Today’s serving of new music cocktails has strong international flavors, featuring artists from Australia, England, Greece, Scotland, and the US. It’s packed with plenty of genre variety, from American post-punk and haunting folk-pop from Greece to spine-tingling ambient pop from the UK and more. Your new favorite artists await you.
Post Lovers – “Melbourne” (Athens, Greece)
RIYL: Concrete Blonde, The Pretenders
Athens, Greece is more than just a beautiful ancient city; it’s also home to a thriving indie music scene. One of the city’s newest exports is Post Lovers, and their “Melbourne” single is a lush, mesmerizing number. Fortunately for those of us whose knowledge of Greek is limited to the alphabet, this band sings in English.
“Melbourne” opens with a gentle intro and the gorgeous vocals of Elena Karageorgeu who bears a striking similarity to Concrete Blonde’s Johnette Napolitano. You can also hear echoes of The Pretenders’ Chrissie Hynde. This is a voice that will haunt you, especially when she sings, “Waiting / I’m under your skin” and on the chorus, “When I’m alone, I’m thinking of you.” The feeling is mutual.
If this mellow, folk-pop ballad is your introduction to Post Lovers, then you can thank the Greek indie label Inner Ear Records. They’re celebrating their 10th anniversary this year by releasing a special single each month through their A Distant Victory Singles Club. We can only hope Post Lovers plan to release more music in the very near future, because this song has us addicted to their sound.
Post Lovers are: Elena, Stavros, Danai, Nikos, and Yiannis.
Ghostpoet – “Trouble + Me” (London, England)
RIYL: Tricky, Masive Attack, Nick Cave
Another artist who bowled us over this week is Ghostpoet, the musical project of London singer Obaro Ejimiwe. “Trouble + Me” is dark, sultry, and utterly haunting. While fans in the UK are already familiar with this Mercy Prize-nominated artist, “Trouble + Me” might be a new experience for American listeners. If so, welcome to your new favorite music addiction. Ghostpoet is an industry veteran who has collaborated with Massive Attack, The Streets, Alt-J, and more over the last five years. Yet as is so often the case, his European acclaim has yet to infiltrate the North American scene. Hopefully this tune will change that.
“Trouble + Me” hypnotizes you from the opening notes. Its captivating minor-key instrumentation creeps in like a fog. Soon you find yourself with eyes closed, gently swaying in rhythmic response. Remember the first time you heard Massive Attack’s “Teardrop”? You may have a similar reaction after you hit play on this addictive track. Then you’ll likely hit repeat a few dozen times because once is just not enough. Go ahead and block out a few hours on your schedule as you’ll be too lost in this song to do anything but sit back and chill. Don’t say we didn’t warn you.
Mt. Doubt – “Natural Swimmer” (Edinburgh, Scotland)
RIYL: The National, Frightened Rabbit, Foals
Chills: that’s what you’ll feel upon hearing the churning guitars that launch the “Natural Swimmer” single from Edinburgh’s Mt. Doubt.
In those first few seconds (and especially once the vocals begin), your brain tries to identify the sound. You may even find yourself asking, “Who is this?” because there is something intrinsically familiar about the timbre of frontman Leo Bargery’s voice. That’s when you realize you’re hearing echoes of some other beloved artists: hints of The National, Frightened Rabbit, and even Foals to an extent, are all incorporated in this gloriously cloudy gem.
To say that Mt. Doubt are one of the most promising bands to emerge from Scotland lately is an understatement. “Natural Swimmer” encapsulates the best of the Scottish sound. Equal parts breezy yet brooding, it is a foreboding cloud that never fully develops into a storm. Rather, its grey soundscape hints at the band’s ability to deliver something darker; this only heightens your anticipation as you listen. No other group in recent memory has managed to meld the distinct warm tone, both musically and vocally, of The National’s Matt Berninger and Foals’ Yannis Philippakis while also distilling the vibrant energy of Frightened Rabbit. After a dozen repeated spins, this ace tune keeps getting better. This former solo project that now has six talented members in its roster make deliciously dark indie pop. Savor Mt. Doubt’s music like a fine whiskey.
