[23 April 2014]
With spring finally making an appearance, there’s plenty of news songs for another playlist thanks to the constant renewal of the music scene. Bands such as Cage the Elephant, Wye Oak and Real Estate are back with album releases along with Future Islands and Lost in the Trees. Female voices abound on this playlist, from Annie Clark of St. Vincent and Kelis, to Courtney Barnett, Sharon Van Etten and Monica Birkenes of Mr. Little Jeans. Also check out new music from veteran bands Elbow and Maximo Park, along with indie heavyweight Beck.
1. “Unkinder (A Tougher Love)” – Thumpers
This boisterous tune makes a great introduction to this new duo from England, recently formed by childhood friends Marcus Pepperell and John Hamson Jr. “Unkinder (A Tougher Love)” is the standout track of the band’s debut album, Galore.
2. “Come a Little Closer” – Cage the Elephant
Kentucky alt rock band Cage the Elephant is back with its third album, Melophobia. Matt Shultz’s singing bring an appealing boy next door approach to rocking out, sounding familiar without ever boring fans in this single, “Come a Little Closer.”
3. “Seasons Waiting On You” – Future Islands
This synth pop band from Baltimore met while studying art in college and just released a fourth studio album, Singles. This single, “Seasons Waiting on You”, highlights the unhinged vocals of Samuel T. Herrig to bring emotional weight to the song.
4. “Avant Gardener” – Courtney Barnett
Australian Courtney Barnett is a songwriter and guitarist, using a wry delivery in her stream of conscious lyrics for “Avant Gardener”. This young musician combined two past EPs to create A Double EP: A Sea of Split Peas, where “Avant Gardner” is found.
5. “Digital Witness” – St. Vincent
Annie Clark is the mastermind behind St. Vincent, creating songs with a dense musicality, complex instrumentation and multiple meanings. Hailing from Oklahoma and Texas before touring with the Polyphonic Spree and Sufjan Stevens, Clark has just released a self-titled fourth album with this searing tune about the internet age.
6. “Divisionary (Do the Right Thing)” – Ages and Ages
Ages and Ages is an eight-member group of multi-instrumentalists from Portland, offering up sing along songs such as “Divisionary (Do the Right Thing).” This heartfelt composition that builds with every chorus is off of the band’s second album, also titled Divisionary.
7. “The Tower” – Wye Oak
Jenn Wasner and Andy Stack formed Wye Oak in Baltimore but composed this song for their fourth studio album, Shriek, across the country from each other. “The Tower” brings an expanded music palette to the group’s indie folk sound, as Wasner admits to being newly inspired by learning bass.
8. “Everlasting” – Polock
The quintet Polock returns with a sophomore album, Rising Up, with an indie pop sound that conjures up comparisons as a Spanish Phoenix. The song “Everlasting” sets a festive mood with dance beats galore and crooning vocals by Papu Sebastián.
9. “Drinking Martinis” – Maxïmo Park
This British alt rock quintet was formed in 2000 with a pop sensibility for songwriting as transmitted by singer Paul Smith. “Drinking Martinis” is a wistful rock song about parties of the past from the band’s fifth album, Too Much Information.
10. “Jerk Ribs” – Kelis
“Jerk Ribs is a single from Food, the sixth album from Kelis since 1999. Raised in Harlem, this singer-songwriter weaves together a 1990s vibe of electro dance, soul, and Afrobeat for a contemporary mix as produced by Dave Sitek of TV on the Radio.
11. “Fall In Love” – Phantogram
This synth pop duo, Josh Carter and Sarah Barthel, write and record in a remote barn in upstate New York. “Fall In Love” is a confident new song with psychedelic musical swirls from the group’s second album, Voices.
12. “Had To Hear” – Real Estate
Brooklyn via New Jersey indie band Real Estate recently released its third album since 2009, Atlas. As the lead track, “Had to Hear” ushers in the signature laid back, low fi sound awash in hazy vocals and guitar lines.
13. “Past Life” – Lost in the Trees
Lost in the Trees went from being a sextet to a quartet and discovered a leaner sound for its fourth album, Past Life. This title track combines a soaring melody over a pulsing percussive foundation that develops with each chorus, until a guitar solo bursts things wide open.
14. “Taking Chances” – Sharon Van Etten
Sharon Van Etten is another Brooklyn artist by way of suburban New Jersey, crafting songs to allow her earthy voice to soar. She just released her fourth album since 2009, Are We There, with this scorcher of a slow-sizzle single, “Taking Chances”.
15. “Good Mistake” – Mr. Little Jeans
Norwegian dance-pop singer/songwriter Monica Birkenes has released a debut full-length album as Mr. Little Jeans called Pocketknife. “Good Mistake” kicks things off with fun synth beats and squiggles, before her cooing vocals take command of the song.
16. “Blue Moon” – Beck
L.A. native Beck returned to the band aesthetic for his twelfth studio album since 1993, Morning Phase, which serves as a sonic bookend to Sea Change (2002). “Blue Moon” is just one of the lush, contemplative tunes found on this new compilation.
18. “New York Morning” – Elbow
The UK band Elbow is back with its sixth studio album since 1997, The Take Off and Landing of Everything. “New York Morning” uses lyrics from a diary written by singer Guy Garvey during a trip to New York City, with his passionate voice expressing the singular view of a wide-eyed visitor.