April-May 2018 Music Picks

Rainbow Kitten Surprise “Fever Pitch”

How could I possibly resist a band with a name like Rainbow Kitten Surprise? The moniker may have drawn me in, but I quickly became captivated by their unique sound. Only to find that “How to: Friend, Love, Freefall” is the band’s third album. Where have I been? Viewers of VH1’s “Make a Band Famous” and summer festival goers got the jump on this one. But I’m here now…and looking forward to hearing more from this engaging North Carolina quintet. Give this a listen and don’t be too quick to form an impression – the song takes some delightfully unexpected turns. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zMINv5ggLww

 

James Bay “Pink Lemonade”

No big surprise to see James Bay’s latest single “Pink Lemonade” flying up the charts. The British singer-songwriter and 3x Grammy nominee is back with a new look and sound that is drawing some very interesting commentary. Reviewers are describing the new album ‘Electric Light’ as anything from an “audacious change of direction” to an “80s throwback that taps into influences from Prince to Billy Idol”. Whatever the description, it works. This song has a very classic feel; after a couple of listens you’ll swear you’ve been hearing it for years. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qE-gdNIL8WI

 

The Kills “List of Demands”

The key reason I keep doing these Mental Jukebox posts is that it keeps me discovering new bands and music…or maybe just “new to me” bands who’ve been around a while (that I might not otherwise have come across)…like this one. I was really into the Kills tune “Doing It To Death“ in 2016, so I was excited to see they’d released a new track/video. “List of Demands (Reparations)” is a Saul Williams cover that The Kills have put their own personal stamp on. I find this band – and Alison Mosshart’s expressive body language – so interesting to watch. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oXBDZFtMcbg

 

 

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March 2018 Music Picks

Vance Joy “Saturday Sun”

Probably my favorite Vance Joy song since his debut with “Riptide” – “Saturday Sun” is so light, breezy and upbeat that it feels like the ideal ‘summer song’ …although for most folks enduring winter right now, a bit of sunshine surely won’t go amiss. From his second studio album “Nation of Two” released in February.  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uKqMNQkjHmI

 

Anderson East “Girlfriend”

Is it the horns, the bass line, the distinctive vocal style, the piano & synth riffs, the provocative lyrics, that make this such an ear-catcher? Probably all of the above – the talented Anderson East weaves a killer bit of sonic fabric with the southern blue-eyed soul pop flavored “Girlfriend”. The more I hear this one, the more brilliant it sounds. From his new album “Encore” released in January. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ka1p2Vj5wps

 

Nothing But Thieves “Broken Machine”

Loving this band more with every song they release. The bouncy bass line/drum intro, the driving riffs, the pure-to-passionate vocal delivery, the punctuation and crescendo of strings – these disparate elements are brilliantly fused in this title track from Nothing But Thieves’ “Broken Machine” released in September 2017. The song has been solidly stuck in my head for the past couple of weeks–and these guys are the top of my current “must see live” list. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ROEL3bOWk80

 

Superorganism “Everybody Wants To Be Famous”

Superorganism is a pop collective of young folks from all corners of the globe (Japan, New Zealand, Australia, US and UK) who met online and are now based in London. It seems appropriate that their fun new tune “Everybody Wants To Be Famous” is a sparkly and effervescent synth-pop ode to the rise and fall of Internet fame. Their highly anticipated debut album was released on March 2, 2018.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mJQYRzAoErc

 

Vaccines “I Can’t Quit”

Highly acclaimed English indie band The Vaccines are back with “I Can’t Quit”, the first single from their forthcoming album “Combat Sports”. Heralded as a “raw rock” band known for their short, punchy tunes, this tune is true to the form of their early days – both simple and infectious. The full album is due out March 30th. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6z6wMZAYaxE

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February 2018 Music Picks Pt. 2

Lovelytheband “Broken”

LA-based trio Lovelytheband released their debut EP “everything i could never say…” in September 2017, and the lead single continues to climb the Alternative charts. “Broken” is a sweetly poignant song about finding connection and commonality via our own inner demons and human imperfections. The catchy electronic riff, melody and lyrics make themselves at home in your head almost instantly. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qr1-WpWOUk8

 

The Neighbourhood “Scary Love”

Newbury Park rockers The Neighbourhood did a quick ear-grab on me with this one, making it one of the few songs in recent memory that I’ve loved at first listen. “Scary Love” has an eerie, ethereal beauty and addictive vibe layered over a steady beat. The lyrics lament the vulnerability and unease that comes with a new romance which escalates more quickly than expected. From the new EP “To Imagine” which was released in January.  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zTIoErJmsp4

 

Mansionair “Astronaut (Something About Your Love)”

