Thursday, December 17, 2015

Top 20+ Songs of 2015 With YouTube Playlist

Here is another annual list of my most listened to songs of the year - new music that tapped that inner thrill of discovery as well as the soul enriching gifts of artistic expression.  I wax poetic to honor this creative outlet that supplies my daily life with a constantly changing soundtrack, thanks mainly to habitual online listening via KEXP and KCRW. While it would be hard to pick a favorite song of 2015, this playlist sequence makes sense to the ears per usual, not in order of preference. However of special mention are the epic blasts of Beck's "Dreams," Tame Impala's "Let It Happen" and "Wide Open" by The Chemical Brothers, all clocking in over five minutes. There are plenty of reasons to hit the dance floor (or anywhere with movement) - Dan Deacon's "Feel the Lightning," "Oh Man the Future" by De Lux and EL VY's "Return to the Moon" plus anything by Jamie xx.  The Lone Below provides the coda with "Then Came the Morning," which might be the most uplifting ever.

Listen on Spotify or as a YouTube playlist below.

1. "Daffodils"  Mark Ronson (featuring Kevin Parker)
2. "Dreams"  Beck
3. "Feel the Lightning"  Dan Deacon
4. "Chateau Lobby #4 (in C for Two Virgins)" –  Father John Misty
5. "Take My Side" – Will Butler
6. "I'm in Love with My Life" – PHASES
7. "Ferus Gallery" – Allah-Las
8. "Fixations" – Gardens & Villas
9. "Memory Remains" – Oberhofer
10. "Loud Places" – Jamie xx (featuring Romy) 
11. "Let it Happen" – Tame Impala
12. "Go Out" – Blur
13. "Satellites" – Mew
14. "Return to the Moon" – EL VY
15. "Reconfiguration" – Other Lives
16. "Breaker" – Deerhunter
17. "In a Future World" – Telekinesis
18. "Boys Latin" – Panda Bear
19. "Oh Man the Future" – De Lux
20. "Wide Open" – The Chemical Brothers
21. "Then Came the Morning" – The Lone Below

Thursday, December 10, 2015

Top Ten Releases of 2015 With Video Highlights

2015 was a great year for music, but I always seem to say that. Philly's NPR music station WXPN had a contest for The Greatest Year in Music recently with winners way back in the sixties but I couldn't even adhere to the idea... every year is worthy of the title if you open up to the idea!  That being said, 2015 started off with a blast of Kevin Parker of Tame Impala singing Mark Ronson's "Daffodils" which was only a warm up for his band's release Currents, probably my favorite of the year. Other more-than-just-pleasant surprises appeared on the scene from Blur, Mew and Deerhunter plus follow ups from Father John Misty and De Lux. Plus Jamie xx of the xx struck out on his own into the dance party fantastic as Dan Deacon continued to light up the neon covered sweat, and Matt Berninger of the National finally got to that long-discussed collabo with Brent Knopf of Ramona Falls and Menomena for a melodic free form groove. And I'm always a softie for some acoustic songs straight from the heart -- this year Ivan & Alyosha easily filled that need.

Dig into all my Top Ten Albums of 2015 as a Spotify playlist along with Other Fave Albums of 2015, and read up on my Top Ten below. Many of the video highlights are from my go-to online radio stations KEXP and KCRW, both of which are moving into larger spaces to accompany more of an audience for live sessions. But there's something about being right in the band's faces (KCRW uses a classroom at Santa Monica College while KEXP looks like large closet) without a crowd's applause, only the sweet silence of awe on my part. Thinking I'm actually going to miss this "fly on the wall" view, especially when I can catch things as they happen live. Oh well, there's still WFUV with similar constraints on space, although videos are posted weeks later.

1. EL VY, Return to the Moon 
EL VY appeared as a new band with a strange and confusing to pronounce name, as familiar band greats Matt Berninger and Brent Knopf took their friendship to another level. The sound turned into a fun ride into more stream of consciousness lyrics wryly conveyed via Berninger's mellow baritone. The pair appeared on KEXP with touring musicians in customized outfits to match the polka dots in the background. During the interview Knopf jokes about The National's "depressing music" and the reaction is just priceless, check it out  at 12:58 in the video for the entire session. Here's the melancholy song "Need A Friend" which brought a poignant end to the set.

