The Saturday Sampler February 10th edition is like a day at the amusement park or Olympics. These nine songs will get your adrenaline flowing and make you scream while others let you catch your breath and lose yourself in the moment. We get things started with one of the nicest guys around.
Shakey Graves – “Kids These Days” (Austin, USA)
RIYL: Noah Gundersen, Ryan Adams, Joel Plaskett
Yesterday was Shakey Graves Day in Austin, Texas. One of indie folk-rock’s favorite sons, Alejandro Rose-Garcia has come a long way to get to where he is today. His dedication to his craft, his relentless promotion of the music and artistry of his hometown, and his ongoing support of local non-profit organizations explain why the world’s Live Music Capital recognizes him each year. As the singer-songwriter ages, he (like everyone else) gets a little reflective. Rose-Garcia is only 30 years old, but his songs feel drawn from John Prine’s or James Taylor’s songbook. His latest single, “Kids These Days”, is further evidence of why he is one of this generation’s great songwriters.
This upbeat indie folk-rock tune has a shimmering and delightful sound, but lyrically is an introspective examination of his place in this world. His words aren’t really directed at younger generations, but rather about fitting in on this constantly changing planet. While the Texas Gentleman looks inwards, his message is relatable to those who feel like an outsider. Thank you, Alejandro, for writing a song for all of us.
The new Shakey Graves album, Can’t Wake Up, is out May 4th via Dualtone Records. In the meantime, his entire music catalogue is up on Bandcamp for “name your own price”. All proceeds go to two organizations – Health Alliance For Austin Musicians and Southern Poverty Law Center – so please do make a donation in exchange for some great music.
Annie Taylor – “Teach Me Rock ‘n’ Roll” (Zurich, Switzerland)
RIYL: Veruca Salt, The Runaways, Death Valley Girls
Late last year, we were introduced to Zurich-based alt-rock band Annie Taylor, named for none of the band members. We have no idea why Gini (vocals/guitar), Cyril (guitar), Michael (bass), and Adrian / Dimos (drums) chose the name other than perhaps they wanted to pay tribute to the American schoolteacher who went over Niagara Falls in a barrel and survived? This seems plausible since the quartet are a bit outside of the box when it comes to anything Swiss. As opposed to being sweet, nice, and fashionable, they’re edgy, hard, and gritty as evidenced by “Teach Me Rock ‘n’ Roll”.
Forget 2018; this song belongs back in the late ’70s or even early ’90s. Gini’s deadpan vocals echo Nina Gordon of Veruca Salt fame while the gnarly instrumentation recalls the propulsive edginess of The Runaways. The guitar solo on the track is pretty awesome. If we had one little complaint is that the song could have been louder with the rhythms dialed up a few notches. Maybe there is a bit of niceness in the band. Well, they are Swiss, who are some of the coolest people on the planet (we say this with first-hand experience).
Dusted – “Backwards Ritual” (Toronto, Canada)
RIYL: Holy Fuck, Chad VanGaalen, Andy Shauf
Whoever has the job of placing music in films needs to hear this new Dusted single immediately. The subtle urgency of “Backwoods Ritual” captures the tense emotional conflict that usually comes during a pivotal scene – when your heart is in your chest and you find yourself holding your breath until the tension is broken by some kind of action. That critical apex just before something major happens is what this song builds up to in less than two minutes. It’s cinematic in scope despite its jangly indie pop veneer.
The opening lyrics (“There’s no ledge to coax you from”) set up the premise of pending conflict. As frontman Brian Borcherdt (of indie electronic -rock giants Holy Fuck) ups the volume, so too does your anticipation. But in true movie cliffhanger fashion, the song ends on a slight chord change that leaves you pondering the denouement. Maybe the answers will be revealed when Borcherdt releases his sophomore Dusted album, Blackout Summer, in a few weeks.
Family Video – “Year Without a Summer” (St. John’s, Newfoundland, Canada)
RIYL: Big Thief, Mothers, The Weather Station
We don’t know much about Family Video, as we only recently came across this hidden gem of a band. One thing we know is they hail from the city with the most pubs per capita in the world: St. John’s, Newfoundland and Labrador. This indie four-piece have released five albums since 2012, but it’s their “Year Without a Summer” single that has us most excited. How they have flown under our radar for so long is a mystery, but we are delighted by their sound.
This single is stunning. The indie folk-rock vibe is warm, vibrant, and inviting, akin to the emotional impact of Big Thief’s most dazzling songs. Jen King’s soft, intimate vocals draw you deep into the song about people going their separate ways to chase the unknown. If you’re about to go on a new adventure, let this be the soundtrack to your journey.
Family Video are: Jen King (vocals/guitar/bass/synths), Noah Bender (bass/guitar), Jake Nicoll (backing vocals/bass/keys/drums), and Geordie Dynes (drums).
Emma McGrath – “Love You Better” (Harpenden, England)
RIYL: London Grammar, Laura Marling, Billie Martin
Now that the Winter Olympics are underway, our TVs give a glimpse of the many young talents within the athletic world. Those competitors who earn gold medals will do so because they have been training since they were children. If indie musicians were eligible to compete, there is no doubt that British singer Emma McGrath would take gold. This emerging talent has been writing and recording her original music for the last six years – a feat that doesn’t mean much until you realize she is only 18 years old. The North London native’s newest single is proof that she is a future legend in the making.
