April 16, 2014

Sye Elaine Spence

If You Like: Kimberly Anne, Chad VanGaalen, The Tallest Man On Earth

This music is very timid, simple, and bass-less. Unlike most low-end-obsessed artists these days, Atlanta singer-songwriter Sye Elaine Spence keeps things old fashioned with her debut Bloom EP. The four-track offering is a great introduction to her beautiful brand of folk music. On the title track, her powerful voice weaves over a twangy banjo, and "Is This Love" proves that she's more than capable of producing a great cover as well. Her unique voice and the lovely slowness of the songs make this an EP that is definitely worth paying attention to. Luckily for all of us, the EP (minus the cover) is free to download from her Soundcloud page

March 26, 2014

St. Paul & The Broken Bones

If You Like: Otis Redding, James Brown, Al Green

Looks can be deceiving. Take a listen to any song from Birmingham, AL crew St. Paul & The Broken Bones, and you would have no idea that it came from these guys. While the group may appear like a young posse of jazz nerds, the instant they start playing, they evoke a time much before their own. Lead singer Paul Janeway's voice is as close to Otis Redding as I've heard, and the band backing him up is as tight as can be. Their debut record, Half The City, is chock full of swingin', smooth soul music that will have you dancing one second, and crooning along the next. This is one of the most fun albums I've heard in a while and it's going to be on repeat for a while. Enjoy!

March 25, 2014

Wet

If You Like: Astronomyy, CHVRCHES, GEMS

Brooklyn trio Wet picked a name that's not too Google-able, but luckily their music is noteworthy enough to warrant some web searching. After making some ripples with their debut single, "Don't Wanna Be Your Girl" they released their Wet - EP  towards the end of last year. Since then, their minimalist, synth-laden, melancholy pop songs have earned them an opening slot on tour for CHVRCHES, and some highly-coveted SXSW appearances. While NYC is constantly overcrowded by exciting buzzbands, Wet are making a strong case for themselves and seem to be near the head of the pack. 

Their music video for "You're The Best" is quite New York. Featuring dark imagery and late night shots of indie parties, it'll help you get the vibe of the big city's hipster underbelly without having to trek all the way there. 

March 24, 2014

Allie X - "Prime"

If You Like: Katy Perry, Tove Lo, CHVRCHES

Canada isn't always the go-to place to find killer, intelligent pop music, but in this case, there's no better place. Allie X, a native of Toronto, has just released one of the most exciting, sugary-pop tunes that I've heard in quite some time. Her latest single, "Prime," utilizes falsetto vocals, hard-hitting synths, and a perfect sing-along melody to firmly lodge itself in your brain. Following up her other awesome track, "Catch," her new song ups the ante, feels poppier, and could easily show up on smart indie radio stations soon. While the powerful vocals bring Katy Perry to mind, the lyrics are are smarter than that, and the synths are more interesting, placing her comfortably between the Swedish  Tove Lo, and the Scottish CHVRCHES

The refrain, "Forget what I want, give me what I need, and it should be fine," is something you will hear being belted from cars and showers starting now. 

November 11, 2013

Ásgeir

If You Like: Bon Iver, Ben Howard

I know, I've written about Ásgeir before. But last time, I had simply heard a song or two, and I thought, "what pretty, relaxing, Icelandic songs." Now, after putting his debut album on repeat for the last few days, I have more to say. One listen of the record (the American version called In The Silence) had me thinking how high to place it on my 'Best of 2013' list. His voice is as pure as they come, and his melodic warbles have been weaving in and out of my head for days. The best surprise from the album is that he doesn't stay safe in the acoustic singer/songwriter cave that he so easily fit into. There are synth soundscapes, frantic computer drums, and on the fantastic "Torrent," beautiful masses of noise that bring to mind Bon Iver's "Perth". All in all, this record has me floored. And did I mention that he's 21?

If you trust me, grab the album here

In his native Iceland, he is a rock star. According to some estimations, one in ten Icelanders own his debut record. One in ten!! Iceland is a tiny country, but still, that market penetration is off the charts! I'm hoping that he gains a bit of a following in the States, at least enough to come tour here. Otherwise, I'm going to need to book a flight pretty soon. 

October 01, 2013

RÁJ - "Ghost"


These past few months, I have found myself gravitating to slow, undulating, R&B-influenced tracks, usually with male vocals. This contrasts the previous six months in which everything I liked seemed to have female vocals. The last track to really grab me came from mysterious singer RÁJ. While I have not been able to learn where he is from or anything about the guy, I know that his debut single, "Ghost," is gosh-darned beautiful. 

It begins with a simple, distorted vocal sample repeated over guitar strumming and echoey chanting. As the song evolves, however, it gathers energy like a hurricane, eventually bringing forth quite a storm of powerful instrumentation.

If you enjoy it, you can catch him on tour opening for The Neighbourhood and Lovelife on the California leg of their tour

(Warning: This video contains small amounts of nudity)

September 16, 2013

Reviewed: Volcano Choir


There's no question that Volcano Choir owes its popularity largely to the huge success of Bon Iver. I've always thought that without For Emma, Forever Ago, Volcano Choir would not even be on the map. Silly me.

Last night, Justin Vernon and friends tore down the Paradise Rock Club with their beautiful, epic, brooding tracks. Their recent sophomore release, Repave, has received very positive reviews so far and has allowed the group to make their live TV debut on Jimmy Fallon and travel the States on a nearly sold-out tour. Contrary to what I used to think, this supergroup (that includes members of Collections of Colonies of Bees) has earned its fanbase purely on the music. With vocals from the falsetto master himself, their songs aren't great for a campfire like Bon Iver is. Instead, they are larger, bombastic, and would feel appropriate to listen to on a large voyage.

Standing behind a cloth covered podium, Vernon with his stunning vocals and silly antics seemed to be where the crowd was focused. He, however, chose to stay as far from the spotlight as possible, letting guitarist Chris Rosenau handle all the audience interaction. It was pretty nice to see Vernon not hog the spotlight that he knows he could easily control. It helped the audience see the group as a full band and not just his brainchild.

When they played the brilliant single "Byegone" second to last, I had doubts that anything could follow that display of power. Again, silly me. They next busted out the track "Still" from their debut album, Unmap. This song samples Bon Iver's stunning "Woods," but turns it into something of very grand scope. It is also one of the most beautiful songs I have heard in recent memory.