick up our jaws from the floor – that’s how powerful this tune is! Amy O wields her guitar like a weapon, with the same confident swagger as indie rock pioneers Kelley Deal, Corin Tucker, and Liz Phair. We dare you not to fall hard for this incredibly talented emerging indie star.
“Lavender Night” is from Amy O’s upcoming Elastic LP that’s due next month. Of the album, Oelsner says:
“Elastic ultimately is an album about learning to live in your own inescapable skin. I always had an aversion to being a girl onstage with a guitar singing quiet songs. There’s nothing wrong with that at all, but I always knew I wanted to do something with a bit more volume, a bit more anger. I’m just now figuring out how to represent myself, and I think a lot of that has to do with feminism—learning how to be loud and take over a room, when those are things I’ve been socialized not to do. It’s been a very powerful realization that I can do that.”
There is no doubt she has achieved her goals on this song. We look forward to hearing the full album!
Amy Oelsner is backed by Madeline Robinson (backing vocals/bass), Damion Schiralli (lead guitar), Aaron Denton (keys), and Justin Vollmar (drums).
Anna of the North – “Someone” (Oslo, Norway)
RIYL: Kim Carnes, Electric Youth CHVRCHES
Over the past two years, Anna of the North, the Norwegian-Kiwi duo featuring Anna Lotterud and Brady Daniell-Smith, have emerged as stars in Scandinavia with their dazzling and ‘80s-esque synth-pop. And they’ve achieved immense success without the benefit of a full-length album. Their debut is only a couple of months away and with it superstardom awaits.
The first single from the album, “Lovers”, was icy smooth, like the glacial streams that litter Norway’s beautiful northern landscape. The latest song, “Someone”, is another stirring, heart-fluttering synth-pop ballad. Lotterud’s vocals are incredibly soft and dreamy, and one that you wish will haunt your mind well into the night. Daniell-Smith’s production is terrific. All the elements – the sizzling synths, the chiming of the guitars, and the heart-pounding rhythms – are kept delicate levels to allow the storyline of unwanted love develop. The ‘80s vibe of the track is heard immediately, as a sample from Kim Carnes’ “Bette Davis Eyes” opens the song. However, “Someone” then evolves into a track that could be from Sixteen Candles or Fast Times at Ridgmont High, and, for those who grew up on John Hughes’ movies will be reminded of simpler times (not to mention bad fashion sense).
Dorin Yanni & The Band – “Move Your Body” (Tel Aviv, Israel)
RIYL: The Lumineers, Of Monsters and Men, The Head & The Heart
We are always on the lookout for exciting new artists, and we often find them in the most unexpected places. Such is the case with Dorin Yanni & The Band. When we first heard their “Move Your Body” single, we assumed they were either American or possibly Icelandic/Scandinavian based on their jubilant tones. The fact that their instrumentation includes banjo, ukulele, trumpet and violin immediately calls to mind The Lumineers or perhaps Of Monsters and Men. But neither of those bands are anywhere close to Dorin Yanni’s backyard. No, this collective of talented musicians is based in Tel Aviv, Israel.
Led by vocalist/guitarist Dorin Yanni (a former contestant on The Voice in Israel), the group makes some of the most unique music we’ve heard in quite some time. Their effortless combination of Israeli folk with western, Irish, and Indian influences is unusual yet inspired and inventive. It’s no wonder they are starting to garner attention around the globe! “Move Your Body” is the refreshing song you didn’t realize you needed; now that you’ve found it, be prepared to have it – and these lyrics – on repeat all summer long:
So move your body (ho ho ho)
So move your head right and left
So the world will know you’re there
You can stream “Move Your Body” via the band’s SoundCloud page.
Dorin Yanni is joined by Alon Wasserman (keys/ukulele/harmonica), Amir Braytman (flute), Amir Biran (banjo), Harel Keshet (trumpet), Sam Mendel (bass), Sergey Butor (violin), and Ido Maimon (drums).
Hiss Golden Messenger – “Standing in the Doorway” (Durham, NC, USA)
RIYL: Glen Frey, The War on Drugs, The Eagles
In a week filled with unexpected new music, the release of a song by Hiss Golden Messenger is the most surprising. That’s because less than a year ago M.C. Taylor and his band released Heart Like a Levee, which was just sheer brilliance and was one of our favorite albums of 2016. But always the restless sort (as evidenced by six years of non-stop touring and album releases), Taylor had something new to share and thankfully he has. Actually, he’s sharing a song written during the Heart Like a Levee sessions, but didn’t make the final cut. Fortunately, he’s decided to present his a gift for the weekend.