2. Blur, Magic Whip
Blur fans couldn't believe their lucky ears when Blur released its first album since 2003. (Thanks to a cancelled festival in Tokyo, the guys were stuck with days worth of time on their hands so naturally started jamming!) With the return of the full lineup Blur was back in fine form, especially with Graham Coxon's stellar guitar riffs. Here's the video for the rockin' "I Broadcast" created with fan footage. 

3. Dan Deacon, Glass Riffer
Baltimore electronic musician Dan Deacon might sound like he's just flipping synth switches but he actually uses vocal manipulation to add a live human aspect to production and performance. Glass Riffer is Deacon's eighth album since 2000 as the dance party continues thanks to his busy touring schedule, including a stop at KCRW last spring. Listen and watch the complicated dedication behind "When I Was Done Dying" or indulge in the entire session archived online

4. De Lux, Generation
L.A. band De Lux provided my song of the summer with "Oh Man The Future," first featured as the Song of the Day on KCRW. The band's singer Sean Guerin brings fond memories of a lanky David Byrne, both in delivery and random references. De Lux also stopped by the KCRW studios and you can also listen to the full session from this synthpop youth sensation.

5. Deerhunter, Fading Frontier
This fall brought a seventh album from fave band Deerhunter, a collection of songs full of hopeful promise and gleaned over pop thanks to frontman Brandon Cox's being hit by a car of all things. Instead going into the dark depths of life that has also included being born with the genetic disorder Marfam syndrome, Cox has embraced life within a band and we are all the recipients of his gifts. This sweetly sung single "Breaker" has Cox sharing the lead vocals with high school pal Lockett Pundt who has long been in the band. The full live session with Deerhunter is in the KCRW archives, along with a lengthy interview with Cox.

6. Father John Misty, I Love You Honeybear
It's hard to believe Josh Tillman a.k.a. Father John Misty, was once a backup musician for Fleet Foxes. As his own frontman he commands the sound and the stage with his wacky worldview, glorious vocals and glistening guitar (listen for the first chord that provides the intro for "Chateau Lobby #4 (in C for Two Virgins" during this recorded session at the WFUV studios). 

7. Jamie xx, In Colour
Jamie Smith, member of the U.K. band xx, released an album of his side interest in dance music to much acclaim this year as Jamie xx. In this video for "I Know There's Gonna Be (Good Times)," there are glimpses of this dj working the controls along with the adoring crowds with his magic. 

8. Tame Impala, Currents
Tame Impala's single (if you can even call this epic 8 minute song that) "Let It Happen" lifted off into airplay last spring with its extended musical carpet ride ready for all to hop aboard. The album was released months later, full of R&B influences and synth swagger, and is now a Grammy contender for Best Alternative Music Album. 

9. Mew, +-
Danish band Mew also returned to a former lineup with success this year.  The band released its sixth album called +-, the first since 2009. While the group describes itself as "indie stadium," they squeezed into KCRW's studio for a live session this fall. I just swoon over Jonas Bjerre's angelic vocals that cut straight to the core. Listen to "Sometimes Life Isn't Easy" or the entire session and prepare to be musically moved.

10. Ivan & Alyosha, It's All Just Pretend
Seattle's five piece folk pop band Ivan & Alyosha released a sophomore album this year, with savory melodic tunes sung with hearts on those flannel sleeves. Check out this song "It's All Just Pretend" during a live session at their local station KEXP, or settle in for the entire performance to see exactly what I mean -- it's well worth a listen.

Thursday, December 3, 2015

A Jingle Jangle Holiday Playlist for Coolest

Last month I revisited some fave holiday tunes when I was asked to create a playlist for Coolest, that Kickstarter-funded dream cooler with a bluetooth speaker and mixer built right in for an instant party vibe on the go (order one on Amazon here or be extremely nice and ask Santa!)  So I dug into my past holiday playlists from 2011 and 2013, before checking out anything new that might befit this hip brand out of Portland, Oregon.

