August 2016 Music Picks

Beck “Wow”  

As a longtime admirer of Beck’s creative originality, I confess this one had me scratching my head a bit at first.  (Even Beck himself expressed surprise that it was chosen as a single).  “Wow” is an apt moniker for this tune about “the moments in life that leave you in awe of the world.”  Still, the more I hear this innovative bit of “wild funk hip-pop”, the more I come to love it – the deep bass beats and brittle snare mingled with sugary synth and backing vocals is a cool, fun, contemporary tune.  Giddy-up!



Young The Giant “Something To Believe In”

Young the Giant’s new track “Something To Believe In” isn’t a song that plays quietly in the background.  It demands your attention and mesmerizes you with its dark, haunting melody and emotive vocals.  This California-based rock band that debuted in 2010 continues to improve with each new album.  Young The Giant has had three previous Top 5 Alternative hits to date; this may be their best one yet.  From the eagerly anticipated new album “Home of the Strange” that comes out this week (August 12).



Hozier “Better Love”

I was delighted to see one of my 2014 faves return with a new song written for the Legend of Tarzan movie.  With a quiet piano intro that slowly builds into an orchestral crescendo, “Better Love” is classic Hozier, from his soulful voice to the finely crafted lyrics: “I once kneeled in shaking thrill, I chase the memory of it still….chided by that silence of a hush sublime, blind to the purpose of the brute divine…I have never loved a darker blue, than the darkness I have known in you.”



888 – “Critical Mistakes”

Denver based alternative-electro band 888 includes several former members of the metalcore band Drop Dead Gorgeous (a band highly recommended by locals during the time I lived in Denver, and last heard from in 2013).  The 888 debut EP “The Decades” (now re-titled “Critical Mistakes EP”) unveils a softer melodic pop-synth sound that is catching on at several alternative stations around the nation, and has been receiving rave reviews and prediction of a bright musical future for this reincarnated band.  The lead track “Critical Mistakes” is accompanied by an emotional video about forgiveness.



21 Pilots “Heathens”

If it’s possible for 21 Pilots to release a sub-par song, I have yet to hear it.  Their latest track “Heathens” is a moody, edgy tune that continues the band’s penchant for philosophical, introspective lyrics and metaphors. We’re all “broken weirdos with issues” in one way or another.  The song is a perfect fit for the “Suicide Squad” soundtrack – a DC comics fantasy/crime anti-hero film– on which it is featured.



Moth and the Flame “Red Flag”

Originally hailing from Provo, Utah and now based in LA, Moth and the Flame is an alt-rock quartet with a liberal splash of pop/synth tossed in the mix.  The band made their debut in 2011, showcased at SXSW in 2013, and have toured with Imagine Dragons, Neon Trees, Naked & Famous and Big Data.  The inevitable comparisons place them somewhere between Soundgarden and Walk The Moon, with shades of U2 and Echo & the Bunnymen –the latter no doubt due to the compelling vocal delivery of singer Brandon Robbins.  Their latest single “Red Flag”, from the 2015 album “Young and Unafraid”, is a driving, upbeat anthem of excess vs. moderation, tinged with melancholy lyrics (“Love is a one-way street headed away from me…”) and an instantaneous appeal.


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