Like almost everything he’s written, “Standing in the Doorway” is literally and figuratively a classic. The smooth, guitar-and-piano drive ballad recalls the early ’80s and the candle-burning soft-rock ballads of The Eagles. There is one exception, though – this song comes with some delicious, twangy banjo that is faintly heard in the background. You’ll be forgiven for missing it and being lost in Taylor’s vulnerable vocals, which are asking for forgiveness. If you’re in such a situation, grab your love one and spin this song and maybe everything will be all right.
“Standing in the Door” is out now via Merge Records. Hiss Golden Messenger is on the summer festival circuit, and tour dates can be found on their website and Facebook pages.
RALPH – “Young Hearts Run Free” (Toronto, Canada)
RIYL: Donna Summer, Gloria Gaynor, Stevie Nicks
What’s a long weekend without some disco! Yes, disco! We’re not talking Bee Gees or ABBA, but the sweet delirium associated with Donna Summer and Gloria Gaynor. Everyone knows that sound – the synth-driven melody that has a hazy and hallucinating effect on a person. If you have no idea what we’re talking about, then press play to “Young Hearts Run Free”, the new single by Raffa Weyman, who is better known as RALPH.
Unabashedly retro, Weyman is a modern-day disco queen but with a voice as spectacular as Stevie Nicks. When such a combination is created, the experience is unlike anything in music today. As demonstrated on “Young Hearts Run Free”, Weyman not only has you gently swaying under the disco ball, but her voice steals your mind and leaves you feeling like you’re on cloud nine and grinning ear-to-ear. Next thing you know, you’ll be singing:
Young hearts to yourself be true
Don’t be no fool
Love don’t really love you
Young hearts run free
Never be hurt
Unlike my man and me.
As long as RALPH is in our lives, everything will be all right. This song is the queen of all feelgood songs.
Von Grey – “6 AM” (Atlanta, USA)
RIYL: Joseph, First Aid Kit
Classically trained sibling trio Von Grey bring something fresh and new to indie pop music: specifically, an orchestra’s worth of instrumentation. It’s not every day that you hear cello and violins in pop music, but this Atlanta-based group uses those instruments – along with synths and mandolin – on their new “6 AM” single. The result is stunning. Like their “Poison in the Water” single from earlier this year, “6 AM” has brooding qualities that extend beyond their ethereal vocals. The fine balance they strike between baroque pop and synth-driven electronic is unlike anything else you’ll hear in mainstream music. Imagine if sisterly trio Joseph teamed up with Warpaint: that’s the hypnotic charm of Von Grey. Prepare to be wowed.
If “6 AM” is your introduction to this emerging group, you’ll be pleased to know it’s not their only music to date. They actually have three previous releases, the latest being their 2015 EP, Panophobia. Get to know this dynamic new band right now. They’re poised to make a huge splash in 2017.
“6 AM” is available to stream/purchase here.
Von Grey are Annika (vocals/violin/guitar/keys), Fiona (vocals/guitar/violin/percussion), and Kathryn (cello/bass/keys/backing vocals).
Winter – “Jaded” (Los Angeles, USA)
RIYL: The Breeders, Liz Phair, Weezer
When you hear “Jaded” from emerging indie dream rock outfit Winter, you may think you’ve discovered a rare ‘90s gem. But despite its authentic vintage vibes, this tune is brand new. Winter is the moniker of Brazilian-American artist Samira Winter, a Los Angeles-based singer who grew up in Brazil listening to punk. Apparently her formative years also included many hours absorbing ’90s indie rock, because “Jaded” could easily be a previously unreleased track from The Breeders or Liz Phair. This tune isn’t derivative in any way; it’s simply so spot-on with its vintage vibes that your head spins from saying “Wow!” over and over.
Its lyrics address a fear many musicians have – that they’ll become numb or develop a careless nonchalance when it comes to their music. Winter confronts those fears here, adding tight hooks and powerful vocals. According to her Bandcamp site, the song’s inspiration is entirely autobiographical:
“The song ‘Jaded’ was written after Samira Winter played a show with her band Winter at the Los Angeles warehouse space Non Plus Ultra. As she looked around she saw how a lot of bands were drained from touring and bitter from the music industry. Furthermore, she recognized in herself that she, too, was becoming desensitized by the music scene. The lyrics tell the story through an outsider’s perspective: seeing a band show up late to sound check, acting tired and bored, even forgetting how to play their own songs. It’s a meditation on being a musician or anyone working in an over-saturated industry at a time where you can feel so overwhelmed and undervalued.”
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