Last summer I had a blast curating eight themed playlists for the Coolest cocktail guide -- a grand total of 15+ hours of music with 192 bands. I didn't even repeat a group once, except the time "China Cat Sunflower" bleeds into "I Know You Rider" from Europe '72 after my Deadhead husband insisted for the jam band playlist CrispyCrunchy. Other themes revolve around travel (Marixo), beachy types (Waverave), driving tunes (Whitelines), Caribbean sounds (HavanaHeaven), sexy songs (SexlessontheBeach), plus easy summer days (Easybreezy), and awesome kick ass tunes (KGBeast). Sign up with your email on to receive a copy of the drink recipe booklet and head on over to the Coolest Mixmaster account on Spotify to check out the playlists. For now it's time to get in the holiday spirit so listen up!

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

New Song by Ra Ra Riot, "Water" (New Album Out February 19)

Ra Ra Riot (Photo credit: Shervin Lainez)
There is something so immediate about Wes Miles' voice, pure and sweetly sincere. I could identify it instantly this week as a new song "Water" was released ahead of his band Ra Ra Riot's fourth full length, Need Your Light (due February 19 from Barsuk Records.) This track is a collaboration with Vampire Weekend's Rostam Batmanglij, a musical compatriot in the band Discovery from 2005 to 2009 (with one self-titleld EP). The story goes that Miles was staying with Rostam last January and they simply started writing again. Rostam has stated that he felt that the live quality of Miles' singing hadn't quite been captured on record, so he took on producer duties as well. 

Take a listen to "Water" via the lyric video, and see how nicely the vocals are isolated in order to spotlight Miles' endearing qualities in song, all while rhythmic beats and swirling synths surround him.  Rostam also serves as producer of record for another tune in the new collection, "I Need Your Light." After the last album, 2013's Beta Love, Miles had planned to take more of a break but after a few months he says "the inspiration came very quickly." I'm still aglow from catching the band on tour in support of Beta Love after interviewing Miles for PopMatters, witnessing the group's infectious energy and impressive musicianship from the front row. Thrilled to know there's more to come from one of my favorite bands of all time, and looking forward to hearing the whole thing in February!

Friday, November 6, 2015

New Song by Dr. Dog, "Badvertise" (NYC Tour Date March 18)

Dr. Dog with Pig Iron Theatre Co. (Photo via
Dr. Dog calls itself an indie psych-pop outfit, but really the most important thing is how the music resonates as pure raucous fun, whether played in the recording studio or at a community festival (when I caught the band during Greenwich Town Party in 2014). This group hails proudly from West Grove, PA outside of Philly and makes the most of its rock roots. However, the latest song "Badvertise" pulls out crazy energy in a synth-heavy blast (the song is available here and watch the video below or over on YouTube). It's a result of a collaboration back in September between Dr. Dog and the Pig Iron Theatre Co. called SWAMP IS ON. As directed by Ilan Bachracht and Jost Higgason, the visuals in the video bleed into one trippy infomercial of wacky commercialism.

The band will heading out on tour with a date at Terminal 5 on March 18, make plans now!

Friday, October 30, 2015

Fall 2015 New Music Playlist

Here's another playlist to catch up on new releases by fave bands such as Deerhunter, YACHT, Beach House, Yo La Tengo and more. There are also songs by new configurations of musicians (EL VY) plus solo work by Martin Courtney and Chris Walla. As always, there are a few newbies to welcome to the music scene fold: Maury and Legs. Listen on Spotify via this link or as a YouTube playlist.

1. “Return to the Moon” – EL VY
The National’s Matt Berninger and Brent Knopf (Ramona Falls, Menomena) have been talking about collaborating for years, and now a debut album by their musical project EL VY is ready for a listen. This is the title track for the collection, a bouncy, fun tune with rambling lyrics and sing along chorus.

2. “Breaker” – Deerhunter
Atlanta’s indie rock quartet Deerhunter has released its seventh studio album since 2001, Fading Frontier, written by songwriter Bradford Cox after he was hit by a car and the accident became a musical turning point. The song “Breaker” finds Cox sharing lead vocals with guitarist Lockett Pundt for a lighter pop sound.

3. “I Thought the Future Would Be Cooler” – YACHT
L.A. band YACHT was formed in Portland in 2002 by musician/producer Jona Bechtolt and singer Claire L. Evans. They craft fun dance punk songs with a lyrical depth as exhibited in this title track for the band’s sixth album.

