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I CAN BE INDIE TOO
– Member/s: Matt and Theo
– Genre: Indie/Folk/Singer-Songwriter/Alternative Folk
– Location/Formed: Devon, UK/2013
“MERRY GO ROUND”: Aptly named indie folk duo Moon Brother are back on Soundillustrated for the second time with their new demo “Merry Go Round.” Much like their first track “My Friend”, “Merry Go Round” features sleek harmonies, intricate guitar lines, and a driving pop melody. This sophomore release is a bit more polished than the first, due in part to the contributions of producer Paul Steel, who adds a layer of sophistication heard in the layered backing instrumentation.
Lyrically, the song communicates an original metaphor based on the circularity of life and love as compared to a merry go ’round (in case the title didn’t give that away), and is reminiscent to some of Lewis Watson’s work. What shines out above all of this, though, is the vocal talent and mastery of Matt and Theo – folk-pop isn’t sung much better than this, is it?
NUTSHELL: It’s a bit ridiculous that Moon Brother aren’t huge yet, as their prodigious indie-folk talent is obvious on tracks like “Merry Go Round”, but give them until the fall and they should have an EP out and a record deal!
AND THE BEAT GOES ON
– Member/s: Steven Angello Josefsson Fragogiannis
– Genre: House/Progressive House/Electro House
– Location/Formed: Stockholm, Sweden/2003
“WASTED LOVE (FEAT. DOUGY)”: If you’re like me, you might be getting the feeling lately that the EDM/house genre is a bit stagnant. Like seriously, how many times can you hear the same song with the same beat and the same drops and still call it entertaining? Thankfully, artists like Steve Angello, of Swedish House Mafia acclaim, are coming out with new music that, while not groundbreaking, is at least different and engaging.
First of all, “Wasted Love” features vocal contributions from Dougy (lead singer of The Temper Trap), which automatically raises the song in my estimation, but also provides a solid vocal base for the single. This isn’t just some hastily slapped together, mass-produced electro-house track, but has some depth to it, as is reflected by the narrative nature of the lyrics.
Secondly, the track is, musically speaking, somewhat complex. While most EDM tracks are pretty predictable, with expected drops and stereotyped synth explosions, “Wasted Love” is more of a slowly percolating, ingenuitive song, with original beats, guitar lines, and vocal permutations. Give it a listen, and I promise you won’t regret it!
NUTSHELL: If you ever get the feeling that all EDM is a bit soulless and uninspired these days, listen no further than “Wasted Love”; the track has everything you could want in a dance-pop single, including excellent vocals, intricate beats, and avant-garde production.
– Member/s: Troye Sivan Mellet
– Genre: Pop/Electro-Pop
– Location/Formed: Perth, Western Australia/2006
“HAPPY LITTLE PILL”: Our Pop Confession this week finds us scouring the beaches of Australia-qua-YouTube for Troye Sivan’s “Happy Little Pill.” Sure, the kid is only like 19 and the song is, I believe, about hardcore drug use, but who cares! It’s Pop Confession time and all is allowed. Therefore, sit back, relax, let the electro-fed single “Happy Little Pill” wash over your ears, and enjoy this pop (up)star(t)let’s rise to fame via the hearts and ears of teenagers the world ’round.
SWEET DREAMS (ARE MADE OF THIS)
– Member/s: …
– Genre: Alternative R&B/Indietronica/Surf Guitar
– Location/Formed: Worchestershire, UK/2008
“NOTHIN ON MY MIND”: With a genre tag like “Surf Guitar”, how could you not be intrigued by “Nothin On My Mind”? Worchester based singer/producer astronomyy (to capitalize or not to capitalize…) released this single and a debut EP There For U through his own label Lunar Surf, which is probably due to the fact that his music is original enough to deserve its own label. Part guitar-laden indie rock, part electro-produced pop, part soulful R&B, “Nothin On My Mind” is an inventive blend of genres that should intrigue and please some new listeners over its 3-minute journey. Featuring a host of instruments, vocal layers, humming, finger snapping, and much more, “Nothin On My Mind” provides an exciting introduction to the career of an artist who will surely be generating waves (and hopefully some biographical info) in the near future.
