“My God is the Sun” by Queens of the Stone Age // …Like Clockwork (Out 6.4.13 via Matador)
Queens of the Stone Age are one of those bands that I always forget how much I like until they slither back around with another round of driving, pounding jams that sound like a long, heavy trip through a desert night. Sure enough, the band has dropped a new track from their forthcoming album, “… Like Clockwork” via the Zane Lowe’s Radio 1 show, which has made it’s way to YouTube for our listening pleasure. Like all of QOTSA’s best material, the track has a hazy, narcotic atmosphere that sounds retrofitted for all of your favorite Halloween Go-Go parties, but also just stands as just straight up golden rock and roll like you rarely hear these days. Its the kind of music that you could imagine scoring a murderous chase through a desert, or a wicked night of debauched drinking and snorting, or just anything that requires an awesome groove and a heavy, but melodic as all hell, hook. Check it out.
“Demons” by The National // Trouble Will Find Me (Out 5.21.13 via 4AD)
The National have finally dropped an official taste of “Trouble Will Find Me”, their forthcoming sixth album, and it’s yet another gorgeous feather in the cap of one of the world’s best bands. The band sounds absolutely stunning with the subtle orchestral textures, steady powerhouse backbeat, and slow burning swell of guitars and strings. Of course, Matt Berninger’s writing is as strong as ever, as is his powerful voice, so it’s suffice to say that The National have not missed a beat since “High Violet”, and why would they? They’re an amazing collective of musicians making some of the best music out there. Check out the time lapse video that they put together just for the audio release of the single drop. Surely, a full scale video will be coming down the pipeline, but in the meantime, this is still most excellent.
“Lavish Hush” by Nomadic Firs // Lavish Hush (Out Now via Bandcamp)
Oh, there’s that rush that I’ve been looking for - the one that comes with cracking open a new song that somehow brings with it a flood of memories of another time. “Lavish Hush” is a b-side from Nomadic Firs that was originally part of a Bad Panda free single series, but it’s now making it’s way onto a collection of B-sides (titled “Lavish Hush”, fittingly enough) that is touching down this summer. The amazing thing is that it immediately feels like some old favorite that’s been buried in the back of your head that you immediately can hum along with and find your head moving in the way that it might have once before. It’s a killer blast of rock and roll that might sound a bit like something blaring out of New York a decade ago but by no means does it sound dated. Keeping in mind that a decade or so back, everyone said those bands felt fresh, but also indebted to another era of garage rock. What really sells “Lavish Hush” is the ear-candy-melody, that charging beat, and the hazy, laid back vocals. It’s a must listen. Check it out.
“Youth” by Parks, Squares, and Alleys // Youth (Single) (2013)
The “dream pop” term gets thrown around a lot (I’m as guilty as anyone). So much so that sometimes you forget what it feels like to hear something that actually provides a proper, old school dream pop flavor. “Youth” by the Russian based artist, Parks, Squares, and Alleys, fits that bill perfectly. Light on the electronics and heavy on the gorgeous, melancholic guitar jangle and hazy, haunting vocals - “Youth” hits the dream pop nail on the head in a similar way to some other stellar artists of recent years (Cemeteries, DIIV, Wild Nothing). It’s a killer track and after falling in love with Motorama, another reason to be curious of what other dream pop and shoegaze goodness might still be waiting to be discovered in Russia. Highest possible recommendation. Fantastic track.
“Tempo of Regret” by Seatraffic // Tempo of Regret (Single) (Out Now via Bandcamp)
San Francisco based dream poppers, Seatraffic are back with a new track that will make you swoon. “Tempo of Regret” is a shimmering, haunting beauty that floats on mournful synths and soaring vocals. The real amazing thing here is that the band sounds as fresh as ever, but the track calls to mind the golden days of dream pop/ synth pop from the early years of 120 Minutes. That’s not to say the track is dated at all - not the case - but this gorgeous cut would be right at home on a golden, autumnal mixtape next to vintage throwbacks from The Church and Echo and The Bunnymen. The best part about all of this is that the band is currently offering the track up for free at their Bandcamp page. Hear’s hoping that we’ve got an album coming down the pipeline as well. Highly recommended.
“pepsi/coke suicide” by Elvis Depressedly // Holo Pleasures (Out 4.16.13 via Birdtapes)
The past few years have been hyper productive for Mat Cothran (Coma Cinema, Elvis Depressedly) and it would appear that 2013 is not going to change things. In addition to having a new Coma Cinema album coming down the pipeline (his previous, “Blue Suicide” was one of the best albums of 2011), we’re also getting new material from his Elvis Depressedly project, in the form of a new album called “Holo Pleasures”. That album comes out on the 16th of April and the first, stunning taste is streaming now. “Pepsi/Coke Suicide” is a somber dirge, delivered in a heartbreaking drug haze. The fuzzed out guitars and orchestral synths are the perfect accompaniment to Cothran’s haunting lyrics. Truth be told, this is one of the best moments that I’ve heard from the artist and I’m a lover of all of his works. If there’s more of this coming excellence sliding our way, then we’re all in for a remarkable album from a truly talented artist. Highest recommendation
“Mirror” by Weekend // Jinx (Out 7.23.13 via Slumberland)
It’s good to once again hear the post-punk rhythms and shoegaze guitars of Weekend again. Even more interesting is that this time around, the band has shifted some of it’s more punishing sounds into something more moody. “Mirror” is a lovely wall of pained lyrics, atmospheric textures, and shadowed guitars, melancholic and somber, but darkly romantic. This new progression certainly has my attention, as it should anyone else who misses the halcyon days of Kitchens of Distinction, or The Cure (“Disintegration”) or even the early solo work of Peter Murphy, but also just loves a good steely post punk rhythm. . Highest recommendation.
