England’s Turin Brakes warmed up the early ‘00s with a series of superb, beautifully composed folk rock albums that featured melodic hooks that just never quit. They have been a bit out of the limelight in the US for the past few years, but they have been steadily releasing gorgeous records since 2001’s The Optimist LP.
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Detroit’s Nigel and the Dropout have been a genre-bending outfit since their inception. Melding psych rock with punk attitude, contorting it with prog elements and electronic dance beats, then wrapping it all in a veneer of theatricality, the duo of Nigel Van Hemmye and Andrew “the Dropout” Ficker consistently conjures an evocative sound. Their latest tune, “Rearrange”, pushes their creative envelope further than before, incorporating jazz and the hip-hop stylings of fellow Detroiters Passalacqua.
The Winterlings found much success with their debut album, The Animal Groom, and now they are back to up the ante with a set of new indie folk songs that offer an escape from our urban lives. You Are Acres paints the landscapes of Washington state in imaginative detail, capturing the spirit of the geography that the Winterlings inhabit.
Brett Harris bases his career out of the pop triangle (a.k.a. the Research Triangle in North Carolina) where they still believe in pure pop with sparkling melodies, catchy choruses and jangly guitars. Harris has recently been a touring member of the Big Star Third ensemble, as well as having opened for pop gods the dB’s on the reunion tour. His new album, Up in the Air, releases March 4, 2016 on Hit the Deck Recordings and we’ve got a great slice of ear candy from that album to sample with “End of the Rope”.
Hailey Wojcik has a knack for zeroing in on moments in a relationship, reducing them to their cores, then brutally analyzing their flaws. With her feral intensity, and likely influenced by being raised by zookeepers, she frequently uses the animal kingdom as lyrical fodder in mining the depths of human frailty and complexity. In the new DIY video for “Dog V. Man”, this proclivity is given visual representation in the stop-motion characters personifying a crumbling romance amid cute animal videos. This contrast also serves to approximate the wry humor Wojcik often brings to her tunes.