Everyone knows about the Friday the 13th movies, but how many know about Saturday the 14th? It’s a cult movie made in 1981 that was a parody of horror movies, where some of the great monsters and villains are turned into punch lines. It’s not a very good movie, but it’s entertaining. On that note, we promise you that the Saturday Sampler October 14th edition will be a much better investment of time than watching that film. The nine songs here, though, may not be as funny but they sure are brilliant.
Agata Karczewska – “Envy Is My Sin” (Warsaw, Poland)
RIYL: Ani DiFranco, Laura Marling, Lucinda Williams
Speaking of brilliant, meet Polish singer-songwriter Agata Karczewska. In the spring, she released her debut EP, You’re Not So Special (it’s available on Bandcamp), which has five songs that are classic alt-country and alt-folk. There’s nothing fancy in her approach – it’s just her voice and her acoustic guitar. There aren’t any other bells and whistles, making Karczewska part of a dying breed of artists today. For now, however, we will embrace this gifted young woman and her immense talent that is best revealed on “Envy Is My Sin”.
Even though Karczewska plays alone, she creates a spellbinding sound. Through her gritty voice and the echo in her acoustic guitar, she produces a dark, haunting, and gripping soundscape. Her songwriting is fantastic, reminiscent of the brutally honest and introspective style of Ani DiFranco. Listen closely to what she has to say, and you, too, will be bowled over. What a talent.
CIVIC – “Selena Gomez” (Boston, USA)
RIYL: Rilo Kiley, The New Pornographers, TOPS
There is always a place for great storytelling no matter the genre, especially one that makes a bold statement. This is exactly what Boston-based newcomers CIVIC are planning with their debut LP, Face Blindness, which will be a concept album about the misogynist practices and values within the music industry. Their record is very timely given the recent news about sexual harassment within the film industry. As the band explains, the album’s central question is: “Are women allowed to make fun, interesting, and thoughtful music that won’t be assigned the all-too-familiar ‘singer/songwriter’ label?”
That’s definitely a fair question. To offer a partial answer, the band share “Selena Gomez”. With the power-pop vibe of Rilo Kiley, CIVIC deliver a catchy, vibrant tune that would be perfect for a late-autumn backyard party. People will be shimmying their shoulders if not completely bopping around. However, frontwoman Dana Osterling’s lyrics are the star of the show. She’s not criticizing pop star Selena Gomez but rather citing her as an example of how one’s looks and bubbly pop sound can overshadow her talents and messages in her songs. Osterling does wonder out loud if pop stars ever get bored with being pigeonholed and if they ever want something more. If CIVIC ever reach the level of popularity as Rilo Kiley or even Selena Gomez, hopefully they’ll write an album about their experience.
Face Blindness arrives November 3rd. Check their social media sites for more information on availability and distribution.
CIVIC are Dana Osterling (guitar/vocals/co-producer), Wayne Whittaker (bass/co-producer), Eric Bolton (guitar), and Harrison Seiler (drums).
Jo Marches – “Breaks My Heart” (Utrecht, Netherlands)
RIYL: Portishead, Frankie Rose, Teeth and Tongue
It’s been a little while since we’ve heard from Johanneke Kranendonk and friends – a.k.a. Jo Marches – eleven months to be exact. The Dutch quartet have startled us with their wavering synth-driven approach that teeters between Gothic, punk, and dream-pop. In other words, they are completely unpredictable.
For their latest single, “Breaks My Heart”, they gravitate more towards the synth-punk and industrial side, and the result is simply mesmerizing. A dark, languid vibe echoes in the song, as the extended synth and the trembling percussion create a haunting but cinematic soundscape. As the song progresses, its crescendo reaches a brooding, awe-inspiring height akin to the music in Blade Runner and Blade Runner 2049. Add in Kranendonk’s ethereal vocals, and “Breaks My Heart” could be the love ballad for Rachel and Rick Deckard. Simply gorgeous.
In addition to Johanneke Kranendonk (vocals), Jo Marches includes David Hoogerheide (synth), Gijs Coolen (guitar), and Tobias Ponsioen (drums).
Nic Fanciulli – “Saying (feat. Damon Albarn)” (Maidstone, Kent, England)
RIYL: Underworld, Moby, Tycho
What do you do when you’ve been a Grammy-nominated DJ, producer, and record label owner for more than two decades? If you’re Nic Fanciulli, you could remix another artist’s work or headline a festival. Or you could finally release an album of your own music featuring some of your close friends like Damon Albarn and Matthew Dear. Fortunately for fans of ethereal electronica, the British DJ has done just that.
“Saying” is a spellbinding work from his debut LP, My Heart, and it gets some high-wattage star power cortesy of Gorillaz and Blur frontman Damon Albarn. So if you’re not seeing Gorillaz at Austin City Limits Festival this weekend, you can lose yourself in this tune instead. “Saying” dazzles your ears with lightly percolating synths that evolve into a low-key moonlit dance. Throughout its four-plus minutes, Fanciulli weaves ethereal background harmonies into Albarn’s chill delivery. It’s sultry and electrifying with the nocturnal allure of a warm breeze billowing through your bedroom window.
