Today’s mid-week serving of new music cocktails is a long-sipping mix to be savored. These nine tunes range from indie rock to mellow singer/songwriter fare with synth-pop and psych-folk for balance. Featured artists are from Australia, Canada, England, New Zealand, Scotland, USA, and Wales.
Note: This Friday, Bandcamp will donate 100% of their sales to the Transgender Law Center in California. Earlier this year, more than 400 artists and labels joined Bandcamp’s pledge to donate their one-day sales to the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU). Many of these artists offer their music on Bandcamp, so if you missed the February event, you can shop for a cause this Friday. Now, let’s kick off today’s playlist with a longtime UK favorite.
Stereophonics – “All In One Night” (London, England via Cwmaman, Wales)
RIYL: Manic Street Preachers, The War on Drugs, Travis
After 25 years together, Welsh indie rockers Stereophonics show no sign of slowing down. The now London-based group will release their 10th album in November, and the first single reminds us why we first fell in love with their sound.
“All In One Night” has the rich, warm tones fans have come to expect. But the swirling, reverb-enhanced layers here show the band at the height of their career. The song is tinged with the confident yet melancholic wisdom that comes from decades together. Stereophonics aren’t trying to be flashy to win over new fans; instead, they are forging ahead on the journey. “All In One Night” has the feel of a late-night drive along foggy, winding roads. Despite the song’s imagery of screams and crashes, you can’t help but feel protected (and comforted) by these veterans. Over this five-plus minute journey, Stereophonics guide you through all that lurks in the darkness.
Stereophonics are Kelly Jones (lead vocals/guitar), Adam Zindani (guitar/vocals), Richard Jones (bass/keys/vocals), and Jamie Morrison (drums).
The Horrors – “Machine” (London, England)
RIYL: Joy Division, Bauhaus, My Bloody Valentine
One of the songs we cannot get out of our heads this summer is the brooding maelstrom of “Machine” from The Horrors. The song has been out a few weeks now, yet we have been so caught up with festival season that we thought we had already shared it. A song this intense deserves to be heard (and seen), so grab your headphones as you crank it up.
This is the first we’ve heard from The Horrors since their Luminous album three years ago. Next month they release their fifth studio LP, appropriately titled V.
The churning guitars and bass, brooding synths, and pulsing percussion are the foundation upon which this clenched fist raises up in defiance. While the lyrics reference an insect in amber, certain parallels exist between insects and politicians, as you hear on the chorus:
“Because you will never, never, never, be
Yeah you will never, never, never, be
More than a machine.”
The Horrors are: Faris Badwan, Tom Furse, Joshua Third, Rhys Webb, and Joseph Spurgeon.
British India – “Precious” (Melbourne, Australia)
RIYL: Arctic Monkeys, Foals, The Libertines, The Killers
You should brace yourself while you spin “Precious” from Australian rockers British India. It will take considerable restraint to keep still. This is an absolute banger that will have you swaying your head and punching the air, especially on the chorus.
If this is your introduction to these talents from Melbourne, prepare to be blown away. While they may not be household names in the U.S. (yet), it’s only a matter of time before they are headlining every major American festival. They have been crafting their brand of blazing indie rock since 2004, and their sixth LP, Forgetting the Future, just might be the one that turns North American listeners into diehard fans. The strength of “Precious” alone has us questioning why everyone in the world isn’t a fan already. This display of raucous energy and unrelenting hooks is a downright lethal combination.
This single is available now via Liberation Records at these streaming/purchase outlets. You can also pre-order Forgetting the Future here ahead of its September 22nd release. Check their website for upcoming tour dates that start August 16th.
British India are Declan Melia (lead vocals/guitar), Nic Wilson (guitar), Will Drummond (bass), and Matt O’Gorman (drums).
Yumi Zouma – “December” (Christchurch, New Zealand)
RIYL: Fazerdaze, Jessy Lanza, Pure Bathing Culture
We have been singing the praises of New Zealand indie dreampop outfit Yumi Zouma for over a year now. The reason? Their music is lush and intimate in a way that elicits swoons. This is not an oversell; the tunes truly are breathtaking. When we shared their “Barricade (Matter of Fact)” single last April, we described their sound as “glacial bedroom pop” for its cool yet intimate synths. That mellowness soars to new heights on their latest single, “December.”
“December” greets you with breezy vocals from Christie Simpson and warm instrumentation from the rest of the band. If there is one band within the indie scene that captures the vitality of diffused mid-day sunlight streaming through your window, it’s Yumi Zouma. There is an intimate bedroom pop quality to their sound, so it has softer edges, but it’s still vibrant. The soundtrack to your summer road trip should begin and end with the blissfully carefree “December.” We loved their Zoncalla debut album last year, but it’s possible we might love their upcoming Willowbank LP even more.
Yumi Zouma are: Christie Simpson, Charlie Ryder, Josh Burgess, and Sam Perry.
SISTERS – “Heart Beats” (Seattle, USA)
RIYL: Matt & Kim, Ra Ra Riot, Chromeo
Certain indie pop bands give you a feel-good jolt that lasts about as long as a piece of gum. This is due to the three-minute shelf life of most pop bands that dominate commercial radio. Then there are the bands who create quality tunes that not only elevate your mood but cause you to radiate happiness. This is exactly what SISTERS deliver, especially on their newest single, “Heart Beats.”