“Love You Better” showcases McGrath’s powerful alto vocals. The song begins with stunning simplicity: just McGrath and an acoustic guitar. As she sings, “I can love you better in the long run,” you forget her youth and become transfixed by the warmth of her voice and the maturity of her style. This isn’t the sugary pop balladry of an ordinary teenager. No, this is your introduction to a true talent who will one day become a household name. Maybe by then she will have a few dozen Grammy awards instead of Olympic medals.
Giving Up – “Hairdo” (Garner, Iowa, USA)
RIYL: Mac DeMarco, Connan Mockasin, Walter TV
Some of the best ideas in the world begin with the words, “What if we…” Whether it’s a radio DJ creating International Clash Day or a scientist accidentally inventing the Post-It Note, progress comes when people dare to try something new. That spirit of daring creativity pulses through “Hairdo” from emerging American pop-punk outfit Giving Up.
You wonder if this song emerged during a band practice when someone said, “What if we combined some crazy fun elements?” The long intro includes a breezy riff with staccato percussion and sun-kissed harmonies that transport you to a tropical beach. Then the luau vibe is interrupted by a jolt of Dead Kennedys-esque frenzied punk energy around the 0:45 mark. A minute later the band incorporate something offbeat in lieu of a stereotypical guitar solo. Who needs a traditional bridge when you can have a single isolated moan? This band excels at keeping you surprised yet hooked from start to finish. Mac DeMarco should take these guys on tour, because their unbridled enthusiasm are a perfect match for his.
Garner Cardinals, is due February 16 via Sophomore Lounge Records with pre-orders from the label and Bandcamp. You can also stream it on Soundcloud, but trust us: the band will love you much more if you show them some love with your wallet.
Giving Up are: Mikie Polan (guitars/vocals/lyrics) and Jenny Rose (keys), with additional contributions by Sean Roth, Aaron Osbourne, and drummer/producer/mixer Dusty Van Ness.
Kaviar Special – “Bedroom” (Rennes, France)
RIYL: King Gizzard and The Lizard Wizard, Bee Bee Seas
If you thought King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard were the only ones who could turn psychedelic garage-rock into an amusement park ride, think again. So before you hit play on French band Kaviar Special‘s new tune, “Bedroom”, hold onto your hats and buckle your seat belts because this chamber (or, in French, chambre) is about to explode.
Fast, furious, and unrelenting, “Bedroom” is one wild, fun, and rambunctious experience. Like a great roller coaster, it twists, turns, and loops with plenty of freefalls to make you scream. Or maybe you’ll want to do a rapid-fire line dance because there is a touch of propulsive country-rock embedded in the track. When you get such a great and amusing tune, there’s only one thing to say – “Fuck yeah!” (or maybe you prefer “Yeehaw“, but to each their own).
Kaviar Special are Vincent, Léo, Rémy, Adrien.
Sextile – “Current Affair (feat. Sienna) (Los Angeles, USA)
RIYL: early Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Savages, Holy Fuck
Each day seems to reveal a new level of madness in the world, so music fans rely on musicians to provide a sanity-saving soundtrack. Now more than ever, the artists are expressing our collective exasperation in every music genre. Take the Los Angeles-based post-punk outfit Sextile, for example: their new “Current Affair” single finds these four artists channeling their rage into a scathing response to the madness.
This synth-driven indictment of delusional world leaders channels the energy of a different era while sounding fresh and modern. Just as punks raised angry fists during the Cold War era when the threat of war loomed large, Sextile are urging listeners to realize “Truth is not in print” and “Don’t believe the TV screen.”
There is much to love about this song. From the pulsing, Krautrock-inspired instrumentation to the lyrics (“I don’t like what I read / I don’t like what I see”), “Current Affair” offers instant gratification.
Sextile are: Brady Keehn, Cameron Michel, Melissa Scaduto, and Eddie Wuebben.
Vinyl Staircase – “Cherry” (Dorking, England)
RIYL: ‘Midnite Vultures’-era Beck, The Orielles, Palm Honey
What’s the best way for four kids from a small town with a funny name in Surrey to pass their spare time? Put together an awesome little rock band that sounds like Midnite Vultures-era Beck, of course! That in a nutshell is Vinyl Staircase, the project of first names-only Jake, Luke, Mike, and George. The young quartet have already received plenty of attention with BBC Radio 1, NME, Clash Magazine, and The Line of Best Fit singing their praises. Count us in as sold on their late-’90s / mid-’00s indie rock approach that blooms on “Cherry”.
The song is catchy, anthemic, and just a whack of fun. Potent as a triple espresso, this is the perfect energizer to get you up and going. The gnarly guitar riffs and pummeling rhythms are the caffeine while the booming harmonies are the sugar to cut through the edge. But who exactly is Cherry? Is she even a person or just a reference to the it-can’t-come-soon-enough season of summer? The reference might be something completely different, but who cares when a young band has delivered a memorable song that has us losing our minds? (We’ll eventually figure out the storyline once we stop jumping around).
Share This Article On...
Follow The Revue On...