When I saw that Juliana Hatfield covered Elliott Smith’s “Needle in the Hay” for the new Wes Anderson tribute off American Laundromat, I flipped with excitement at the thought of her breathy vocals doing the song justice. She performs a beautiful version that doesn’t stray far from the feel of the original, but when the drum machine comes in it’s pure Juliana. I love when she layers her vocals, and here they sound beautiful and odd, lending a discordant turn to the end of the song.
I’ve been in the processing of moving and had over 800 viruses cleaned off my computer (thanks, Spotify), so haven’t had a chance to listen to any new music in a few weeks. Things are now settled and I spent all morning dancing around to bouncy sunny off kilter beats, and here are ten of my favorite new songs to listen to this weekend:
French Style Furs “Solitary Life”- Cold War Kids side project with lead singer Nathan Willett singing poems written by 20th century monk Thomas Merton. Using found materials and putting them to a Latin groove, “Solitary Life” takes elements from David Byrne’s playbook as Willett’s distinct vocals sound more pleading than ever courtesy of Merton’s philosophical thoughts.
Old Smokey “All the Way Slow”- Composed of veterans from the Athens, GA scene, Old Smokey make catchy songs with a perplexing AM sound that has elements of Bollywood and spaghetti western throughout the onslaught of beautiful strings. “All the Way Slow” has a great psychedelic extended bridge with a fitting public access looking video.
La Femme “Welcome America”- French electro-surf powerhouse brings the frenetic energy with uptempo synthesized clapping and a ridiculously bouncy bass line.
Sylvan Esso “Hey Mami”- Overlapping the crystal clear vocals of Mountain Man’s Amelia Meath, producer Nick Sanborn creates a perfect sweet pop song that gets harder and more complex with every measure.
Tyson Meade “Nihilists Need Love Too”- legendary 90’s alt-rock former Chainsaw Kittens member loved by the Flaming Lips shows that weird never dies in his new single.
BOSSK “Albatross”- This Fleetwood Mac cover maintains the beautiful dreamy mood of the original and is best heard over and over.
Yonatan Gat “Escorpiao”- mesmerizing guitarist from Tel Aviv now residing in NY spends time in Portugal and tweaks his fuzzy psychedelic unhinged sound.
Teleman “23 Floors Up”- incredible songwriting and melody from a UK group who sound like they listen to a lot of Bowie.
Cretin Stompers “Eye of the Storm”- super fuzzy light as a beignet deliciousness. So fuzzy I thought a speaker had blown out. Yum.
Ariana Grande featuring Iggy Azalea “Problem”- I’m sure Ariana Grande is a nice girl, but I go straight to Iggy’s part in this song. Reminding me of Lady Gaga’s “Teeth”, saxophone and marching drums never sounded so good with Iggy as the perfect Drum Major.
- Ten Songs To Listen To Today
1. Mystic Braves “Born Without a Heart”- bright, energetic 60’s throwback sound
2. Galactic with JJ Grey “Higher and Higher”
3. Blitzen Trapper “Coming Home” – sweet country swamp funk
4. Miniature Tigers “Swimming Pool Blues” – sunny indie pop
5. Little Racer “Punk Life”- reverb drenched chill surfpsych
6. Charles Howl “Garden Train” buzzy lofi garage rock
7. Cloud Nothings “Psychic Trauma”- pretty rock noise with punk energy
8. J. Roddy Walston and the Business “Heavy Bells”
9. FUZZ “Raise”- heavy, muffled fuzz
10. St. Vincent “Regret”- aggressively cool guitar driven pop
When seminal 60’s psych band The Zombies personally wants you to open for their Los Angeles show, you are definitely doing something right. This L.A. five piece are in the more positive and bubbly bright psych vein, and formerly went under the name Blackfeet Braves. They sound like the turbulent excitement of a work free hot summer, with blasts of organ and killer cymbal taps keeping the energy going with bumps and turns like you are crashing in the waves. Frontman Julian Ducatenzeiler has a nasally rock and roll voice that sounds great in echoey lo-fi, sounding like what would happen if Bob Dylan got on the bus with the Merry Pranksters. Listen to their new single over at Filter, the album Desert Island comes out April 29th, and check them out at SXSW this year:
For comparison, here is them performing the song live as Blackfeet Braves. I prefer the more reckless approach they have going in the newer version, it sounds more dangerous:
Listen to Dances new single “Rat” today off their debut EP coming out this spring on Black Bell Records. One minute and 41 seconds of reckless, jangly, melodic fury. In their press release it says they are influenced by 60’s psych and 90’s alternative, I didn’t have to read further. Sold. The NY trio will be playing the Sailor Jerry party at SXSW on 3.13, won’t be missing that one.
Lancaster County, Pennsylvania has always been on my list of places to visit, and when Phish played there last year I got to see some Mennonites at the show, but never got to explore the area. In my head it’s this magical place where carts and buggies live in harmony with automobiles, cats and dogs walking side by side, and rising young band The Districts from the area sound exactly like what I imagine is played in little fictional town squares there. They’ve got an Americana sound that has more oomph to it than past popular rootsy bands like Mumford & Sons, the blues and indie rock slants sound fresh and unique in comparison, and it’s pretty hard to believe they are teenagers; Rob Grote’s vocals drip with wisdom and thoughtfulness and crackle with emotion. Harmonica and slide guitar smooth things out while bright full percussion bring a steady beat to their music that should have festival crowds going nuts in the future. They are playing here in Denver at Lost Lake on Mar. 16th, I imagine they will never play a show here that small again. I could easily see them getting scooped as an opener on some Red Rocks summer night if their trajectory stays on course. Listen to their single “Funeral Beds” here and stream the whole album at their Bandcamp linked below.
Woods continues to put out perfect songs, this time letting the musical saw and almost theatrical enunciation take the lead. Just a whole bunch of prettiness down to the “ooh ooh ooh’s”. The song has a swagger befitting a walk down a coastal boardwalk wearing nothing but a bathing suit, confidence and a smile. The musical saw wavers in and out like a polite alien abduction of a falsetto hero: