Thus begins the second installment of seasonal playlists. As always, track order was chosen to have some semblance of flow. Leave the shuffling at home. A few words on track selection and artists follows.
Ducktails - Surreal Exposure - 2015
Ducktails started as the solo project of Real Estate guitarist Matt Mondanile. Mondanile began releasing material under this moniker in 2006 and the project has since grown to a full band. Earlier releases were primarily instrumental, but the two singles off the forthcoming album seem lyrically focused. Mondanile's signature guitar work is all over this. A fine listen for those who love flowing melodies and dreamy progressions.
Lord Huron - Fool for Love - 2015
‘LA via Michigan’ based indie folk. Their sophomore album, Strange Trails, is out now and it’s pretty great. Fool for Love is a hopeful song about a man who’s a fool for love. Surprised? It also feels like three of the four and half minutes of this track is chorus, but that's not really a problem.
The Barr Brothers - Static Orphans/Love Ain’t Enough - 2014
The Brothers were nice enough to split this song into two parts in case you didn’t want the extended intro. Unfortunately, I am not. I’ve decided you require that extended intro. Static Orphans also showcases the phenomenal work of the bands harpist, Sarah Page. Brothers Andrew and Brad Barr have been making music in some shape or form for many years now. From The Slip, to Surprise Me Mr. Davis to solo projects and now The Barr Brothers. The styles have ranged from jam band to jazz, soul to experimental paint-can-bashing, and many things in between. You can always expect good things out of these gentlemen.
The Tallest Man on Earth - Little Nowhere Towns - 2015
Kristian Matsson does not hold anything back on his latest LP, Dark Bird Is Home. The arrangements are grander and more complex than previous albums. To showcase this I’ve chosen the one song where this is not happening. Little Nowhere Towns primarily consists of piano and vocals, both play off of each other very well. There are little piano flourishes in this song that make me happier than they probably should.
Leon Bridges - Better Man - 2015
Leon Bridges is a twenty six year old soul singer from Houston. His debut album is full of tracks that evoke 50s/60s soul. Leon’s beautiful lyrics matched with period specific production, including horns, organ, and backing vocals bring this joyous song to life. I specifically like the bass thump on this song.
The Staves - Black & White - 2015
This trio of English sisters have voices that float and mingle like few can. They use these harmonies to uplift and create warmth. They are equally adept at using those harmonies to produce haunting environments that evoke the feeling of solitude and heartbreak. To be blunt, Black and White kicks ass. It begins with a single voice and then breaks into a harmonized passionate march. There is anger here and it’s fantastic.
I also suggest checking out Steady from the same album and watching this video and trying not to cry.
Tame Impala - Eventually - 2015
Tame Impala gets mentioned quite a bit on guitar forums. I never really took the time to look into them because I’m rather lazy. From what I can gather, they like phase shifters maybe? I decided to give the singles off their forthcoming album a listen. Eventually hits you in the face like a ton of disco balls. Lead singer/songwriter Kevin Parker was stylistically inspired for this album after taking mushrooms and listening to the Bee Gees. It shows.
Ratatat - Abrasive - 2015
Layers of guitars and bass, riffing and buzzing around, drum machines pulsing along. It’s Ratatat. It’s new Ratatat. I like it. Ratatat!
Moon Hooch - 5 Sax Piece - 2014
This release is a bit old, but I haven't been able to stop listening to DC based Moon Hooch. A 3-piece of dual saxophones and drummer, they make captivating and aggressive dance? music. I especially like the way this song builds. I can’t exactly hear all 5 saxophones, I'm not sure if the title is literal. What I can tell you is that multiple themes come and go throughout the song. As it progresses these themes begin to layer until they’re all stacked in a great crescendo. After repeated listens you should realize how awesome this is and then melt in awe of it.
Tanlines - Two Thousand Miles - 2015
I love Tears for Fears, like a lot, and if you sound vaguely like Tears for Fears, I will probably like you. Vocally there is enough similarity for me to immediately become a fan of Tanlines. Their second album, Highlights is out now. Two Thousand Miles ebbs and flows from simple vocal melody to aggressive-door-knocking-dance-floor slow jam.
Galantis - Louder, Harder, Better - 2015
I just stole this track from my friend who knows things about EDM, I don’t know anything.I thought the name of the band was Catlantis because of the album art. Catlantis is actually “an indie pop band inspired by a doomed ancient advanced feline civilization” out of Kitchener, Ontario. It’s not the worst. You can check out their EP here. Once again I don’t know anything about Galantis but it makes me dance and should make you too. Also, I’m still undecided if Catlantis is any good. Also, I did look into it and there is a member from Miike Snow in Galantis, so there's some actual info.
Dan Deacon - Feel The Lightning - 2015
I don’t know what Dan Deacon does, he’s got all sorts of things making noises and vocal processing and three drummers? I believe he is the overlord of a robot music collective. He also seems to use a significant amount of tape. Feel the Lightning is a heady track with deep synths and constant percussion, plus somewhat indescribable lyrics, due to the vocal processing. There’s something about Johnny Depp in this song? Anyway it’s weird and fun.
Blur - Ice Cream Man - 2015
Blur is back! To be fair, I basically forgot about Blur besides my woo-hooing. The basis of this album was a jam session in Hong Kong. The band was in Tokyo for the Tokyo Rocks Music Festival when it was cancelled. Deciding to make the most of the time they traveled to a studio and hit record. The members were unsure if it was going to materialize into anything. Well it did, and here it is. There's nothing more indicative of summer than the Ice Cream Man. Though I do believe the song references the Tiananmen Square massacre so that’s a bit of a downer. Just think about the ice cream. Sweet ice cream...
Billy Shaddox - I Melt, I Howl - 2015
I came across this gentleman by following Sam Kassirer on Twitter, the longtime keyboardist of Josh Ritter. I Melt, I Howl was produced and engineered by Kassirer at the Great North Sound Society. As soon as I heard the title track I knew it was going on the summer playlist. I Melt, I Howl features a bouncing bass line, up tempo strumming, dual lead guitars and soaring vocals. It’s pretty perfect.
Hope you enjoy!
Dog & Ice Cream photo courtesy of Pete Markham