The Melodic Tonic ’18 September 5th edition offers tasty treats from well-known and emerging artists alike. From cinematic fare to soul, dream pop, and indie lo-fi rock, this mid-week playlist features artists from the UK, US, Norway, and Sweden. We kick things off with something grand yet haunting.
Thom Yorke – “Suspirium” (Oxford, England)
Add “film score composer” to Thom Yorke’s already impressive CV. Next month moviegoers will hear a new side to the Radiohead frontman – this time on the remake of the 1977 Italian horror film, Suspiria. Yorke offers a preview of what’s to come with the haunting “Suspirium” lead single. It’s one of 25 original pieces Yorke wrote for the film.
As with so many of his creations, Yorke seems to have an otherworldly ability to turn unrelated notes and rhythms into something breathtaking. Here, even in a horror setting, his tones evoke cryptic beauty while the lyrics remain obscure:
“Is the darkness ours to take?
Bathed in lightning
Bathed in heat”
It’s fitting that Yorke is responsible for a song whose literal Latin translation means breathlessness. After listening to this track, the title describes its very effect on you.
Júníus Meyvant – “High Alert” (Reykjavik, Iceland)
RIYL: St. Paul and the Broken Bones, Mayer Hawthorne
It’s always a good day when one of our favorite crooners shares new music. In the case of Unnar Gísli Sigurmundsson – the voice behind Icelandic indie soul project Júníus Meyvant – the new single also signals the upcoming release of a new album.
This guy became an instant favorite when we heard his 2015 EP that featured his “Color Decay” debut single. Ever since, our collective hearts beat happier thanks to his music. We call it “Arctic soul,” but this Icelandic folk-soul singer needs no labels. The magic in his melodies flows naturally, while his lyrics become self-descriptive:
“You’re just a soul shaker
a twisted heartbreaker
You’ve got me on my knees
You’ve got me on high alert”
This is the feel-good hit of the summer from an artist who keeps shaking our souls.
Frøkedal – “How We Made It” (Oslo, Norway)
RIYL: Joni Mitchell, Mary Chapin Carpenter
Back in July, Ben shared a gorgeous tune from Norwegian dream-folk singer Frøkedal. The “brilliant escapism” of her song “David” made us all swoon. So naturally we had to share the title track from her new album, How We Made It, now that the album is out.
Anne Lise Frøkedal paints her musical works using a palette of muted tones. Mellowness reigns supreme here. If “How We Made It” were a watercolor instead of a melody, the scenery would portray beautiful serenity.
“That’s how we made it: caught in a landslide.” Those words float with effortless grace. As you listen, you cannot help but feel your spirits rise and float, too. It amazes us how Frøkedal is not a global sensation already. Perhaps this album will help critics (and future fans) notice her incredible talent. To say she deserves all the accolades is an understatement!
Small Million – “Sirens” (Portland, USA)
RIYL: Lucius, Joseph, Sisters, The Watson Twins
Small Million – the duo of Ryan Linder (guitar/synths) and Malachi Graham (vocals/lyrics) – is one to watch. Their hype continues to grow in the Pacific Northwest; one spin of their new “Sirens”singles is all the explanation you need. Between the powerhouse vocals that yield fierce, Lucius-level harmonies and the tight instrumentation, Small Million give you plenty to gush over. We’re talking instant, hard-core music crush right here.
This pair’s chemistry rivals the likes of fellow Portland bands (Joseph, Sisters) while their energy should appeal to Matt & Kim fans. Their prismatic appeal – as in, their sound dazzles you from every angle – puts them high on our Artists to Watch list. Don’t be surprised if Small Million gets added to every festival lineup in 2019. With a sound this fresh and exciting, anything less would be criminal.
We are so excited for the band’s forthcoming EP, Young Fools. It’s due October 12, but you can stream “Sirens” and more on Spotify.
MAWD – “Wandering Eye” (Los Angeles, USA)
RIYL: Janis Joplin, Duffy
A few months back an emerging Los Angeles-based artist wowed us all. Now that Madeleine Matthews – aka MAWD – has released new material, it’s time to remind you of this talent who is worth your immediate attention – you know, in case you missed her magical “Dark Room” single.
Matthews has a sultry voice that stops you cold in your tracks. You become instantly hooked on her every syllable, enchanted by every note she sings. “Wandering Eye” finds the multi-instrumentalist channeling Janis Joplin with hints of Dusty Springfield and Nancy Sinatra interwoven. But this tune is no derivative knock-off. No, MAWD deftly fuses old-school psychedelic soul hooks with modern riot grrl energy. The result will knock your socks (or boots) off, so be prepared. This is an artist whose talent knows no bounds.
Stay tuned to her social media channels for details about an upcoming album via LA label Soundx3. Until then, you can stream the rest of her impressive catalog on Spotify.
MAWD also includes: Aidan Scrivens (lead guitar), Zach Andrews (bass), Kyle Bailey (violin), Hannah Crowley (backing vocals), and Tommy Paradise (drums).
Devon Church – “We Are Inextricable” (Brooklyn, USA)
RIYL: EXITMUSIC, The National, Mark Lanegan
When you hear “We Are Inextricable” from EXITMUSIC’s Devon Church, you may first feel a bit startled – but also pleasantly surprised. The title track from his upcoming solo debut is a departure from the dreamier style of his duo. Then again, it’s only natural to expect change after experiencing a breakup with your partner in both life andmusic.
Church seems to direct his every emotion into this project, which is also understandable. Most songwriters find it hard not to put themselves into their work. Still, “We Are Inextricable” shows Church’s strength as a solo artist. He answers the unasked question about his future. If anyone wonders whether he is stronger solo, let there be no doubt. The music is rich and texturally dynamic, while his warm vocals have an intimate rawness that heightens his appeal.
“We are lost to each other but we keep coming back” is your new melancholy mantra.
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