From indie folk to psych rock, the Melodic Tonic ’17, December 6th edition is a mid-week sonic feast. Featuring six artists from six countries (Australia, England, Ireland, Mexico, Sweden, and the US), this mini-playlist offers something for everyone. We kick things off with one of our favorite American indie rockers.
Strand of Oaks – “Passing Out” (Philadelphia, USA)
RIYL: My Morning Jacket, Phosphorescent, The War on Drugs
One of our favorite indie rockers just keeps delivering the goods. Following the release this spring of his Hard Love LP, Strand of Oaks frontman Tim Showalter is preparing to share songs that didn’t make it onto that album. “Passing Out” is just one of those tracks on the upcoming Harder Love.
Mellow and expansive, “Passing Out” is Showalter at his creative, relaxed best. Its rich tones land somewhere between the introspective depths of his 2014 album, Heal, and the latest effort from The War on Drugs. The instrumentation is warm and fuzzy and full of life, much like the artist himself. The impetus for this new album is simple, according to Showalter, and we couldn’t agree more:
“Life is short and more fucked up by the day…and I don’t want to waste any more time being afraid to be weird and let all my songs out there.”
Glen Hansard – “Setting Forth” (Dublin, Ireland)
RIYL: Van Morrison, Iron & Wine
We are only six weeks away from the release of the third Glen Hansard solo album. Between Two Shores is one of our most anticipated LPs of 2018, based on what we have heard so far.
“Setting Forth” casts a warm, fireside glow on the Irish songwriter’s indie folk singer/songwriter style. The piano and violin accompaniment give the song added depth to match the wisdom of his lyrics. No stranger to self-doubt, Hansard hints at inner turmoil yet remains undaunted as he charts his course:
“I’m setting forth with my instincts
I’m setting forth with my doubts
I’m letting go of everything that tries to stop me now
And I don’t know where fortune’s gonna find us
but it’s time for finding out.”
El Perro Del Mar – “Fight For Life” (Gothenburg, Sweden)
RIYL: Björk, Kate Havnevik, Lykke Li
Years from now we will look back at the year 2017 as a dark time plagued by a lack of civility. For this reason, it’s no surprise that so many artists have released powerful music that stands up to those who cause and promote this unfortunate trend. Add Swedish artist Sarah Assuring – a.k.a. El Perro Del Mar – to that list. Her newest single from her upcoming We Are History EP matches the darker tone of modern times. If you loved last year’s KoKoro LP, then prepare to be dazzled all over again.
“Fight For Life” is a sweeping, emotionally moving experience on par with Björk’s cinematic masterpieces. While the song’s intro evokes a dystopian soundscape, the blue skies of the video remind us that there is good in the world worth fighting for – even if we must endure rocky terrain before it’s visible again. The artist herself describes the inspiration for the song:
“The ongoings in the world’s brought me to think a lot about medieval times, how we once became civilised and what being civilised really is. How easy it is to demolish it along with human rights and values generations before us fought so hard for.”
Twin Caverns – “Crimes” (Sydney, Australia)
RIYL: London Grammar, GEMS, Hundred Waters
Get comfortable before you immerse yourself in the lush sounds of Australian dream-electronica duo Twin Caverns. Their latest single is a languid affair sure to take your breath away and make you swoon. The downtempo “Crimes” is the band’s first release in a year, and it’s definitely one that you’ll want to keep on repeat indefinitely.
This intoxicating fusion of electronica, soul, trip-hop and dream-pop offers an immediate rush of euphoric bliss. No, that’s not overselling its tranquility. Just listen and you’ll understand. “Crimes” is nothing short of sublime thanks to the moody vocals and instrumentation from Lou Millar and Michael Macias. The duo recently added bassist Chuffy Smith to their roster, resulting in an even fuller sound. Imagine if Bon Iver and James Blake collaborated with London Grammar and Hundred Waters: the result would be Twin Caverns. If you need a new chill-out soundtrack, this is one song you absolutely must add to the mix.
Isabelle Brown – “Hey Romeo” (Brighton, England)
RIYL: Amy Winehouse meets Neneh Cherry
What were you doing when you were a teenager? If you were like most teens, your primary focus was probably on trying to figure out who you were – and you likely didn’t have a clue. Most teenagers don’t come into their identity until much later; even fewer have identified their talents enough to actually do something cool like record their own music. Fortunately, emerging indie artist Isabelle Brown isn’t a typical teenager.
She has just two songs in her current catalog, though that will soon change. Get to know her name now, because her new “Hey Romeo” single is all the proof we need that Brown is destined for greatness. On this song the 14-year-old singer (yes, you read that correctly: she’s only fourteen!) from Brighton fuses old-school soul beats with modern R&B and pop – and the result is a radio-friendly jam you might expect from someone twice her age.
Her debut album is expected next year. Needless to say, we are ready to hear more ASAP. Until it arrives, you can find this single streaming on Soundcloud.
Cascabel – “Midnight Mantra” (Mexico City, Mexico)
RIYL: The Doors, The Black Angels, Black Rebel Motorcycle Club
This year has been especially good if you are a fan of psych rock. Bands like The Black Angels and Black Rebel Motorcycle Club tend to remain in the spotlight, but an emerging band from Mexico are quickly rising to take their place. Say hello to Cascabel. This four-piece outfit from Mexico City produce some of the most head-spinning riffs we’ve heard lately. If you missed their 2015 debut, Far Out, Man!, now is the time to catch up.
While some emerging bands like Greta Van Fleet opt to emulate classic rock influences (namely, Led Zeppelin), Cascabel dig deeper to get their original sound. Not many bands channel Jim Morrison and The Doors the way these guys do on “Midnight Mantra” from their new Cobra LP. The swirl of reverb-heavy guitars and organ would make The Lizard King proud. Meanwhile, you can hear echoes of Joy Division’s Ian Curtis in the vocals of frontman Ian Pascal. But this song isn’t simply retro-inspired. The wall of sound they create here is as dense and heady as anything on the latest album from The Black Angels or Psyence. Cascabel deliver huge hooks and plenty of swagger, so get ready to blast this one at full volume. The intensity doesn’t let up until the last thirty seconds when it fades out with a hint of Middle Eastern flair.
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