Saturday Sampler July 22nd features some icy and cool new music singles plus others that will add some heat to your weekend. Plenty of artists from abroad occupy the mini-playlist, so come join us on this musical trip around the globe.
The Babe Rainbow – “Johny Says Stay Cool” (Byron Bay, Australia)
RIYL: Walter TV, The Rip Cords, The Yardbirds
What do you get when mixing some Hawaii Five-O beach vibes, summery neo-psychedelia, and disco grooves? The answer obviously The Babe Rainbow, who yesterday unveiled “Johny Says Stay Cool”. This shimmering little gem is made for the hot summers, as it will make you groove out to the awesome bass lines, the titillating guitar riffs, and the jitterbug-like percussion. Its echoes of ’60s surf-pop-rock with tinges of psychedelia give it an unquestionable Aussie twist.
The song demonstrates the band’s ability to turn beaches along the Gold and Sunshine Coasts into sweltering parties. Despite not having released a full length – their discography contains a couple of EPs and a handful of singles – Australians have fully embraced the band and their fun, unpretentious sound. Fans around the world will get to experience the trio’s charm as they embark on a worldwide tour in September (although they’ll be on the road in Australia later this month). Check their social media for dates.
“Johny Says Stay Cool” is the second single from The Babe Rainbow’s self-titled debut album. It arrives September 1st via Sony Entertainments, 30th Century Records, and Columbia Records. Pre-order and streaming links available here.
Cathedrals – “Autumn Split” (San Francisco, USA)
RIYL: Toni Braxton, GEMS, Phantogram
While most have rightfully celebrated the returns of Slowdive, Ride, LCD Soundsystem, Land of Talk, and many others, another duo worth everyone’s praise are Cathedrals. Since making their return in March with the nostalgic “Don’t Act Like A Stranger” and the spellbinding “With You”, they’ve reclaimed their spot as one of the best synth-pop groups of the decade. Their latest single validates this claim.
“Autumn Split” is another sensational gem. As intimate and sensual as the aforementioned songs, Brodie Jenkins and Johnny Hwin have turned up the temperature with this R&B-inspired number. Hwin’s production work is seductive, slowing the tempo then intensifying it at the perfect time. The slow groove, though, is made for a slow dance (people who grew up in the ’80s and ’90s know exactly what this means). Jenkins’ voice, meanwhile, has the mark of legends – sultry, warm and unforgettable. As she sings, “Never let me go / Don’t tell me I don’t know,” you may find yourself reaching into your speakers trying to grab her and never wanting to let go. If Cathedrals were around 20 to 25 years ago, they would be legends by now.
Holy Family – “Empty Gestures” (Montreal, Canada via Gothenburg, Sweden)
RIYL: Foals, Grizzly Bear
Sometimes you need to uproot yourself to find inspiration or to figure out your path. Though this is rarely an easy exercise, the rewards can be enormous. For Holy Family, they are reaping massive benefits from the whirlwind journey that has taken them from Sweden and Canada and then to Athens, Georgia. The latter is where they teamed up with Of Montreal’s Kevin Barnes to record their forthcoming album, Values, that promises to be one of the year’s biggest surprises should the early indications hold.
Last month we shared the LP’s first single, “There Completely,” a tune that had us celebrating its “infectious, ’80s-esque retro synth grooves.” Song number two is equally as earth-shattering if not more. With the slow, edgy, cinematic brilliance of Grizzly Bear, “Empty Gestures” is a mind-blowing, meticulous epic. The opening throbbing bass line and buzzing synths set a dark, gripping mood that evokes feelings of being trapped inside a cell. Slowly, the song builds, but instead of turning it into an intense rocker, Holy Family create a climax that is chilling yet breathtaking, as if we are free-falling to our end. The lyrics are smart and brooding, and there is an air of the political. “Even when I’m gone, my empty gestures will live on,” you hear frontman Anton Ekman shout in the song’s finale. The lines are timely and relevant, as doing little to nothing can have dire consequences.
Life Model – “4ever” (Glasgow, Scotland)
RIYL: Alvvays meets Slowdive
Last month we praised Glasgow’s Life Model for the “sublime” shoegaze of their “Lucky” single. Now that their EP of that name is officially out, we have to ask: are they trying to send us to hospital with heart palpitations? Their newest single is powerful enough to shatter your heart in a dozen pieces, or at least cause it to skip a few beats as soon as you press play.
The breezy warmth of “4Ever” washes over you in a wave of melancholy as Sophie Evans expresses frustration and disappointment: “I looked to you for inspiration / you’re back without recognition / My heart still breaks / just put it out to sea.” Ouch. Emotional honesty never hurt so good. Anyone who has experienced the pain of trying to make a relationship work can relate to the yearning in her voice. Sometimes forever doesn’t work out quite the way you want it to. Sometimes it leads to gorgeous gems like “4ever” that rip your heart out then put it back together in just over three minutes. And sometimes, this is exactly what you need.
Life Model are Sophie Evans (vocals), Chris Smith (guitar), Joanne McCafferty (bass), and Michael McDonald (drums).
Noah Slee – “Sunrise” (Berlin, Germany via Auckland, New Zealand)
RIYL: Anderson. Paak, Andre 3000, D’Angelo
Noah Slee is on the verge of exploding. The New Zealand-born, Berlin-based artist is riding a massive swell of support across the globe thanks to his masterful blend of classic R&B and modern hip-hop. He’s been compared to Childish Gambino, D’Angelo, The Weeknd, Andre 3000, Michael Kiwanuka, and Anderson.Paak; this demonstrates his versatility and talent.
