Love so many of these tracks. I saw Bastille at Camden Crawl this year and - oh, my - the seduction was intense.
Spotlight: This Week’s 10 Most Notable Artists – 8/3/12
Holy mackerel, I’m back! No, I didn’t fall down the rabbit hole or get locked up (despite the rumors). I just took a little vacay. Rest assured that I wasn’t comfortably resting my laurels either. No, no, mother hen was hard at work to provide her little chickens with the musical nutrition they’ve been craving. But I guess I owe you an apology for my disappearance anyway, so I’m sorry.
Not good enough? What if I grovel a little? Please, please, please forgive me!
Fine, I guess if begging doesn’t do the trick, I’ll just have to pump it up and plump it up with some bonus hits. From the funky and fresh to the smooth and classical, I’ve got more than enough to go around. So hold onto your highchairs, my precious babies, it’s about to get real. Here are you ten tracks and some BONUS new tracks to get your weekend started (and make up for last two drab ones). Let’s goooo!
1. Junior Prom – “Take It Back”/Junior Prom
This is just how to start off this long awaited list: with awesome sauce deliciousness. I could not have stumbled upon something cooler. These fine boys, Erik Ratensperger and Mark Solomich, are two of Brooklyn’s finest and are the dynamic duo behind Junior Prom. They are so incredibly inventive with their genre mixing. There’s elements of hip hop, pop, latin, dancehall, and rock throughout all their tracks. Music world, shame on you for not putting these fellas at the top of every list ever created! “Take It Back” is music you want to jump, two-step, wallflower, head bop, or fist pump to the whole entire night. Junior Prom is a suitable name considering that their sound offers that youthful, magical, music-based escape that prom nights deliver. I was so excited by the old school/new school feel that I had the slow motion imaginative music video moment. Prom dresses, sparkles, smiles, and confetti…Lots and lots of glittering confetti….Mmmhmmmm! Here’s a free download of their other track “A Little Time.”
2. Miss Pulver – “I Don’t Feel It Anymore (Cover)”/Derivatives
Eliza Pulver is a brilliant singer/songwriter who is doing her café/pub acoustic serenading all over the UK. Ok, maybe just around Cardiff, Britain, but nevertheless, she’s indulgent and divine. The sheer grace of her tender vocals is a softness that cannot be ignored. Miss. Pulver is the female version of Damien Rice, who she has named as one of her top influences. Her cover of William Fitzsimmons’ “I Don’t Feel It Anymore” is as heartbreaking as it is beautiful. Fitzsimmons and his vivid lyricism were done justice the moment Miss. Pulver decided to take the microphone. Modest seems to be the demeanor of this self-critiquing, “I love to play my guitar though I’m not really good [at] it…” performer, but don’t let her fool you. Check out Miss. Pulver via SoundCloud.
3. Frank + Derol – “Barely Love You Too”/FRANK + DEROL
Oh, a Cyrus has succeeded in grabbing my attention. No, it’s not Billy Ray with an incredible mullet and an achy-breaky heart and there certainly won’t be that kind of party in the US of A. Brandi Cyrus is dabbling into the music world in an indie-pop duo by the name of Frank + Derol. Her partner in crime is Codi Caraco, a piano playing-Smashing-Pumpkins-singing-first-grader-lyrical-genius. It’s a poppy, choppy chick track that focuses on the mind boggling, emotional turmoil that is romance. Dig in!
4. ZZ Ward – “Til the Casket Drops”/Criminal EP
Pennsylvania-born and Oregon-raised, ZZ Ward is a sultry, sexy, rustic rock star with an authentic charm. In short, she’s a soulful badass. This cutesy blonde is not to be confused with a pop princess. The strength her chords, both vocal and instrumental, earn her a great deal of musical respect and recognition. “Til the Casket Drops” is a track off her Criminal EP , which dropped back in May. The rhythmic allure of the country guitar with the raspy grit of a Natasha Bedingfield-Lisa Marie Presley-Adele baby mash up is irresistable. I was sold two seconds in.
