The Melodic Tonic ’18 September 26th edition features some familiar faces and sounds. Most of these six artists are better known for their work in their other bands. The others are emerging talents who should be on everyone’s radar. Let’s get started with an artist who feels like an old friend.
Jeff Tweedy – “Some Birds” (Chicago, USA)
Jeff Tweedy is one of the most recognizable voices in indie music. The Wilco frontman (and soon-to-be published memoirist) is an American icon and major influence on countless bands. He has released music outside of Wilco before – his 2014 Sukierae LP was recorded with his son Spencer as Tweedy – so his upcoming album, Warm, is technically a solo debut. The album’s lead track proves why Tweedy is a folk-rock singer-songwriter for the ages.
The title comes from the opening line (“Some birds just sit useless, like fists”), but the tune dares to go a bit darker:
“Is it my fault the countrysides
Are so full of suicide?
I break bricks with my heart
Only a fool would call it art”
On the contrary, only a fool could listen to Jeff Tweedy’s music and not call it art.
Look for Warm when it arrives November 30 via dBpm Records. Pre-orders are here. In the meantime, you can read the album’s liner notes that are currently featured in The New Yorker. And check out the video below that features multiple versions of Jeff Tweedy.
PAINT – “Daily Gazette” (Los Angeles, USA)
RIYL: Allah-Las, Amen Dunes, Kurt Vile
Fans of the Allah-Las’ sun-kissed tones, rejoice: summer isn’t over for you yet. The forthcoming debut album from guitarist/singer Pedrum Siadatian – performing as PAINT– will keep you feeling warm all winter long.
There is no denying the woozy charm of “Daily Gazette.” Its gently psychedelic tones evoke all your favorite beach memories – toes in the sand, soaking up rays while waves crash on the nearby shore. That rhythmic pull of ocean tides feels almost palpable here as “Daily Gazette” draws you further into its realm.
This is a melody that makes you want to dive in and explore its depths. And there is plenty to explore. Beneath the surface of the laid-back vocals (imagine Kurt Vile as a surfer) you’ll find lyrical freshness as well: “milk our soggy minds when we’re thirsty” is just one of the memorable lines.
This tune is three minutes of mellowness incarnate, with rich textures that swirl throughout. We can’t wait to hear more when Mexican Summer releases the self-titled LP on November 2. Pre-orders are available from these links.
Steve Mason – “Stars Around My Heart” (Edinburgh, Scotland)
RIYL: The Beta Band, King Biscuit Time
Alternate stream: Spotify
The ‘80s are alive and well on the newest from Steve Mason. OK, anyone familiar with Mason’s career (especially with The Beta Band) knows to expect a bold, retro-infused sound. But “Stars Around My Heart” plunges the listener back to the late-‘80s when synthpop ruled the airwaves and dance floors.
But don’t dismiss this as a derivative tune (with its equally vintage-looking video). Mason is far too creative to rely on old tricks. Here he waxes nostalgic about the medium of radio and how we once fell in love with the sounds we heard. Nowadays that idea seems a bit farfetched, making this song doubly meaningful for all who came of age before the Berlin Wall fell. “Stars Around My Heart” may have one foot in the past, but the other is forward facing and charging full-steam ahead.
From what Mason has shared here, his upcoming fourth solo album, About the Light, is already an early contender for next year’s top albums list.
Radiant Baby – “Do It” (Montreal, Canada)
RIYL: Ezra Furman, Perfume Genius, John Grant, ROSTAM
Since purple is a color associated with royalty, someone get a crown ready for Felix Mongeon, aka Radiant Baby. The cover of his debut album, Restless, shows the Montreal-based artist awash in vivid violet hues. Those same colors feature prominently in the video for the lead single, “Do It.”
Everything is a spectrum of purples and lavenders, from the makeup on the dancers to a pen and flower – and this unifying consistency is exactly what you expect from synth-pop royalty. However, this song offers more than stimulating visuals: “Do It” is infectious, exuberant, and uplifting. In other words, fans of John Grant, Ezra Furman, and Perfume Genius now have a new artist to adore in Radiant Baby.
Modern music fans want tunes that speak to them, energize them, and give them something relatable. Radiant Baby excels at all three. Keep this one queued up when you need an instant mood boost. Between the danceable beats and Mongeon’s smooth vocals, “Do It” is your new mantra, so sing it loud: “Do it, do it, act on that fantasy.”
Johnny Marr – “Jeopardy” (Manchester, England)
Alternate stream: Spotify
RIYL: The Smiths, Modest Mouse
When you’re Johnny Marr, you don’t need to release a new album to create instant hype. No, the former Smiths guitarist put out an album (Call the Comet) back in June; the latest buzz is over his newest single, “Jeopardy.”
Marr paints a bleak picture lyrically on this churning track, but it’s more of a call to action than a doomsday scenario:
“We got to fight
and where we’re goin’ nobody knows
Now’s the time
we’re always waiting
It’s now or never!”
One thing you can always count on with Johnny Marr: the riffs are strong enough to wake the dead and revive the bored. “Jeopardy” is an instant classic.
NAVVI – “Possibilities” (Seattle, USA)
RIYL: a very chill Austra or Phantogram or a tune from ‘Stranger Things’
Three years ago a new duo from Seattle wowed us with their debut track, “In Gold.” Now the indie electronica duo NAVVI hypnotize us yet again with “Possibilities.”
At this point the English language needs new adjectives worthy of describing their sound, because “dreamy” and “breathtaking” feel hopelessly cliché. And yet, when you close your eyes and listen, the intricate soundscape they create becomes otherworldly. That’s when the dreamy tones begin to work their magic. Kristin Henry’s vocals are a sonic elixir, sultry and intoxicating. When paired with Brad Boettger’s production, the sounds you hear leave you mesmerized.
We wondered in 2015 why NAVVI aren’t globally known; this question remains unanswered. The sleek downtempo beats they shared on their 2016 debut LP, Omni, floored us. Hopefully their forthcoming follow-up LP, ULTRA, will be heard in every corner of the world.
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