Best New Music Releases (Week of Feb. 28) – PT Walkley, Memoryhouse, Geographer, Plants and Animals, Soft Swells
Wow, this is yet another great week for new releases. The singles from new albums have been sifted through and arranged into the following playlist – and it’s just one great track after another, and we hope you agree.
The lead off track for this week’s Best New Releases was not easy to pick with so many great choices, but ultimately, we decided to choose PT Walkley‘s new single, “Way That You Are,” from the album, Thriller (not sure what the decision-making was there; there can’t be another album titled Thriller, just saying).
While Walkley is not particularly well-known among most indie rock enthusiasts or casual listeners, we suspect that the New York City based singer/songwriter and composer for film and television, still has a fair amount of name recognition. After all, he and his live band did open for Coldplay at Madison Square Garden and Weezer at the Hammerstein Ballroom. Artists simply do not get picked for such mammoth gigs like that unless they’re damn good. Walkley is also involved with a number of musical projects, including The Blue Jackets. Plus, he has composed music for a variety of commercials, films and television shows.
Prior to the release of Thriller, Walkley released two EPs and debut LP in 2009. Man, this guy has been incredibly busy. We first featured Walkley on IRC in February 2011 for the track, “Love You Dearly” from the EP, The Ghost of Chivalry.
Memoryhouse Release Subpop Debut and Amy Ray Drops Her Solo Debut
One of the most talked about new additions to the Sub Pop Records roster in the past year is the dream pop duo Memoryhouse. This week the Toronto musical pair released their debut album, The Slideshow Effect, to solid reviews from blogs and established music sites alike. Possessing strong songwriting, the LP’s wispy pop nostalgia makes it an exciting and uplifting listening experience from start to finish.
The lead single, “Glow” from Amy Ray‘s (Indigo Girls) new album, is an incredibly catchy pop rock track that reminds us a little bit of Paul Westernberg. But we’re a bit miffed; we can’t figure out who is the lead male singer on the track? We listened to the track a few times, and could not figure it out. There’s no way that is Amy Ray on lead vocals, right? Regardless, it’s a spunky lil one that’ll definitely have some lovers and haters, but probably not much in between. Stream Lung of Love via Spinner.
Great New Singles from Elliott Brood, Geographer, The Mary Onettes, Plants and Animals Soft Swells, Water Liars
The fresh track, “Northern Air,” from Toronto three-piece, alt-country band, Elliott Brood, is one of the best songs of 2012 thus far. It’s simply a great song with a great hook, a thumping, rhythmic bass, infusions of harmonica and energetic acoustic and mandolin guitar playing. We can see this song ending up on a soundtrack. The Canadian band kicked off their U.S. tour on February 23rd in Detroit and will wrapped it up in Philadelphia on March 17th. See Elliott Brood tour schedule here.
A fitting follow-up to Elliott Brood is this latest single from the super group without a name – featuring Jay Farrar (solo artist/former member of Uncle Tupelo before founding Son Volt), Yim Yames (or Jim James; guitarist for My Morning Jacket); Anders Parker (solo musician/former member of Space Needle) and Will Johnson (member of Centro-matic and recently, Monsters of Folk) – “Old L.A.” is one of the stand out tracks on a tribute album to Woody Guthrie, New Multitudes: A Tribute to Woody Guthrie.
Switching back to indie rock, the relatively new band Geographer, who have been steadily amassing a large following nationwide, have a terrific new song, “Life From Crime,” from the just dropped album, Myth. The track, one of many standout tracks from Myth, is epic-sounding, framed by synchronized drum beats and bass, and soaring vocals that put it in the realm of the best new songs of 2012. Myth is also streaming via Spinner, and you can click the album title below to purchase it via Amazon as an MP3 download, or you might prefer to get the CD or vinyl edition.
Following right behind is another big-sounding, heartfelt, masterfully composed and engineered track, “Love’s Taking Strange Ways,” from Stockholm indie pop band The Mary Onettes – a band that we have featured numerous times since they emerged right around 2009. This song, their previous work, and the new EP out this week are enough evidence for us that not only are TMO one of the best Swedish bands currently, but perhaps one of the most underrated indie pop bands of recent years.
