Best New Releases 2016, Vol. I – The 1975, SVIIB, Yuck, Wild Nothing, Animal Collective, Coastgaard, Her Magic Wand, Golden Daze

Two months have already been burned out for 2016. As is true with most years, the new album releases were slow to a trickle up until the past few weeks. Since, they’ve been coming out in rapid fire succession. So much so that it’s been really hard to keep up. But here are our picks for best new releases from signed indie artists and bands.

Best New Releases for Week of Feb. 29th with The 1975, Yuck, SVIIB, etc.

The 1975 have worked their way from piss-flooded dive bars to major venues in a few short years, and as the interestingly, and long-winded, title of their new album hints, there are stories of love to be told, integrated with groovy indie/alt. rock tracks like the irresistible “Love Me.”

“Love Me”The 1975 from I Like It When You Sleep, for You Are So Beautiful Yet So Unaware of It

Yuck – Stranger Things

We loved Georgia’s noise pop band Yuck from the first time we heard them. The band’s third album, Hum, is a return to form that their sophomore album lacked – with the crazy energy and strong songwriting of Yuck’s debut, as evident on songs like “Hearts In Motion.”

“Hearts In Motion”Yuck from Stranger Things

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School of Seven Bells – SVIIB

Amazing sounds fill SVIIB, the fourth, and alas, last, album from School of Seven Bells, following the 2013 death of Benjamin Curtis from cancer. It’s definitely an epic send-off from the popular dream pop duo. Interestingly, it’s a self-titled release. Under the circumstances, that seems fitting.

“Open Your Eyes”School of Seven Bells from SVIIB

Thao & the Get Down Stay Down – A Man Alive

DC suburban band Thao & the Get Down Stay Down return with a new album, A Man Alive, that explores various genre mixing and issues of abandonment. The energetic and infectious stomp “Nobody Dies,” highlights Thao Nguyen‘s serrated vocals and the band’s specialized rhythms and melodies.

“Nobody Dies”Thao & the Get Down Stay Down from A Man Alive

Quilt – Plaza

The band Quilt returns with a new album, Plaza , featuring wistful psych pop grooves that makes the band sound more comfortable than ever, as displayed by the standout track, “Roller,” and the playful official video above.

“Roller”Quilt from Plaza

Her Magic Wand – Everything At Once

Parisian songwriter and musician Charles Braud dropped his debut album, Everything At Once, using the moniker Her Magic Wand last week. Brimming with stories that range from neurological conditions (“Everything At Once”) to isolation, Braud aptly crafts a compelling compendium of stories with a catchy electro-pop mixed with indie rock flavor throughout that he calls “melancholic pop.”

The album content, so wonderfully woven musically, also highlights the passing of time, and how it fades memories (“Blank Memory Track”), or even death as personified by a younger Robert Redford in a The Twilight Zone episode from 1961 called ‘Nothing in the Dark’ (“Harold Beldon”).

Braud pieced together all of the instruments that he recorded on separate tracks with the mixing help from audio alchemist Stephane ‘Alf’ Briat, who has mixed for bands like Phoenix and Air, and mastering engineer, Chab, who has mastered albums for Daft Punk and Etienne Daho.

Her Magic Wand draws inspiration from a mix of dream pop and electronica, a collision of genres that can be found in Lali Puna’s cover of Slowdive’s shoegaze anthem, “40 Days”, where the German outfit traded Slowdive’s guitars full of reverb for digital signal processing effects. The song had a big impact on Braud, who took the opposite route, shifting from computer music (his “magic wand”) back to fuzzy guitars and analog synths.

The first single, and title track, “Everything At Once,” received over 10,000 plays on Soundcloud, and thousands of views of the video.

“Everything At Once” – Her Magic Wand from Everything At Once

Her Magic Wand on Facebook

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Pinkshinyultrablast – Grandfeathered

The popular Russian shoegaze band, Pinkshinyultrablast, just released their sophomore album, Grandfeathered, which is a feast for the ears for fans of dreamy, ethereal music. There are some surprises too for fans of the band’s widely acclaimed debut. Let’s just say PSUB is spreading its wings – as evidenced on the terrific single, “The Cherry Pit.”

