Need a mid-week jolt? Get your fix from the Melodic Tonic ’18 July 25th edition! These four sizzling songs feature strong female voices who demand your full attention. And like a double espresso, this playlist is sure to revive and energize you.
Black Belt Eagle Scout – “Soft Stud” (Portland, OR USA)
RIYL: Sleater-Kinney, Arcade Fire, Sara Ramirez
“Radical indigenous queer feminist” is a powerful set of descriptors for an artist. You only need to hear a few notes from Black Belt Eagle Scout to realize the voice behind those terms – Katherine Paul – is a force of nature. The vocals on her “Soft Stud” single freeze you in your tracks with their sultry, steely power.
Those velvety smooth vocals are in stark contrast to the instrumentation. KP delivers licks that channel Sleater-Kinney and Rilo Kiley one moment then follows up with shimmering synths that echo Arcade Fire. The vocals disappear by the half when KP puts her fierce musicianship on full display for the rest of the six-minute song. This artist (who grew up on the Swinomish Indian Tribal Community in Washington state) pours heart and soul into her art, with breathtaking results.
Swearin’ – “Grow Into a Ghost” (New York City/Philadelphia, USA)
RIYL: Pixies, The Breeders, Superchunk, Sonic Youth
The third time is the charm, or so the saying goes. For their third studio full-length album, indie rockers Swearin’ channel their inner Pixies and unleash plenty of churning guitar fury. “Grow Into a Ghost” – the lead single from their forthcoming Fall Into the Sun– proves one thing about this trio: they only get better with each passing year. Allison Crutchfield infuses this banger with exuberant energy while Kyle Gilbride and Jeff Bolt solidify their wall of sound.
Fans who have been with Swearin’ since their 2011 debut EP, What a Dump, know the cohesion this group has. “Grow Into a Ghost” is the product of a band that has grown sonically. The energy here pulsates to a cellular level: this is music you don’t hearas much as you feel it, both physically and emotionally. Crutchfield’s delivery of the final refrain (“I watch you… grow into a ghost”) has the sass of Liz Phair and the raw edge of Kim Deal. This is sonic catharsis.
Shannon Shaw – “Make Believe” (Nashville, USA)
RIYL: Shannon & The Clams, Amy Winehouse, Kate Pierson
“Your glare kept me low everyday (you didn’t see me at all),” is just one of many memorable lines from the Next Vocal Superstar on “Make Believe.” OK, she might not call herself that, but Shannon Shaw deserves that title. The now Nashville-based (by way of California) singer will wow you with her retro-inspired vocals and her wise lyrics.
Like many women, Shaw knows how it feels to be with the wrong guy. And she also knows the magic that comes when you’re with the right one. In her case, teaming up with artist/producer Dan Auerbach (The Black Keys, The Arcs) was the winning combination. Her solo debut album, Shannon in Nashville, is a textbook case of a fierce woman getting her groove back.
The baker’s dozen tracks on this LP display Shaw’s impressive range, from soul and rockabilly to old-school, knock-your-socks-off, punk-infused rock ‘n roll. Shaw is equal parts Etta James, Amy Winehouse, and Kate Pierson (The B-52’s) without being an imitation. You don’t find this kind of pure talent every day, so get to know her now if you don’t already.
Sink Ya Teeth – “Petrol Blue” (Norwich, England)
RIYL: Yaz, New Order, Everything But the Girl meets Pet Shop Boys
Thirty years ago, Aretha Franklin and Annie Lennox proclaimed “sisters are doing it for themselves.” Based on that sentiment from their very prescient tune, they must adore the UK electro-pop outfit Sink Ya Teeth. This Norwich-based duo of Maria Uzor and Gemma Cullingford are indeed doing things themselves. They put the male-dominated music industry on notice when they released their own self-made debut last month.
One spin of the pulsing gem “Petrol Blue” proves they needed exactly zero help from anyone but themselves to craft an instant classic. There is nothing this duo cannot do – except inspire you to be calm and meditate. Their winning fusion of New Wave-era synths with ‘90s electronica all but forces you to move.
These pulsing bass lines and retro-inspired beats will have you dancing immediately. But what will keep you entranced are the silky-smooth vocals. If you loved Tracey Thorn’s recent danceable album (or if you’ve ever wondered what it would sound like if Alison Moyet had been in Pet Shop Boys or New Order), then “Petrol Blue” is your new musical obsession. Prepare to be intoxicated by this delicious tune.
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