Be Calm Honcho‘s “Kid Go Hard” is a jangly splash of indie pop, cascading forth on waves of guitar and piano. It’s steady, metered; a whimsical yet deeply grounded track. There are the airy verses, floating on high synths, but they nosedive into stomping drums and handclaps as the chorus begins to roar and the guitars begin to wail. The song flows freely and yet is rhythmically precise all at once, a trick of the light that makes it freer or more solid than you might expect. The fact that I can’t tell which way the trick is leaning is a positive for the song, proof of its songwriting excellence.
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The Jezabels have rightfully broken through into the pop-rock elite, especially on the strength of this year’s excellent Synthia. “Smile” is proof that their position is warranted, flowing from a deceptive soft rock intro to a chorus that strikes with the force of a gale. It’s latently ferocious, waiting until just the right moment to bite with swirling guitars and crashing percussion operating under lead singer Hayley Mary’s misanthropic howl. The song’s wandering ethos fits in well with the video, featuring Mary’s best “Bittersweet Symphony” impression: she wanders from place to place, not settling down for even a moment, while relishing the music behind her.
Elizabeth Hunter‘s “Coming for You” is impressive in just how much it does right. There’s the instrumental, a Motown-influenced slammer with butter-smooth horns and luscious organ. There’s the vocal, a killer case of blue-eyed soul drawing heavily from Amy Winehouse’s days with Mark Ronson and suave harmonizing up the wazoo. Most importantly, though, Hunter struts forward with blinding energy, loud and dynamic and alive. It’ll truly be a shame if “Coming for You” doesn’t break through, since I haven’t heard a song that’s quite so sure to get people up and dancing in a while.
The video for Cowboy Mouth‘s “Broken Up” is partly set in a brewery, which is an accurate distillation (pardon the pun) of the song’s sound. It’s a chunk of cheeky punk rock along the lines of the Dropkick Murphys, simple and memorable I-V-I chord progression and loud, crashing drums. Drummer and lead singer Fred LeBlanc’s nasally vocals properly fit the snarky vibe of the song’s lyrics, a kind of “screw you” to the girl who’s just broken up with the narrator. It’s altogether a cheery ode to the break-up — and, given the wholesome, raucous punk featured herein, the video and lyrics fit perfectly with the music.