Saturday Sampler February 17th features songs that will get you up and moving and take you away to another dimension. There rockers, pop-rock anthems, political statements, and some good old-fashion dreamgaze. In other words, this mini-playlist is the perfect way to spend the weekend.

Belako – “Maskenfreiheit” (Mungia, Spain)

RIYL: Bosnian Rainbows, Bikini Kills, Crystal Fighters

We may have found our new favorite band, although Belako aren’t that new. They formed in 2011, and they have established a pretty decent following in Spain, Central Europe, and Mexico thanks their mesmerizing post-rock / post-punk approach. As evidence of their potential, they are on the roster of Primavera Sound’s in-house label El Segell. Yes, the company that hosts arguably the best major music festival on the planet. Anyway, as a sample of how great the Basque quartet are, they’ve shared the opening track from their forthcoming new album, “Maskenfreiheit”.

Meaning freedom conferred by masks, “Maskenfreiheit” is a propulsive banger meant to haunt your dreams and leave you in a delirious state. The bass line is terrific while the synths are wickedly daunting. Front woman Lore’s piercing vocals, meanwhile, will leave a permanent mark on your soul, as she wails with the crippling power of Kate Bush. Her lyrics may be a reference to Mexico City’s Day of the Dead Festival or the mere act of hiding behind a mask to be oneself. Either, she has us wondering whether it’s even possible to reveal our true selves in this day and age of social media, manipulation, and surveillance.

Belako’s new album, Render Me Numb, Trivial Violence, is out in six days, specifically Friday, February 23rd.

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Bloodboy – “Sex Crime” (Los Angeles, USA)

RIYL: Sundara Karma, Alex Lahey, Bec Sandridge

In 2016, Lexie Papilion released her debut EP under the moniker Bloodboy, and Best of Bloodboy was an expansive, ambitious, and rewarding record. A year ago, she delivered a fantastic piece of pop music with “Important to the World”, which approached Pink levels. Yesterday, the former competitive surfer released her first song of 2018.

“Sex Crime” is another earworm banger that will stay implanted between your ears. The upbeat and head-bobbing melodies feel like the arrival of spring, and Papilion’s vocals remain rich and vibrant. Yet the biggest difference is her songwriting. While she has always been a solid songwriter, she takes her lyrical skills to another level. On this occasion, she takes the role of the narrator to describe how a much older man seduces an under-aged girl. It’s a powerful and timely message that should be played every day for the next ten years.

“Sex Crime” is the first single from Bloodboy’s forthcoming debut album, Punk Adjacent. Release date to be announced shortly.

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The Drums – “Meet Me In Mexico” (New York City, USA)

RIYL: Kevin Parker, Jamie XX, Day Wave

On Valentine’s Day, Jonny Pierce – a.k.a. The Drums – released a different kind of love song. It wasn’t directed at a specific person but rather communities that were recently devastated by earthquakes in Mexico. But instead of a languid and sad story, he delivers an upbeat and euphoric tune in “Meet Me In Mexico”.

With splashes of Kevin Parker (as a DJ) and Day Wave, “Meet Me In Mexico” is ideal for the club scene or a party on the beach. It is essentially an early summer banger that will get people up and moving, and, more importantly, hopefully encouraging people to go to Mexico and support the economy when it is safe to do so. In the meantime, purchase the song on Bandcamp for $1 or give more because all proceeds from the song will be donated to help rebuild the earthquake damaged areas in Mexico. Funding specifically will be targeted to ReConstruir México and Lago Tanganica 67.

The Drums’ latest album, Abysmal Thoughts, is out on Anti Records. Get that, too!

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EUT – “Bad Sweet Pony” (Amsterdam, Netherlands)

RIYL: The Cardigans, SUPERORGANISM, Gengahr

Dutch group EUT have been pegged for big things by online streaming service Deezer, and we can completely understand why when listening to “Bad Sweet Pony”. This song is extremely catchy and will stick in your head for hours if not days. It is a slice of pop-rock perfection to the nth degree, reminiscent of the boisterous sounds of The Cardigans. Even front woman Megan de Klerk’s voice have a striking resemblance to Nina Persson. Like the Swedish super-group’s most anthemic songs, this one will have you standing and dancing. Or maybe you’ll want to get into a convertible, drive with the top down, and blast this song like Persson did for “My Favourite Game”. Who cares if it’s cold outside; this song must be heard by everyone.

EUT are Megan de Klerk (vocals), Jim Geurts (drums), Tessa Raadman (guitar), Emiel De Nennie (guitar), and Sergio Escoda (bass/keys). Look out world, here comes the next great Dutch sensations!

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Great News – “You’re Mine” (Bergen, Norway)

RIYL: Future Islands, The Charlatans, The War On Drugs

Yesterday, Great News released their debut album, Wonderfault, via Eget Selskap and Better Call Records. The LP is a mix of The War On Drugs-like cinematic classic rock with the rambunctious energy of ’80s rock legends The Charlatans and The Stone Roses. If they lived elsewhere, they would be the talk of the indie world and performing at every major festival. These days, though, shouldn’t be too far away for Even Kjelby, Kim Åge Furuhaug, and Ole Kristian Einarsen, who’ll eventually get their opportunity to share their infectious indie tunes like “You’re Mine”.