The Ocean Party – “More to Run” (Wagga Wagga/Melbourne, Australia)
RIYL: The National, The War on Drugs
Australian dream-pop band The Ocean Party just keep impressing the hell out of us. We shared their “Restless” single last September, and the terms we used to describe that tune (“a shimmering gem of indie pop brilliance”) are equally applicable to their newest offering. “More to Run” is simply stunning. Everything about it – from the softly fuzzed out guitars to the sparkling keys and warm vocals – wraps around your headspace with intimacy. It has the tonality of The War on Drugs and the introspection of The National; together, those elements make “More to Run” an instant favorite. This is a perfect soundtrack for early mornings when you need to ease into reality, or for long, head-clearing drives to no particular destination. There is a therapeutic element in their music that almost defies description. Just listen to “More to Run” once and you’ll understand.
Let’s face it: if you’re not on board with The Ocean Party, you are missing out on some exquisitely crafted music. Even the lyrics are relatable, because who hasn’t been plagued by bouts of anxiety as reflected in the opening lines:
“I went to bed with a racing mind / told myself it’d all be fine / but when I woke up my head still span / the same thoughts again and again and again.”
The Ocean Party are: Lachlan Denton (guitar, vocals), Liam Halliwell (guitar, vocals), Curtis Wakeling (guitar, vocals), Jordan Thompson (keys, vocals), Mark “Crowman” Rogers (bass, vocals), and Zac Denton (drums, vocals).
Lucas Oswald – “Dark on Us” (Austin, TX, USA)
RIYL: Shearwater, Dan Mangan, The National, The Besnard Lakes
Austin-based indie artist Lucas Oswald knows all too well how it feels to share the spotlight. As a member of Shearwater and a touring guitarist with Jesca Hoop, Oswald has spent years playing the music of others. Now he’s preparing to release his second solo effort, Whet, in September. If the first single is any indication, it won’t be long until he’s headlining sold-out tours playing his own brand of thoughtful, heart-tugging indie rock.
“Dark on Us” cannot be compared to any other artists; this is a testament to Oswald’s creativity and talent. Perhaps it’s because this multi-instrumentalist (he plays damn near everything – including guitar, piano, vibraphone, hammered dulcimer, cello, synths, and kalimba) is a visionary who has been in the business long enough to hone his own distinct sound. He’s not simply a singer/songwriter who can rock with the best of them; the dynamics here aren’t strictly rock. Intertwined with the song’s steady percussive heartbeat are layers of instrumentation so tight your jaw will drop. Then there’s his rich, sonorous vocals. It’s hard not to become mesmerized when he sings, “Another sedative / a shorter fuse / what are you gonna choose?” This is a powerful track from an artist whose work is anything but a sedative. If anything, “Dark on Us” packs enough of a punch to stir even the most listless soul into action.
Walter Etc. – “April 41st” (Portland, OR and Ventura, CA USA)
RIYL: Weezer, Walter Mitty & His Makeshift Orchestra
The one thing that’s keeping us all relatively sane in these crazy times we’re living in is music – specifically, catchy music that revives our spirits. So how appropriate is it that the new forthcoming album from Walter Etc. is titled Gloom Cruise? The lead single from that LP is the antithesis of gloom, and we guarantee it will help you forget about everything that’s trying to bring you down.
“April 41st” is unapologetically upbeat. It’s jangly, sun-kissed, indie surf-rock that hits your system with the force of a perfectly executed high-five. You almost can’t detect that the song is from an album inspired by issues of drug addiction and mental health. Walter Etc. has emerged renewed after frontman Dustin Hayes watched as his former band (Walter Mitty & His Makeshift Orchestra) took a hiatus to deal with life. Dealing with stressful situations like a band hiatus and name change, along with seeing members battle their own demons, can prompt some bands to call it a day. But the energy you hear in “April 41st” stems from their collective indomitable spirit. It’s contagious, so crank this one the next time you need an instant infusion of positivity.
