The Saturday Sampler January 20th edition brings you nine brilliant new songs from across the globe. Featuring artists from Austria, England, Norway, Sweden, and the U.S., today’s playlist offers a variety of genres to please every musical palette. We kick things off with a stunning Scandinavian artist.
Big Fox – “The Fight” (Malmö, Sweden)
RIYL: Lisa Hannigan, Joan As Police Woman, Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds
In 2013 when her sophomore album, Now, was released under the moniker Big Fox, Swedish singer-songwriter Charlotta Perers’ career was quickly charting skyward. Then she went silent, taking the past four-plus years off and in the process live life and write music. The music world will get another opportunity to discover Perers’ talent when her new album, See How the Light Falls, arrives in the spring via Hybris. The lead single from it is the mesmerizing “The Fight.”
As she sings in the song, “Close your eyes now” in order to appreciate the magic in this beautiful, mystical alt-folk number and, thus, momentarily escape from the chaos around. The track is utter enchantment, highlighted by Perers’ delicate vocals, the harrowing bellow of the sax, and the hum of the strings in the background. But as you listen closely to the song’s quiet urgency, you might hear a woman telling herself that she has overcome all obstacles and is nearing the pinnacle of her career.
Chris Dave and The Drumhedz – “Black Hole” (feat. Anderson.Paak) (Houston, USA)
RIYL: Anderson. Paak, Michael Kiwanuka, The Roots
Chris Dave is about to release his self-titled, debut album next week – January 26th specifically – via Blue Note Records. It’s quite incredible to think that after more than two decades in music and collaborating with the likes of Adele, D’Angelo, Justin Bieber, and a host of others that the Houston native has not released his own LP. Better late than never, right? Giving us a hint of what is to come he’s released his collaboration with Anderson. Paak, the cool and groovy “Black Hole”.
Funky and filled with New Orleans soul, this song is outstanding. Not surprisingly, the composition on the song is incredibly written and executed – from the booming horns to the titillating rhythms. Having Paak sing lead vocals on the track is a great move, as his gritty, soulful voice and socially-charged lyrics about how seven deadly sins are consuming America accentuate the track’s intensity. Songs like “Black Hole” just don’t come around very often these days, so appreciate the genius that is Dave and his band The Drumhedz.
Gengahr – “Before Sunrise” (London, England)
RIYL: Vampire Weekend, Spring King, Sundara Karma
We were starting to wonder when we would hear a new single from Gengahr, after they shared “Carrion” and “Mallory” last autumn. Then on Thursday, they answered our inquiries by releasing “Before Sunrise”, which is the Gengahr we’ve come to love from the start.
The oft-kilter indie pop-rock approach is body-swaying delightful, as its warm melodies and jangly guitar lines give the song a springtime feel. The harmonies, meanwhile, are blissful, but the lyrics are more in the shadows than in the sunlight. Listen intently and you’ll hear the voice of a troubled soul trying to make it through another day and then finding solace with the arrive of the night. Because during these times, we can lose ourselves in our fantasies, just like how we can pretend it’s spring outside with this gem of a single.
Gengahr’s sophomore album, Where Wildness Grows, is out March 9th via Transgressive Records.
The band is comprised of Felix Bushe, John Victor, Danny Ward, and Hugh Schulte.
Gundelach – “Duck Hunting” (Oslo, Norway)
RIYL: Breathe, Bon Iver, Sondre Lerche
Be prepared to be absolutely stunned. As such, take a long, deep breath before hitting play because Norwegian multi-instrumentalist and producer Kai Gundelach – or simply Gundelach – will leave you breathless with his ’80s-esque new single, “Duck Hunting”. This song is what one would imagine would be the byproduct of a collaboration of Justin Vernon (Bon Iver) and Breathe or if Gayngs reformed and decided to do a cover of “Hands to Heaven”.
Gundelach’s vocals are intoxicating, and the instrumentation is superb, particularly the heart-pounding bass line and the steely guitar that comes in at the bridge. They all leave you in wonder, and yet there is something incredibly uplifting about the song, especially as he sings:
“I’m not going to fall,
If you’re holding me
I’m not going to fall.”
With this great tune, we have a new saying: In Gundelach we trust.
Leyya – “Heat” (Vienna, Austria)
RIYL: Anna of the North, Maggie Rogers, Kllo
Speaking of great bass lines, the first thing that steals your attention is the tremor that percolates throughout Leyya‘s newest single, “Heat”. Comprised of Sophie Lindinger and Marco Kleebauer, the art-pop duo have crafted one funky, exhilarating, and hypnotic number. It’s simultaneously dark and suspenseful made for quiet nights yet immensely groovy and infectious that it could be played in the most exclusive clubs.
