The Saturday Sampler October 7th edition includes nine pulse-quickening singles from various genres, from Americana to indie rock, pop, and soul. Featured artists hail from Canada, England, Scotland, and the USA. We kick off this weekend playlist with some vivacious UK indie punk.
Adults – “MSN” (London via Brighton, England)
RIYL: Dinosaur, Jr., Parquet Courts, Diet Cig, Fidlar
We have to hand it to Art Is Hard Records: the Bristol-based independent label have an ingenious approach to sharing new music from emerging artists. Their monthly Postcard Club features a download code and a handwritten note. In this day of on-demand, all-digital access to everything, it’s cool to get personal mail that A.) isn’t a bill and B.) lets you discover great new artists. The most recent postcard features London indie rockers Adults with their debut single, “MSN”.
Fans of jangly hooks and powerhouse garage/punk (think Dinosaur, Jr. or Parquet Courts) will find Adults hard to resist. Their energetic delivery is steady throughout, but it’s the crescendo after the bridge where the four members (Dan, Joe, Joely, and Tom) reveal the ace they’ve had hidden all along. The last minute of the song is especially intense, with furious percussion and full-throttle instrumentation that leaves you well speechless when the song ends. If this is the band’s debut single, we can only imagine what greatness lies in store. Here’s hoping they release a full album in 2018 – the sooner, the better.
You can find “MSN” on the Art Is Hard Records Postcard Club with order info here.
Alessi’s ark – “Cut the Cord” (London, England)
RIYL: Rilo Kiley, Land of Talk, Men I Trust
There are some artists who continue to fly under the radar for unknown reasons. Alessi Laurent-Marke – better known as Alessi’s ark – is one of them. If she was born a decade sooner and releasing music in the early to mid-2000s, she likely would have the star power of Jenny Lewis. Like the former Rilo Kiley front woman, Laurent-Marke creates immersive indie-pop with personal stories to which we can all relate. Fortunately, time is on her side, as she’s just 27-years old, which makes it all the more impressive to know she’s been writing and recording music for eleven years.
At the end of this month, her fourth album – yes, fourth LP! – will be released. The lead single is “Cut the Cord”, which she released about two months ago (we know we’re late to the party again). The song simultaneously possesses a bedroom pop feel with its laid-back intimacy, yet it shimmers with the vibrancy of a song meant for the secluded night clubs of London’s underground. “Cut the Cord” is the unique song that relaxes your nerves, has you get lost in the dazzling music and Laurent-Marke’s lovely vocals, and makes you want to endlessly sway until the sun comes up. The song’s message similarly elicits this emotion with its emphasis on new beginnings.
And when Love is the Currency drops October 27th, hopefully that will be the start of something exciting and new for the immensely underrated and underappreciated London-based singer-songwriter.
Curtis Harding – “Go As You Are” (Atlanta, USA)
RIYL: Isaac Hayes, Ike Turner, Michael Kiwanuka
In less than two weeks, Curtis Harding‘s new album, Face Your Fear, will be unveiled for all the world to hear. The singles he’s released to date have reminded us of Curtis Mayfield (“Monday Morning Atonement”) and Al Green (“Need Your Love”). For single number three from the album, he channels Isaac Hayes and Ike Turner and delivers a tantalizingly dark and rich number in “Go As You Are”.
This track is a rarity in today’s music – a short film captured in less than four minutes. While the instrumentation and composition are terrific (the bass line, jazzy percussion, and dissonant guitar are fantastic), seriously sit back and just listen to Harding’s engrossing story. It’s an introspective number that tells the tale of a young person leaving their gritty streets in search for something better. But does s/he return and become just like the rest of the neighborhood or can s/he break the cycle?
“It’s Wednesday night and I’m talking about leaving
I’ve been here a few times before
The only thing that I believe in
Is on the other side of the door
‘Go as you are
But don’t come back the same
If you don’t get too far
You’ve got no one to blame.'”
Face Your Fear, which arrives October 27th via Anti Records, is shaping up to be a memorable album.
Elliott Brood – “Dig A Little Hole” (Toronto/Hamilton, Canada)
RIYL: Simon & Garfunkel, Langhorne Slim, Dan Mangan
When the weather turns cooler, you look forward to weekend outings with friends, perhaps camping or just drinking in front of a roaring bonfire. Times like this call for the perfect soundtrack, so be sure to add “Dig a Little Hole” from Canadian roots trio Elliott Brood to your autumn playlists. This tune has plenty of rustic charm to keep you warm.
“Dig a Little Hole” is one of 11 tracks on the band’s sixth album, Ghost Gardens, but it’s not necessarily “new” music. Most of the songs were written years ago but never completed. After finding the rough cuts and demos stashed away on an old computer drive in a garage, the band reworked the sketches, turning dusty relics into energizing foot-stompers. The rich hues on this song are as vivid and inspiring as the autumn foliage.
Elliott Brood are Mark Sasso (guitar/banjo/ukulele/lead vocals), Casey Laforet (guitar/vocals/bass pedals), and Stephen Pitkin (percussion/vocals).
Melt Dunes – “Grotesque” (Southampton, England)
RIYL: OCS (fka Thee Oh Sees), Ty Segall (‘Emotional Mugger’ version), The Black Lips
Those of you who are planning Friday the 13th and Halloween parties or a playlist for the days, we have just the song for the occasion. For that matter, Melt Dunes‘ new single, “Grotesque”, isn’t just a better fit for any compilation, it is the song that defines the terror and gloominess of the day.
