Best New Releases, April 3rd, Vol. II – Great Lake Swimmers, AU, Bear in Heaven, Rocky Votolato, The Jezabels, The Sugarettes

The Toronto indie folk band, Great Lake Swimmers, have a new LP out now. Photo by Ilia Horsburgh
In Volume One of this past week’s best releases, we featured bands to watch, such Of Monsters and Men, The Lumineers, Lux, Max and the Moon, and others.

The second volume of this week’s Best New Releases features singles from new albums by artists such as Great Lake Swimmers, Rocky Votolato, Bear in Heaven, The Sugarettes, The Jezabels, AU, Ravens & Chimes, Pink Playground and other artists that are both well known and rising.

Oh Canada, you’ve given us all so many amazing artists and bands over the years, especially in the realm of indie rock over the past decade. Perhaps not since the 70’s progressive rock era have there been as many super talented Canadian artists who have gone on to big success in the U.S., and around the world.


The emergence, and subsequent explosion in popularity of alternative and indie rock starting in the late 1990’s, spurred by the Internet, has given bands like Toronto‘s widely acclaimed Great Lake Swimmers the ability to bypass the old distribution systems of new music, and go right to the people.  Even though the band formed in 2003, and had three full length albums, and a few EPs, under their belts, it was the 2009 release of what many consider GLS’s best album, Lost Channels, that put them in the spotlight.

The critical acclaim and fan approval lead to the kind of recognition that is only bestowed on a dozen or so artists and bands each year in Canada. Later in 2009, Lost Channels was shortlisted for the  Polaris Music Prize and nominated for a Juno Award, which are among the most prestigious honors in Canadian music. With such well-deserved accolades, it’s always nerve-wracking for a band to follow-up their biggest success because there is no question that the bar is raised fairly high for the next album.

This week, Great Lake Swimmers officially dropped their fifth album, New Wild Everywhere. In fact, the reviews went out fast and furious over the past few weeks, and the overall consensus is good, but not on the scale of Lost Channels.

If your’e a fan, give New Wild Everywhere a shot; The Boston Globe wrote recently that the album is “understated yet resonant beauty.” Others, however, contend that the band is playing it safe; Earmilk wrote: “With an album title like New Wild Everywhere, I have to admit I was hoping for an epiphany from the band.”

“New Wild Everywhere” – Great Lake Swimmers from New Wild Everywhere on Nettwerk Records


Bear In Heaven, Ravens & Chimes, and Rocky Votolato Drop New Albums

Veteran indie rock band Bear in Heaven released their new album, I Love You It’s Cool, on Tuesday. The single, “Reflection of You” is one of a number of standout tracks from the LP. Plus, Raven & Chimes, Rocky Votolato and others.

“Reflection of You”Bear in Heaven from I Love You It’s Cool

“Night” – Ravens & Chimes from Holiday Life on Better Looking Records

“Little Spring” – Rocky Votolato from Television of Saints (self-released)

Flashback Track“Red River”Rocky Votolato from True Devotion (2010)


Portland’s AU Releases New LP and Spectacular Single; Plus, Whitejacket, World Blanket

The Portland indie band, AU, have returned with a new LP and a killer new song, “Solid Gold,” brimming with indie pop rock joy, so don’t be surprised to find yourself moving or humming along. It’ll be interesting to see where it ends up on the Top 10 Songs list for this week (we’re currently on a four-week delay with the Top 10, folks, mainly because of the time that goes into extracting and collating website stats to determine the top songs for a particular week).

“Solid Gold” is the kind of track that compels listeners to purchase the entire album to find out what other gems are waiting to be unearthed. We’ll keep you posted on other singles that come from the LP, but in the meantime, enjoy the sounds of “Solid Gold.”

“Solid Gold” – AU from Both Lights on Hometapes


“Idiom Wind” – Zammuto from Zammuto on Temporary Residence Limited

Double-shot: “Too Late To Topologize”Zammuto from Zammuto


New Singles from Female Fronted Bands like The Sugarettes, The Jezabels and Pink Playground

The rise of all girl, and girl fronted bands – as well as solo female artists – during the past few years within the largely non-mainstream music realm (aka, indie and alternative) is unmistakable. Enter The Sugarettes.

