Happy St. Patrick’s Day! Strangely enough, the Saturday Sampler March 17th edition features no Irish music. Instead, these nine singles are the work of talents from England, Netherlands, USA, and Wales.
Afterpartees – “Two Kinds of Lovers” (Horst, Netherlands)
RIYL: Wilco, Pavement, Dinosaur Jr.
Say hello to Afterpartees, a Dutch band we recently discovered even though they have been around since 2011. If we didn’t know better, we would think they were from Chicago. Their music has big, twangy hooks that echo Wilco and Son Volt, but with the confident swagger of Dinosaur, Jr. and Pavement. In other words, fans of ’90s-era indie alt rock now have a new band to obsessively follow. But those bands aren’t the inspiration for this song. Instead, Afterpartees cite as influences more bands from the ’70s, including Iggy Pop and The Stooges. You definitely hear elements of both on their new “Two Kinds of Lovers” single.
This single from their latest LP, Life Is Easy, is easy-going but far from boring. Their guitar work draws you in and keeps you mesmerized. We aren’t sure why it’s taken us so long to find this band, but we are grateful. If you love timeless indie rock that hits that sweet spot between too hard and too mellow, stop what you’re doing and get to know this band immediately.
Afterpartees are: Niek Nellen (vocals), Bas Nellen (guitar), Sjors Driessen (guitar), Jesse van den Munchkhof (bass), and Youri Linskens (drums).
Brett – “On The Rise” (Los Angeles via Washington, D.C., USA)
RIYL: Depeche Mode, New Order, The Cure
Will a relocation to Los Angeles lead to indie stardom for Brett, the indie quartet who formed in Washington, D.C. and caught our attention a little more than two years ago? But what might truly launch their careers is the change in approach from their indie-pop beginnings to a new wave / darkwave approach that recalls a young Depeche Mode and New Order, and their latest single, “On The Rise”, is right from the canons of these legendary bands.
The combination of the tickling bass and the seizing synth plus an Edge-like delayed guitar riff create a song that could have been from Violator or Substance. There is, however, a modernity to their sound, specifically the sun-drenched pop vibes of California’s coastline can be heard and in the introspective songwriting. While we’ve been fans of the band for a little while, this is without a doubt their best tune to date. It is their “Personal Jesus”, their “Bizarre Triangle”, and the song that could very well catapult them to the forefront of the indie scene.
Brett’s new EP, Half, is coming soon via 10K Islands. The record, which will be the band’s sixth or seventh extended player, will hopefully shoot the quartet to stardom.
Emma McGrath – “Butterfly” (Harpenden, England)
RIYL: Tash Sultana, Maggie Rogers, Marika Hackman
Emma McGrath is already a veteran of the music scene despite being only 18 years old. She’s been writing her own material and performing since she was 12 years old, a time when most kids are worrying about what to wear and playing with SnapChat. As we referred to her a month ago when she shared “Love You Better”, “she is a future legend in the making.” We need to re-evaluate this statement, specifically removing the words “future” and “in the making” because her new single is something else.
A more upbeat ear-worm without compromising her thoughtful and gripping songwriting, “Butterfly” is pure gold. It is an exquisite work of art. With a cross-genre melody that is akin to Tash Sultana’s fusion of pop, rock, R&B, and chillwave, the song is simultaneously sweltering like the summer sun and cool like an Italian ice on a hot day. As you sway to the infectious soundscape, feel the strength in her lyrics and continue to move forward even while “people (are) walking, walking out of your life.” Everything happens for a reason, just like McGrath transforming from a child prodigy to an unknown-yet-soon-to-be-well-regarded legend.
Her upcoming EP, Silent Minds, arrives April 13th with pre-orders from iTunes.
ENNOR – “Farewell to Atlantis” (Cornwall, England)
RIYL: The Head and The Heart, The Lumineers, Darlingside
As warmer spring and summer days approach, many of us will revisit the hometowns of our youth for various occasions – graduations, weddings, and holidays. Why not crank up an appropriately ebullient tune on those journeys? Cornwall-based indie folk-pop outfit ENNOR have just the song for you. Their latest single captures the rush of emotion you feel when you return to a place where you have strong memories. But the lyrics on “Farewell to Atlantis” are steeped in the perspective that usually only comes from moving away.
Over a jaunty, sun-kissed melody (that’s delivered with irresistible charm and warmth), the quartet of Tom Elliott, Jack Rennie, Adam Williams, and James Creed capture those nostalgic feelings:
“It’s hard for us to believe
The kingdoms of our childhood
have been sunken by the sea.”
The vibrant harmonies ENNOR display on this tune will put a smile on your face. Hopefully we will hear more from this band soon. “Farewell to Atlantis” is streaming now from these links.
The Hideaways – “I’m Here, Storm” (Bristol, England)
RIYL: Arctic Monkeys, Royal Blood, The Libertines
By now, people know that the UK is the best place to discover a great new indie-rock band. We definitely seem to find a new band from overseas at least once a week. Today’s honors go to The Hideaways, who actually have been around for a couple of years but we’re only getting familiar with their explosive brand of alt-rock.