Pearla – “Somewhere” (New York City, USA)
RIYL: Phoebe Bridgers, Kalbells, present-day Beth Orton
Are you sitting down at this moment? If not, you just might want to grab a chair, especially for fans of Julien Baker, Maggie Rogers, and Phoebe Bridgers. While you’re at it, start clicking on Pearla‘s social media links below because you have just discovered your latest music crush. The project of New York-based Nicole Rodriguez, Pearla will dazzle you with her mixture of indie folk and electro-pop (or as some call it folktronica) and a voice that ranges from the intimate to the lavishly ethereal. In other words, her music is escapism at work, and her new single, “Somewhere”, illustrates her transcendent effect.
The song starts off as a combination of a lullaby and an afternoon at the local fair. It then builds into a breathtaking moment of absolute wonder, where everything seems to revolve around you and you see people and objects a little differently. This feeling of bewilderment, lost, and hope is also communicated in Rodriguez’s vulnerable but beautiful lyrics.
“I can’t tell the difference between myself
And the box of crayons I have used
To color in somebody’s ghost
My heart is a shell that lost its snail
It crawled away when I needed it it the most
But it’s somewhere
We did warn you that you likely found your new crush. We certainly have.
Pure Mids – “Maybe it’s Alright” (Los Angeles, USA)
RIYL: Wild Nothing, Ought, Beach Fossils
It might be the middle of October and the leaves are starting to fall, but Pure Mids will make you feel like it is summer outside with their new single, “Maybe it’s Alright”. Or at the very least, the song will put a smile on your face.
With the sweltering warmth of Wild Nothing and Beach Fossils, the Los Angeles-based trio have a crafted a delicious indie psychedelic-pop number. Front man William Gonzalez’s soft vocals are stirring and immaculate, and the guitar riff that comes in at the end will leave you in a wonderfully delirious place. The buzzing synth that swirls through the song adds a breezy texture and gives the song a bit of an Alvvays vibe. Sometimes these feel-good songs have poor endings, but “Maybe it’s Alright” finishes with an “ahh” moment that will make you wish it was summer again.
The song is available on Bandcamp. Pure Mids are multi-instrumentalist William Gonzalez, producer/multi-instrumentalist Steven Martinez, and Daniel Jurado on drums.
Salad Boys – “Exaltation” (Christchurch, New Zealand)
RIYL: The Church, R.E.M., Sebadoh
It is very, very hard to remain objective when reviewing a band like Salad Boys. We first fell in love with the New Zealand indie pop sensations in 2015 when we heard their debut LP, Metalmania. Now we find ourselves once again picking up our jaws from the floor over their latest offering.
“Exaltation” is the lead single from their forthcoming sophomore album, This Is Glue, and it’s one we simply cannot stop playing. Between its vintage jangly riffs and mellow hues, it’s got feel-good charm that would pair equally well with a beach bonfire or a hammock in the back yard. Basically, all of your cares melt away when you listen to “Exaltation” because its breezy melodies take you to the carefree ’90s. So despite the faint hint of melancholy around the edges, the song still evokes warm memories of happier days.
If you haven’t already hopped on the Salad Boys bandwagon, what are you waiting for? This tune is the perfect entry point.
Wylderness – “72 & Sunny” (Cardiff, Wales & London, England)
RIYL: DIIV, Ride, A Place to Bury Strangers
We always try to feature emerging bands on the Sampler, and this is no exception. Wylderness are a very new band. The Welsh-English quartet just released their debut single, “72 & Sunny”, yesterday, and it is a rarity. It made us say “Wow!” because the band have brilliantly crafted a pop-rock gem that combines the sounds of all of our favorite shoegazers.
From the sunny vibrations of DIIV to the anthemic rock qualities of Ride and the blistering, guitar-driven soundscapes that A Place to Bury Strangers have become associated with, “72 & Sunny” has it all. In other words, the song is 186 seconds of pure exhilaration. You might find yourself running outside in the fresh air, taking the convertible out for a spin, or closing your eyes and spinning deliriously in place. Whatever you decide, let yourself go and let this fantastic song be your guide. We’ll be spinning it all weekend.
WYO – “Falling” (Wilson, Wyoming USA)
RIYL: The War on Drugs, Ryan Adams, Tom Petty
If you plan to take a road trip this weekend, we have the perfect soundtrack for you. The newest single from Wyoming-based indie rockers WYO is expansive and majestic – in other words, it’s practically begging to be played loud while you cruise along some scenic back roads. This is the heart of America captured in its purest form: no dazzling effects or flourishes – just pure, heartfelt indie rock that takes you far from city lights and into wide open terrain.
“Falling” will certainly appeal to fans of The War on Drugs because this group harnesses the restless energy of Adam Granduciel and channels it into soaring rock passages. This is the kind of music that energizes your soul and makes you feel alive. Its cinematic scope is no surprise since band members Andy Sorge and Scott McKay Gibson met in New York City where Sorge was attending film school.
At just over four minutes in length, “Falling” sets the tone for a journey with its driving tempo. Its sonic peaks and valleys have restorative properties as potent as crisp mountain air. Inhale deeply and crank this one. It’s from the band’s upcoming debut EP, Untamed: Part One that’s due next week while the second part (aptly titled Untamed: Part Two) is due in January.
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