4. “61 Cygni Ave” – Neon Indian
Neon Indian is the stage name of Alan Paloma, a Mexican born musician from Denton, Texas. He recently released the third album since 2008, VEGA INTL. Night School, full of funk influences and swirling dance beats as found in “61 Cygni Ave.”

5. “Pretty Pimpin” – Kurt Vile
Kurt Vile is a former member of Philly band The War on Drugs who just released his sixth album since 2008, believe I’m going down… As a singer/songwriter, multi-instrumentalist and producer, Vile’s goal was to present songs that have a lo-fi sound, as if they're written and played on his couch.

6. “Friends” – Raury
 Raury is a young musician from Atlanta who fearlessly mixes soul, hip hop and folk. Last year he put together a mixtape and soon signed with Columbia Records. This friendly, open composition, “Friends,” is off his second album All We Need.

7. “Rickety” – Yo La Tengo
Hoboken’s Yo La Tengo has released a mix of covers along with a few originals like “Rickety” for its fourteenth full length album, Stuff Like That There. This memorizing tune showcases the band’s strength in acoustic arrangements and sweetly sung vocals.

8. “Mountain at My Gates” – Foals
Foals is an indie rock quintet from Oxford, England.  “Mountain at My Gates” is a single from the band’s fourth studio album, What Went Down, with lead guitarist and vocalist Yannis Philippaki leading the band’s driven sound.

9. “Falling” – Here We Go Magic
NYC-based band Here We Go Magic is known for its buoyant songwriting and energetic arrangements as witnessed in “Falling.” This tune is off the fourth album since 2008, Be Small.

10. “Northern Highway – Martin Courtney
Martin Courtney is a vocalist and guitarist for the New Jersey band Real Estate, now based in Brooklyn.  His solo debut Many Moons strives for a more personal level of songwriting that tilts towards pop, as achieved in the endearing tune “Northern Highway.”

11. “Jabberwocky” – Panda Bear
Noah Benjamin Lennox is the musical mastermind behind Panda Bear, releasing five solo albums since 1999 while Lennox collaborated in Animal Collective. This Baltimore native is now living in Lisbon, indulging in experimental psych pop with this lush composition, “Jabberwocky,” off the EP Crosswords.

12. “Top of the World” – Legs
Brooklyn indie quartet Legs has a tag line that it “makes music for the body” as this song fuses soul and Nu-disco for an instant dance party. “Top of the World” is off the band’s self-released debut album Altitud.

13. “Let It Grow” – Maximum Balloon, Karen O, Tunde Adebimpe
Maximum Balloon is Dave Sitek’s side project when he finds time away from being a producer/guitarist with TV on the Radio. This infectious single -- with a strummed rhythm supplementing the drums -- for an upcoming sophomore album, “Let It Grow,” enlists a charming collaboration with vocals by Karen O and TV on the Radio’s Tende Adebimpe.

14. “One Thing” – Beach House
Baltimore duo Beach House, French-born singer Victoria Legrand on keyboards and guitarist Alex Scally, released a second album this year called Thank Your Lucky Stars (the sixth full length since 2004).  The drifting tune “One Thing” is emblematic of their dream pop music, imparting an elegant wash of sound.

15. “Doll’s House” – Youth Lagoon
Youth Lagoon is the moniker of Boise, Idaho musician Trevor Powers, who has released a third album since 2010, Savage Hills Ballroom. His songs are always densely presented and deeply personal, even in this instrumental song “Doll’s House.”

16. “Kanta’s Theme” – Chris Walla
“Kanta’s Theme” is the enigmatic opening track for Field Manual, the first solo release since Chris Walla left Death Cab for Cutie. This change, along with a move with his family to Norway, found him reflective and seeking musical renewal as he started plugging in tape machines to create loops.

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

New Song by Here We Go Magic "Falling" (New Album Out & NYC Tour Date October 24)

Michael Bloch & Luke Temple (Photo via Secretly Canadian)
New York based indie band Here We Go Magic released a new album last week, Be Small (Secretly Canadian) and the infectious kicker of a tune "Falling" is a welcome new earworm. It opens with a wobbly synth intro and a buildup of percussive lines, until an explosion of layered vocals brings an energetic burst into song about the high-powered pull of love that affects everyone -- depicted in the video as directed by Sam Kuhn.