5. Passenger – “Let Her Go”/All the Little Lights
Passenger is an indie artist from the UK, also known as Mike Rosenberg. I’ve always been a fan of his sweet disposition; the tenderness of his lyrics and the stroke of his guitar eliciting reflective meditation. “Let Her Go” is still a high contender in the fight for awesomeness. Passenger pulls in listeners with an age old lesson of appreciating what it is that you’ve got. The reminder is clear and the softness and simplicity of “Let Her Go” creates an untainted Zen clarity for proper absorption. All the Little Lights will be available to US audiences August 28th, but listen now and pre-order today.
6. Goapele – “Undertow”/Break of Dawn
Released last year, Goapele’s Break of Dawn is a staple album in the neosoul community. Goapele has always been a poignant musical figure; her spirituality and gentle strength making her comparable to India.Arie, Sade, and D’Angelo. “Undertow” provides listeners with an honest admission to a lack of self-control. Love (or lust) has yet again won the battle of temptation. Goapele manages to captivate with her replication of human emotion through her vocal capabilities. You can almost feel the tease, seduction, guilt, and regret. Even if you can’t relate, you can relate by the time this track ends. A winner? I think so! Check out the album here.
7. Western Scene – “For You”/Western Scene
Western Scene is a SoCal (southern California for you “uncool” East coasters) band consisting of Tom Pritchard, Jason Burkhart, and a few casual musicians who they experimented with from time to time. This dreamy track is reminiscent of The Smiths, Coldplay, and Radiohead: chill, chilling, and the chilliest. This song will take you there with its seamless integration of guitar riffs and harmonic choruses. Tom, my newfound love, “For You” is definitely for me…and anyone else with a musical bone in their body.
8. Devoted Friend – “Hide and Seek”/Levitates
Devoted Friend, also known as James Grimshaw, is putting UK on the map again with his self-described “quiet indie” sound. His album Levitates was released just last week and reflects this young artist’s dream perception. Grimshaw’s sound is a unique balance of a Paul McCartney-meets-the-Goo Goo Dolls’-and-the Kooks-at-a-John Mayer-mid-guitar-solo-concert-moment. Woo! Try saying that three times fast! The amalgamation of instrumentals and vocals results in an impressive creation of sound. It makes it hard to believe that the finished product was born from random bedroom recordings and reflection. So, Devoted Friend offers guitars, lyricism, and dreamscape awesomeness? Oh, and intellectual, emotional, and visual (I see you, stud muffin!) stimulation? And did I mention you can name your own price to get your hands (or ears, rather) on this new release? I think this is my disappearance redemption.
9. Marina and the Diamonds – “Power & Control”/Electra Heart
When you think of Marina and the Diamonds, I hope you think of feminine-pop-rock-aggression. Marina Lambrini Diamandis is a Greek singer/songwriter with Lady Gaga edge, Madonna dance power, Katy Perry funk, and P!nk ferociousness. She may look like a kitten, but she has the sass of a Siberian tiger. “Power & Control” is as straightforward as Marina has ever been; a very in-your-face-call out that would make that guy feel like that guy. “Give a little, get a lot/That’s just how you are with love/Give a little, get a lot/Yeah, you may be good looking but you’re not a piece of art,” Marina critiques shamelessly and without hesitation. She is a feisty one and I like it! MEOWWWWW!
10. Prince of Pressure – “Noise in the Night”/Prince of Pressure
Oh, how I adore the eclectic style of this nostalgic piece. I feel like I’ve gone back in time to some eighties pop rock age and then hightailed it to the future electronica funk. “Noise in the Night” is the product of three Canadian buddies who grew up to make beautiful music together. This track was released independently and has already gotten this band some recognition. It’s sure to please and offer a genuine poppy-funk-electro-eighties flashback. Ah, yet another maple leaf contribution that’s as good as bacon. Yes, I said it again…bacon. Canadian bacon.
1. William Carney – “Lion City”/Lion City
William Carney is a Virginia Beach local who has just crossed over into legal adulthood. This 18-year-old mixer is already creating a buzz. His “Lion City” mix of bass and drums is an imaginative electro-funk sound that offers a dramatic build and fast-paced exhaust. Carney surrounds audiences in a gaming sound that showcases his influence on and manipulation of sound and environment. William Carney is a just giving listeners the surface his untapped potential and more sooner than later, he’ll be mixing with the giants like Guetta and Khaled.