“Creep the Creeps” by Kids on a Crime Spree // “Creep the Creeps” b/w “New Ex-Boyfriend” (Out 4.9.13 via Slumberland)
It’s been a couple of years since the fuzzy excellence of Kids on a Crime Spree’s “We Love You So Bad”. In that time, there’s been no shortage of bands mining similar lo-fi, “wall-of-sound” style noise pop , but they can’t all be as charming and deliriously catchy as Kids on a Crime Spree. “Creep the Creeps” is a new single from the band that finds them reaching absurd levels of infectiousness through a driving beat, power pop guitars and a hook that seems to be born to make you hit the “repeat” button. Highly recommended.
“Seatbelt” by The Casual Tuesday // Seatbelt (Single) (Available Now on Bandcamp)
The Casual Tuesday are a Dallas based four-piece that plays a gorgeous blend of dreamy indie pop and orchestral pop that calls to mind bands like Belle & Sebastian, The Twilight Sad, and The National. There’s a strength in the words and a lived in quality in the track that feels like a band that’s been around for years, but from the little information that’s available on their Facebook page, they’re a fairly new crew. “Seatbelt” is a gorgeous call to attention for the band, and hopefully we’ll be hearing a lot more from them in the very near future. Grab the track for a name-your-own-price at Bandcamp, now.
Sometimes you hear a debut song and it feels like the artist managed to check all the right boxes on your prerequisites for “favorite new music” status. Immediately catapulting them into “must-hear-more” levels of excitement. It’s rare, but it happens and when that happens on the first time out, it’s hard not to get excited. “Worst Birthday” by Manchester based dream pop duo, Hanna Cash, is one of those songs. Sweetly melancholic and dreamy like a pepped up Cocteau Twins crossed with Beach Fossils, this track is immediately infectious - demanding multiple listens to try and elongate that initial honeymoon phase. If this track is any indication of what’s to come, Hanna Cash are definitely a band to keep an eye on in the coming months. You can grab a download of the track at the band’s Soundcloud page while the link lasts.
SASKATCHEWAN have been making the blog rounds for a couple of years now, randomly dropping swoon worthy dream pop tracks on Bandcamp and Soundcloud, but yesterday came the news that the band was finally going to be dropping their debut album, Occasion, at the end of April. That’s plenty of reason to be excited, but in addition to the announcement, we also got the first single from the forthcoming release. “Possession” is that first taste, and it’s a delicious one. The track creeps in with a stuttered beat and guitar/synth combo that feels like it could be borrowed from an alternate reality 1987 Prom on the moon (that’s a good thing). It certainly has a dreamy, neon-hued synth pop sound that feels fresh today, but also like some hallucinatory ballad from another time. It’s a killer track, with a killer hook, and it deserves to find a home on everyone’s playlists. Highest recommendation for fans of Washed Out, Gayngs and the first album by Twin Shadow.
Nashville based chamber pop act, Mind Not the Timid, is slated to release their debut album, “Beacon”, later this year. “Flood” is the gorgeous first single, and it’s available now at Bandcamp. The lovely, melancholic baroque pop sound is immediately satisfying. Growing and building into a widescreen, cinematic sing-a-long that explodes with strings, horns, and a booming chorus. Think about Youth Lagoon’s latest crossed with a little Beirut and “Illinoise”-era Sufjan Stevens, and you’re almost there. It’s a pretty impressive sound for such a young band. Highly recommended.
“Waiting” by Program // Waiting (Out Now via Bandcamp)
Now this is something special. Program (formerly Volcano Playground) is a Toronto based music collective that dabbles in all of my favorite sounds to create something new that feels absolutely exciting. There’s touches of shoegaze and psych pop and post punk and dream pop and yet none of those truly offer a proper explanation for the sound that lies ahead. “Waiting” is a shimmering beauty layered with twinkling synths, bruising marching band drum lines, spaced out atmospherics, and hazy, melodic vocals all wrapped into such a solid package that you’re left aching for more upon it’s climax, but there’s always “repeat”. And “repeat” is where it will stay for the time being. Highly recommended for fans of Mercury Rev, Sun Airway, and Broken Social Scene. Get the single now at Bandcamp and follow the band on Tumblr and Twitter. These guys are going places.
“I Found the Ending” by Dead Gaze // Dead Gaze (Out 5.21.13 via Fat Cat)
Dead Gaze have been steadily releasing singles, EPs, and self-released albums for a few years now, so it’s with great pleasure that I’m seeing them signed to a solid label (Fat Cat), and turning out a new full length for release in coming months. The first track from their self titled release, is called “I Found the Ending”, and it’s a psych pop stunner with an oddly whimsical, nostalgic vibe. Ethereal synths play beside chunky guitars riffs as murky, distorted vocals flow next to pretty choral backing sighs. It’s a gorgeous track that signals a tremendous new album on the horizon. This is suddenly on top of my most-anticipated list. For those in need of a comparison - it’s something like a strange amalgamation of Wolf Parade and Real Estate, or Ty Segall and Cloud Nothings. Actually, it’s just a wonderful piece of music that’s all Dead Gaze. Highest recommendation.
“Golden Hour” by Prince Innocence // Lapse EP (Out 4.29.13)
Being a long time fan of Josh McIntyre’s post-punk/goth-pop outfit, Little Girls, I was already on board with his new project, Prince Innocence, before I heard a chord. Luckily, with the assistance of partner, Talvi Faustmann, he’s once again created an exciting new creative outlet that produces killer sounds. “Golden Hour” is a late-night, synth-pop beauty that haunts with an ominous pulse while simultaneously pulling you to toward the dance floor with it’s handclap beats and swirling synth lines. This is an absolutely killer track. Prince Innocence is definitely a band to watch this year. Highest recommendation.