It’s that time again for the new music cocktail to get you through hump day. Melodic Tonic ’18 May 23rd features six delicious songs, kicking off with a couple of powerhouses.
Goldfrapp (feat. Dave Gahan) – “Ocean” (London, England)
RIYL: Goldfrapp, Depeche Mode
Saving the best for last: this is the approach Goldfrapp took on their 2017 LP, Silver Eye. The album’s final track, “Ocean,” was the moody bow on their synth-driven musical gift to fans. Now comes news that the duo of Alison Goldfrapp and Will Gregory will release a deluxe edition of that album in July, featuring songs re-worked by other artists, including Hot Chip and Depeche Mode’s Dave Gahan.
Gahan’s presence on this version turns the song into a brooding, Black Celebration-era Depeche Mode deep cut. It’s a brilliant interpretation that infuses the original gem into a stunning masterpiece.
The deluxe version of Silver Eye arrives July 6th via Mute Records.
Hosannas – “Guitar Cop” (Portland, USA)
RIYL: Caribou, Disclosure, Four Tet
You can practically feel the fog roll in on “Guitar Cop” from Oregon-based duo Hosannas. No, technically there are no instruments for judging atmospheric pressure or humidity in music (of course there isn’t!), but the synth textures that brothers Brandon and Richard Laws create on this single have a certain degree of foggy heaviness that transports you to the Pacific Northwest. (OK, the lyrics reference fog, too, so the association isn’t exactly a stretch.)
The best way to capture the sound is like this: if you ever tried to yell underwater in a pool as a kid, you’ll recall the distortion that occurs to sound. This is part of their soundscape’s magic: tones that would be straightforward on the surface acquire deeper, richer qualities in their talented hands. These siblings have a Dryden-esque approach on their debut: those who dive below the surface of generic electronic will find Hosannas’ lustrous musical pearls that are on par with Caribou and Four Tet.
Jenn Champion – “Time to Regulate” (Seattle, USA)
RIYL: Hundred Waters, Wet, Maggie Rogers
And speaking of the Pacific Northwest, Seattle’s Jenn Champion has another dazzling tune to delight your senses. If you discovered her from her stripped-down “Owner of a Lonely Heart” cover we shared last month, you only caught a glimpse of her talent. “Time to Regulate” is her newest effort – and one that showcases her genre fluidity.
The synth-driven electro-pop pairs Champion’s breeze-soft vocals with immensely danceable beats. There’s no denying the allure of the hook here: the repeated refrain (“You never feel right” seques into “You’ve got me feeling alright”) is one that you’ll be humming all summer.
Champion’s upcoming album, Single Rider, shows sure signs of finding a place on our Favourite Albums of 2018 list. Both singles from it so far – this one plus “O.M.G. (I’m All Over It)” – have a vibrant buoyancy that we all need these days. “Time to Regulate” is also a strong “Song of the Summer” contender.
Lusitanian Ghosts – “Past Laurels” (Lisbon, Portugal)
RIYL: Galore, Counting Crows, Barenaked Ladies
You don’t need a degree in music (or ancient history) to appreciate the sonic riches of Lusitanian Ghosts, the Portuguese-Canadian collective of stringed-instrument musicians. You can bask in the richness of their sound without knowing a Beiroa from an upright bass. All you need is to hear the group play “Past Laurels” and you will be enticed into learning more.
In a nutshell, Lusitanian Ghosts make modern masterpieces using rare (even medieval) instruments. The result is a mystifying sound you simply cannot find anywhere else. Even their band name is taken from ancient soil, as Lusitania was what the Romans called the region where this group began. Just don’t expect them to sound like they’re from Portugal. Frontman Neil Leyton returned to his birth city in 2008 after living in Toronto and London, so the band’s sound is unmistakably Canadian. It’s a guitar-driven, heady rock-pop anthem with unexpected lyrical references (“Encyclopedia Brittanica” and “idealistic futurism”, anyone?) that work. Don’t be deceived by the low-key beginning here: “Past Laurels” has plenty of bite.
The band’s self-titled debut is out June 8.
Tallies – “Mother” (Toronto, Canada)
RIYL: Alvvays, The Cranberries, Peach Kelli Pop
Prepare to be invigorated by the sun-kissed pop of Canadian indie outfit Tallies. The group (whose previous releases were under the Thrifty Kids moniker) tip their hat to their ‘80s influences on their new “Mother” single.
Just because a band lists as influences certain bands (or specific eras) does not mean their work is derivative. Often these bands create songs that are little more than straight emulation of their favorite band’s sound. This, of course, is the last thing in the world you will think about Tallies. The reason is simple: their sound is bright and effusive, with just the faintest hint of vintage sounds. You’ll detect modern pop (Alvvays) along with early-’90s indie alternative (The Cranberries, The Cardigans). It’s a knockout combo.
This single is out now on Bandcamp via Kanine Records. You can also get it from these streaming and purchase links. They are slated to release their debut album later this year on Kanine and Hand Drawn Dracula.
Tallies are: Sarah Cogan (guitar/vocals), Dylan Frankland (lead guitar), Stephen Pitman (bass), and Cian O’Neill (drums).
Xavier Rudd – “Times Like These” (Victoria, Australia)
RIYL: Langhorne Slim, Ben Harper, Harry Chapin
Finally this week we wrap up with one of Australia’s most famous exports. It’s not really fair to call Xavier Rudd an “indie” artist since three of his last eight albums have gone Gold or Platinum in his home country. But for reasons hard to fathom, Rudd remains a lesser-known artist outside of Oz. We feel the tender simplicity of “Times Like These” from his forthcoming Storm Boy LP will change that.
This future campfire singalong ballad packs quite an emotional punch. Sung to the accompaniment of an acoustic guitar and a lonesome harmonica that would sound right at home on a Bob Dylan or Harry Chapin single, this song reinforces feelings of hope and healing:
“I believe in the wisdom of my boy just 10 years old
I believe in the people standing tall in times like these
Hands raised with intention to heal the world”
As he enumerates the things he believes in nowadays (“A man called Jesus Christ / He said ‘Treat each other equally'”), Rudd shares his innate optimism with the world. This artist who is known for his fondness and support of native tribes from both Australia and America once again shifts the focus away from himself and toward the things that truly matter. “Times Like These” is the hopeful song you never realized you needed.
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