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The operative word in the band name “We Were Astronauts” is “were”, for the Boston rock quartet that bears the appellation sounds firmly rooted to the earth. Such is definitely the case for “Keep It Together,” a track off of their upcoming recording Artificial Light, which following a successful Kickstarter campaign was recorded in Los Angeles with producer Warren Huart. Rooted in the country-tinged classic rock of groups like .38 Special, “Keep It Together” is as ideal a summer road trip radio tune as there could be.

The dusky, shadow-tinged depiction of Los Angeles that is “Escondite”, a track off of the latest Sugarplum Fairies album Godspeed & Silver Linings, brings to mind the infamous opening credits of The Big Lebowski, tumbleweed and all. Yet while the sonic-to-aural comparison is uncanny, there are no bedraggled bowlers or mustachioed narrators here; instead, the echoey vocal of frontwoman Silvia Ryder plays against the gravelly bass vocals of RT Valine, crafting a sonic landscape indebted to ‘70’s California rock. The vision of Los Angeles that Sugarplum Fairies construct throughout Godspeed & Silver Linings, however, is entirely their own.

“You’d never guess it,” says Ben Morss of the Brooklyn chamber pop outfit Onward Chariots, “but I initially conceived ‘It Doesn’t Even Matter’‘, the band’s latest single, “as the dark, angry, highly bitter cri du coeur of a frustrated songwriter”. One spin of the track, and it is indeed difficult to have the notion in one’s head that it ever began with such intentions. “It Doesn’t Even Matter” positively bleeds of the sunny side of ‘50s and ‘60s pop.

The peppy and spirited environs of pop music are always providing DJs the world over with material to chop, splice, and revamp, a fact 14-year-old New York City songwriter Jordan JAE knows quite well. Though in the present day and age it’s become increasingly easy for young songwriters of Jordan’s ilk to record songs that might otherwise collect dust as the years of youth past by, her debut single, “Said No One Ever”, has already garnered significant attention. To further the song’s presence in the popsphere, Jordan has handed over her tune to the Queens, New York hip-hop outfit Oxymorrons and a DJ duo called AfterThem to inject some new life into her song. “I thought it would be really cool to hear other peoples take on ‘Said No One Ever’. To hear it in a completely new light and redone in someone else’s vision was really interesting and amazing.”

Take equal parts Florence and the Machine and Adele‘s 21, throw in a heaping spoonful of ‘80’s synth-pop instrumentation and you’ve got Maxi’s “Walking with the Animals”. Maxi Vauzelle, who goes solely by her first name as a performer, hails from Melbourne, Australia, and with one EP already under her belt she’s gunning to expand her sound from here on out. Her voice, already powerful in its own right, becomes even more gripping when the soulful backing vocals in “Walking with the Animals” join her in her exploration of the primal side of human experience.


The Best and Worst Films of Spring 2015

// Short Ends and Leader

"January through April is a time typically made up of award season leftovers, pre-summer spectacle, and more than a few throwaways. Here are PopMatters' choices for the best and worst of the last four months.

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