It’s Thursday, so today’s new music SoundWave is here! Enjoy, and leave comments to let me know what you think.
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I CAN BE INDIE TOO
SoundWave 3 starts off with an almost perfect song. Why isn’t this song perfect? I will tell you: because some ridiculous musician or producer decided that what was missing from this tune was a 35-second long jazz interlude. Yes. That was a spectacular life decision.
Despite this poor musical choice, “Flash of Light” is still a lot of fun. The beat is somewhat downtempo, with a synthesized background that nicely complements the softer vocals. The production is crisp, lending a modern edge to the slightly 80’s-tinged pop feel.
This group has gotten off to a sophisticated start, although that could partially be attributed to the fact that this is their second outing, and that the two core members have been touring as professional musicians for years, backing up and even opening shows for great groups like Imagine Dragons. Once they decide to fire the person who chose to add the jazzy brass accompaniment to this song, Parade of Lights will be good to go and ready to take off.
AND THE BEAT GOES ON
Krewella has ridden on the outskirts of the dubstep world for a while, but it wasn’t until this song was released that they really succeeded in combining their europop and EDM sounds into something more generally appealing. This song just barely avoids cheesiness (check the main piano line and lyrics to see what I mean), but if you remind yourself that this is just meant to be a fun dance song, it isn’t bad at all.
What makes this a success in my book is the fact that it’s not just an artless dubstep song, or a typical EDM outing that we’ve heard from Krewella and other such groups before, but it has something unique to it. The vocals are relatively strong, and the chorus actually revolves around the singing (to a certain extent), rather than just being a high-intensity, synthesized baseline thumping. Sure, we won’t be listening to Krewella in five years, but we can surely enjoy this song as we slog through the last dregs of winter and wait for the summer club hits to roll in.
Every week so far I’ve had at least one song that I can’t stop listening to. The songs each have their own appeal (or else they wouldn’t be on here), but there is always one that sticks out and forces itself to be heard more than the others. Ridiculously enough, that song this week is “Turn Up the Love.” Come to think of it, I think I’ve been obsessed with the “Pop Confession” song from each SoundWave thus far. Confession, indeed.
Far East Movement isn’t a group many take too seriously (except for this gem from a few years back), but they have struck pretty solid dance-music-gold with this song. A simplistic, happy refrain starts off the song, with Cover Drive’s dulcet tones leading you to think you’ve stumbled upon just another rote dubstep beat…until the real beat drops. It’s kind of a mix of light reggaeton with some handclaps and weird synthesized quacks thrown in – and it all works beautifully together. Give this song a try: ignore the insipid lyrics, turn the volume up, and let yourself dance a little bit. I seem to have no problem doing that.
People always talk about waking up from a dream, not knowing where they are for a scary split-second, and that feeling of panic they have. This song is exactly the opposite of that – listening to it, you feel like you’ve heard it before, or something so close to it that you can almost anticipate the next note, the next guitar strum, the next line. It’s relaxing and unintimidating and pleasantly melodious.
Maybe that’s just me. It probably has to do with how much Jimmy Eat World I listened to during my teenage years (doesn’t his voice sound like Jim Adkins’?). Any way you look at it, though, this song is a reliably solid getaway from the tedious efforts of some recent experimental indie groups. The success of this song hinges on its über-catchy melody and the predictable yet faultlessly implemented guitar and drum lines. Courrier have been in the background of the music scene for a while, now, but I think, with more music like this, they will soon be spreading like wildfire. Get it – fire? Whew, long day.
ACROSS THE POND
If Bon Iver were a woman and liked to sing lyrics that people could actually understand, the resulting product would be Daughter. I first fell in love with the Enya-esque voice of Elena Torno when I heard a demo of “Landfill” sometime two years ago. Her haunting melodies and moody atmospherics are unrivaled in the indie/folk scene.
“Human,” the lead single off her upcoming album “If You Leave Us,” has a less sulky tone than some of her previous ventures, but it still maintains the typical jaundiced view of life that we expect to see from Daughter. Her lyrics are always intriguing and visceral, even if they do strive maybe a little too hard for a level of poetry. The guitar and drum accompaniment flickers at just the right pitch of consciousness behind the siren’s song, resulting in a seamless blend of voice and music where Torno is just a blurry specter in the mist, harkening back to the album cover’s artwork.
BALLAD (OF SORTS)
Kerli is a popular Estonian pop songwriter who is most well known for remixes of her eastern-European, dance-infused tracks. In previewing her upcoming EP “Utopia,” I was surprised to find this song in the line-up alongside club-thumpers like “The Lucky Ones.”
It’s a hard song to categorize – on the one hand, it has the lyrics and accompaniment of a pop ballad, but at the same time it is not as slow and sad as those songs usually are. It almost sounds as if Kerli is waiting for a DJ to remix this into a beautiful electronic soundscape. The orchestration is beautiful and serves to augment Kerli’s vocal style, which strays just on the right side of straining and comes out emotional instead.
Kerli’s voice is different from anyone else out there right now, and I think this EP will prove helpful in exposing her unique music to a more western audience.
PICK OF THE WEEK – HURTS
Hurts are an up-and-coming Brit-pop duo who pride themselves on a lustrous, immaculately tailored, monochrome image, and have the sound to match. Their new album, “Exile,” just dropped in England, and has garnered mixed reviews. I think people are just being picky, though. True, there aren’t any outright radio hits on the album, but songs like this song are solidly entertaining, if a bit overwrought with violins and choruses and dramatic crescendos.
After a few listens, “Blind” stood out to me as the best song on the album, the one that best blends Hurts’ penchant for both anthemic choruses and plangent resonance. Muse and Coldplay should probably be a little worried that Hurts might steal a bit of their thunder – I think singer Theo Hutchcraft has the upper hand against Coldplay’s Chris Martin, and Muse’s efforts at synth-pop are easily outshone here.
Though the lyrics and overall concept of “Blind” occasionally tend towards the dramatic, this song will keep your ears happily entertained longer than many others of its kind.
Want to listen to all these songs at once? Check out my Youtube Playlist for this SoundWave!