Recorded in the home of band leaders Ryan Peoples and Rebekah Goode-Peoples, the latest album by Atlanta’s Oryx & Crake has lofty ambitions sonically, taking great inspiration from such Canadian acts as Arcade Fire and Broken Social Scene. However, the aptly titled Marriage remains refreshingly grounded throughout, the band’s lavish orchestral pop meshing with exuberant new wave influences. A fine example is the late-album track “Hold Hand for Dry Land”, which locks itself into a mighty groove, Moog synths and fun vocal “whoo”s accentuating that lively mood.
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For anyone who remembers Stiff Records, especially the work by the late, great Kirsty MacColl for that label in the early 1980s, you’ll hear a little bit of that cheeky, winsome, youthful rock ‘n’ roll sound in Head Over Heart’s new seven-inch single. Celebrating 1950s kitsch and adding a little new wave twist to the whole thing, the Tucson, Arizona duo of Jordan Prather and Belinda Esquer sound right at home on “I Don’t Mind” and especially “Fall Back in Love”, which has just been made into a charming and devilishly funny new video by director Alex Italics.
James Dolan is an avid musician, and his band JD & the Straight Shot has put out four albums over the last decade. A fifth full-length is in the works, but in the meantime the band has released a video for the new track “Better Find a Church”, which continues the blend of gentle blues and rustic Americana heard on last year’s Where I’ve Been. Produced by Rodney Crowell and featuring Nashville fiddler Erin Slaver duetting on vocals with Dolan, this track is a pleasant surprise.
At first Vancouver band Animal Omen sounds cut from the same retro heavy rock as Black Mountain from the same city, relying on lugubrious tempos and roaring, fuzzed-out guitar riffs and melodies, save for one major difference. While Black Mountain’s psychedelic influence keeps their music at an arm’s length from the audience, Animal Omen head straight in the opposite direction, injecting genuine soul into the music. No detachment, just emotion, but in a tasteful way: there’s no cock rock swagger, nor any post-millennial whining. Debut single “Susan” is just a gorgeous song about a girl, played and sung with complete sincerity, displaying a level of tenderness that quite frankly is missing in modern rock.
A winner of the Independent Music Award for Best Social Action Song, Seth Glier isn’t exactly known for cute comedy songs. On a whim he wrote one with his pal, based on a “mostly true” story about a breakup and a woman selling her ex’s furniture on Craigslist, and as you can hear in this exclusive live performance, it is pure gold.