The long-awaited new album, Kveikur, from Sigur Ros dropped this week to wide praise and excitement from fans and critics alike. Spin magazine said the following of Kveikur, “It’s initially unnerving to witness indie’s most celebrated airy faeries butch it up, but the result ultimately satisfies their what-the-the-hell-do-we-do-next dilemma better than any record single Agaetis Byrjun.” Amen.
Sigur Ros fans have largely embraced the band’s maturation in recent years, as was evident with last year’s album, Valtari, which turned out to be a calmer and more placid play on the band’s unique ambient post-rock sound. This time around, however, the band leans more on the rock and less on the ambience, demonstrating once again that no matter what stylistic change-ups they ultimately produce, they can still create the dreamy sonic landscapes of yesteryear while forging ahead to express more aggressive tendencies with a rock swagger in a way that only Sigur Ros can do, blending, as Don Yates of KEXP, said: “an ominous blend of rumbling electric guitars, atmospheric synths, mournful strings, fuzzy bass and clattering drums accompanying Jonsi’s ethereal vocals.”
“Brennisteinn” – Sigur Rós from Kveikur on XL Recordings
Austra’s New New Wave and Beach Day Summery Sounds
Austra get the blood flowing on their single, “Painful Lake,” from the album Olympia. The track has a definite influence of 80’s new wave mixed with techno and house dance beats, frigid synth notes and the Bjork-like vocals of Katie Stelmanis. The band Beach Day echo the sounds of fuzzy guitars and sunny rhythms of Phil Spector-like 60’s surf pop/garage rock in the song, “Stay.”
“Painful Like” – Austra from Olympia on Domino Record Co.
“Stay” – Beach Day from Trip Trap Attack on Kanine Records
Mark Mulcahy Strikes Again; Empire of the Sun is ‘Alive’ and Kicking
The bluesy, folk rock track, “Let The Fireflies Fly Away,” by Mark Mulcahy reminded us a lot of Rodriguez, the long forgotten, but then rediscovered, singer/songwriter and guitarist from Detroit who was the focus of the 2012 Oscar winning documentary, Searching For Sugarman (a great documentary if you haven’t seen it). But Mulcahy definitely has a stye all of his own. As the former frontman for the group Miracle Legion in the 1990’s, Mulcahy has been praised by artists like Michael Stipe, Dinosaur Jr., Thom Yorke, The National and others. Empire of the Sun new album, Ice On The Dune, includes the hypnotic single, “Alive.”
“Let the Fireflies Fly Away” – Mark Mulcahy from Dear Mark J Mulcahy, I Love You on Mezzotint
“Alive” – Empire Of The Sun from Ice On The Dune on Astralwerks
Primal Scream Drops No. 10; Said The Whale’s Self-Release
Long-time hard rockers out of Scotland, Primal Scream, return with their 10th album full of politically dense songs that blend dance-pop, psych-rock, dub, jazz, and blues. Said The Whale dropped a new EP this week, simply titled, I Love You. he band self-released the EP and offered up the title track as the EP’s single. The song is not a dreamy, mushy ballad as the title might suggest, but instead a fast, upbeat, incredibly catchy pop-rock track filled with melodic guitar hooks, 80’s like new wave keyboard riffs, and double-dipped vocals. It’s difficult to miss, however, the similarities of “I Love You” with The Knack‘s hit song, “My Sharona,” that was one of the biggest radio songs of 1979 (and of all time), not just in the U.S. where it was a #1 gold record, but around the world. Despite the obvious influence of The Knack, Said the Whale managed to make “I Love You” a great song largely on its own merit.
“Invisible City” – Primal Scream from More Light on First International
“I Love You” – Said The Whale from I Love You EP (self-released)
Rising Artist Natasha Kmeto and the Brillance of Lemuria
With a wall of guitars, upbeat rhythm, melodic change-ups, choruses dripping with harmonies, and the lovely voice of Natasha Kmeto on her new single, “Idiot Proof,” it’s not a stretch to say that Kmeto is one of the newer indie female vocalists that is catching the attention of music lovers everywhere.
At about the 1:20 mark on “Idiot Proof” the sound changes up to more of a techno dance track, but Kmeto’s vocals dominate through each new transition; there really is a lot of music experimentation, beats, samples, effects, synths, dubs, double-tracking, hi-fi reverb and theatrics packed into the four minutes and five seconds of “Idiot Proof.” Kmeto’s new album, Crisis, is available now via Dropping Gems Records. Following Kmeto is the blissful indie pop/rock song, “Brilliant Dancer” from the band Lemuria, from the album, The Distance Is So Big via Bridge Nine Records.
“Idiot Proof” – Natasha Kmeto from Crisis on Dropping Gems
“Brilliant Dancer” – Lemuria from The Distance Is So Big on Bridge Nine
The Mantles Folk Garage Pop and Tunng’s Genre Blending
San Francisco Bay Area band The Mantles have been blazing an interesting path through the Bay Area’s storied indie pop circles – indirectly aligning with artists like Ty Segall, Mikel Cronin and White Fence – since their humble beginning five years ago. The band’s folk pop tendencies are found through their new album, Long Enough to Leave, and evident in lo-fi garage pop tracks like “Hello,” with it’s unabashed quirky, yet charming, presence. By foregoing the theater of retro psychedelia, The Mantles end up innovating in an area of guitar music where many bands get lost fawning over fashions, styles and trends. Tunng offers an understated upbeat single, “The Village,” that sounds like a mash of 60’s-tinged pop with elements of dance and psych; the lead single from their new album, Turbines, released via Full Time Hobby Records.
“Hello” – The Mantles from Long Enough to Leave on Slumberland Records – upload song to BNMR-June2013
“The Village” – Tunng from Turbines on Full Time Hobby
The Spectrals ‘Sob Story,’ Slaid Cleaves’ ‘Still Fighting The War’
The Spectrals dive into the slow-poke country rock spectral with the twangy, melancholic single “Sob Story,” from the album of the same name. The song is one that you’d expect to hear playing over the loud speakers of an interstate truck stop in Texas country. But in the reality is that nowadays you could also hear it playing in a bar in New York City. It’s unmistakeable how popular country music has become in the past 30 years. Austin artist Slaid Cleaves turns in another solid performance of heart-felt, finely crafted art folk-rock on the new album, Still Fighting The War, with the title track as the LP’s lead single. We thought of Gin Blossoms with more of a country twang when listening to the single.
The Purrs jump in the mix with their latest indie rock single, “Rotting on the Vine” from the uniquely storied title of The Boy With Astronaut Eyes. Los Angeles rock band Crash Kings scored a spot on the Billboard Alternative Songs chart in November of 2009 after sending out the single to radio stations across the U.S. thanks to the release of the single, “Mountain Man,” from their self-titled debut album released earlier that spring. The band is known for using analog keyboards such as the Clavinet with distortion effects and a whammy bar in place of a typical lead guitar.
“Sob Story” – Spectrals from Sob Story on Slumberland Records
“Still Fighting the War” – Slaid Cleaves from Still Fighting the War on Music Road
“Rotting on the Vine” – The Purrs from The Boy With Astronaut Eyes on Fin Records
Crash Kings “Hot Fire”
Los Angeles rock band Crash Kings scored a spot on the Billboard Alternative Songs chart in November of 2009 after sending out the single to radio stations across the U.S. thanks to the release of the single, “Mountain Man,” from their self-titled debut album released earlier that spring. The band is known for using analog keyboards such as the Clavinet with distortion effects and a whammy bar in place of a typical lead guitar. Crash Kings new single is “Hot Fire.”
“Hot Fire” – Crash Kings from Dark of the Daylight