For the band's fourth studio LP, chief songwriter Luke Temple took a back-to-basics home studio approach with longtime collaborator Michael Bloch, adding Austin Vaughan on drums. The trademark buoyancy and optimism of the group belies the vast amount of groundwork and musical expertise invested in their catalogue. I witnessed their sweat inducing set on stage a few years ago during Crossing Brooklyn Ferry at the Brooklyn Academy of Music (after choosing songs from the last album, A Different Ship, for my Summer 2012 New Music Playlist).  Catch Here We Go Live in concert this Saturday, October 24 at the Bowery Ballroom and see for yourself!

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

New Song by Martin Courtney "Northern Highway" (Debut album due October 30 & NYC Tour Dates October 16 & 17, November 20)

Martin Courtney IV (Photo via Domino Records) 
The sonic breezes of "Northern Highway" caught my ear recently, so I decided to research into the lilting tune. The easy nostalgia behind this familiar sound is Real Estate's vocalist/guitarist Martin Courtney, who will release a debut album October 30 called Many Moons (Domino Records). Courtney started crafting songs for himself as he waited to head back on the road last year after the band's third album, Atlas. He was looking for less abstraction, more a "straightforward pop thing," with themes revolving around his family life as a new father. When a few songs became ten, he enlisted Jarvis Taveniere of Woods as Producer and contributor, along with Real Estate keyboardist Matt Kallman and longtime friend Julian Lynch among others.  

Courtney is in town for CMJ this week and will be performing October 16 at Converse Rubber Tracks and October 17 at Baby's All Right as well as Space Ninety 8. He also has a date at National Sawdust planned for November 20, more info for tour dates here. Listen to "Northern Highway" with the accompanying video on YouTube or below as directed by Rob Hatch-Miller and Puloma Basu. Looking forward to giving the entire album a full listen -- for now a track listing will just have to do.

Many Moons Track List:
1. Awake
2. Foto
3. Vestiges
4. Before We Begin
5. Northern Highway
6. Many Moons
7. Asleep
8. Little Blue
9. Focus
10. Airport Bar

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Other Lives @ BAM This Weekend October 9 & 10 - Reconfiguration

Other Lives (Photo credit: Emily Ulmer)
Portland based indie rock band Other Lives is appearing October 9 and 10 as part of the Brooklyn Academy of Music's Next Wave Festival.  Reconfiguration: An Evening with Other Lives is being touted as an "rarefied intersensorary domain" created by director Terry Kinney, co-founder of the Steppenwolf Theatre Company. I wrote a piece about the program and this fave band for the BAM blog recently, so I look forward to taking it all in this weekend. But I also wonder about this trendy onslaught of interdisciplinary performance arts, with equal weight given to both the music and visual design (last month's Tree of Codes at the Park Avenue Armory even added modern dance to the mix).

Other Lives has a new album out via tbd records, Rituals, which is definitely worth a listen as the inherent grandeur of the song "Reconfiguration" appeared on my Spring 2015 New Music Playlist. Tickets can be purchased here and check out a captivating performance of "Reconfiguration" at the Music Apartment video below.

Monday, September 28, 2015

New Song by Deerhunter, "Breaker" (New Album Out October 16 & NYC Tour Dates December 8/9)

Deerhunter pals Cox and Pundt 
Indie rock band Deerhunter is ready with its seventh album, Fading Frontier, due October 16 via 4AD. The first single, "Snakeskin," struts along with funky swagger yet the latest song "Breaker" finds a sweet spot of brightly nuanced harmonies and brightly lit production values. It features a first ever duet between frontman/singer Brandon Cox and best bud guitarist Lockett Pundt, a vocal mind meld endearingly depicted in the video. Check out the video below as directed by Cox with additional photography by Pundt.

The new collection was created by the band's founding members in their hometown of Atlanta -- Cox, Pundt and drummer Moses Archuleta -- with bassist Josh McKay. Production duties were shared with Ben H. Allen III, who has provided an assist since 2010's Halcyon Digest. Deerhunter will soon embark on a world tour in support of the new release, with stops at Irving Plaza in NYC on December 8 and Warsaw in Brooklyn on December 9. Cox's solo project Atlas Sound will open many of the dates, a creative outlet for his intensely introspective music that I witnessed at the Ace Hotel during CMJ and Moogfest in 2011, as well as at Crossing Brooklyn Ferry at the Brooklyn Academy of Music in 2012.  Looking forward to more music ahead through both trajectories!