“The Cherry Pit”Pinkshinyultrablast from Grandfeathered

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Eerie Wanda – Hum

A perfect blend of 60’s pop and psych-tinged dream pop come together on the melancholic, summery single, “I Am Over Here,” from Eerie Wanda, the project of Croatian/Dutch singer and songwriter Marina Tadic with the help of the rhythm section of Jacco Gardner‘s band. Her debut album as Eerie Wanda, Hum, is a special treat of song after song of surprises and experimental and wistful musical explorations.

“I Am Over Here”Eerie Wanda from Hum

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Purple Pilgrim – Eternal Delight

Australian duo Purple Pilgrim‘s debut offers heavily-distorted dream pop that is haunting and beautiful. The delicate, ethereal key notes, dreamy bass lines and heavenly, wistful vocals of the single, “Thru Every Cell,” is a nice recipe to chill with after a stressful day.

“Thru Every Cell”Purple Pilgrim from Eternal Delight

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Coastgaard – Devil on The Balcony

Certainly the guys of Brooklyn indie pop band band Coastgaard had the beach in mind when writing their deliciously wistful and upbeat songs, created by well crafted pop songs brimming with sunny, guitar-dominate atmospherics and solid influences of surf guitars and melodies of the 1960s. The lead single, “Black White Fuzz,” is off of the band’s new sophomore album, Devil on The Balcony.

“Black White Fuzz”Coastgaard from Devil on The Balcony

“Loop The Loop”Bullion from Loop The Loop

Wild Nothing – Life of Pause

The new album, Life of Pause, from indie favorite Wild Nothing features longer, more emotive tracks than previous versions, displaying a maturity in songwriting and production. The title track is the official first single from Captured Tracks

“Life of Pause”Wild Nothing from Life of Pause

Animal Collective – Painting With

Baltimore psych pop heroes Animal Collective‘s tenth album, Painting With, is referred to by the band as “our Ramones album,” even though it sounds a lot more like Devo. But the point is taken – there is a more stripped down and simplistic Animal Collective here, but fans should not worry because there is still plenty of fat glitches, sweeping harmonies and tripped out pop rock melodies. Here is one of the top singles from the album, ”

“Golden Gal”Animal Collective from Painting With

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Releases from Ra Ra Riot, Golden Daze, The Fall

The Syracuse indie band Ra Ra Riot turns up the passion big time on their new album produced by Vampire Weekend’s Rostam Batmanglij. California duo Golden Daze‘s self-title debut album features layers of melodic shoegaze guitar ambience infused with late 60’s psych and shimmering effects. Veteran rockers The Fall are back and still kicking out the zany hard-edged post punk that has made them one of the best such bands ever.

“Absolutely”Ra Ra Riot from Need Your Light

“Salt”Golden Daze from Golden Daze

“Wise Ol’ Man”The Fall from Wise Ol’ Man

Flashback Track (1988 UK TV): “Big New Prinz” – The Fall official video

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Wolfmother Left to the Wolves

It’s harder to take Wolfmother as seriously as we did with the release of their first two albums. Once they signed up to the major label of Universal back in 2010, the music, predictably, has suffered. Their latest album, ironically named Victorious (since fans and critics don’t really agree), has too much polish on it and not enough of the band’s previous underlying grit.

This is what happens again and again when a great band goes major. It’s bullshit. When the big money compromises your soul, what do you have left? Eventually, one way or another, it reflects on the music, which is evident on both of the band’s Universal releases. Not surprisingly, fans have left in flocks since the signing.

Australia’s once red hot rock band has pretty much been viewed as a sellout by many of the early, and most loyal, fans. When bands choose money over fans, it’s the beginning of the end. At least if the music had some of the same magic as their earlier days, there’d be something worth salvaging. But, it’s just mediocre.

(Lesson #1 in ‘Band No No’s’: Never abandon your first and most loyal fans. Never.)

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