The Melodic Tonic ’18 September 19th edition serves up sonic warmth on this last Wednesday of the summer. Bask in these sunny tunes courtesy of artists in Australia, Canada, England (via Northern Ireland), and the US. We start with a surprise group that exists as a tribute of sorts.
Goshen Electric Co. – “The Gray Tower” (Goshen, Indiana USA)
RIYL: Magnolia Electric Co., Songs: Ohia, Strand of Oaks
Strand of Oaks frontman Timothy Showalter is a longtime fan of Jason Molina – a.k.a. the voice of American brooding indie rock outfit Magnolia Electric Co. and Songs: Ohia. “We’ve got your sweet tunes to play,” Showalter sings on “JM” from his 2014 album, Heal, referring to Molina. Even after Molina’s death five years ago, his presence still looms large in Showalter’s world. Now the Goshen, Indiana, native has teamed up with the surviving original members of Magnolia Electric Co. to form Goshen Electric Co.
Even those unfamiliar with Molina can feel the cathartic impact of “The Gray Tower,” a tune he had released in 2002. The wail of lonesome electric guitars echoes the emotion in Showalter’s smoky vocals. While this is a project no one expected, it is one that is sorely needed. Hopefully the group’s first album will prove cathartic to all who miss Molina.
Goshen Electric Co. is: Timothy Showalter, Mike Benner, Jason Evans Groth, Mikey Kapinus, Mark Rice, Peter Schreiner.
Danny Golden – “Old Love” (Austin, USA)
RIYL: Kurt Vile, Lord Huron, Matthew Logan Vasquez
Get to know the name Danny Golden now. You’ll soon be hearing it on the indie airwaves as much as you’ll be saying it when you recommend his music to your friends, your family, and well – everyone you encounter. If that gushing seems unwarranted, simply take a listen.
The talent displayed on “Old Love” is that of an old soul, a natural singer/songwriter, and a modern troubadour. Golden is all of these things yet remains a bit of a mystery. His life history isn’t common knowledge, so we’re left to speculate on the inspiration for this tale. Still, the concept of old loves requires little musing. We can all look back on past relationships and see their lasting impact. Golden is an instant favorite now, thanks to his Kurt Vile-meets-Lord Huron indie folk-rock sound and his lyrics from a heart laid bare:
“You’re always with me
if you ever miss me
You’ll always be my old love
You were a bright flame in the night
a taste of holy wine…”
Matthew Dear feat. Tegan and Sara – “Horses” (Ann Arbor, USA)
RIYL: Matthew Dear, John Grant, Tegan and Sara
Hearing this new one from Matthew Dear might cause you to do a double-take. After all, wasn’t it just a few weeks ago when we shared new music from a collaborative session with Tegan and Sara? Hard to believe it’s been a year since Dear released “Bad Ones.” Now the pop noir master is once again dazzling fans with a new tune featuring one of our favorite indie sibling duos – Tegan and Sara Quin.
“Horses” delights with the off-kilter charm Dear is known for. It’s quirky but danceable. Its understated long intro builds suspense with a gently throbbing synth. Once the pulse picks up close to two minutes in, Dear is channeling both John Grant and Bon Iver. But the sparks truly fly when Tegan and Sara add their breezy yet fierce vocals to these lines: “It feels like it’s just been way too long / since my broken heart has trusted someone.”
Richard Reed Parry – “I Was in the World (Was the World in Me)” (Ottawa, Canada)
RIYL: Arcade Fire, José González, Cat Stevens
Richard Reed Parry does things on a grand scale. The multi-instrumentalist from Arcade Fire (you know the one who runs around on stage playing all the things?) recently announced he will release two new solo albums.
The first one, Quiet River of Dust, Vol. 1, arrives this Friday via Anti, with Vol. 2 to follow next year. As you can hear in “I Was in the World (Was the World in Me)”, Parry’s sound is steeped in a gently mystical mellowness. It’s the polar opposite of his main band’s trademark ebullient energy – but that’s refreshing in its own right.
The breezy calm of this song is what you first notice. Its Japanese-inspired soothing tones wash over you, guiding you into a contemplative place. Meditating (or medicating, whichever you prefer) is not required while you listen, but Parry’s lush soundscapes are such an escape from daily life you may feel like you did.
You can pre-order the album here.
Ultra Material – “Rhodamine” (Brisbane, Australia)
RIYL: Slowdive, The Jesus and Mary Chain
Australian band Ultra Material continue to amaze us with their retro-inspired sound. Just a few weeks ago, Ben shared their “Transfer” single, praising the band’s “fuzzed-out distortion layers that make your head spin.” The euphoric rush that tune gave us returns tenfold on their newest, “Rhodamine.”
The quartet of Nick (guitar/vocals), Zuzi (keys), Sarah (bass/vocals), and Matt (drums) has an undeniable talent for crafting perfect pop songs – in this case, a dreamy shoegaze stunner that Slowdive probably wishes was theirs. This band’s chemistry is evident on each tight hook. But more importantly, they deliver substantive tunes you can really sink your teeth into.
We weren’t lying when we called Ultra Material “A Band to Watch.” Trust us: they are headed for massive success. A year from now we will see how much of that prediction has become reality. Until then, keep “Rhodamine” on repeat as you watch their meteoric rise.
Swimming Tapes – “Easy Strand” (London, England via Northern Ireland)
RIYL: Belle and Sebastian, Real Estate, The Amazing
Summer officially ends this week, but those carefree feelings will linger courtesy of Swimming Tapes. This sunkissed gem reminds us why we fell in love with them two years ago. No matter the month, this band transports you to the seaside with their melodies. And just like their previous singles we have covered (“Set the Fire” and “What’s On Your Mind”), “Easy Strand” radiates bliss.
We wish we could identify the secret to the band’s dreamy sound. This is no easy feat when their kaleidoscopic dream-pop tones have such lush textures. Imagine Belle and Sebastian taking a road trip with The Amazing along California’s famed coastal Highway 1, you’ll come close to understanding the appeal of Swimming Tapes. Don’t let summer pass you by without indulging in this sweet sonic treat. You owe it to yourself to end the season with a contented sigh and a smile – and Swimming Tapes will give you just that.
Swimming Tapes are: Robbie Reid, Jason Hawthorne, Louis Price, Paddy Conn, and Andrew Evans.
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