Lindinger’s vocals, too, are intoxicating, as her whispery softness washes over you and leaves you entranced. While some may interpret her lyrics and the word “Heat” to relate to a relationship, you better think again. This is a sultry anthem about taking control of your life and going after what you want. What you desire. And for some, that might Leyya’s sophomore album, Sauna, which is out January 26th via +1 Records (US & North America) and Las Vegas Records (ROW)
Lucius – “Neighbors” (Brooklyn, USA)
RIYL: Neil Young, Thao & The Get Down Stay Down, First Aid Kit
For the better part of this decade, Lucius have blown away listeners, including ourselves, with their booming art-pop and alt-folk songs. In particular, the dazzling vocals and harmonies of Jess Wolfe and Holly Laessig always shook our foundations. Then yesterday, they shared a song that you would only hear if you attend one of Lucius’ concerts.
Stripping everything back, the Brooklyn-based quartet deliver a stunning acoustic number with “Neighbors”. Wolfe and Laessig’s vocals remain powerful and enrapturing, but musically they’ve turned back the clocks and channeled the alt-folk music of the late ’60s and ’70s. Think Neil Young, Joni Mitchell, and Joan Baez and the intimacy of a campfire. The best part of the “new” approach is that the songwriting is the star, as they describe how the sense of community has vanished and where neighbors are no longer our friends.
“Neighbors” is from Lucius’ upcoming acoustic album, NUDES, which arrives March 2nd on Mom + Pop Music. The album features collaborations with Roger Waters, Nels Cline, and others.
In addition to Jess and Holly, Lucius are Dan Molad and Peter Lalish. They’re heading out on an acoustic tour that commences in February. The first dates are in Australia before they spend the spring back in North America. We expecti to see them again at Newport Folk Festival in some capacity.
Math and Physics Club – “Broadcasting Waves” (Seattle, USA)
RIYL: Death Cab for Cutie, Real Estate, Dick Diver
Seattle indie trio Math and Physics Club make the kind of jangly, feel-good indie pop-rock that fits all of life’s movie scene moments. Whether you’re staring up at a blanket of starry skies or witnessing terrain changes on a cross-country trip, their tunes have been providing the soundtrack since the mid ’00s. For some inexplicable reason, these guys still retain their indie cred as merely regional stars. Hopefully their new “Broadcasting Waves” single will bring them the global acclaim they deserve.
For starters, “Broadcasting Waves” just feels like a carefree Pacific Northwest tune. Beneath its sweetly fuzzy layers beats a heart of pure indie gold: it’s honest, unpretentious, and modest. The trio of Charles Bert (vocals, rhythm guitar), Ethan Jones (bass, keyboards) and James Werle (lead guitar) have proven yet again how well they excel at crafting lethally charming indie pop hooks.
The Soft Moon – “Choke” (Oakland, USA)
RIYL: Nine Inch Nails, Bauhaus, DIIV
“Crush me right / take your time” is the refrain on “Choke” from indie darkwave sensation The Soft Moon. The song does exactly that: it crushes your will to listen to anything else. Only it doesn’t take its time: you feel the results from the first notes.
For his fourth studio album, Criminal, founder Luis Vasquez digs deep into his personal archives for inspiration. The result is a maelstrom of pounding synths and brooding lyrics that echo the raw emotions Vasquez has felt throughout his life. The punishing fury of “Choke” comes across as a seamless hybrid of Bauhaus and Nine Inch Nails. In other words, it’s an instant hypnotic rush.
Tracey Thorn – “Queen” (London, England)
RIYL: Everything But the Girl, St. Etienne, Goldfrapp
How fitting for Tracey Thorn to release a new album in this era of female empowerment. The former member of indie synth-pop duo Everything But the Girl has an unmistakable voice. Now on her second solo album this decade, she raises those distinctive vocals in a rousing anthem that’s sure to quicken pulses across the globe. The simply titled album – Record – might just become the soundtrack for women everywhere in 2018. With lyrics every woman can relate to (“Am I queen / or something else I might have been – a star? / Is that me or someone else entirely?), “Queen” is a rallying cry to keep chasing your dreams.
This track also features Warpaint’s Jenny Lee Lindberg and Stella Mozgawa on bass and drums.
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