Des Moines, Iowa is no soul music capital by any stretch of the imagination. However, that hasn’t stopped the Des Moines-based band the Maytags from adopting the genre and making it their own. This band’s take on it is less ostentatious than many of soul’s classic records, and it has a decidedly contemporary feel, in contrast to groups such as St. Paul and the Broken Bones. Nevertheless, this is warm, inviting neo-soul that incorporates gentler touches of folk music to contrast with the horn arrangements. “Cassius”, a track off of the Maytags’ forthcoming EP Nova, is one such track, striking a balance between relaxed vocal delivery and at times ebullient musical arrangements.
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Just last week, the Philadelphia rock group Split/Red dropped its newest LP, Serious Heft. The title is no joke; full to the brim with heavy guitar riffs and an eccentric songwriting approach not unlike the Mars Volta, the album grabs the listener by the throat and doesn’t let go.
Winter is coming—as are the numerous Game of Thrones memes that pop up once this realizations starts hitting the public—but that doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy an unabashed bit of beach pop. Such is especially the case for the band Inspired and the Sleep, a rock outfit based out of San Diego, where the beach is but a hop and a skip away. The band’s latest tune, “Pool Guard”, is coated in summertime nostalgia, and its cheeky flute line brings to mind images of the Brady Bunch’s trip to Hawaii.
After an eight-year musical hiatus, Nashville musical mystic Stone Jack Jones released his third album, Ancestor, earlier this year. Describing his music in a recent mini-documentary on the making of Ancestor, Jones noted, “Despite my nature and inclination to disappear into the dark, my friends have the tendency to rouse me and lead me towards the light. Without them there would be no story told.”
The indie pop outfit Act As If hails from Los Angeles, but you’ll know that within a few seconds of its latest tune, “Keep Me By Your Side”. It’s the kind of carpe diem ballad that sends eyes looking westward, toward the lights of Sunset Boulevard and the sandy beaches of Los Angeles. With its triumphant vocal harmonies and soaring guitars (with just a hint of the Temper Trap’s “Sweet Disposition” in the rhythm guitar), “Keep Me By Your Side” is a tune that’s catchy and earnest, and perfect aural accompaniment for a drive down California’s famed Highway 1.