The Saturday Sampler October 28th edition brews up some bewitching treats in preparation for Halloween. From brooding indie art rock to charming Americana and sultry pop, these nine songs will put a spell on you. Today’s featured artists are from Canada, Colombia, England, Netherlands, Sweden, and the USA. Check back tomorrow when our Weekend Showcase includes every song we have shared this week.
Anteros – “Bonnie” (London, England)
RIYL: Wolf Alice, Sundara Karma, Black Honey
YYYYEEEESSSSS!!! Even though Franz Ferdinand and Rhye released new songs this week, it is Anteros‘ first single in seven months that has us the most excited. Why? Well, we’ve been following the London-based quartet since their early days, and every song is different. They might be a young group, but they are tremendously versatile. Their new song, “Bonnie”, is mosaic of their past, and, not surprisingly, it is fantastic.
“Bonnie” could be mistaken for a song on The Singles soundtrack both in terms of its anthemic pop-rock approach and front woman Laura Hayden’s terrific lyrics. Musically, the song starts with a groovy melody, but it builds into a terrific, I-can’t-and-don’t-want-to-get-it-out-of-my-head catchy chorus that will have you dancing. Hayden’s little story is one filled with hope and celebrating who you are. As she explains:
“We wrote ‘Bonnie’ about the pressures of being a girl in a world of people who never seem to be happy with what they have. It’s time to break away from that; to love and accept ourselves. To stop comparing ourselves to each other and work together. ‘Bonnie’ is our tribute to girls.”
“Bonnie” is part of a double AA side that will be released with “Love” (yet to be shared) next month. It will be released via Distiller Records, who also distributed Anteros’ awesome EP, Drunk, which had us buzzing for awhile. More excitement will arrive in 2018 as the band will start recording their debut album. Woohoo!
Anteros are Laura Hayden (vocals), Joshua Rumble (bass), Charles Monneraud (guitar), and Harry Balazs (drums).
The Ballroom Thieves – “Only Lonely” (Boston, USA)
RIYL: Houndmouth, Joseph, Tall Heights, Young Frontier
Before our annual trip to Newport Folk Festival this summer, we called The Ballroom Thieves “one of New England’s best Americana groups” – but it’s high time we amended that description. The Boston-based trio are one of the best Americana groups anywhere. After seeing them perform twice at Newport, and now hearing their gorgeous new “Only Lonely” single, there simply is no denying their talent. We aren’t the only ones in awe of their sound: earlier this week they announced their signing with the Canadian label, Nettwerk. Now it’s only a matter of time before the entire world comes to know and love them as much as we do.
“Only Lonely” is a heartfelt slice of Americana that never strays far from its campfire warmth. It doesn’t get too rollicking, nor is it simple acoustic folk crooning. No, ever since their 2015 debut EP, A Wolf in the Doorway, The Ballroom Thieves have an uncanny ability to tiptoe around the edges of multiple genres in their songs. Here the vocals of Calin Peters are intimate and warm, with bandmates Martin Earley and Devin Mauch adding rich layers that complement her cello. If this single is any indication, their next album will thrust them into the big time indie spotlight.
The Ballroom Thieves are Calin Peters (vocals/cello), Martin Earley (guitar), and Devin Mauch (percussion).
Black Rebel Motorcycle Club – “Haunt” (San Francisco, USA)
RIYL: Nick Cave, Mark Lanegan, The Black Angels
Last month Black Rebel Motorcycle Club cranked up the heat with their scorching “Little Thing Gone Wrong” single. We reveled in its intensity, calling it a “full-fledged hurricane of heavy rock.” But this month we find the San Francisco band conjuring up more brooding, mysterious sound. Released just in time for Halloween, the evocative tones of “Haunt” will charm and mesmerize you.