Australian electro-pop trio Mansionair have crafted a gorgeously atmospheric tune with “Astronaut (Something About Your Love)”. The ethereal falsetto and synth explore an otherworldly layer of mood over the pulsating beats, punctuated somewhat unexpectedly with a cool & catchy robotic vocal hook. It’s easy to see (or hear) why Mansionair has been named an “Artist To Watch” by NME, BBC1, The Guardian, Stereogum and more. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZM0LD5ZOgOE

 

Joywave “Doubt”

The first time I listened to Joywave’s latest album “Content” last year, this latest single was the track that really leaped out at me. This darker synth-pop tune has a beautifully melodic chorus and highly relatable lyrics. Sounds even better live. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rTfGoa4p_EQ

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February 2018 Music Picks Pt. 1

AJR “Sober Up” feat. Rivers Cuomo

Playing catch up this week on some of my favorite tunes from the latter part of 2017 – there’s no way I can let this one go past without a mention. AJR is NYC based brothers Adam, Jack and Ryan Met; these multi-instrumentalist musicians (lovin’ those strings!) were inspired by Weezer. The band’s musical style combines pop, doo-wop, electronic and dubstep. As the story goes, Rivers Cuomo followed them on Twitter, and their fandom led to a collaboration (lucky us!) – and to this wonderful song (“Sober Up”), which just delights me more each time I hear it. Here’s the new video which dropped last week. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DC_TrsY7U3A

 

Arcade Fire “Creature Comfort”

Considering my past attempts to revere Arcade Fire as I’ve been told I should have met with lukewarm success at best, I must say I’m both amazed and pleased by how much I’m loving their latest album. “Creature Comfort” juxtaposes heavy dance riffs with social commentary about self-loathing and the desire to “just make it painless”. It may be a “disco anti-suicide song” (as one reviewer rather cynically put it) but the song is both compelling and highly relevant. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xzwicesJQ7E

 

Foster The People “Sit Next To Me”

Still playing catch-up: Foster The People’s latest album “Sacred Hearts Club” was released in mid-2017 so I’ve been enjoying “Sit Next To Me” for a while now. Several reviewers have called it the best track on the album. It certainly continues FTP’s tradition of churning out uplifting tunes with catchy, danceable hooks. The retro-inspired sound that frequently marks the band’s music melds interestingly with modern culture in the video – a dizzying scroll through an Instagram feed. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lY_0mkYDZDU

 

Manchester Orchestra “The Gold”

“The Gold” is undoubtedly my favorite track from Atlanta band Manchester Orchestra to date (although I confess in early days I kept mistaking it for a Lumineers track!) The a cappella chorus and vocal harmonies punctuated by a catchy guitar riff makes this song a particularly memorable one. From their latest album “A Black Mile To the Surface”, released in July 2017. We’re on to the next single now, but I just couldn’t let this one pass without a mention. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qaeWss85_vg

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November-December 2017 Music Picks

Nothing But Thieves “Sorry”

“Sorry”, the lead single from Nothing But Thieves’ sophomore offering is a gorgeous ballad of lament, loss and longing that just keeps getting better with every listen. Conor Mason’s angelic vocals make this heartfelt plea for forgiveness even more poignant. The new album “Broken Machine” was released on September 8th. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=p9_BsjMi4bM

 

Bleachers “I Miss Those Days”

OK I guess it’s no secret that I’m a sucker for a great retro-sounding song. Bleachers delivers a delightful ode to days gone by with this reminiscent track from their second album “Gone Now” released June 2nd on RCA. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qQy12GH1Fl4 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zqC-bgnI6PA

 

Sofi Tucker “Best Friend” feat. NERVO, The Knocks & Alisa Ueno

Not my usual fare but this one’s really got its hooks in me! If you’ve seen the iPhone X commercials (which I somehow managed to avoid) you’ve probably heard this track already. NY based duo Sofi Tucker were nominated for a Grammy before they even released their first album. Their ‘90s house-inspired “jungle pop” has a proven global appeal and “Best Friend” (also featuring NERVO, The Knocks and Alisa Ueno) is an undeniable stand-out track. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4Vx7MTU-UVE

 

Moon Taxi “Two High”

Uh oh – there’s only a couple of weeks left to highlight some of my favorite songs from the latter part of 2017!! So without further ado, here’s Moon Taxi, a 5-pc indie-alternative Nashville band (by way of Alabama, Kentucky & Georgia) who has released four studio albums to date and performed at several music festivals over the past couple of years. The single “Two High”, a pop tune about hope (the title refers to the universal “peace” sign) was released in May, and in September the band signed with RCA Records to release their upcoming new album. Give ‘em a listen! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pv5ehgaYODY

 

AWOL Nation “Passion”

