In writing about John Newman for PopMatters’ “Best New and Emerging Artists 2013”, Colin McGuire claims, “If 2013 was the year… Newman broke through into a good bit of Europe’s broken hearts, 2014 ought to be the year the western world takes notice. The guy is a master at writing songs that beg to be played in arenas, and [debut album] Tribute, if nothing else, proves that the artist behind them is certainly worthy of the stage.” If you haven’t discovered Newman’s anthemic and infectious music—“Love Me Again” truly is the definition of the latter—then there’s no time better than the present, as Newman has just dropped a new single, “Come and Get It”. Unsurprisingly for the young (soon to turn 25) musician, the chorus is positively huge, and catchy in a near undeniable way.
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In August 2015, the Provo, Utah band the National Parks will release their sophomore LP Until I Live. As the lyric video for album cut “Monsters of the North” reveals, however, this seven-piece outfit has already readied itself for the summer months. With elegant typeface laid atop a string of beautifully photographed nature imagery, “Monsters of the North”‘s lyric video feels like a whole summer rolled up into three minutes and 52 seconds. Combine that with a chorus that’s perfect for road-trip singalongs and you’ve got a fine aural/video pairing.
Stapleton left the group a few years ago to pursue his own solo career and the result is this year’s excellent country/Americana album, Traveller, which debuted at #2 on the country charts. Today, Stapleton has released a new video for “15 Years of Traveller”.
Vancouver’s Colin Cowan has earned himself a respectful reputation on the back of his work with the likes of Dan Mangan, Dada Plan, and Woodpigeon, but his solo work is quickly proving its worth among them in the upper echelons of the Canadian indie scene. Spring Myths is the third installment in Cowan’s seasonal album tetralogy, and it’s both his most brilliant and solitary effort. Cowan played most of it himself, recorded by Dada Plan bandmate Malcolm Biddle directly onto 8-track tape with no assistance from computers. Its weirdly charming psych-pop forms channel something deep and classic, a dwindling memory of how things used to be when artists sought to break free of major labels and tap directly into their creative spirit for all to enjoy.
Tim Bowness, one half of the British art-rock duo No-Man, recently announced his latest solo venture, Stupid Things That Mean the World. Bowness is clearly in the middle of a creatively fertile period, as his new record comes not long after his excellent 2014 outing Abandoned Dancehall Dreams.
PopMatters is proud to premiere the first video tied to Stupid Things that Mean the World, for the haunting track “Great Electric Teenage Dream”. With powerful drumming reminiscent of the booming opener to Abandoned Dancehall Dreams, “The Warm-Up Man Forever”, the song is a rocker of an intensity rarely heard in the music of No-Man. While Bowness’ music in that duo, where he is joined by Steven Wilson on instruments, is often minimalist and introspective, on “Great Electric Teenage Dream” he cranks up the rock dynamics considerably. The music heightens the stark past/present contrasts Bowness highlights in his lyrics, some of which he no doubt knows all too well: “Your great electric teenage dream / Once a record / Now an unpaid stream.”