Although it’s winter in the United States right now, you might be transported to the summer months by the disposition of the Australian singer Vassy, whose latest single “In the Sun” is the kind of summer jam that’s designed to be blasted out of hatchback car radios and beach boomboxes. Of course, it’s summertime in Vassy’s native Australia, but this buoyant pop jam is enough to make it feel as if the season is spreading all around the world.
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The Band are one of the great rock acts of the ‘60s and ‘70s. Although that time is also associated with the rise of psychedelia, the music of the Band is anchored in the roots rock tradition—put simply, their music will never bring to mind any skies with diamonds. However, that doesn’t mean contemporary artists can’t take the music of that essential Band and throw in some psychedelic flourishes, just as the Portland, Oregon outfit Drunken Prayer has done with their cover of “Evangeline”, featuring Freakwater’s Janet Beveridge Bean on supporting vocals. The video to “Evangeline” features distinct washes of psychedelic color, an appropriately quirky, Pacific Northwest touch to this classic tune. For a slightly off-kilter take on America as only Portland can bring it, Drunken Prayer will do just the trick.
In the ‘00s, the Leeds, UK rock outfit Kaiser Chiefs made a big splash with their excellent 2007 album Yours Truly, Angry Mob and its earworm of a lead single, “Ruby”. Like that song, the band’s latest tune, “Falling Awake”, anchors itself on a simple, repetitive chorus: “She’s got me falling, falling / Falling away!” Also like “Ruby”, though, such repetition is extremely effective given the Chiefs’ catchy songwriting. Buoyed by a near danceable bass synth, “Falling Awake” bodes quite well for the group’s forthcoming sixth studio LP, which follows 2014’s Tony Blair-referencing Education, Education & War.
No, you’re not mistaken: on “Williamsburg Boy”, the opening track of her new EP, Indian Summer, New York City-based songwriter Sarah McGowan is indeed singing about the ever-bourgeoning Brooklyn neighborhood of Williamsburg and not the California coast. Such a mistake is forgivable given the tune’s sunny surf rock vibes, in addition to its well-placed Valley Girl-ism (“I would literally fucking die”). Although this sonic isn’t repeated throughout Indian Summer, the rest of it does match “Williamsburg Boy”‘s elating handclaps and effortless hook, resulting in a brief yet undeniably catchy collection of indie pop numbers. McGowan is a singer that fans of twee pop best keep their eye out for.
“By the Waves”, the latest tune by the Swedish outfit Baron Bane, is described by the group as “a dark and dreamlike story about losing your grip on reality and being pulled out by the waves into the unknown.” Far from the kind of flowery language music writers—this one included—often lean on, this description gets right to the brooding heart of “By the Waves”. Opening with a dark, pulsating cloud of distortion and bass drum reminiscent of Porcupine Tree, the band then brings in a moody piano chord progression that frames the song. Then the march-ready drums enter, matching the rhythm of the piano. This builds an intensity that doesn’t let up until the track has reached its last second—when, one would imagine, the unknown has finally been reached.
// Notes from the Road
"Co-presented by the World Music Institute, the 92Y hosted a rare and mesmerizing performance from India's violin virtuoso L. Subramaniam.READ the article