Possibly one of my favorite songs of theirs to date, “Passion” is the first single off AWOLNATION’s third album, Here Come the Runts, which is due out on Feb. 2. It’s the band’s first new material since 2015, and the album is intended to be “less electronic, more organic”. The song uses sonic elements–driving drumbeat, melodic & lyrical repetition, even a Queen-esque chanting – to good effect in this tune. Frontman Aaron Bruno says the song is about “finding the balance that can lift both you and those around you to make the world a more positive place” and overcoming obstacles in life through your passion “regardless of what names or labels people throw at you.” AWOLNation will be touring with Nothing But Thieves in early 2018. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iloGX6r_2Ac

 

 

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October 2017 Music Picks

BORNS “Faded Heart”

I loved BORNS’ single “Electric Love” from his 2015 debut album Dopamine. I’ve been waiting/hoping ever since for a truly worthy follow-up to that tune. Here it is – this is the one I’ve been waiting for. The talented platinum-selling Michigan singer-songwriter released his latest single “Faded Heart” this past July. From BORNS’ upcoming sophomore album scheduled for January 2018. P.S. Check out the version featuring mariachi band, español and theremin posted below as well! (Skip ahead to 1:00 in the 2nd video to get to the song). https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eF2hDcFIfqs

 

Rasmus “Wonderman”

Words cannot express how thrilled I am to see Finnish rock band The Rasmus back with a new album! OK so it’s an import… but one well worth having! The band’s ninth album “Dark Matters” was released on October 6th. The newest single “Wonderman” mixes driving rock beats with a melodically soaring chorus – something The Rasmus does exceptionally well. It’s also the theme song to the new Finnish superhero movie “Rendel”. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4iADJzARx2w

 

Alice Merton “No Roots”

“No Roots” is probably the best ‘new’ song (released Dec 2016 overseas and Aug 2017 in the US) that I’ve heard in a long while. That bass line kicks some serious *$$! Meanwhile the anthemic chant of the chorus (highlighted mid-way by a quick splash of synth) quickly lodges itself in your brain. The luxuriantly-voiced Alice Merton was born in Frankfurt, Germany but grew up in the UK and Canada before returning to Germany at age 16. The autobiographical tune serves well as an ode to nomads, world travelers and touring bands everywhere. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PUdyuKaGQd4

 

Walk The Moon “One Foot”

I swear Walk the Moon writes some of the most addictive songs in pop/alternative music. The band has a true talent for crafting songs that you can’t get out of your head. I was a bit surprised to find that this tune was inspired by the current administration and state of the nation…suddenly I love it even more. It’s one of the more eloquently hopeful songs I’ve heard to date on the topic. From their upcoming new album “What If Nothing”. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=05v4nfUmBYI

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July 2017 Music Picks

Dreamcar “Kill For Candy”

This falls in the “better late than never” category: I’ve been loving on this song for a while now. It came out back in early spring, but I can’t let it go without a mention. So just in case anyone out there still hasn’t heard this sublimely 80s-inspired collaboration between Davey Havok from AFI and the male members of No Doubt – please hasten to remedy that ASAP!! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sj_fc6bG8aE

 

Phoenix “J-Boy”

Stuck in my head this week: “J-Boy” (Just Because Of You) is the lead track from Parisian band Phoenix’s 7th album “Ti Amo” which was released on June 9th. Frontman Thomas Mars describes it as “a love song, set against a dystopian, science fiction backdrop.” This delightful tune is a shimmering bit of synth-pop that gets better with every listen. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TwjMiWgCi8E

 

George Ezra “Don’t Matter Now”

In a time when it feels like all the world’s ills are screaming at you from the front page, George Ezra’s new summer tune “Don’t Matter Now” is a breath of fresh air. This modern-day “Don’t Worry Be Happy” tip of the hat is an invitation to pause for just a moment, chill out and enjoy some good vibes. Lock the door, turn off your phone and forget all that bad stuff, just crank up the tunes – it’s summertime! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lM5mM-QDg24

 

Declan McKenna “Humongous”

I’ve been raving about British prodigy Declan McKenna since 2015, so it’s a bit hard to believe the forthcoming 7/21 release “What Do You Think About The Car?” is only his debut album. The newest track “Humongous” is a little slice of indie-pop perfection (which takes a little unexpected turn at the end) and features a bizarrely intriguing video as well. More than just an entertainer, Declan excels at being a voice for those who are often voiceless in society, showing a musical and lyrical maturity far beyond his 18 years. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YzMaDCAaVyw

 

Arcade Fire “Everything Now”

I’m amused by the number of reviews calling this title track from Arcade Fire’s upcoming 5th album an “ABBA” track. Well ok, but maybe that explains why I like “Everything Now” better than most other Arcade Fire songs I’ve listened to. Maybe it’s the pan flute, maybe it’s the danceability, maybe it’s the timeliness of a song ‘lamenting our need for overstimulation and immediate gratification.’ “Turn the speakers up ‘til they break, cause every time you smile it’s a fake, stop pretending you got everything now…” Catchy.  https://www.youtube.com/watch?time_continue=351&v=zC30BYR3CUk

 

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