Aiding his goal to be a global superstar is his new single, “Sunrise”, which personifies cool. The song reverberates with the groovy, funky tones of ’90s R&B. The beats are minimalist and low key while the vibe is steamy. Slee’s vocals, though, are the star. They are slight and intimate, but the range he demonstrates on this song is eye-opening. At one point, he sounds like Babyface; another time his smooth wordplay is akin to Andre 3000. Listen closely to the lyrics because Slee gives us hope for better things to come and reminds us that as long as we have family and friends, nothing can defeat us.
Slee’s new album, Otherland, arrives August 25th, at which time Slee is poised to be the year’s biggest breakthrough artist.
Pardoner – “Uncontrollable Salvation” (San Francisco, USA)
RIYL: Parquet Courts, Wavves, Car Seat Headrest
San Francisco’s music scene simmers with some of the best indie bands on the planet. Every month it seems another one emerges that deserves to be heard by everyone. Fortunately for music fans, Father/Daughter Records is around to introduce us to some of these fantastic bands – like Pardoner. They are best described as the West Coast equivalent of Parquet Courts with their rambunctious, quirky approach to post-punk rock with biting social commentary. Well, they have more of a slacker-rock mentality, but this offsets their fiery and edgy sound. Their new single is the perfect example.
“Uncontrollable Salvation” is an unrelenting yet immensely catchy song. It is three-and-a-half minutes of grimy guitars, pulverising bass lines, and fierce percussion. They combine these elements to create an awesome wall of sound. Dance, jump, mosh, and go ballistic are the orders of the day for this number. Don’t ignore the songwriting, though, because these guys tackle consumer obsession with material goods (“I’m staring into my new cellphone”) and living the 9-to-5 life:
“It’s like at the end of the day you only have one life
You may as well live it to the fullest, right?
I mean come on, it’s so much fun to be happy
It’s so much fun…don’t you want to be happy?
What’s the point of fucking moping around all the time?”
Words to live by and a song to rock out to until the end of our days.
Pardoner are Max Freeland (guitar), Trey Flanigan (guitar), Will Mervau (bass), and River van den Berghe (drums).
Pelorus – “Perfect Storm” (Bristol, England via Wellington, New Zealand)
RIYL: Bon Iver, Axel Flovent, Andrew Keoghan
Another Kiwi who has headed overseas to advance his career is Leon van Dijk, who is better known as Pelorus. So far, his decision has paid off in spades. His previous single, “Alive”, was a viral sensation, stunning audiences around the globe with its breathtaking immediacy and van Dijk’s alluring vocals. We, too, became the young artist’s prisoner. For those who may have missed that song, van Dijk is back with another equally entrancing single.
“Perfect Storm” is a jaw-dropping, stop-in-your-tracks dazzler. The song drips with the bedroom intimacy of Rhye and Cigarettes After Sex, with subtle production work that creates a soundscape meant for candlelit dinners and a quiet evening with a loved one. Meanwhile, van Dijk’s voice is stirring – one of the most unique and memorable in the business. As he says, “Take cover”, you’ll be left wanting to take shelter next to him and hear his voice until well after the song has finished. Now all Pelorus needs to do is deliver an album, so we can endlessly live within his radiance.
Turnover – “Super Natural” (Virginia Beach, USA)
RIYL: DIIV, Guster, The Daysleepers
If there is one American dream-pop band you need in your life this summer, it’s Turnover. Since 2009 these guys have been winning fans far and wide while still flying under the mainstream radar, despite regular tours of North America and Europe. It boggles our minds that they aren’t a household name by now! Their new “Super Natural” single might be the key that unlocks their global exposure, because it’s the antidote to all the chaos and stress of life. Equally dreamy and dense, “Super Natural” sparkles with the brilliance of a thousand emeralds. It’s lush and relaxing, with elements of dream-pop and shoegaze that call to mind DIIV while the vocals have echoes of Guster’s low-key warmth.
When you close your eyes and listen to this song, it’s easy to picture a natural wonderland full of cloudless skies and waterfalls. The interplay of the guitar and bass lines flows with such harmony, guided by understated percussion. That’s the key here: everything about this song is harmonious. It’s soothing, with the perfect levels of reverb that give the song its welcoming tones that caress your senses. Play this one as nightfall approaches and you’ll sigh with contentment because you have found the ideal summer evening chill-out tune.
Turnover are Austin Getz (vocals/guitar), Danny Dempsey (bass), and Casey Getz (drums).
Weird Milk – “All Night” (London, England)
RIYL: Temples and Tame Impala crossed with The Beach Boys
You know what you need this weekend? A dose of cool, psychedelic surf pop. Imagine basking beneath sunny skies on a beach as you take long, slow licks on a tropical ice lolly. Calypso-infused melodies swirl around you, creating feelings of sublime delirium. This is the experience of Weird Milk guiding you to a carefree place with their new “All Night” single.
This is only the second release from the emerging West London indie band, but clearly they’re onto a winning formula. Their summery sound is impossibly irresistible, especially on these brutally hot days. With harmonies so lush they could bring a tear to Brian Wilson’s eyes, co-frontmen Alex Griffiths and Zach Campbell charm you into submission. All you can do is mutter aaahhh as they croon “I’ve been thinkin’ about this forever / I’ve been thinkin’ about this all night” while the instrumentation takes a brightly psychedelic turn. The prism of sound they create here channels the mellow trippiness of Tame Impala, so go ahead and plan to surrender to their flow. It will be a deliciously groovy trip that you can enjoy all night and well into sunrise. In fact, the melodies on “All Night” might just take up permanent residence in your head. Once thing is certain: you’ll be too blissed out to care.
Weird Milk are Alex Griffiths, Zach Campbell, Josh King, and Charlie Vaughan.
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