“Grotesque” isn’t a loud and thunderous track, but instead the English band use a prodding, brooding pace to create a gloomy atmosphere. It feels like we are entering the dark cabin of The Blair Witch Project or walking alone in a dark, unlit alley. The vocals further intensify the creepiness in air with their methodical approach before rising to a piercing scream. Listening to the song will send goosebumps down your neck and possibly even unnerve you. As such, it’s best to hear “Grotesque” with the lights on and well before you go to bed. It’s like The Exorcist of indie rock.
The single is available now via Strong Island Recordings.
Sarah Walk – “Little Black Book” (Minneapolis, USA)
RIYL: Courtney Barnett, Cat Power, Butterfly Boucher
Pianist. Poet. Singer-songwriter. Fierce badass. No matter what label you apply to American indie rocker Sarah Walk, no single term will capture her essence or convey the depths of her talent. Once you hear her new “Little Black Book” single from the upcoming album of the same name, you will understand.
Equally tender and thunderous, the Chicago-born Berklee College of Music graduate reimagines what modern piano rock should sound like. She blazes further down the path forged by predecessors Kate Bush, Tori Amos, and Fiona Apple – though it’s clear she isn’t trying to emulate any of them. Walk is an original, and this single emits sparks of fire with every note.
The next few months will be a whirlwind for Walk: her Little Black Book LP arrives October 20th via One Little Indian Records (with streaming and purchase links here) while her companion book of poetry is due in January. We predict 2018 will be a stellar year for this rising star.
Sarah Walk is joined on this album by: Joe Harrison (guitar), Lenny Brown (bass), and Tim Merle (drums).
Sun Parade – “Cheer Up” (Northampton, MA, USA)
RIYL: Delta Spirit, Dr. Dog, Futurebirds
Western Massachusetts may not be the indie music hotbed that Nashville is, but that isn’t stopping Sun Parade from making indie Americana/pop-rock so infectious it sounds like it originated in Music City. The five-piece from Northampton have one of the most irresistible singles of 2017 with “Cheer Up.”
With its raucous energy and hook-filled chorus, “Cheer Up” is the kind of song that puts a smile on your face the moment you hear it. It’s from their forthcoming album, Shaggy Mtn. Breakdown, that is due next week. The song flirts with you from the first notes as its upbeat tempo weaves its way into your head. You feel a jubilant rush when the chorus arrives, but full-on euphoria sets in at the bridge when they really let loose. Many a car steering wheel will take a beating when this song comes on the radio, because you can’t help but drum along while singing it. This belter must sound exhilarating when they perform it live! Their upcoming North American tour starts next week.
Sun Parade are Chris Marlon Jennings (vocals/guitar), Jeff Lewis (vocals/guitar), Max Wareham (bass/vocals), Eli Salus-Kleiner (keys) and Karl Helander (drums/vocals).
Tempesst – “Waiheke” (London, England via Australia)
RIYL: The Black Angels, early Tame Impala, The Besnard Lakes
A band who originally started in Australia who now live in London and wrote a song about an island off of Auckland, New Zealand – seems like the perfect fit for what we do. Oh, and they happen to make some cool psychedelic music. Another check mark! That band is Tempesst, who for the past year-plus have been creating waves in the UK. The changing tide could turn into a tidal wave when their debut EP, Adult Wonderland, is released October 27th. To get the currents churning, they’ve released a dreamy dazzler in “Waiheke”.
In case you’ve never been to New Zealand, Waiheke is a small island located just outside of Auckland’s central business district (a 30-minute ferry ride gets you there). It is filled with easy walking trails and some fine wineries. The entire place will leave one in a splendid stupor, which is also how to describe the swirling, hypnotic vibes of Tempesst’s new song. Not only has the band taken us to faraway places, they’ve also taken us back in time, specifically to the ’70s when psychedelic music enchanted our minds and momentarily allowed us to escape. If the song doesn’t get to you, maybe Toma Banjamin’s story about the song will.
“My girlfriend Summer and I were traveling around New Zealand in a van last summer and ended up staying at her Auntie’s ‘bach’ (beach cabin) in Waiheke… Summer’s Dad stayed with us, too, and gave me my first Tarot reading, and I wrote this song about that conversation.”
Sounds like Toma has found the perfect future in-law.
Tempesst are brothers Toma (vocals/guitars) and Andy Banjanin (drums), Eric Weber (guitars), and Kane Reynolds (keys).
The Van T’s – “Bittersweet” (Glasgow, Scotland)
RIYL: INHEAVEN, Wolf Alice, Joan Jett
It’s been a few months since we’ve heard from The Van T’s, who were recently nominated for a Scottish Alternative Music Award as Best Live Band (go vote here). They have yet to establish the broad global appeal of their cousins to the south in Wolf Alice and INHEAVEN, but their indie rock is just as explosive. Heck, they’ve been crushing our ear drums since September 2015 when we first heard “Growler”. Their latest number is just another awesome little rocker by easily one of our favorite bands of the past two years.
As the power guitar riffs and hammering rhythms swirl on “Bittersweet”, one immediately feels lie s/he is at a rock show. Twin sisters Chloe and Hannah Van Thompson’s lush vocals gradually bring us deeper into this song about how the contradictory and puzzling words and actions of people. As the confusion grows, the music gets more intense and menacing, and a sudden moment of losing control occurs. In this time, you’ll either be doing some hardcore head bobbing or wailing the air guitar with thunderous windmills.
Just another day at the office for one of Scotland’s most underrated bands. The song is out now via LAB Records.
The Van T’s are Chloe Van Thompson (vocals/guitar), Hannah Van Thompson (vocals/guitar), Joanne Forbes (bass), and Shaun Hood (drums).
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