Sometimes it takes a while for a band’s music to get around. Such is the case, but not entirely, with The Sugarettes, an indie pop quartet from Eindhoven, Netherlands founded by the lo-fi duo, Joep & Iskaa. Joep van Son and Iskaa – the lead singer of the Dutch band Foam – began by creating demos of sugary melodies etched with raw guitar riffs and Iskaa’s vocals. Soon after, to fill out their sound, they were joined by percussionist Marnix van den Broek to record the 2006 EP, Sugarettecity.

Things got rolling for the band, the story goes, after they mailed a copy of the EP to a DJ at Belgium’s Studio Brussel. While they only had hoped to get into a demo contest with the particular song, “Clap Hands,” the DJ ended up playing the song on the station’s regular playlist.

As it turns out, the band had forgotten to write “Demo Contest” on the envelope. Listeners loved the track, and before long, The Sugarettes were getting more and more recognition in Belgium, Netherlands and Denmark, and more requests to radio stations to play their songs. Afterwards, bassist Cox Dieben joined The Sugarettes, and within months, the band were signed to Subroutine Records in 2007 and that fall released their debut LP, Love & Other Perversities.

Fast forward to 2012. On April 1st, the band released a new track, “Destroyer of Worlds,” which sounds anything but sugary and sweet, and reveals the band’s more rock-oriented side, drawing comparisons to The Dandy Warhols and The Raveonettes, while the band cited influences including The Jesus and Mary Chain, Lush and Throwing Muses. Another single, “Jolene” is also making its way around the blogosphere especially.

In time, it will be interesting to see if their excited pop songs will catch on in the U.S. Their profile in ends with the release of Love & Other Perversities (which earned 4.5 of 5 stars) in 2007. Oddly, there is no discography of their releases in Amazon. And from what we could find in a preliminary search, there is not much information about the band from 2008 to 2011. It’s almost as if they were kidnapped by aliens in a spaceship and only recently beamed back down.

“Destroyer of Worlds” – The Sugarettes from Destroyer of Worlds single
title track of album to be released sometime later this year

thejezabelsIn keeping with the female-led bands theme, the Sydney alternative/indie rock band The Jezabels, lead by co-founder vocalist Hayley Mary, and keyboardist Heather Shannon, dropped their much anticipated debut album, Prisoner, this week in the U.S. The first lead single from Prisoner, “Rosebud,” has an 80’s style sound complimented by magnificent vocals of Mary and the keyboard work by Shannon, which build up into a full-on choral bliss.

Perhaps one of the reasons they have a growing following is the introspective lyrics, which are skillfully composed, heartfelt and genuine. The band was complete after the girl duo went to university in Sydney where they met Nik Kaloper (drums) and Sam Lockwood (rhythm guitar).

After successful tours in their native Australia and Europe, the band supported Two Hours Traffic on a 14 city tour of North America in 2010. Fast forward: Last month, The Jezabels embarked on their first headlining U.S. tour, supported by the rising indie band, Imagine Dragons. See The Jezabels tour schedule here.

“Rosebud” – The Jezabels from Prisoner on Mom + Pop
Double-shot: “Endless Summer”– The Jezabels from Prisoner on Mom + Pop


Houston noise girl-boy duo Pink Playground lay down the shoegaze, and spread the reverb thick, on their new single, “She’s A Mask Of You,” from the Electric Voice Compilation. There are elements of My Bloody Valentine, Cocteau Twins, The Jesus and Mary Jain and Slowdive on their official debut album, Destination Ecstasy, released last October. The duo plan on releasing a 12-inch record later this year.

Other new tracks of the past week include singles from albums by The Pale Corners, Bola, Whitejacket, World Blanket, and Ryan Power.

“She’s a Mask of You” – Pink Playground from Electric Voice Compilation (2012)

“REM” – The Pale Corners from REM

“Abayetidu Ma” – Bola from Volume 7 on Awesome Tapes From Africa


“The Modern” – Whitejacket from Hollows and Rounds (self-released)

“And Here We Are (Again Maybe)” – World Blanket from 2012 on No Applause

“I Don’t Want to Die” – Ryan Power from I Don’t Want To Die on NNA Tapes

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