The song is perfectly titled, because an ethereal mist creeps through the verses and chorus, only to develop into a heavy fog of reverb and chilling harmonies towards the end. Chills. That’s the one word to describe the murder-mystery tone of this track. It soundscape echoes Nick Cave and Mark Lanegan, making it an ideal addition to your Halloween soundtrack.
BRMC are: Peter Hayes (vocals/guitar), Robert Levon Been (vocals/bass/guitar), and Leah Shapiro (drums).
Glass Mountain – “Gin Flows Through My Veins” (Bradford, England)
RIYL: The Cure, Porcupine Tree, Editors
Another seasonally appropriate tune comes from emerging British post-rock outfit Glass Mountain. The four-piece West Yorkshire band share sonic similarities with The Cure and Porcupine Tree in terms of their melancholy tones and intricate percussion. This will get them noticed by fans and critics alike, but their engrossing “Gin Flows Through My Veins” single will turn those casual listeners into devoted fans.
The first thing that grabs you in this song is the dense textures of the extended intro. Echoes of Disintegration-era The Cure and early Porcupine Tree (particularly In Absentia) reverberate through the moody layers. The chorus refrain (“Haunt me like you do, haunt me like you did”) will haunt your memory as it evokes imagery of blustery winds from an approaching storm. Those grey skies darken as the song progresses, but the last half is especially moving. When the band unleash a thunderous torrent of guitars balanced with delicate strings in the final minutes, you will feel chills down your spine. Stormy weather never sounded so invigorating. Get to know these guys now, because they won’t remain a small indie band for long. Soon their hometown of Bradford will be known for more than the artist David Hockney, whose work inspired the band’s name.
Grapell – “When The World Ends (I Want To Be With You)” (Stockholm, Sweden)
RIYL: Cigarettes After Sex, Rhye, Chris De Burgh
There are very few bands on the planet that can take an ordinary love song and make it so stunning that it feels like you’re listening to something from another world. Something so extraordinary that it surely could not be a love song. Emil Erstrand and Nils Nygård, who together form Grapell, are one of those bands. And it’s not just because what they’ve done with their new single, “When The World Ends (I Want To Be With You)”, but they’ve been doing it for nearly two years. This time, though, they may have just written their finest piece.
“When the World Ends” is a show-stopper. Within the first thirty seconds, everyone’s attention will be focused on the song. The slight hum of the synths, the delicate keys, and the opening salvo of the saxophone are the bait, but then Erstrand’s intimate vocals enter and become the hook. As the song develops, it gets a little bit more breathtaking with each beat; when the climax is reached two things happen: absolute amazement and the words “Wow!” being uttered. There are love songs, then there are love songs like no other.
Gun Outfit – “Sally Rose” (Los Angeles, USA)
RIYL: Avers, Broken Social Scene, The Black Angels
Longevity often results in a band’s popularity increasing with each year, yet Gun Outfit mysteriously remain under the radar after ten years together. This is a crime because the Los Angeles-based quartet create some of the best spacey, Western indie-rock on the planet. They’re like a more summery version of The Black Angels. Their previous album, Dream All Over, was a nod to the timeless sounds of the ’70s and the Laurel Canyon scene. It was an extremely underrated LP, but maybe album #5 changes their fortunes.
Out of Range arrives November 10th on Paradise of Bachelors. They have shared three tracks from it, including the ultra-cool “Sally Rose”. The song demonstrates the genius of Gun Outfit and why they should be better known. Specifically, not many bands can seamlessly infuse dreamy indie-rock with blistering psych-rock that creates the feeling that your head is floating in the clouds while your feet are rocking out on the ground. November 10th cannot arrive soon enough.
Gun Outfit are Carrie Keith (guitar/vocals/slide guitar), Dylan Sharp (guitar/vocals/banjo/balalaika), Adam Payne (bass), and Daniel Swire (drums/percussion).
