The six new music cocktails on the Melodic Tonic ’18 March 28th edition are potent. From indie blues to scorching rock and psychedelic dream pop, there is plenty of diversity to sample, starting with an award-winning American duo.
Ben Harper & Charlie Musselwhite – “The Bottle Wins Again” (Los Angeles & Memphis, USA)
RIYL: Ben Harper, Charlie Musselwhite, John Lee Hooker, Muddy Waters
Three chords and the truth: that’s all Ben Harper & Charlie Musselwhite need to make a killer song. And that’s exactly that’s what they have done on “The Bottle Wins Again,” the latest from their No Mercy in This Land album. A perfect balance of blues guitar and lonesome harmonica, Harper and Musselwhite stick to the basics here. Each is a master craftsman in their own right – Harper is known for his solo work with The Innocent Criminals plus his collaboration in Fistful of Mercy and Musselwhite for his 50+ years in the industry. They first teamed up in 2013 for their Grammy-winning Get Up! album. Together they are turning a new generation onto a classic genre.
Harper’s lyrics are simple yet relatable, and delivered with no-frills honesty:
“Sometimes I make choices / sometimes they make me
Someday we may look back and laugh
At all that could have been
But tonight the bottle wins again”
The Bonnevilles – “The Good Bastards” (Lurgan, Northern Ireland)
RIYL: The Black Diamond Heavies, Black Pistol Fire, The Black Crowes
Good ol’ dirty blues rock: sometimes that is the only genre that satisfies the yearning deep in your soul. Northern Ireland’s The Bonnevilles make the kind of blues music that’s best enjoyed with an aged whiskey: its potency is part of its charm.
In fact, whiskey was what first made us fall in love with the duo of Andrew McGibbon and Chris McMullen back in 2016. Their single “The Whiskey Lingers” instantly hooked listeners with its sweaty blues riffs and ferocious energy. Now the pair are melting faces once again with “The Good Bastards” from their upcoming sophomore LP, Dirty Photographs. It’s got bite. It’s got fire. It’s everything you love about this band, compressed into just under three and a half blistering minutes. So strap in, brace yourself, and let this beast of a tune sink its teeth into you. You’ll be glad you did.
mastersystem – “Old Team” (Glasgow & London, UK)
RIYL: Frightened Rabbit, Editors
Bloody hell: it took us a week to pick up our jaws off the floor after “The Enlightenment” left us in a daze last week. Now the latest from dual sibling supergroup mastersystem again leaves us scrambling to find fresh superlatives to describe their sound. Meanwhile our jaws remain slack.
The raucous intensity that brothers Scott and Grant Hutchison (Frightened Rabbit) create with Justin and James Lockey (Editors and Minor Victories, respectively) is stunning. Like the two previous singles (“The Enlightenment” and “Notes on a Life Not Quite Lived“) from their upcoming debut, Dance Music, “Old Team” blends the trademark Hutchison fervor with the signature Lockey brooding depth. The phrase “grow some spine” from the opening line seems apropos here, since this tune showcases the dynamics of each member. Justin and James churn out scorching instrumentation while Grant unleashes primal fury on his drum kit.
Acrylic – “In Here / Tonight” (Glasgow via Edinburgh, UK)
RIYL: Mt. Doubt, Frightened Rabbit, The National
Continuing with the Scottish theme is this captivating gem from Glasgow-based band Acrylic. It’s easy to become spellbound by the swirling layers of dream rock of their new “In Here / Tonight” single. While their sound has familiar elements that echo The Cure one moment and The National the next, there is nothing derivative about their output. What this five-piece create is lush and inviting, delivered with devastating charm.
Surprises lie at every turn here, so don’t expect typical chord progressions or time signatures. Just immerse yourself in the warm vocals and shimmering instrumentation that greet your ears like sunlight piercing heavy clouds. Simply put: Acrylic will take your breath away.
Acrylic are: Andreas Christodoulidis (vocals), Ross Patrizio (guitar/vocals), Jack Lyall (guitar), Lewis Doig (bass/vocals/synth), Ruairidh Smith (drums).
Connections – “Isle Insane” (Columbus, USA)
RIYL: Big Star, Guided By Voices, The Replacements
If you aren’t already a fan of Ohio indie rockers Connections, we have one question for you: why the hell not? These guys have been steadily cranking out hidden gems for a few years now. And while they may not be headlining major festivals (yet), their new single “Isle Insane” is proof that you’ve been missing out on some great vintage-inspired music.
For starters, this tune is built on a solid foundation of authentic ‘90s-era indie rock. Fans of The Replacements and Big Star will find plenty to love about this band in general and this track in particular. Their exuberant energy, their jangly guitars, and their tight hooks will leave you wanting more. They sing of hearts aching for love and about holding onto pain in a way that could make Paul Westerberg jealous. These guys don’t have dyslexic hearts, but they do have mad talent.
Connections are Andy Hampel (guitar/lyrics), Kevin Elliott (vocals) Dave Capaldi (guitar), Philip Kim (bass), and Mike O’Shaughnessy (drums).
Sneaky Little Devil – “In & Out of Time” (Los Angeles, USA)
RIYL: My Morning Jacket / Jim James, Woods
Woozy and hypnotic, “In & Out of Time” from Los Angeles duo Sneaky Little Devil beckons you down a rabbit hole of sonic delights. This lush gem is captivating from the first note – call it psychedelic bedroom dream pop if you will. A sultry bass line weaves through spacy synth tones that grab you. There are warranted comparisons to My Morning Jacket (especially frontman Jim James’s solo work) here due to the soulful, intimate delivery. This is music for people who want to become lost in the magic of sublime melodies.
The core of Sneaky Little Devil is married couple Gregory and Sarah Scott. Their smoky, whispery harmonies keep you mesmerized while the repeated mantra of “Things on the brain are making me heavy” wraps around you and lingers. So, too, will this song’s mellow allure. Be prepared to remain under its spell long after the song ends.
While the band doesn’t yet have a full album out, they are releasing their works two songs at a time, including a video for this song. Follow them on social media so you’ll know when to expect the finished eight-song project. This single is available from Amazon and streaming on Spotify.
Sneaky Little Devil are Gregory Scott (vocals/drums) and Sarah Scott (vocals) along with Chris Buzea (guitar) and Maxwell Pierce (bass).
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