2. Lane 8 – “Don’t Want You Back”/Don’t Want You Back
Lane 8 is an artist from SanFran, doing the mixer job and doing it well. His new single “Don’t Want You Back” is a synthesized piece with chops of interwoven vocals and pop-electronic sound. It’s a sick miss he awesomely decided to independently release in order to offer listeners a free download and stream via Facebook and SoundCloud. Lane 8 really is a bonus, isn’t he?
Ok, I don’t know any Russian, but Google Translator tells me that червобой simply means “chervoboy.” What a chervoboy is exactly is something I’ll leave up to you. If anybody speaks Russian, translation would be appreciated, but in the meantime, I can just say, though blighted by ignorance, that this song is damn good. The downtempo is a little morbid, but not in an offensive way. It edges on the brim of creepy, but is respectable. The curiosity brought on by this song makes it list worthy. It shows that music is universal because melodically, it creates a very specific possibility, emotion, or state of mind. Whether it’s wrong or right, is up to translation, but the experience of listening to what I don’t understand, enjoying it, and still gaining from it, makes “червобой” a starred favorite.
4. VZLKS – “Breathe Me (Remix)”/Breathe Me (Remix)
VZLKS is a Los Angeles based house music maker with a fierce edge and a sharp ear. His remix of Sia’s original track “Breathe Me” is sick, to say the least. This recent UCLA grad is trying to avoid the usual 9-5 and if he keeps mixing with his dope flair, he may just escape the suit and tie. The overall flow of this track is an unforeseen plus. There’s enough house music thump and flair with a domineering overcast of sound. Sia’s lax vocals are still heard and exemplified rather than buried. VZLKS is well-balanced and worth a play or two…or three.
5. Pony Boy – “The Murder Ballad of Carrie Lee”/Not in This Town
Noted musician, Pony Boy aka Marchelle Bradanini, is gracing us with her new take on Americana sound. “The Murder Ballad of Carrie Lee” is a cheeky, saloon-ish track with quirky riffs and bluesy layers. Her vocals are like sandpaper against a sweet cedar wood, gritty but smooth. Not in This Town was just released on July 31st, and covers the long-loved by Pony Boy genre of bluesy-grass music-soul. I can practically see the cowboy boots, corsets, and challenges to duals. Whip out your banjos and tip your hats to this fine lady who’s also giving you a free download. Oh, you’re welcome.
6. Yard of Blondes – “Despotic Harm”/Yard of Blondes EP
Not only does the frontrunner/creator of this LA band, Vincent Walter Jacob, have an awesome three-piece combo name, he’s French. Ooh la, la! I can see him now, underneath the Eifel Tower, crooning away this downhearted track. Nothing like a little torturous misery to start off the weekend! In all seriousness, the rasp and acoustic charm is weekend worthy. Besides, any man singing “I wish that I could put these lights into your soul…” is always a winner. This EP drops in September.
7. Quiet Arrows – “Dare the Night”/ Continents Were Made to Sink
If you didn’t know, I’m a sucker for a kind word and Quiet Arrows is full of them! “Dare the Night,” the first single from their Continents Were Made to Sink album is one of the sweetest tracks to date. This song focuses on the-oh- so frustrating “one that got away” concept. It does so gracefully, using oversimplification for the complicated heart. What’s most charming about this piece is that it’s entirely truthful, vulnerable, introspective, and clean. Samuel Robertson, the brains behind Quiet Arrow, makes it a point to tell his love stories with a “hushed and intimate voice” that pushes that vulnerability and openness. It’s just beautiful. You can get a free download here and the album is set to drop in September.
8. The Ten Thousand – “Juneteenth”/The Ten Thousand
Another one for the West coast! The Ten Thousand is a kick ass band from California, doing it up big on tours with Shiny Toy Guns and bringing down the house in Portugal. After a listen to this blended mix of freakinawesomedeliciousnessinmyearslikepurplerain you’ll know why. Apparently, an elder fan already beat me to a mash up description of “What would happen if John Legend and the White Stripes decided to cover Beach Boys songs” which is damn good, but I’ll even toss a bit of Lenny Kravitz and a hint Hendrix grit (I hear you tearing up the geetar). These boys have a style all their own and cleverness with introductions on this specific track. Recognition is no longer an option with these boys, it’s a necessity.
9. San Cisco – “Awkward”/Awkward
10. Bastille – “Overjoyed”/Overjoyed EP