Monday, September 14, 2015

A New Music Playlist with a Bit of Country Twang to Honor My Father

A recent favorite photo with my dad, Wallace B. Jansen
I've taken a month-long publishing break as my father's health declined and his final days were spent in a hospice facility, after being under the organization's care since his hospitalization last fall right after my mother died. (At the time, I put together my own funeral songs playlist as I loaded my laptop with her favorite Broadway shows and classical masterpieces.)  I brought a few of his CDs along with me, listening to the country music he loved so much as I sat by his bedside. My dad discovered this genre during his time in the U.S. Army at the Aberdeen Proving Grounds, quite a culture shock for the private school boy from suburban Connecticut. How strange it was to listen to George Jones, Willie Nelson and Merle Haggard without him chiming in at full volume, emphasizing the twang in the vocals.

There's a joke that if you play a country record backwards you get your wife back, your job back, your truck etc. Of course the fact that we can all relate to loss and heartbreak is part of the appeal. As I returned home with files of paperwork and boxes from my parents' house, I thought about creating a new music playlist with a big of country twang in his honor. Digging in my own archives since 2009, I pulled seventeen songs that had some down home flavor, or at least attitude. Here's the result at the link here or listen below, proving that everybody is just a little bit country when you look hard enough.

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Late Summer 2015 New Music Playlist

Why not rock another playlist while there are still weeks of summer left? There’s certainly enough new music on the scene to choose from. In researching my latest picks, I also discovered plenty of crazy descriptive phrases to label the bands, from electropop, indie pop and rock pop to atmospheric rock, post-rock and rocktronica. Check out whatever perks up those listening ears, be it veterans such as The Dears, Mates of State, Beirut, The Chemical Brothers and Wilco or newer groups such as Penguin Prison, FFS and Baio. Listen on Spotify via this link or as a YouTube playlist.

1. “Fixations” – Gardens & Villa
Californian indie rock band Gardens & Villa recently relocated from Santa Barbara to L.A. and downsized to two people for its third album since 2008, Music for Dogs. This kicky tune, “Fixations,” by Adam Rasmussant and Chris Lynch, demonstrates a new direction while keeping layered textures intact

2. “Staring Contest” – Mates of State
“Staring Contest” is a typical blast of fun from the indie pop couple Kori Gardner (keyboards, vocals) and Jason Hammel (percussion, vocals), musical allies since 1999. The latest release is a self-produced EP, You’re Going to Make It.

3. “No No No” – Beirut
Santa Fe native Zach Condon returns with a new batch of songs following hospitalization for exhaustion after excessive touring for his last album in 2011. This sweet ditty is the title track for the upcoming release, with a familiar worldview embedded in the instrumentation.

4. “Cream on Chrome” – Ratatat
This Brooklyn-based duo of Mike Stroud and Evan Mast just released its fifth studio album since 2001, Manifique. The single “Cream on Chrome” spotlights their quirky rocktronica instrumentals that inspire Ratatat’s signature sound.

5. “In a Future World” – Telekinesis
Drummer and songwriter Michael Benjamin Lerner took a different approach for Ad Infinitum, his third album since 2008 as Telekinesis. As a happy newlywed in Seattle, he took to the basement studio to compose songs dripping with electronica as evidenced in “In a Future World.”

6. “Island” – Surfer Blood
Surfer Blood is an alt rock quartet from West Palm Beach that just released its third album since 2009, 1000 Palms. Singer John Paul Pitts brings a laid back vibe to the vocals for the band, as demonstrated in “Island.”

7. “ I Used to Pray for the Heavens to Fall” – The Dears
Canadian indie rock band The Dears is ready with a sixth album since 1995, Times Infinity Volume One (volume two will appear shortly afterwards). Frontman Murray Lighburn leads the way through another emotional rollercoaster with this song, “I Used to Pray for the Heavens to Fall.”

8. “Some Minds (featuring Andrew Wyatt)” – Flume
Flume is the stage name of Sydney-based multi-instrumentalist and electronic music producer D.J. Harley Streten. Here he enlists Miike Snow’s Andrew Wyatt for lyrics and shadowy vocals in this stand-alone single, following a debut album back in 2012.

