DMAs “Too Soon”
Here’s a new song that got its hooks in me quick: DMA’s are a trio of indie-pop musicians from Sydney Australia who quickly gained a cult following in their home country amidst comparisons to bands like Oasis, the Pixies and Happy Mondays. They make no bones about their unabashed love of the early 90’s Manchester sound and Britpop in general. After releasing a self-titled EP in 2014, they dropped their full-length debut “Hills End” in early 2016. The single “Too Soon” grabs your ear with an “instantly familiar sound that incorporates reverberating guitars and a blistering chorus”. The band was a featured artist at this year’s Coachella Festival.
Aurora Aksnes aka “Aurora” is a young Norwegian singer-songwriter from Norway. Her melodies hint at everything from Celtic to Asian influence, and her debut album “All My Demons Greeting Me As A Friend” is lauded as an “introspective album, full of thoughts about solitude, loss, mortality and tenacity.” I’m a bit fascinated by reviews that liken her to another Scandinavian favorite of mine, Lykke Li. The single “Conqueror”, which won me over after just a few listens, is dominated throughout by the percussive beat of the drums, while Aurora’s lilting and layered vocals soar into the buoyant melody of the chorus.
Ra Ra Riot “Water”
Ra Ra Riot has explored a varied pop landscape over their 10-year career, from orchestral baroque to electronic. They strike a balance that combines strings with synth-pop on their fourth album “Need Your Light”. The new single “Water” was produced by Vampire Weekend’s Rostam Batmanglij (who previously collaborated with frontman Wes Miles in the band Discovery). The lyrics speak of an escape from mundane mediocrity, while the melody sparkles and flows like its appellation.
MGT & Ville Valo “Knowing Me, Knowing You”
Full disclosure: I’m pretty crazy about the Finnish “goth love metal” band HIM and their charismatic lead vocalist Ville Valo’s incredible voice. In addition to their own vast catalog of excellent tunes they’ve taken on a wide range of covers over the years, from BOC’s “Don’t Fear The Reaper” to Neil Diamond’s “Solitary Man”, making each tune their own in the process. Now Ville is back as a guest vocalist on Swedish guitarist MGT (Mark Gemini Thwaite)’s new album, and an absolutely brilliant yet faithful rendition of ABBA’s “Knowing Me Knowing You” As a huge 70s music aficionado I cannot express how much I absolutely ADORE this delightful meeting of musical worlds. Can’t stop watching/listening to this one!
FINISH TICKET “Color”
Putting out some Northern California love to Finish Ticket, a pop quintet from the San Francisco area that self-released two EPs (2009-2010) and the album “Tears You Apart” in 2013 before being signed to Elektra in 2014. With a solid local following, they expanded their fan base with energetic live performances opening for artists like 21 Pilots and Ed Sheeran, and have garnered many “artist to watch” and “next best thing” accolades. Their new single “Color”, from the 2015 EP “What Night Becomes Day,” is a danceable rock tune that really hits the sweet spot.