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
I wanted to start off this second SoundWave with a really solid song, and since this one has been playing on repeat for a few weeks now, I thought it was a good place to begin. This song first came to my attention when it was featured in the independent movie “Celeste and Jesse Forever“, which I’d definitely recommend checking out if you haven’t seen it yet (and especially look up the awesome soundtrack!).
There are two main things that work well for this German myspace senastion’s “Rescue Song.” 1.) a clear and simple yet powerful vocal line, and 2.) a great beat remixed by RAC.
1.) Understated vocals are sort of the in-thing in indie music these days (or has it always been that way?), but few do it as well as Monica Birkenes. She is soft without making your ears strain, unsophisticated yet harmonious. Here’s to hoping that her musical career really takes off soon.
2.) RAC, a husband/wife+friends quadruplet combo, is famous for remixing songs from quasi-popular “artsy” musicians. If you follow that specific subset of the musical scene at all, then you have no doubt come across one of their mixes (such as this great one for Lana Del Rey’s Blue Jeans). For Mr. Little Jeans, they ‘ve done wonders with a few simple kick drum beats and handclaps.
AND THE BEAT GOES ON
I can’t stop listening to this song. Seriously, I think I have a problem. When I work out, I put this on in the background and it serves the dual purpose of pumping me up and forcing me to take frequent dance breaks. Maybe there are more of those than might be advisable, but hey, it’s my workout, and anyway, dancing is a great workout! Totally as good as using the treadmill, or doing pullups, or running stairs…right.
The song opens with a flickering electronic guitar line that sounds like something out of the early 2000’s rock scene (cue this gloriously angsty Alannis Morissette song). The vocal half of Alpines, who are featured on this song, isn’t super strong, but the melody is so catchy that it doesn’t seem to bother me that her slightly 80’s influenced sound is on the weaker side. Once the bass line comes in, you’ll be hooked.
One of the things I really love about this song is the way the rhythm shifts from a more simplistic down-tempo beat in the verses to a staccato, syncopated, dub step-tinged pulse in the chorus. “Tidal Wave” will get your blood pumping without being aurally abrasive, which is a tendency with some of the more recent dubstep songs.
All right, pop confession time – I really love Christina Aguilera…like, a lot more than I should. (If you know me, then this isn’t much of a secret.) I rationalize it by talking about her incredible vocal range and control, but it’s all really just an excuse to listen to (and, on occasion, belt out) the infectiously fun songs she always produces.
This high-tempo Pitbull dance-fest-of-a-song really belongs in some sort of workout class. It’s fun and will probably make its round through the radio stations, but at heart it’s not really a dancing song – it’s more of the song you blast on the first day of summer when you take a drive just to feel the breeze and wave your hands in the air.
Aha’s “Take On Me” is sampled to great effect in the chorus, which makes up for Pitbull’s rather pedestrian rap skills, or lack thereof. My favorite snippet: “Now baby we can parlay, or, baby, we can partay.” Do you think he even knows what “parlay” means? We do, thanks to “Silver Linings Playbook.” Still, I think we can parlay this lackluster rap performance into a sun-filled dance song if we just “stop time and enjoy this moment.” Dale.
I was pretty determined not to like the new Tegan and Sara album based off the negative impression left on me by their previous musical forays. “Heartthrob,” however, their most mainstream album to date, is nothing like their past ventures (thank goodness), a fact which has cleaved their fan base in two (die-hard fans bemoaning their new sound as a “sell-out”).
The lead single, “Closer,” is an exhilarating romp in its own right, but “Shock To Your System,” a slower song that most probably haven’t yet heard, steals the show. It features a driving, syncopated base line that guides the song, a thumping drumbeat, and more insightful lyrics than you usually find in this brand of indie pop. The overall production quality (i.e. crispness of sound) is excellent, which, combined with everything else, makes this the perfect song to put on repeat for a long car ride or to have in the background for a nice night in.
UP AND COMING
Hunter Hunted, an up-and-coming indie pop band, just released their first EP, and I have to say it is pretty promising. They sound like what Death Cab for Cutie would be if you revved the tempo up a bit, made the lyrics happier, and threw in a dash of Coldplay. On the one hand they have a sort of emo-sounding lead vocalist (think a happier Ben Gibbard), while at the same time they communicate a bit of that expansiveness that Coldplay has so carefully marketed.
There are some great moments in this song, including the carefully controlled harmonies of the hook that leads into the chorus. So many indie bands don’t feel the need for a consistent harmony line, but Hunter Hunted break that mold to great success here. The song builds steadily to a drum and vocal-filled culmination that leaves you wanting more – which we hopefully will get from them soon in the form of a full album.
WRENCH TO THE HEART
Okay, so here’s the emotionally beautiful song of the week. I really debated over whether or not to put this one up here, mostly because I tend to be proprietary about the personal songs that I share with people. By the same token, however, I think music like this does need to be shared and appreciated more, so here we are.
If you don’t know The Civil Wars well, you need to check them out. Their live performances are incredible. Yes, they did that song with Taylor Swift for “The Hunger Games,” but there is a lot more to them than that. There’s something incredibly moving about their raw, folk sound. As you’ll hear on this track, it’s basically just two vocal lines and a guitar, with drums thrown in sparsely and consummately. The lyrics are definitely worth extra attention as well. All together, I think you’d be hard pressed to find a group producing more original and heartrending music right now. Give this song a chance; it won’t disappoint.
PICK OF THE WEEK – STOMPA YOUR FEET
Here it is – the song that has been blasting from my car speakers for the past week. This track will necessitate some sort of dancing movement, so listen to it somewhere private where you can make a fool of yourself. Better yet, listen to it with a bunch of people and have an impromptu dance party.
If you took all the badassery of Amy Winehouse and Adele combined, you still wouldn’t quite reach the epic sound of this song. The best part – she’s a little white girl from Canada. Who’d have thought? How did she get that voice? This is the kind of music I want on my life’s soundtrack. That would also be the life where I’m a millionaire secret agent living on the Amalfi Coast with a super hot girlfriend. Wait, that’s that one scene from Casino Royale. Such stuff that dreams are made of.
Thanks for readlistening! Have a great week and “listen to me – clappa your hands, stompa your feet. Nothing is wrong if you move to the beat.”
Want to listen to all these songs at once? Check out my Youtube Playlist for this SoundWave!