Next, the lead single, “Lightshow,” from Montreal indie rock band Plants and Animals‘ new album, The End of That, creates a sombre mood, driven predominantly by spirited, mostly acoustic guitar riffs, spunky drum beat rhythms and the somewhat discordant folksy vocals of Warren Spicer. However, while still a solid song – one of week’s best – it would be even a better track if it had a hook to it. The End of That may be the band’s best album since their 2008 debut, Parc Avenue, which was nominated for the Polaris Music Prize and the Juno Award for Alternative Album of the Year.
On March 8th, Plants and Animals will kick-off a 35-city North American tour that will take them until the end of May to complete, with a couple of breaks in between. Check out Plants and Animals’ 2012 tour date schedule.
While the East Coast transplanted L.A. indie rock duo Soft Swells officially dropped its self-titled debut album this week, there was plenty of build-up prior to its long-anticipated release. In fact, last summer, Soft Swells released the perfectly bright indie pop-sounding tracks, “Every Little Thing” and “Lifeboats” on 7,” and with that received airplay on MTV Hive and Los Angeles radio stations, KCRW and KROQ, helping the duo to build a strong West Coast fan following. The duo consists of longtime indie lyricist Tim Williams and Matt Welsh of the popular Brooklyn band, Phonograph.
“Every Little Thing” is uplifting, even infectious, while the double-shot track, “Put It On The Line,” has a power pop hook that sounds like a summer track. Check out Soft Swells 2012 tour schedule that includes a number of dates at South By Southwest in less than two weeks from now.
“Paint My Picture on the Thick Shell” – Stars in Coma from Midnight Puzzle via KinGem Records
Mind Spiders rip out a perfectly garage rock/surf pop track on their new lead single “On The Radio;” England in 1819 take things down a few notches with the slower, mellow composition, “Air That We Once Breathed” that has includes some interestingly chilled guitar riffs and moments of commendable singing. The track is from England 1819′s new album, Alma. Plus, listen to a new track from Xiu Xiu’s latest; the boy/girl 60′s garage pop of Eux Autres; the indie rock of Sourpatch and the new 2012 radar band X-Ray Eyeballs.
“On the Radio” – Mind Spiders from Meltdown via Dirt Nap Records
Double-shot: “Wait For Us” - Mind Spiders from Meltdown
“Air That We Once Breathed” – England In 1819 from Alma (self-released)
“Cynthia Ann” – Sourpatch from Stagger and Fade via HHBTM records
“X” – X-Ray Eyeballs from Splendor Squalor via Kanine Records
Other Worthy Lead Single MP3s from New Albums Out This Week
“Standing on the Edge” – Cuff the Duke from Morning Comes via Paper Bag Records
“The World Unfolds” – Gabriel of the Hounds from Kiss Full of Teeth
“You New Web” – First Person Shootr from Mobility For Gods via Lefse Records
“The World Unfolds” – Gabriel and the Hounds from Kiss Full of Teeth via Ernest Jenning Record Co.
“Always Forever” – Hunx from Hairdresser Blues via Hardly Art
“Close to Me” – Sophia Knapp from Into the Waves via Drag City
“Shepherd” – Anaïs Mitchell from Young Man in America via Wilderland Records
“Dirt” – Andre Williams from Hoods and Shades via Bloodshot Records
“Squawk” – Y La Bamba from Court the Storm via Tender Loving Empire
“Rising Below” - Dirty Three from Toward the Low Sun via Drag City
File Under Disappointing New Singles: School of Seven Bells and Fanfarlo
The new track from School of Seven Bells sounds too over produced and perfected for our tastes; it sounds much more like a ‘mainstream’ pop track. We were never really big fans of the band since they blasted their way into the spotlight a few years ago, but at least back then their sound was, well, more authentic. “The Night” is an OK song that will appeal to a certain demographic (including some of our listeners), and that’s just fine, but compared to all of the other amazing tracks in this week’s playlist, it’s forgettable.
“The Night” – School of Seven Bells from Ghostory via Vagrant Records/Ghostly International
Much of what we pointed out about School of Seven Bells also, to our surprise, applies to the new single, “Replicate,” from Fanfarlo. There’s nothing about the track that would make it even remotely memorable other than the fact that it’s a disappointment compared to the band’s widely-acclaimed debut album, Wolfgang Amadeus – one of the top indie rock albums of 2009. If the band’s newest track, “Replicate” is indicative of their new album, Rooms Filled With Light, we’ll pass, thanks anyways. There’s just way too much other fantastic music out now to give any preference to a band that may turn out to have hit their peak. We just can’t understand how “Replicate” is the lead single – perhaps the rest of the album is better; if we hear people saying that, we’ll probably check it out. In the meantime, if you are a Fanfarlo fan, you can stream XXXXX via Spinner.
