The Melodic Tonic ’18 October 24th edition will quicken your pulse then mellow you out. Get ready to dance in your chair courtesy of some better-known bands while a few emerging artists dazzle you with their talents. We start with the return of a familiar voice.
Beirut – “Gallipoli” (Berlin, Germany via Santa Fe, USA)
RIYL: DeVotchKa, Calexico, Fleet Foxes
Beirut lies in the center of an indie folk Venn Diagram where DeVotchKa and Fleet Foxes overlap with Calexico and Midlake. The perfect fusion of mellow melodies punctuated by accordion and horns, the music Zachary Condon makes is more than baroque with a Balkan flavor – it’s a sonic postcard from a better place, namely “Gallipoli.”
If the title track from his upcoming fifth album sounds cinematic in scope, there’s a good reason why. “Gallipoli” is inspired by a church congregation marching in a tiny Italian town. This song is the result of Condon watching people carry the figure of one of their saints through narrow, winding streets. As you listen, you can detect echoes of reverent pride in a centuries-old tradition. Condon has always infused warmth into Beirut songs; now, the sun-kissed tones have more of a European essence instead of Mexican. The geographic change (Condon moved from the US to Berlin but recorded this album in Italy) has heightened the international flavors of his music. To say we are excited for the album is an understatement.
Toro y Moi – “Freelance” (Oakland, USA)
RIYL: Tyler the Creator, Neon Indian, Little Dragon
Chaz Bear – f.k.a. Chaz Bundick but otherwise a.k.a. Toro y Moi – throws out pearls of wisdom in his songs the way gardeners toss seeds onto fertile soil. Each scenario produces an impressive crop, but only the former gives you something you can both dance to and contemplate. Such is the case on “Freelance”, the Oakland-based artist’s newest offering that dropped yesterday. “Smells like autumn, smells like leaves” and “People tend to listen when they see your soul” are two of the standout lines on this equally standout track.
As infectious beats pulse beneath, Bundick continues to strike lyrical gold with references to the classics (“Bitches Brew had me on the first sip”) and the zeitgeist (”Mystic starting at his phone for oneness / Silver or black mirror, what’s the difference?”). Can we just fast-forward to next year when Carpark Records releases Outer Peace on January 17? That LP has Album of the Year written all over it, and we’re still three months away from its arrival.
You can pre-order it from these links.
Allen Stone – “Taste of You” feat. Jamie Lidell (Chewalah, WA, USA)
RIYL: Jamie Lidell, Nick Waterhouse, Leon Bridges
Earlier this year Allen Stone made our spirits soar with his uplifting anthem, “Warriors.” Yesterday he shared further proof that he has the Midas Touch when it comes to creating feel-good hits.
“Taste of You” single by British soul-pop star Jamie Liddell; together the two singers emit sparks of soulful fire. They each bring effortless, old-school soul crooner charm – but when each belts out breezy, carefree lines like these, the resulting joy reaches all the way to the back row:
“I’m not thinkin’ ’bout tomorrow
‘Cause I feel so good right where I am”
If you have a case of the mid-week blahs (or your soul is shivering as cooler temps arrive), this song is the cure. Bring on the jubilation, courtesy of two guaranteed sources of feel-good vibes. And if the song doesn’t cure you, the video will!
Roosevelt – “Losing Touch” (Cologne, Germany)
RIYL: Hot Chip, Oscar, Metronomy
The feel-good vibes keep flowing courtesy of Roosevelt‘s latest, “Losing Touch.“
Roosevelt is the project of Marius Lauber, a German indie artist in his late 20s who has been creating vibrant hits for the last six years. For some reason he is only now beginning to gain the attention he deserves in the U.S. Hopefully his newest album, Young Romance, will reach a wider audience worldwide.
“Losing Touch” maintains its soaring, sun-kissed tempo throughout its nearly four minutes. Lauber has pop-star vocals that are ready for American radio while the instrumentation belongs in clubs and commercial advertising. But don’t be fooled by Roosevelt’s glossy surface – this is not the work of a computer programmed to sound irresistible to the masses. Instead, the artist behind the name is a meticulous musician who has spent two years shaping Young Romance. The finished product blends danceable pop with rich vocals and dreamy synth layers that call to mind a mix of Hot Chip, Oscar, and Beach House – a winning combination to say the least!
Empress Of – “All For Nothing” (Brooklyn, USA)
RIYL: Jessy Lanza, CHVRCHES, Austra
“All I want to know: is it all for nothing?”
This refrain will be stuck on a constant loop in your head for the next few weeks. All it takes is one spin of this tune from Empress Of and you will have a newfound music addiction. “All For Nothing” is the latest from the Brooklyn-based singer’s sophomore album, Us, out now on Terrible Records.
Lorely Rodriguez, the voice and creative force behind Empress Of, has talents that are difficult to accurately describe – or at least succinctly. There is a softness to her vocals that lures you in, much like when you catch a faint whiff of perfume on a summer night but can’t identify its source. That mystery tantalizes your senses, leaving you intrigued. So, too, does her experimental blend of pop and hip-hop elements. One moment it reminds you of someone else, but then that familiarity dissipates and you’re left in awe of her originality.
Dive deep into this one. The more you listen, the more you’ll be convinced that Empress Of represents a new wave of fierce indie talents you need to know.
Boreen – “Lovely” (Portland, USA)
RIYL: Pedro the Lion, Lord Huron, Turtlenecked
Between the two major cities in the Pacific Northwest music scene, Portland is often the mellower sibling to Seattle. One reason for that (aside from Seattle’s permanent association with all things grunge) is the dreamy bedroom pop of indie artists like Boreen. We have covered thousands of artists over the years, but we have yet to discover a song with a title that so perfectly captures the group’s overall sound. So it’s only fitting that singer/songwriter Morgan O’Sullivan called this Boreen song “Lovely.”
The dewy softness that “Lovely” evokes is the very heart of a Portland spring day. The rich textures are far from the usual soporific tones you get with dream-pop bands. O’Sullivan creates an intimate soundscape and invites you in to explore. The lushness you discover is the result of his warm vocals and gently driving percussion from Harrison Smith (of Turtlenecked, one of our other favorite PDX projects). “Lovely” calls to mind the intimacy of Pedro the Lion crossed with the nature-embracing vitality of Lord Huron. Add this one to your playlist for outdoor activities. Whether you’re hiking deep amongst evergreens or simply reading a book by a campfire, Boreen provides the ideal soundtrack.
You can find this single on the Lovely LP that arrives this Friday on Bandcamp.
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