Today’s mid-week serving of new music cocktails is full of zest and zing. From quirky American indie pop and garage punk to whimsical British indie fare, these six songs will give you a musical buzz without the hangover. So dig in as we celebrate the return of some indie greats while getting to know some talented newcomers.
tUnE-yArDs – “Look at Your Hands” (Oakland, USA)
RIYL: Animal Collective, Sylvan Esso, Dirty Projectors
One surefire way to beat a mid-week slump is with music from tUnE-yArDs cranked to full volume. Fortunately for fans of Merrill Garbus and Nate Brenner, the Oakland-based band will release their new album I can feel you creep into my private life in January, and today we can’t stop playing the first single.
“Look at Your Hands” bears all the trademark energy Garbus is known for, as well as quirky riffs and pulsating rhythms that linger long after the song ends. Rapid-fire percussion and pulsing synths give this song its frenetic tempo, but it’s the genius of Garbus that makes this song irresistible.
Has it really been three years since tUnE-yArDs released their last album, Nikki Nack? If the video below is any indication, we have much to look forward to when they release its follow-up in 2018.
Pre-orders for the new album are here via 4AD ahead of its January 19th release date. The band’s upcoming tour begins November 4 in Maine with a full list of dates (including four shows in Europe) here.
Cindy Wilson – “Brother” (Atlanta via Athens, GA USA)
RIYL: The B-52’s
When you think of bands from the southern town of Athens, Georgia, two names usually come to mind first: R.E.M. and The B-52’s. These legendary groups are comprised of veteran musicians who are still active in the music scene, including powerhouse vocalist Cindy Wilson. After four decades in the music industry, the singer who helped write the band’s signature hits (“Roam” and “Love Shack,” to name but two) finally has a debut solo album, Change. It includes tracks originally released in the last year on two separate EPs, with “Brother” being a standout.
“Brother” opens with a sultry bass line and breezy, flirty vocals. The same playful vibe of The B-52’s looms large here, to great effect. But you wouldn’t expect anything less from Wilson. She is first and foremost a talented performer. It’s great to hear her on this solo venture being sassy as ever.
Cosmo Sheldrake – “Come Along” (London, England)
RIYL: The Avalanches, Gogol Bordello, the writings of Lewis Carroll
Cosmo Sheldrake is an emerging multi-instrumentalist from London who is on the verge of conquering North America thanks to his new single, “Come Along.” Prepare yourself before playing this infectious number, as you’ll be unable to get its catchy hooks and whimsical lyrics out of your head. (How many songs do you know that mention heffalumps, borogoves, and slithy toves?)
Sheldrake is no stranger to the music scene, having released an EP in 2015 as well as being a composer and producer. But what sets this talent apart from his peers is his unique sound that fuses multiple elements into an impossible-to-define genre. Perhaps “gypsy folk-pop” best captures the vibe of “Come Along” with its deliriously hypnotic riff. You may hear echoes of Gogol Bordello and The Avalanches, as this tune ranks equally high on the lively scale. We won’t be surprised to see Cosmo Sheldrake playing at all the UK festivals next year (especially Glastonbury and Shambala), though hopefully he will also hit the US festival scene soon. This kind of artful, playful expression would be a welcome addition at SXSW, Lollapalooza, and Bonnaroo:
“Come, come, come, come, come along now
Run away from the hum-drum
We’ll go to a place that is safe from
Greed, anger and boredom.”
With this song as your soundtrack, you can feel like you’re at a festival year-round. “Come Along” is available now via Tardigrade Records from these streaming/purchase links.
Line & Circle – “Man Uncouth” (Los Angeles, USA)
RIYL: The National, The War on Drugs, The Jayhawks
Five years ago the debut single “Roman Ruins” from LA’s Line & Circle blew me away with its rich, R.E.M.-inspired harmonies and jangly guitars. The band have maintained a low profile since releasing their debut album, aside from touring with The War on Drugs and playing SXSW and CMJ festivals. Now it seems the down time was spent crafting a stunning follow-up EP, Vicious Folly. The lead single proves the wait has been worthwhile.
“Man Uncouth” weaves together dense layers of warm harmonies and instrumentation that elevate the senses. If you didn’t know they were based in Los Angeles’ Echo Park, you might guess they hail from Chicago or a Midwestern town known for producing earnest, heartfelt folk-rock. (Like The National, they have Ohio roots.) Their music has an undeniable down-to-earth charm, unfettered by glitz or pretentious effects. The chorus swells make you want to sing along, thanks to frontman Bryan Cohen’s rich vocals. Tonally they evoke The Jayhawks or Augustines more than The National, though the introspective emotions of the latter permeate each note, making you want to keep “Man Uncouth” on repeat for hours, if not days.
Line & Circle are: Brian J. Cohen (vocals/rhythm guitar), Eric Neujahr (guitar), Jon Engelhard (bass), and Garrett Ray (drums).
Pool Holograph – “Threshold” (Chicago, USA)
RIYL: The Helio Sequence, Luna, The Shins
Despite being ardent music scouts who strive to keep abreast of all the emerging indie talents, somehow we never got the memo about Chicago indie lo-fi rockers Pool Holograph. This is a travesty, since we’re huge fans of bands who occupy the realm of shoegaze/dream-pop/garage rock. Fortunately their newest album, Transparent World, gives us a chance to not only discover the four-piece but to be fully blown away by their sound.
Take their new single, “Threshold,” for example. Amid its layers of swirling guitar and hypnotic bass lines is a solid hit that captures the vibrance of The Helio Sequence, the gauzy mellowness of Dean Wareham (Luna, Galaxie 500), and indie vocals that are reminiscent of The Shins’ James Mercer. Together these elements combine to produce a stunning piece of indie goodness. “Threshold” is cinematic in scope and worthy of a Hollywood film score. The final crescendo towards the end is climactic without being too bold, making it the ideal soundtrack for a pivotal scene in an indie movie or TV show. Until their music finds its way to the silver screen, you can bask in all its shimmering glory now.
Pool Holograph are: Wyatt Grant (vocals/guitar), Paul Stolz (guitar), Zach Stuckman (bass), and Jake Stolz (drums).
Loamlands – “Fall of the Star High School Running Back” (Durham, NC USA)
RIYL: The Mountain Goats, Mount Moriah
I Only Listen to The Mountain Goats is the product of an ongoing new podcast from Night Vale Presents. The final result will be a compilation album due next April (yeah, way too long to wait if you ask us, but apparently patience is a nice virtue or something) featuring an incredible cast of indie musicians (including Laura Jane Grace, Craig Finn, Andrew Bird, Amanda Palmer, and more) covering The Mountain Goat’s 2002 album, All Hail West Texas. One of those is North Carolina-based Loamlands, the duo of Kym Register and Will Hackney. Their take on “Fall of the Star High School Running Back” is fresh and inspired. It’s also more than twice as long, which is itself something to applaud.
Register’s vocals bear an uncanny resemblance to Stevie Nicks at times, giving this song a more lonesome sound than the original. Where John Darnielle sang it with his usual droll delivery, Register manages to infuse disappointment into the “you made a bad decision or two” line in a way that makes you shake your own head during the extended outro.
Few remakes outshine the original, but this one definitely does. If you haven’t already fallen for the pure talent of Loamlands, now is the perfect time.
The single is available now on Bandcamp. The full album is due next April.
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