The Seattle-based duo of Emily Westman and Andrew Vait want you to dance. They want you to be happy. Not “fake smile at a party” happy, but genuinely, furiously joyful – as an act of defiance, if you will. Not many things in this world can distract you from the insanity of the news, but SISTERS definitely can. Their music has an ebullience that can melt even the iciest heart. “Heart Beats” is your feel-good anthem of the summer, so crank it up and dance along. Between the disco-inspired grooves and the sweet sax solo near the end, SISTERS are the antidote to stress. Tune out the negativity of the world and be furiously happy with SISTERS. “Heart Beats” is far more effective than anything a doctor can prescribe. Dive in and find out why SISTERS are one of the hottest emerging American indie pop bands right now.
This single is from their upcoming LP, Wait Don’t Wait. It arrives October 13 via Tender Loving Empire with pre-orders here. Their previous album (the insanely great, self-released Drink Champagne LP from earlier this year) is available at their Bandcamp page. Fans in the Pacific Northwest can catch their upcoming tour dates that begin this Friday.
Ben Stephenson – “Yellow Bird” (Toronto, Canada)
RIYL: José González, Amos Lee, Juníus Meyvant
Aaahhh. Feel the stress melt away as Canadian singer/songwriter Ben Stephenson serenades you with his newest single. “Yellow Bird” envelops you in its peaceful layers of gently soul-infused indie folk-pop. Get to know this guy now, because he is soon to be a name on everyone’s lips. If you take the mellow elegance of José González and add in honeyed vocals akin to Amos Lee, you’ll be on the right path to figuring out what makes Ben Stephenson your newest musical addiction. But you still won’t be able to identify the alluring quality that makes his music so familiar. His music is not something you simply listen to; instead, it’s something you feel.
The downtempo charm of “Yellow Bird” lies in its languid tones. Stephenson never rushes a note, opting to let each verse unfold at a meditative pace. In fact, you can queue up this tune for sunset yoga (or similar physical activity) on the beach and it might be the best session of your life. You’ll inhale calm as the acoustic guitar greets you in the intro. Then you’ll exhale in satisfaction as his warm voice whispers on the verses and soars on the chorus.
“Are you restless tonight?” he asks, though you certainly won’t be. One spin of this lush tune is all you’ll need to understand why Stephenson is the next great Canadian singer.
Look for his Cara Cara LP when Culvert Music releases it September 22.
Angelo de Augustine – “Truly Gone” (Los Angeles, USA)
RIYL: Sufjan Stevens, Elliott Smith, José González
Another stunning singer/songwriter whose talents may have escaped your notice is Angelo de Augustine. The 24-year-old Los Angeles-based artist is a recent signee to the Asthmatic Kitty label founded by Sufjan Stevens. As soon as you hear the first notes of “Truly Gone” you will realize why this label is the perfect fit.
For starters, Angelo de Augustine’s vocals and musical style bear a breathtaking similarity to Stevens. The stripped-down instrumentation allows his vocals to shine, though he seems far too modest to increase the volume above a whisper. In that way he calls to mind Elliott Smith and, to an extent, José González, especially as he sings, “breathe in slow with the sun and the rain / lit the fire in your brain.” His delivery is an exercise in tranquility that reminds you to focus on the natural elements in life. It’s a refreshing reminder. “Truly Gone” will have you feeling truly lost in its gauzy, dream-folk tones. Angelo de Augustine is a soothing voice for these times, and an artist definitely worth getting to know.
B•R•A•U•N – “Prague” (Portland, OR, USA)
RIYL: Mackintosh Braun, Porcelain Raft, M83
How can a song be simultaneously chill and exhilarating? The terms are essentially contradictory, but don’t tell that to Ben Braun. The electronic artist known as half of synth-pop duo Mackintosh Braun has a new solo album coming out in the fall under the moniker BRAUN. The lead single from Silent Science is simply stunning. “Prague” unleashes its infectious rhythms immediately with a pulse-quickening fusion of dark synths and percussion with bright vocals. Cue the chills up your spine.
From the opening strains (think M83 crossed with Tycho and Porcelain Raft), you know you are experiencing something fresh and new. If you are familiar with his work in Mackintosh Braun, you know the sonic textures he’s capable of delivering. But even longtime fans may be surprised at the rush that “Prague” gives. The vibrance of this song evokes daybreak imagery as the fading night gives way to gradually warmer hues. Chase the sunrise with this song as your soundtrack. You’ll be hard-pressed to find a more gratifying way to greet the day.
Harry & The Hendersons – “Matchstick Men” (Glasgow, Scotland)
RIYL: Fleet Foxes, Midlake, Django Django
Finally this week we have gorgeous harmonies courtesy of Scottish indie folk-pop band Harry & The Hendersons. These guys blend expert musical artistry with a hefty dose of fun. The result is a lighthearted (and mildly psychedelic) journey into territory that defies genre labels.
Imagine you’re headed out on holiday several hours’ drive away. The first leg of the journey is smooth as you cruise along with windows rolled down and fresh air on your face. That’s the first half of “Matchstick Men” with its mellow, folk-driven tones that call to mind Fleet Foxes. Then as you near the destination, traffic slows and you merge with cars blasting different genres from their stereos. This is when “Matchstick Men” takes a brilliant, psychedelic-tinged detour (with hints of Midlake) onto a secondary route. Around the 2:42 mark, the bass lines shift and the pace changes. This extended bridge becomes looser, allowing all seven musicians to display their skills. This is not your typical indie folk outfit. Harry & The Hendersons aren’t taking you on a boring trip here, not by a long shot. This is the scenic route, and it’s an experience you won’t soon forget.
This single is from their forthcoming debut album, Method of the Matchstick Men. You can get your copy from Bandcamp.
Harry & The Hendersons are: Stuart Neil, Harry Mulvenna, Vincent Deighan, Jack Richardson, Andrew Neil, Mark Gilbert, and Gavin Lamont.
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