While the trio can rock out like the aforementioned greats, they offer something a little different this time around – a brilliant synth-rock gem that could be the outcome of a collaboration between Future Islands and The War On Drugs. It’s trippy, groovy, fun, and anthemic that will have you swaying, doing a few shoulder shimmies, or just dancing around to this sublime number. For that matter, not since Devo has a band created a song that makes you want to play your own air synth. Those who lived during the ’80s will know exactly what I mean.

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Hatchie – “Sure” (Brisbane, Australia)

RIYL: Cocteau Twins, Sixpence None The Richer, Alvvays

2018 is off to an incredible start for Harriette Pilbeam – a.k.a. Hatchie. She performed at Laneway Festival and signed with two awesome indie labels – first with the UK’s Heavenly Recordings and then Double Double Whammy. While the Brisbane singer-songwriter has released a few singles, her November 2017 tune turned a few heads, and it was re-released on Tuesday for the world to hear.

Ladies and gentlemen, get ready for a flashback to the ’90s because that’s where Hatchie will take you on her sublime single, “Sure”. The song is a fabulous mix of Cocteau Twins-esque shoegaze and the dazzling dream-pop of Sixpence None The Richer. Pilbeam’s lush vocals even echo Leigh Nash’s memorable voice. While the track takes us back to a bygone era, Pilbeam is doing her part to keep the genre-that-just-won’t-die front-and-center of the music world. Check that, she’s immortalizing the genre for future generations to celebrate. She’s going to be a star.

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Iskwé – “The Unforgotten” feat. Tanya Tagaq (Hamilton, ON, via Winnipeg, MB, Canada)

RIYL: Buffy Sainte-Marie, Sleigh Bells

Buffy Sainte-Marie’s legacy on the Canadian music scene cannot be understated. She was the one of the first to bring Aboriginal issues into the spotlight with her fantastic stories and music. Now assuming that mantle is Iskwé, the Winnipeg-born singer-songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, and producer. Already a favorite of CBC Radio, Iskwé, which means woman in her native language, is slowly breaking through into the Canadian mainstream consciousness. Her latest single, “The Unforgotten”, will further help her forge a path to the wider society.

Features Inuk throat singer Tanya Tagaq, “The Unforgotten” is a powerful, moving, and eye-opening noise-pop number. The opening tribal chant grabs your attention immediately, and they give way to Iskwé’s urgent and emotional vocals. Her words are the anthem for a younger generation of Aboriginal peoples who refuse to stay quiet, who refuse to be ignored, and who refuse to allow their culture to be consumed by the dominant one. Tagaq’s harsh vocals, meanwhile, further add to the song’s intensity, as each note she sings hammers us hard in the chest. Come to think of it, this isn’t an ordinary anthem. This is a resistance hymn to which all who are oppressed or suppressed should march.

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Those Wicked Hours – “West” (Zurich, Switzerland)

RIYL: Editors, Civil Twilight, Airborne Toxic Event

We end the week with a song that will dazzle you. We promise you’ll be enchanted by “West”, the new single from Swiss electro-rockers Those Wicked Hours. The track starts with a melancholic feeling, as the bass and synth pulsate gently and the vocals are delivered with a delicate softness. They lead to the bridge, which is enrapturing and incredibly stunning. For nearly 90 seconds, we’re left in utter amazement, and we’re transfixed in the cosmic atmosphere the quartet have created. It then decelerates and slowly reaches the end. During the final 50 seconds, all you can do is smile at the experience. Smile and feel exhilarated by a song that, for a brief moment, seems to transcend time and space.

The video is also worth checking out, as it was shot in Japan to beautifully capture the song’s Zen-like atmospherics.

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Vundabar – “Tonight I’m Wearing Silk” (Boston, USA)

RIYL: Deerhunter, Built To Spill, Car Seat Headrest

Brandon Hagen and Drew McDonald, who make up Vundabar, have been called pretty much everything. However, every term and phrase – including oddball – highlights the duo’s outside-the-box. They do on occasion go inside it and borrow something from the past, such as what they’ve done with “Tonight I’m Wearing Silk”.

Taking Boston legends Mission of Burma’s “That’s When I Reach for My Revolver” and giving it a massive overhaul in rambunctiousness and lyrics, Hagen and McDonald deliver one euphoric and entertaining tune. Right from the gnarly guitars and pounding percussion, the pair come out swinging and landing a few solid jabs to forehead. Then in typical form, they swerve far to the left and throw in some oft-kilter riffs and rhythms before hammering us again. It’s not just the music, though, that blows you away, as Hagen’s lyrics are hard-hitting and dynamite. He takes on those in power – or the elites – and their excessive and predatory practices. In this sense, the track is more akin to Mission of Burma’s original tune, which reflected the band’s longstanding disgust with Ronald Reagan. Vundabar have made it contemporary and targeted the new Commander-in-Chief and his “overindulgent” ways.

Vundabar’s new album, Smell Smoke, is out this coming Friday, February 23rd on Gawk Records. Pre-order it on Bandcamp. The band is on tour beginning in March. They commence in North America before flying across the pond to Europe. Dates and information are available here.

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