9. “Sensual People” – Lylas
Singer and banjo player Kyle Hamlett is the mastermind behind Nashville’s indie rock quintet Lylas since 2005. The song “Sensual People” supposedly arrived in his dreams, an enchanting tune for the upcoming second full length release.

10. “Gone” – JR JR
Dale Earnhardt Jr. Jr. changed its name after five years to JR JR and recently released this feel-good single, “Gone,” in advance of a third album. The Detroit indie pop twosome of Daniel Zott and Josh Epstein is clearly ready to keep the party going, whatever the moniker.

11. “Call Girl” – FFS
The single “Call Girl” is a result of collaborative recording sessions between Scottish indie rock band Franz Ferdinand and the L.A. rock pop brothers pair, Sparks (Ron and Russell Mael). Songs on the self-titled album revel in heavy hooks and a collective swagger found in this supergroup.

12. “Calling Out” – Penguin Prison
Penguin Prison is the electropop musical project of singer, musician, producer and remixer Chris Glover since 2008. “Calling Out” is the exuberant sing along single from his second album, Lost in New York.

13. “Random Name Generator” – Wilco
Wilco dropped a ninth album without fanfare, Star Wars, that’s full of the gritty alternative rock this Chicago-based group is famous for after two decades. With singer Jeff Tweedy’s undercurrent of vocals, “Random Name Generator” churns along with relentless persistence.

14. “Sister of Pearl” –Baio
Chris Baio, known as the bass player for Vampire Weekend, is releasing a solo debut of his dance music as he also keeps busy as a D.J. and record producer. This tune “Sister of Pearl” is a fun introduction to the new debut, The Names.

15. “Wide Open (featuring Beck)” – The Chemical Brothers
British electronic dance music partners since 1991, Tom Rowlands and Ed Simons are back with an eighth album, Born in the Echoes. They entrust the vocals to Beck for “Wide Open,” just one of the many rock star appearances in the collection.

16. “Sparks” – Beach House
The song’s genesis is a vocal loop captured during a sound check before a Beach House concert. It serves as a bewitching introduction to the upcoming fifth album, Depression Cherry, by the Baltimore-based dream pop duo of Alex Scally and Victoria Legrand.

17. “All Yours” – Widowspeak
Molly Hamilton (guitarist and vocalist) and guitarist Robert Earl Thomas of Widowspeak recently traveled upstate from Brooklyn to record new songs in a barn. “All Yours” is a winsome title track for the upcoming release, the band’s fourth album since 2010.

18. “No Comprende” – Low
Low is an indie rock trio from Duluth, Minnesota, known for slow tempos and spare arrangements for great effect. “No Comprende” lucidly continues that mantra as featured on an upcoming eleventh album, Ones and Sixes.

19. “Sad Heart of Mine” – Caspian
Beverly, Massachusetts instrumental post-rock band Caspian is getting ready to release its fifth studio album since 2005, Dust and Disquiet. The group strives to convey a story in music, much more than just presenting building blocks of sound.

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

New Song by Maximum Balloon, "Let It Grow" (From Upcoming Album)

Dave Sitek of Maximum Balloon has released a new song from an upcoming sophomore album, "Let It Grow," a sweet, melodic tune already getting airplay on my favorite online new music sources KEXP and KCRW.  There is no title or release date yet from Sitek's label, Federal Prism Records, so this will have to hold us for the moment.

Maximum Balloon is Sitek's side project away from being a producer and guitarist for TV on the Radio and straight up producing bands such as Beady Eye, Yeah Yeah Yeahs, and Foals. It is the first new material since a track from the self-titled debut landed on my Fall 2010 New Music Playlist ("Apartment Wrestling" featuring vocals by David Byrne). Sitek reenlists other collaborators on that album for "Let It Grow" -- Karen O of the Yeah Yeah Yeahs and TV on the Radio frontman Tunde Adebimpe. The mood is all soft lighting and hushed singing as Karen O. performs in the love-soaked lullaby mode of her recent album Crush Songs or "The Moon Song" for the movie Her.  Adebimpe matches her tone, letting lyrical lines float gently into place. Take a listen here or on the label's SoundCloud page. It won't be the last time you'll want to hear the song.