The Melodic Tonic ’17 July 19th edition serves up six intoxicating new music cocktails. This week features the newest from The War on Drugs along with familiar voices from the UK and Canada. These summer songs will take you on an emotional and musical journey, so let’s kick things off in Philadelphia.
The War on Drugs – “Strangest Thing” (Philadelphia, USA)
The wizard has done it again. Adam Granduciel, frontman of The War on Drugs, manages to outdo himself with each release. From what we’ve heard so far in the two previous singles (“Thinking of a Place” and “Holding On”), the band’s upcoming fourth album, A Deeper Understanding, will top our list of 2017 favorites.
Sit back and bask in the mellowness of “Strangest Thing” as it washes over you. Its sunset warmth is another example of the band’s subtlety. Every layer is vibrant yet restrained for the first half, with Granduciel’s rich vocals flowing between lush instrumentation that really begins to soar around the 3:34 mark. While the video shows Granduciel ambling in circles, this song follows a straight trajectory to the skies. Buckle up; you’re about to rise high over the clouds with this one.
The War on Drugs are: Adam Granduciel (vocals/guitar), Anthony LaMarca (guitar), David Hartley (bass), Robbie Bennett (keys), Jon Natchez (sax/keys), and Charlie Hall (drums).
Lost Horizons – “The Places We’ve Been” (London, England)
RIYL: Cocteau Twins, The Innocence Mission
Each week seems to bring another reunion project or a new collaboration between voices who have been silent for far too long. The recent releases from Slowdive, Ride, and The Jesus and Mary Chain have us convinced that 2017 is indeed the Year of the Comeback. Now it’s time for a former member of another seminal shoegaze band to emerge from the shadows.
Lost Horizons may be a new name to you, but you’ll likely recognize the talents behind their first single, “The Places We’ve Been.“ The duo consists of former Cocteau Twins bassist (and Bella Union label head) Simon Raymonde along with drummer Richie Thomas (of Dif Juz). For their debut album, Ojalá, the pair have teamed up with many stellar artists, including Karen Peris of The Innocence Mission who lends her ethereal vocals here. A misty melancholy fog permeates this tune with Peris adding sunrise brilliance as balance. To call this song stunning is an understatement. It’s simply magnificent. After 20 repeated spins (no, really; it’s that good), this song is already one of our favorite tracks of the entire year.
We aren’t sure what has prompted so many beloved bands from the ’90s to release new material this year, but we are not complaining. “The Places We’ve Been” takes us back to those days when bands like Cocteau Twins helped shaped our generation’s music knowledge. Now, Lost Horizons will continue the tradition with scores of new fans. Ojalá (“hopefully”) this will be the first of many collaborative albums from Raymonde and Thomas.
Swimming Tapes – “What’s On Your Mind” (London, England)
RIYL: Real Estate, Smith Westerns, Belle and Sebastian
Last year an emerging London-based band called Swimming Tapes blew our minds with their breezy dream-pop. We fell in love with them when they released their “Set the Fire” single in May of 2016 – and now they have us swooning hard again this summer. (Seriously, if you’re in need of a new musical crush, you can’t go wrong with these guys.) Theirs is music meant for carefree sunny days.
“What’s On Your Mind” is the penultimate track from their forthcoming Soft Blue Sea EP. But even if it’s the first song of theirs you’ve ever heard, you’ll understand why we recommend them. This sparkling gem of a tune may inspire you to skive off from work, head to the nearest park or beach, and blissfully laze away the afternoon. Not every band can conjure imagery of blue cloudless skies, but Swimming Tapes do just that here, and it’s grand.
Swimming Tapes are: Robbie Reid, Jason Hawthorne, Louis Price, Paddy Conn, and Andrew Evans.
Colouring – “White Whale” (London, England)
RIYL: Alt-J, The 1975, The XX
Are you one of the thousands of fans who fell under the charm of London indie band Colouring last year? We shared their “Everything Has Grown” single back in October, praising its soul-stirring elegance. But where that song excelled at creating chill vibes on par with Bon Iver, “White Whale” is on another level of sophisticated sensuality. This one calls to mind the come-hither allure of The XX with the electronic elements of Alt-J, and the result is irresistible.
Frontman Jack Kenworthy lays down smoldering vocals from the start (dear god, can he sing!), but what fuels this inferno is the dynamic percussion. These syncopated rhythms will compel even the shyest soul to sway while the sultry bass and guitar lines keep dousing the flames with hook after intoxicating hook. You’ll have to wait until August 25th to get their next album, Heathen, but you can find this single out now on iTunes via Interscope Records. We absolutely understand if Colouring become your new musical obsession. With a sound this smooth, it’s inevitable.
Colouring are: Jack Kenworthy (vocals/keys), Sean Reilly (guitar), Dom Potts (bass), and Alex Johnson (drums).
Aron D’Alesio – “Diamond Ring” (Hamilton, ON Canada)
RIYL: Young Rival, Kevin Morby, The Walkmen, The Everly Brothers
There is so much old-school swagger in the new Aron D’Alesio single that you can envision him wearing a ‘50s-style white t-shirt with a pack of smokes rolled up into the sleeve. “Diamond Ring” channels the harmonies of The Everly Brothers, yet it’s still firmly rooted in the modern era. You’ll hear more pop-leaning echoes of Kevin Morby or The Walkmen than the country twang of The Cactus Blossoms, but the harmonies will still cause you to sigh in appreciation. That’s because D’Alesio is a chameleonic musician whose talents transcend every generational genre. No joke: you can play this for your brother, your great-grandmother, or your three-year-old niece and each will love it. How many artists make quality music destined to be universally adored by all ages? Not many.
You may know Aron D’Alesio from Canadian indie rock outfit Young Rival, where his sound ran the gamut from the Rolling Stones to Tom Petty. On his upcoming self-titled solo album, D’Alesio digs deeper into rock history to deliver this charmer. And charm you it most certainly will. Take a four-minute journey to a bygone era with “Diamond Ring.” Once inside these infectious melodies, you may never want to return.
Summer Salt – “So Polite” (Austin, TX USA)
RIYL: Dabble, Young Dreams, Bebel Gilberto crossed with Beach House
Today’s playlist ends on a laid-back note courtesy of Texas indie band Summer Salt. Their short and sweet “So Polite” single has been out for a few weeks now, though we have been so swamped with great music that it escaped our notice the day the EP arrived via Austin Town Hall Records. Fear not; our initial omission is actually your gain! This bossa nova-infused number has been so successful that the 7” vinyl is now sold out on Bandcamp. Fortunately for you, the band’s generosity is equal to their talent: Summer Salt wants to give you a free digital download this week. Is this what they mean by “So Polite”? If so, we’re sold.
Go grab this tune, then crank it up at the pool or at your local rooftop bar as you watch the sun set over your pitcher of margaritas. You’ll be hard-pressed to find a more delicious offer today. Fans in Austin can catch their next show at the legendary Stubb’s on August 5.
Summer Salt are Matt Terry (vocals/guitar), Phil Baier (bass), and Eugene Chung (drums).
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