The Melodic Tonic ’18 December 5th edition is a bold mix of multiple genres. This year may be almost over but 2019 has lots of great musical treats in store. Today’s playlist begins with a thunderous roar from an indie icon.
Bob Mould – “What Do You Want Me to Know?” (Berlin, Germany via USA)
RIYL: Hüsker Dü, Sugar, The Replacements
Has it been nearly three years since we last shared new Bob Mould tunes? The veteran indie rocker’s new single, “What Do You Want Me To Know?”, signals a follow-up to his 2016 LP, Patch the Sky. And while some things remain unchanged (he’s still Bob, so it’s still blisteringly loud; he’s also still with Merge), Mould has reinvented himself yet again – this time as a resident of Berlin. This familiar pattern of new city/new album is a proven formula for the former Hüsker Dü frontman. After leaving his longtime home of Minneapolis for stints in Washington, DC and San Francisco, Mould became an official German resident last year.
On his upcoming 14th solo album, Sunshine Rock, Mould channels fresh energy into his signature sound. What better way to kick off the new year’s clean slate than with a maelstrom of churning guitars cranked to 11? This tune will help you shake off this year’s doldrums, guaranteed.
Toro y Moi – “Ordinary Pleasure” (Oakland, USA)
RIYL: Washed Out, Tyler the Creator, Flying Lotus, Neon Indian
Few artists can make a song about feeling desensitized seem sexy quite like Toro y Moi. Maybe that’s because Chaz Bear has his finger on society’s pulse? Or maybe he’s simply unafraid to speak truth about our collective numbness due to diminishing returns. The man does not mince words after all. Regardless of your take on its deeper meaning, “Ordinary Pleasure” does address our desire to make a game of life.
By the time most of us reach adulthood, satisfaction (or contentment?) becomes an ever elusive concept. But hearing our shared feelings paired with some of the industry’s slickest beats sweetens the situation. With point-blank truth fired off in every line, Toro y Moi remains at the top of his game both lyrically and musically:
“Maximize all the pleasure
Even with all this weather
Nothing can make it better
Does sex even sell anymore
I feel like I’ve seen it all
Or maybe I’m just old”
“Ordinary Pleasure” follows ”Freelancer” as impressive previews of the upcoming Outer Peace album that’s due next month. You can pre-order it from these links. It arrives January 18 via Carpark Records.
Durand Jones & The Indications – “Don’t You Know” (feat. Aaron Frazer) (Bloomington, IN, USA)
RIYL: Curtis Mayfield, Marvin Gaye, Curtis Harding, Michael Kiwanuka
We have a bold prediction for 2019: it will be the year that Durand Jones & The Indications have a major career breakthrough. They made a decent splash with their self-titled 2016 debut LP, earning accolades galore. One listen to their “Make a Change” single proved that Durand Jones is a gifted soul singer. Together with The Indications – and an assist from Brooklyn artist Aaron Frazer – their sound that blazed red hot on that LP continues to sizzle on new single “Don’t You Know”.
The Indiana-based quintet channel old-school soul greats like Marvin Gaye and Curtis Mayfield while still sounding fresh and modern. With every utterance of the “Yes, I will” refrain, you utter silent thanks to whoever first noticed that Durand Jones can sing. His is a natural talent imbued with much-needed hope. This is soul of the feel-good variety delivered with cloud-clearing coolness. Jones’s bright vocals soar while his bandmates provide tight instrumentation and backing vocals that energize your spirit. Look for this tune on their sophomore LP, American Love Call.
Dead Oceans and Colemine Records will jointly release American Love Call on March 1. You can pre-order it from these streaming and purchase links. You can also grab this single now on iTunes. The band will kick off 2019 with tour dates in Europe before returing to the U.S. in March.
Band members include: Durand Jones (vocals, sax), Blake Rhein (guitar), Kyle Houpt (bass), Justin Hubler (organ), and Aaron Frazer (drums).
E.B. The Younger – “Used to Be” (Denton, TX, USA)
RIYL: Midlake, BNQT, David Bazan
Midlake frontman Eric Pulido waxes nostalgic on his new solo project, and it’s a beautiful thing. Recording as E.B. The Younger, the Texan revisits familiar themes of the old and the young on debut single “Used to Be.” He sings from a place of wisdom and maturity in this tale about glancing back at your life without losing sight of your future:
“When we were young
taking the days as they would come
Singing out a song
No one to tell us that we’re wrong”
Pulido explains the inspiration for this warm, mellow tune from his debut album, To Each His Own:
“It’s human nature to get stuck looking backwards and lamenting the passing of a romanticized time or place. Since we tend to appreciate things more now than when we do in the moment, my battle cry of sorts here is to champion the ‘now’ and carry on with a renewed spirit. Embrace where you’re at, and look forward. Be both the old and the young.”
Pulido is joined by fellow Midlake members Joey McClellan (guitar), McKenzie Smith (drums), and Jesse Chandler (flute), plus Scott Lee (bass), Daniel Creamer (keyboards), and Beau Bedford (keyboards) from The Texas Gentlemen. As if that all-star roster isn’t enough, the video also features Rayland Baxter and Jonathan Tyler to complete that championship indie music team.
Pedro the Lion – “Model Homes” (Phoenix, USA)
RIYL: David Bazan, Midlake, Damien Jurado
Another artist whose next album has an introspective bent is Pedro The Lion. Frontman David Bazan may not be trying to make listeners cry, but his songs about childhood can trigger tears. His songs often feel like an emotional gut punch. The line “My kingdom for someone to ride with” from recent single “Yellow Bike” was especially poignant. But now Bazan follows it up with “Model Homes” from forthcoming LP Phoenix, and it’s just as moving.
The simplicity of the opening bass line gives no hint of the powerful lyrics to follow:
“Wondering how our lives would be
I wanna live with someone else
Give them my whole self
I wanna not be lonely.”
Bazan has a knack for writing devastating lyrics that are balanced by breezy melodies. The two songs he has shared from Phoenix remind us why he is one of America’s most underrated songwriters. Those songs also has us declaring Phoenix as one of our favorite albums of 2019 a full month before it arrives. Polyvinyl Records will release Phoenix on January 18 with pre-orders here.
Pedro the Lion is: David Bazan (bass, vocals, lyrics), Erik Walters (guitar, backing vocals), and Sean Lane (drums).
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