NUTSHELL: Mixing lightly-spoken R&B with electronically-based pop and a unique blend of other musical styles, astronomyy shows us just why “Nothin On My Mind” should be on our minds right now.
– Member/s: Stephen Christian, Deon Rexroat, Joseph Milligan, Nathan Young, Christian McAlhaney
– Genre: Alternative Rock
– Location/Formed: Winter Haven, Florida, USA/2002
“ATONEMENT” in a NUTSHELL: I’m a little late to the party here, but it’s taken me a while to process the information that this, Lowborn, is Anberlin’s LAST ALBUM! So sad to see a great band split up after all this time, but at least they gave us one heck of a release to close out their career. Self described as “eclectic and chaotic”, the album ranges from anthemic rock to downtempo quasi-ballads, such as this week’s featured track “Atonement.”
“Atonement” is reminiscent of one of my all-time favorite Anberlin tracks, “Inevitable.” On both songs, the melodic scope is similarly self-contained, as they slowly build to a peak and hold it there for the rest of the track. Where “Inevitable” was string-led, however, “Atonement” is more electronically produced, which shows the growth and change the band has gone through over the years. Ethereal vocal flashes and stuttered drum rhythms accompany Christian’s voice through the verse and chorus permutations, all of which are sleekly produced and synthesized into a wall of chill, midtempo, Anberlin-esque alt-rock.
– Member/s: Kristopher Neil Allen
– Genre: Pop Rock/Alternative Rock/Acoustic Rock/Blue-Eyed Soul/Singer-Songwriter
– Location/Formed: Jacksonville, Arkansas, USA/2008)
“PROVE IT TO YOU (FEAT. LENACHKA)”: Kris Allen, of American Idol Season 8 fame, has had an interesting two years since his last studio album (including a serious car accident, move to Nashville, the birth of his first child, and the start of his own label), but is ready now with his 4th album, Horizons, to show us how all those experiences have shaped his music.
Lead single “Prove It To You” features vocal contributions from Russian singer Lenachka, and is a gorgeous, sweetly sighing single replete with acoustic flair, harmonic ingenuity, emotional honesty, and a raw, singer-songwriter feel that is right up my alley (and hopefully yours!). At heart, and on the surface I suppose, “Prove It To You” is a genuinely moving love song, brimming over with subtle emotion from the skilled duetting vocalists.
NUTSHELL: Emotionally and vocally exposed but sophisticated in production, “Prove It To You” is a singer-songwriter’s dream, and, though it won’t make it onto the radio, deserves to be as popular as many of today’s hits.
PICK OF THE WEEK
– Member/s: Valerie Anne Poxleitner
– Genre: Synthpop/Electropop/Indie Pop
– Location/Formed: Timmins, Ontario, Canada/2006
“UP WE GO”: I’ve been following Lights, aka Poxleitner, for a few years now, and so was quite excited when I first listened to her lead single “Up We Go”, which presages her third studio album, Little Machines. With a touch of Tegan & Sara and a dash of CHVRCHES, “Up We Go” is a triumphant and euphonic synthpop single that hints at good things to come once the LP drops in two months.
Somewhat akin to Katie Perry’s “Roar”, “Up We Go” is a lyrically upbeat, motivational track – “Everyone here is ready to go/It’s been a hard year and I only know/From down this love, it’s only up we go, up we go!” This single, which is much more shimmery and pop-focused than her previous, hard-hitting electronica release Siberia, breathes new life into Lights’ career, perfectly showcasing her powerful voice and penchant for hypnotizing beats and a catchy chorus.
Unlike most techno/pop these days which is overstated and drenched in electronic manipulations, “Up We Go” is sincere, energetic without becoming overwhelming, and, above all else, catchy.
NUTSHELL: On “Up We Go”, electropop standout Lights shows us exactly why she is the most successful thing to come out of Canada of late (sorry, Biebs), and ramps up the excitement before her album release in September.
Thanks for READLISTENING!
Want to listen to all of these songs at once? Check out my YouTube Playlist for this SoundWave!