“Replicate” – Fanfarlo from Rooms Filled With Light via Canvasback Music
Sneak Peak at Upcoming Big Edition of In Dee Mail Highlighting Top DIY Releases
The number of DIY and unsigned artists and bands that we receive official music submissions from each week builds and builds. We’ve been sifting through them, and have some great tracks from artists most people have never heard of that we’re preparing for the first massive In Dee Mail DIY Releases of 2012 – hopefully to published by next week. You probably don’t want to miss that playlist post when it comes out because, for some of the bands, we’ll be the only and/or first high visibility indie site that we know of to feature them, which in some cases is really surprising.
In the meantime, here are a few tracks from new albums out this week by DIY and unsigned artists, and who will be featured (with an additional song or two) in upcoming editions of In Dee Mail DIY Releases depending on the number of streams and downloads of each song. For example, if artist has close to, as many, or more streams and downloads of their song than the more well-known artists and bands featured higher in this post, that’s a good indicator that listeners like what they hear, and therefore, makes sense to include in the upcoming edition of In Dee Mail DIY Releases.
It will be interesting to see which of these tracks IRC listeners stream and download the most. If you have something particular to say about one of these – or any other – tracks, let everyone know via the Comments section below, Twitter or Facebook.
“Bygger Stegar Upp Till Himmelen” – Laike from Långt Från Stadslivets Dån – Feb. 27th
“Safe to Say” – Russell Howard from City Heart – Feb. 28th
“You’re My Anchor, Baby” – The Anchor Babies from The Anchor Babies EP – March 2nd
“IAF” – Graffito from The Seasons of Our Youth – Feb. 28th
“Madness Dream” – No Offense Intended from Ashes From The Sun – March 1st
“Our Time Is Now” – Outlook from Our Time is Now – Feb. 28th
“Pedro” – Sol Cat from The Jungle Sessions EP – March 1st
“Fatherland” – Mr. Dream from Fatherland EP – Feb. 28th
Soundcloud Only Singles
“Polaroyced” – Mouse on Mars from Parastrophics via Monkeytown Records
“Get a Room” Rotary Club from Second Year in Swine via Woodside Records
“Malibu Rum” – The Wooden Sky from Every Child A Daughter, Every Moon A Sun via Black Box Recordings/Fontana North
Releases and links to artist websites
Carolina Chocolate Drops - Leaving Eden
Céu - Caravena Sereia
Cold Specks - S/T(UK)
Dead Fingers (Kate Taylor/Taylor Hollingsworth) - S/T
England in 1819 - Alma
Erin Passmore (Rah Rah)- Downtown EP
Fanfarlo - Rooms Filled With Light
Green River Ordinance - Under Fire
Jay Farrar/Jim James
Gabriel & The Hounds - Kiss Full of Teeth
Lyle Lovett - Release Me (Covers LP)
Magnolia Memoir - The Perfect Crime
Memoryhouse - The Slideshow Effect
Mona - S/T
Nneka - Soul Is Heavy
Pink Floyd - The Wall (Deluxe)
Plants and Animals - The End of That
PT Walkley - Thriller
School of Seven Bells - Ghostory
The Cranberries - Roses
The White Buffalo - Once Upon A Time in the West
The Wooden Sky - Every Child a Daughter, Every Moon a Sun
Water Liars - Phantom Limb
We Have Band - Ternion
Xiu Xiu - Always
- SXSW 2012, Day Two – NPR Broadcasts Live Andrew Bird at Helm of Special Live Cast, Plus Sharon Van Etten, Alabama Shakes | Best new indie rock music, top new songs, popular rock bands, best new album releases, free MP3s, playlists & mixes
- Top Ten Playlists for March, 2012 – The Shins, Andrew Bird, Poor Moon, La Sera, Tanlines, The Ting Tings, Tribes, Good Old War | Best indie rock songs, popular bands, top rock music, top ten songs, indie videos
- Anaïs Mitchell – Shepherd - stephen jackson design