The Melodic Tonic ’18 August 22nd edition is a globe-trotting sampler. This mix features artists hailing from New Zealand, Scotland, South Africa, Sweden, and the USA. So whether you crave psych-rock, darkwave, dream-pop, singer-songwriter or soul, this playlist has you covered. Let’s start with gently positive grooves from a phenomenal emerging talent.
Tasha – “Kind of Love” (Chicago, USA)
RIYL: Lianne La Havas, Ibeyi, Beth Orton
Late summer sunsets emit a soft warmth along with their rosy glow. Maybe that’s Mother Nature’s way of signaling that more red hues are coming – the kind of colors she likes to pair with cool breezes and shorter days. Autumnal bliss isn’t far off, so it’s only fitting for Chicago singer/poet/activist Tasha to release her debut EP this October. Her music is resplendent in warm, rich shades of mellowness unlike anything else you’ve heard.
Her new single “Kind of Love”is so cozy it beckons you to lie back and succumb to its cashmere soft embrace. If melodies could physically envelop you, this one would. On this gem of a tune, Tasha Viets-VanLear lets you in on a secret: revolution of any kind requires you to love yourselfbefore you can change the world. Her message of rejuvenation is inspiring, so seek solace in her music when your spirit needs a boost. Then you will find yourself nodding with appreciation when she repeats this mantra:
“Now this is not the kind of love I’d ever thought I’d find.”
Gregory Alan Isakov – “Caves” (Boulder, Colorado via Johannesburg, South Africa)
RIYL: Tallest Man on Earth, Lord Huron, Langhorne Slim
It’s no secret how much we love indie singer/songwriter Gregory Alan Isakov. His voice is a comfort to our hearts and his songs a melodic love letter to our souls. Whether his songs are intimate ballads or more upbeat numbers, you can hear tranquility in each tune.
Take his newest single, for example. “Caves” evokes night sky imagery, as though you are sitting around a campfire as he strums his guitar. “Let’s put all these words away,” he sings in a way that settles any feelings of uneasiness you may have. Much like his indie folk troubadour peers Lord Huron and Tallest Man on Earth, Isakov’s talent lies in his ability to draw you into his world and making you forget your own.
“Caves” would be just as effective if he had indeed put all words away. Even as an instrumental track, “Caves” would still sparkle with chords that tug at your heartstrings. If you loved the new album’s earlier single (“Chemicals“) then “Caves” will have you stumbling outside to gaze at the stars as the silence falls.
Yumi Zouma – “In Camera” (Christchurch, New Zealand & New York City, USA)
RIYL: CHVRCHES, Pinkshinyultrablast
Each year we write about hundreds of artists and bands from all over the world. While some names float through your memory leaving minimal impressions, other bands become a fixture – either because of their unique name or engaging sound, or both. New Zealand’s Yumi Zouma is definitely the latter. We have found it impossible to resist the lush and dreamy indie pop masterpieces since their 2016 debut, Yoncalla. The dazzling nuances heard there are even more vivid on their newest offering, “In Camera.”
“In Camera” concludes the journey begun with Yoncalla and its 2017 follow-up, Willowbank. The breezy, romantic vibes of that album carry over here as frontwoman Christine Simpson continues to amaze with her crystalline vocals. Her bandmates Sam Perry, Charlie Ryder, and Josh Burgess offer glimpses into their winning formula without actually giving away the secret to their sound. You hear plenty of their signature tight hooks and radio-friendly refrains, but you still can’t quite put your finger on what it is about this band that makes them so damn special. You just have to keep listening.
wotjek the bear – “strong suit” (Glasgow, Scotland)
RIYL: The Twilight Sad meets Mt. Doubt
We’ve been fans of Glasgow’s wojtek the bear since hearing their “dead from the waist up” tune in 2016. Their particular brand of sweeping indie dream-rock fits nearly every mood, thus they’re the ideal band to soundtrack your life. Of course, having a frontman with an accent as distinct as James Graham (The Twilight Sad) only increases the band’s overall charm.
Still, there is plenty of depth beneath the shimmering surface of their songs. “Strong suit” for example displays maturity gained through introspection. It reminds us that sometimes each of us is the person who sabotages a healthy relationship, not the person we choose to blame.
“I’m an accident waiting to happen
You add insult to injury
If I could just for a second stop throwing out punches
See the only one left in this fight is me”
This lyrical honesty proves especially refreshing when paired with the textural depth of their sound.Meanwhile, Annie Booth infuses additional warmth to this intimate tune with her lovely guest vocals.
Sudakistan – “Last Love Supreme” (Stockholm, Sweden)
RIYL: Brian Jonestown Massacre, Thee Oh Sees
One upcoming album we are excited for is the sophomore effort from Swedish psych masters Sudakistan. The other singles from their upcoming Swedish Cobra LP have all been mesmerizing (especially “Whiplash” which we shared in June), yet “Last Love Supreme” is truly dizzying.
Your head will spin as you sway in time to these psychedelic vibes. Fans of psych-rock have a new favorite band to become obsessed over. And if you haven’t yet discovered the deep layers that Sudakistan create on every tune, you are in for a truly mind-blowing experience.
Sudakistan are Michell Serrano (vocals/guitar), Maikel Gonzalez (bass), Arvid Sjöö (guitar), Carlos Amigo (percussion), and Juan Jose Espindola (drums).
United Ghosts – “All You Sad Boys” (Los Angeles, USA)
RIYL: Dandy Warhols meet Placebo and Depeche Mode, The Kills
This week’s playlist wraps up on a strong note courtesy of Los Angeles-based indie dark rock outfit United Ghosts. The duo of Sha Sabi and Axel Ray Steuerwald create pulse-quickening audio magic. Their new single “All You Sad Boys” channels the energy of Placebo and The Dandy Warhols and the timeless allure of Depeche Mode. Go ahead and block off a few hours from your schedule today, as the only thing you’ll want to do is keep this tune playing at max volume.
From the opening notes you know you’ve just discovered your new favorite song. The swirling fusion of guitars and percussion take you back to the early ’90s when New Wave hadn’t completely ceded its throne to grunge. But in that era Bauhaus and The Cure paved paths for future goth and darkwave bands. You can hear echoes of those legends reverberate through this tune. This is what you want queued up for your next midnight joyride with the windows down. The nocturnal pulses that United Ghosts create will guide you to your next adventure.
The band’s Saturn Days LP arrives this Friday from Cleopatra Records.
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