As if on cue, new releases heated up the summer fun with lush soundtracks courtesy of Washed Out, Boards of Canada and Jon Hopkins, plus pop gems from Camera Obscura, Maps and Big Deal. A retro-tinged Har Mar Superstar, dedicated alt-rockers Primal Scream and indietronica from the Octopus Project round out the latest playlist, while new bands Bear Mountain, Jaqwar Ma and Brazos provide a fine update to any music collection. Advance singles from Beck and Franz Ferdinand also bring an optimistic outlook for the rest of the year, so dig in.
**EXTRA CREDIT IF YOU CAN NAME EVERY BAND WITH A TIE TO SCOTLAND (ANSWER AT THE END OF THE POST!)
1. “It All Feels Right” – Washed Out
Georgian chillwave musician Ernest Greene is back with a second full-length album, Paracosm, which incorporates over 50 instruments to move beyond sampling. This single is the first track Greene worked on for the collection and his favorite as it captures the original vision of “daytime” sounding songs.
2. “Right Action” – Franz Ferdinand
Glasgow-based indie rock quartet Franz Ferdinand returns with its fourth studio album, Right Thoughts, Right Words, Right Action. From the opening guitar riff, the tune glides along guided by the sultry vocals of Alex Kapranos.
3. “Diamonds” – The Boxer Rebellion
Tennessee native Nathan Nicholson’s heartfelt vocals are a signature part of this indie rock quartet formed in London back in 2001. “Diamonds” allows an expansive approach to the guitar-driven compositions on the band’s fourth album, Promises.
4. “It’s Alright, It’s OK” – Primal Scream
Scottish alt rock group Primal Scream has released its tenth album since 1982, More Light. This single sends an undeniable “Rock On” message with a breezy approach in Bobby Gillespie’s vocals, backed up by a group sing along complete with empowering hand claps.
5. “How the Ranks Was Won” – Brazos
Martin Crane relocated from Austin, Texas, to Brooklyn for an indie band mentality in his second album, Saltwater. This beguiling tune tells the tale of a ghost ship with both a bemused detachment and emphasis on melody.
6. “Sharpteeth” – The Octopus Project
This Austin quartet is adding vocals into its experimental mix of indietronica for a welcome human element that slyly enters above the creative fray. This is the second single from Fever Forms, the band’s fifth album since 1999.
7. “Two Step” – Bear Mountain
Vancouver-based electro-dance band Bear Mountain manipulates synth loops layered with live drums and chopped vocals. Led by frontman Ian Bevis, this irresistible instrumental is the opening track of the band’s debut album, XO.
8. “Come Save Me” – Jagwar Ma
This catchy tune by Australian duo Gabriel Winterfield and Jono Ma is a highlight of the band’s debut album, Howlin. The solid band sound rocks along with interweaving synths until a slow fade out leaves the listener wanting more.
9. “Yellow Bird” – Pretty Lights
Colorado-based electronic musician Derek Vincent has released the first album of originally produced compositions, A Color Map of the Sun. “Yellow Bird” luxuriates in a simple loop of dreamy beats until a female vocal line drifts in above it all.
10. “In Your Car” – Big Deal
London duo Big Deal features Kacey Underwood and Alice Costelloe, with songwriting and vocals shared in tandem. For the sophomore album, June Gloom, they expand to a full band sound with appealing pop grandeur.
11. “A.M.A.” – Maps
UK musician James Chapman has released his third album as Maps, Vicissitude. This song is the first in the collection, with a drum track intro leading the way for synthesizers as mixed by Ken Thomas (M83, Sigur Rós).
12. “Do It Again” – Camera Obscura
Scottish Indie pop quintet Camera Obscura recently released its fifth album since forming in 1999, called Desire Lines. This sunny, feel good single explains why the band maintains such longevity.
13. “Lady, You Shot Me” – Har Mar Superstar
Har Mar Superstar is the stage name of Sean Matthew Tillman, a singer/songwriter from Minnesota. He has penned tunes for Jennifer Lopez and Kelly Osbourne but shops his own wares in a retro-style for a fifth album, Bye Bye 17.
14. “Nothing’s Changed” – Tricky (featuring Francesca Belmonte)
Tricky (neé Adrian Nicholas Matthews Thaws) is a UK musician as well as an actor. He continues to blends many influences for a tenth studio album, False Idols.
15. “Defriended” – Beck
“Defriended” is a stand alone single announcing Beck’s return to a electronic playground, with the intentions of releasing two albums of new material after 2008’s Modern Guilt. The tune wavers through a synth-laden landscape with Beck’s familiar plaintive vocals.
16. “Open Eye Signal” – Jon Hopkins
London-based UK producer and musician Jon Hopkins has recently released his fourth studio album, Immunity. This single acts like a tone poem, with a rhythmic pulse that patiently develops throughout this cinematic composition.
17. “Reach for the Dead” – Boards of Canada
Scottish electronica brothers Michael Sandison and Marcus Eoin (neé Marcus Eoin Sandison) have created their fourth studio album since 2005, called Tomorrow’s Harvest. Utilizing various vintage instruments and equipment, the duo resumed their investigations into tonality.
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DID YOU GUESS 4 BANDS?
1. Franz Ferdinand
2. Primal Scream
3. Camera Obscura
4. Boards of Canada