Walter Etc. are Dustin Hayes, Kris Schobert, and Russell Park.
TUSKS – “Dissolve” (London, England)
RIYL: Daughter, Agnes Obel, London Grammar
When it comes to powerful voices that stop you cold in your tracks, few artists rival Emily Underhill, aka TUSKS. The London-based singer ranks with Agnes Obel and Daughter in the upper echelon of ethereal voices that send shivers down your spine. We still haven’t fully recovered from the emotional impact her “Toronto” single left on us back in March; now she’s delivered yet another masterpiece with “Dissolve.”
Gorgeous and cinematic in scope, “Dissolve” washes over you in gentle, bliss-inducing waves. The tender delivery of the first verse is intimate, but the chorus will take your breath away. Prepare for chills. This song is full of such aching melancholy that it will likely reduce fans to tears when she performs it live. TUSKS is redefining the indie ambient/experimental dream pop genre with each release. Based on what we’ve heard from the upcoming Dissolve LP, it’s certain to make our list of Top Albums of 2017. Her website lists just one London performance in September, though hopefully she will launch a full worldwide tour in support of the album. Music as good as hers demands to be experienced live.
The Drury Brothers – “Day In Day Out” (Georgia, USA)
RIYL: Arctic Monkeys, The Killers, The Strokes
A new American indie rock band is about to take the world by storm. The Drury Brothers don’t sound like your typical group from Georgia, though their sound is hotter than southern asphalt. They’re inspired by The Beatles and The Rolling Stones, so it’s no wonder their debut single is full of tight hooks. Yes, “Day In Day Out” is their first song, which defies comprehension. These guys have a winning formula, and it won’t be long until everyone is singing along at the top of their lungs to this one. It’s been out for a few weeks now in the U.S., so global domination can’t be far along.
This is pure rock ‘n roll fun wrapped up in a neat, two-minute package. They may sing “Shut me down / shut me up” on the opening lyrics, but that’s the last thing you’ll want to happen. An anthemic rocker like this should be played at full volume for best effect. If there is any justice in this world, The Drury Brothers will be added to every major festival lineup in 2018. This banger of a tune will have you singing along and emitting an enthusiastic “Oh hell yeah!” when it ends.
Led by 24-year-old twins Dalton and Adam Drury, the band also includes Roman Perry (son of Aerosmith’s Joe Perry) along with Wade Beahm (bass), and Skyler Black (drums).
While we don’t have much info regarding a full album, this single is out now on iTunes.
Dream Version – “Fight Fair” (Chicago, USA)
RIYL: Parquet Courts, The Kinks, Devo
Based on their new “Fight Fair” single, Chicago’s Dream Version are looking for steal every Parquet Courts fan on the planet. This indie slacker-pop trio make music that is as catchy (if not more so) than their Brooklyn contemporaries. So what’s the best way to describe Dream Version if you missed their 2015 debut, Beginners? In a nutshell: they are purveyors of insanely tight hooks made for smart people who want to think and dance. It’s intelligent post-punk infused with plenty of social consciousness, self-effacing humor, and sardonic wit.
First off, “Fight Fair” is very self-aware. In addition to stating “The first rule of fighting fair / is to hit yourself first,” they effortlessly incorporate a Biblical passage (“let he who is without sin cast the first stone”) to reveal their awareness of their own privilege. Lyrically they appeal to your head while musically they charm your socks clear off. Let yourself bask in this nearly three-minute dose of indie pop-punk perfection. You can’t change the world today, but you can change your perspective and formulate a plan to do more in the world. This is the song to crank while you reconcile yourself to those truths. Once you stop dancing, you’ll realize that Dream Version are the best thing to come out of Chicago since deep-dish pizza.
The Fight Fair LP is out now via Midwest Action with streaming/purchase links here. You can also get it from Bandcamp. They are currently on tour in the US, so go see them if they’re coming anywhere near you.
Dream Version are: Eric Brummitt (guitar/keys/vocals), Alec Jensen (bass/keys/vocals), and Michael Kunik (drums/vocals).
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