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. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zWAk_CUmpIo
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.