This week’s Melodic Tonic ’18 September 12th edition has lots of soul. That’s because of our first song. The rest of today’s mini playlist is a mix of indie bedroom pop, indie rock, and indie alt-country. So crank these tunes and give your mid-week slump the swift kick it deserves! Let’s get right to it with an instant classic from an old favorite.
Hozier – “Nina Cried Power (feat. Mavis Staples)” (Bray, Ireland / Chicago, USA)
RIYL: Hozier, Mavis Staples
Hozier just released the song of the year. The Irish vocalist returns from a four-year hiatus with this triumphant athem. “Nina Cried Power” is a protest song in itself, but it’s also a tribute to the artists who raised their voices as weapons. Who better than living legend Mavis Staples to join him on this tune? The American gospel/soul/R&B icon’s most recent album (If All I Was Was Black) deals with racism, oppression, and civil rights, so this collaboration is inspired. It’s also inspiring, with soul-stirring vocals and piercing lyrics:
“It’s not the wall but what’s behind it
Lord, the fear of fellow men is near assignment
And everything that we’re denied by keepin’ the divide
It’s not the wakin’, it’s the risin’…”
Expect chills when they name-check pioneering musical legends like Billie Holiday, B.B. King, Patti Smith, Bob Dylan, and John Lennon, etc.
The EP is out now via Rubyworks Ltd.
ROSTAM – “In a River” (Washington, D.C., USA)
RIYL: Vampire Weekend
Leave it to ex-Vampire Weekend member Rostam Batmanglij – better known as his mononym ROSTAM – to deliver a tune so jaunty it makes you want to go skinny-dipping in a river at midnight. On his new “In a River” single, the artist/producer (and all-around musical wizard) paints a vivid picture of a moonlit rendezvous, complete with an equally stimulating animated video.
“We are swimming with no clothes on
in a river in the dark
and I am holding onto you boy
In the faint light of the stars”
The laid-back Americana vibe is interrupted in the last minute by a real foot-stomping interlude. Fans who expect more of the pop-friendly fare he made with Hamilton Leithauser may be disappointed, though only for a moment. Rostam cuts loose at the end, with impressive results. The crescendo shifts the moonlight imagery into daytime radiance. From playing under moonlit skies waking up together in the sunlight, “In a River” is a delight.
The single is out now.
Moaning Lisa – “Comfortable” (Canberra, Australia)
RIYL: Liz Phair, Wolf Alice
Australia’s Moaning Lisa are global stars in the making. While they rack up accolades galore in their home country, they still remain outside the indie mainstream spotlight in North America. But mark our words: it won’t be long until the rest of the world recognizes (and subsequently falls for) this four-piece band of badass talents. Give their newest single a spin and you’ll understand what all the fuss is about.
On “Comfortable”, lead singer Charlotte Versegi channels Liz Phair with a one-two punch of understated vocals and plenty of fierce attitude. But the mellow first half is a ruse: this ode to single life soon reveals its snarling core that rivals Wolf Alice’s searing hooks. They deliver a fuzzed-out, wailing second half sure to leave you breathless with awe. Being alone never sounded so liberating!
Perfect Body – “Fields” (Cardiff, Wales)
RIYL: My Bloody Valentine, Slowdive
It’s no secret that we at The Revue are suckers for good shoegaze. It’s one genre that rarely misses the mark when it comes to rich sonic textures. Few bands can match the storied careers of indie legends Slowdive or My Bloody Valentine, though some succeed in creating equally rewarding shoegaze music. Take the Welsh indie band Perfect Body: despite being a new group (they formed in 2017), their “Fields” single proves that a band doesn’t need 20+ years together to prove their talent.
Perfect Body waste no time in establishing a connection with listeners. They pique your interest with an intriguing intro. The gradual addition of ethereal vocals only heightens their appeal. What continues to keep you spellbound is their balance. They take you to the brink of delirium with soft, magical harmonies before luring you back with their psychedelic guitar work. If “Fields” is any indication of what lies ahead, then Perfect Body are poised to make waves in 2019 and beyond.
Kurt Vile – “Bassackwards” (Philadelphia, USA)
RIYL: Kurt Vile
Now that summer has begun its leisurely exit, many of us feel a bit mellower. Life seems to have slowed down a bit. A sunset calm helps us transition into autumn, which means we need music to match the calm. There is one artist we can always count on to provide an appropriately chill soundtrack for these feelings: Kurt Vile. The Philadelphia-based slacker rock spokesman gives us exactly what we need on “Bassackwards.”
A supremely mellow vibe permeates every note of this low-key track. In his typical speak-sing style, Vile takes listeners back to a time when he was “out of his mind” on the beach. The video’s gauzy-hued ‘70s images pair nicely with his mention of things “buried deep within the psyche of my soul.” In reality what it does is make you wish you were on a beach, too – or any place where you can orbit the same relaxed plane.
Tomten – “New Leaf” (Seattle, USA)
RIYL: Belle and Sebastian meets Teenage Fanclub and Donovan
Fans of indie baroque pop now have another band to chamption in Tomten. This trio from Seattle casts such an intense spell on “New Leaf” that you may find it difficult (if not impossible) to regain focus after the first play. We’re talking daydream-inducing bliss here, folk.
What’s not to love about “New Leaf”? The jangly intro signals a band who mean business: it’s bold yet not overpowering. The warm vocals do call to mind Belle and Sebastian frontman Stuart Murdoch, but the instrumentation is more indie rock than baroque pop. Their use of a guitar that mimics a surf-pop vibe is especially appropriate. You can’t help but bob your head in rhythm as you listen, so be warned: this is three-and-a-half minutes of highly addictive music.
You can find this single is out now on Bandcamp.
Tomten are: Brian Noyes-Watkins (vocals, guitars, keys, percussion), Dillon Sturtevant (bass, guitar, vocals), and Jake Brady (guitars, drums).
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