The Bristol trio’s newest single, “I’m Here, Storm”, is a barn-storming menace. It commences patiently before the first wave hits, which tingles with mid-career Arctic Monkeys mixed with The Libertines. But like a brewing storm, there is a second assault, where the band truly unleash their fury. The final 90 seconds are heavy, hard, and fantastic. Some may hear Royal Blood, others may hear traces of Rage Against The Machine, and old-school alternative fans will recall Bush at the height of their career. It’s a bone-jarring, monster ending that will have you saying, “Fuck yeah!”
La Fonda – “In The Summer” (Seattle, USA)
RIYL: Say Sue Me, Beach Fossils, Fazerdaze
You know the warmer weather is fast approaching when the music starts to get a bit more coastal, more jangly, and more exhilarating. Beyond the sound, memories of one’s first love or a chance encounter are shared, and hope that the past emotions can be rekindled is expressed. If you cannot get imagine this right now because the temperatures are still quite tepid chilly, then spin “In The Summer”, the warm and vibrant new single from Seattle’s La Fonda.
Mixing the breezy indie pop of Beach Fossils with the jangly, guitar-pop heard in Australia and New Zealand (namely Dick Diver and Fazerdaze), the song will leave a permanent smile on your face. Your mind will be swimming in the cool melody and within front woman Veronica Topacio’s saccharine vocals while your body will be swaying side-to-side (the final guitar solo is pretty awesome). Don’t listen to this song alone, though. If you have a special someone, listen to this track with her/him and share the memory when you two first met. If you’re single, think of a time when innocent loved embraced you and hold on to that feeling for the rest of the day. It’ll make you think it is summer outside.
La Fonda are Veronica Topacio (lead vocals), Valerie Topacio (vocals/guitar), Jesse Cole (lead guitar), Bryan Dever (bass), Mike Wellner (drums), and Patrick Hodge (keys).
Lissy Trullie – “Here” (New York City, USA)
RIYL: Deidre & The Dark, Bloodboy, Polyphonic Spree
Weekends are meant for sleeping in, having lazy days to recover from the week, and, most importantly, being able to be yourself. Since it is the weekend, we need a song that can be the anthem for all the aforementioned occasions, and singer and former model Lissy Trullie delivers the goods with her superb new single, “Here”.
It’s not an electronic banger nor a fiery rocker. Instead, it’s one of the most catchy alt-pop songs you’ll hear this year. It bops like the music of past indie favorites Polyphonic Spree, bursts with the clever beats and strategic guitar riffs a la St. Vincent, and grooves like one of Deidre & The Dark’s dance-hall numbers. Then couple the spellbinding music with lyrics are wanting to spend the next 1000 years in bed with the same person, you get the perfect weekend song, which is out via AntiFragile Music.
Or Else – “Headstuck” (Cardiff, Wales)
RIYL: Stereophonics, Oasis, The Dandy Warhols
Mark this weekend on your calendar so you can note the date this time next year. That’s when you will want to remember when you first heard Welsh indie rockers Or Else, because we predict big things for them in 2018. Despite being a very new band (they just formed in October 2017!), their sound is as tight as their peers who have multiple LPs under their belts. Give a listen to “Headstuck” and we think you’ll agree.
This tune has a whiskey-smooth mellowness. OK, maybe it’s unoriginal of us to compare an emerging Welsh indie band to Stereophonics – but in this case, the comparison is warranted. These guys have a similar approach to crafting their music: they combine warm vocals with tight instrumentation that paralyzes you with pleasure. The tones on “Headstuck” are bright yet tinged with melancholy, making it impossible to resist the urge to sway in rhythmic appreciation. If this is how good they sound on their debut single, we cannot wait for a full album. With a sound this polished, Or Else will surely have many labels fighting to sign them.
Or Else are: Nic James (vocals/guitar), Ben Rees-Boughton (guitar), Harry McDonough (bass), and Joel Williams (drums/vocals).
PROJECTOR – “Break Your Own Heart” (Brighton, England)
RIYL: Bully, Hole, Sonic Youth
While we love discovering new sounds and approaches, we’re still children of the ’90s. As such, we long to hear music that reminds us of the angst-driven, alternative rock that represented our concerns and our emotions through power riffs, tumultuous rhythms, and wailing vocals. Nirvana, Soundgarden, Hole, Pearl Jam, Sonic Youth, and Superchunk were the bands in heavy rotation, and pretty much every song had us yelling, “Hell yeah!” This same expression was exulted when hearing “Break Your Own Heart”, the raucous and rollicking new single from PROJECTOR.
Comprised of Lucy (bass/lead vocals), Edward (guitar/vocals), and Demelza (drums), PROJECTOR are more like Sonic Youth and the Pixies in their approach and makeup, but there’s no doubting that their foundation is formed from their love of ’90s grunge and alt-rock. The fiery and ferocity in “Break Your Own Heart” is reminiscent of the power heard on Hole’s “Babydoll” and Sonic Youth’s “Youth Against Fascism”. There is a bit of sweetness in the song thanks to Lucy’s vocals, which have an Emily Kokal (of Warpaint) vibe and, thus, help ground the sound. But when she needs to wail like Bully’s Alicia Bognanno or Courtney Love, she causes the walls to shake and your chest to tremble just as you are about to say, “Hell yeah!”
The single is out on Roadkill Records.
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