Loyal Lobos – “Dirt” (Los Angeles, USA via Bogotá, Colombia)
RIYL: Julien Baker, Phoebe Bridgers, Maggie Rogers
Over a year ago we were introduced to Colombian-born singer-songwriter Andrea Silva, who dazzled us with her soft and delicate vocals and intimate alt-folk. Her song “the fall”, which she released this summer, was “a love song to all those who touched our hearts.” She’s re-labeled herself as Loyal Lobos, likely in honor of the family and friends she’s left behind in Bogotá as she carves out a career in Los Angeles. It appears her decision will pay off because Silva is on the path to indie stardom thank to songs like “the fall” and her latest, “Dirt”.
The first word out of our mouths when we heard an early version of the track was gorgeous, and that description holds true today. With “Dirt”, she has taken alt-folk and made it widescreen, where the song progresses into an awe-inspiring moment that leaves you breathless. It’s like seeing the most stunning piece of art and being paralyzed by its beauty for several minutes. Even long after you’ve moved on, its image returns to your mind when you least expect it. Likewise, the beauty of “Dirt” will forever be etched in your mind – from Silva’s captivating vocals, the chest-swelling melodies, and her lyrics about hiding from fear and trying to move beyond it.
It’s only a matter of time before Silva follows in the footsteps of Julien Baker, Phoebe Bridgers, and Maggie Rogers to become an indie star.
Major Love – “Tear It Down” (Edmonton, Canada)
RIYL: The Jayhawks, Maria Taylor, Jenn Grant
Edmonton is one of the most underrated music cities in the world thanks to its booming indie scene. Seriously, there are a lot of great bands and artists from the Albertan capital, such as Faith Healer, Michael Rault (who now lives in Montreal), and Mac DeMarco. Further evidencing the city’s musical exploits is Major Love, a super-group in some respect. Well, super-group for Edmonton, that is. Featuring members of Scenic Route To Alaska, Colleen Brown Band, Elijah Abrams, and Jesse and the Dandelions, Major Love are in the process of putting the final touches of their self-titled debut album (out early in 2018), and they’ve shared the LP’s first single.
“Tear It Down” isn’t what you would expect from Edmonton, which is great. It’s mostly an alt-pop tune with a catchy, jittery melody, but elements of Americana and indie rock sweep through the track to give it a touch of grit (there are hints of The Tragically Hip in the guitar solos). Colleen Brown on lead vocals provides an excellent message by which we all should abide: to not fret the little things and start over if you have to. This is sort of what Elijah Abrams, Colleen Brown, Shea Connor, Trevor Mann, and Murray Wood are doing by forming Major Love and giving Canada another band to watch.
On a side note, we’ll have to remember this song should Trump actually build his wall.
Stillwave – “Adeleide” (Utrecht, Netherlands)
RIYL: Joy Division, Editors, City Calm Down
If you love a bit of cinema noir in your music – and we certainly do – Dutch trio Stillwave is the band for you (and us). Last month they shared “She Flies Like a Tracer”, which had heavy hints of Nick Cave and David Bowie. On their memorable new single, “Adeleide”, however, they go a little darker and enter the post-punk and Goth-rock realms occupied by Joy Division and Eagulls.
The song is a magnificent fusion of sound, textures, and emotions. The taut synths and pulsing rhythms create a foreboding atmosphere, but the occasional strike of the dissonant and reverb-drenched guitar adds color and brightness. Consequently, a push-pull feeling is created – we’re frightened, as if we entered a dark alley in a sketchy part of town, yet there is exhilaration in the unknown. Frontman Michaël van Putten’s deep vocals further intensify these feelings, as his voice waivers between sinister and optimism. “We can believe ourselves / Dead or alive”, he informs us as we exit the journey. Or are his words a warning of what is to come?
Stillwave’s debut album, Sell Another Soul, is out November 3rd.
The band is comprised of Michaël van Putten, Marcel Jongejan and Adriaan Hogervorst. They head out on a tour of the Netherlands in November, plus three UK gigs in December. Details are available here.
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