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Posts tagged “featured song

FEATURED SONG: Miles Wick – “In Front Of You”


Photo Credit: Don Paris Schlotman

Meet Miles Wick, a Brooklyn-based singer-songwriter who embodies equally the melodic vocals of Paul Simon and the scene-setting of Sufjan Stevens. Wick, who plans to release his latest album So Much Love on June 27th, has already been profiled in Obscure Sound and Independent Music News, drawing comparisons to Arthur Russell and Damien Jurado. Here, for the first time, we present his stunning track “In Front Of You,” which will make you a believer in the first thirty seconds, its bare-bones acoustic melody providing just enough structure to keep his rising-falling ethereal vocals from spinning out of control into the void. The arrangement’s subtle use of background harmonies blended with light bass and piano draws you in instantly. “It’s all in front of you,” he sings hauntingly on the chorus, and as the swell builds before us we’re just glad for the opportunity to partake.

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FEATURED SONG: Tom Levin – “Father to a Son”

A few months ago I introduced you all to Tom Levin, an artist I feel is destined for much bigger things in the future. He’s released a video for “Father to a Son,” one of the standout tracks from his album Them Feet which, if you haven’t heard it, now’s as good a time as any! The video, which you can view below, is a perfect counterpoint to the traditional songs about fathers and sons, a work of art that elevates the song via a colorful blend of animation and live images showcasing three generations living life fully.. I’ll let Levin say it in his own words:

“Father To A Son” is about my father, me and my son. Ever since I became a father, I’ve been thinking a lot about  what kind of person I want to be and what I really leave behind. I can pursue a career, start a company, make money, acquire gadgets and build a house. But the one thing that, in a longer perspective, truly will affect many generations to come is the respect I show my fellow humans and the love I give my children. This is my true legacy.

FEATURED SONG: Terese Taylor’s “Briefcase” a scathing indictment of love gone awry

I’ve got to say, I like the sound Terese Taylor brings to the table, a biting combination of anti-Lilith nineties post-grunge that references PJ Harvey and Liz Phair, with just as much appreciation for bands like Veruca Salt sneaking out through the lines. “If I ever wanted to be true I’m sure it wouldn’t be to you,” she all but snarls on the chorus of “Briefcase,” emphasizing an inherent distaste for truth-telling in a situation where both sides are hiding plenty in the shadows. This isn’t the easy pop breeze look at love on the rocks, where a well-placed apology will fix everything. This is more akin to the blind leading the blind. “I’m lying to myself and everybody else,” she sings, and the strident guitars and fuzzed-out bass are unobtrusive enough to let Taylor’s understated vocals take the lead. This is a keeper — At Your Mercy Circuit, out in April, has officially jumped onto my “must hear” list.

“I’M YOUR 911!” — Mumiy Troll’s “Swimming With Sharks” expands band’s hook-filled legacy, strongest English-language single yet

Read the “Hear! Hear!” interview with Ilya Lagutenko from last May.

It is fitting that Mumiy Troll’s latest single, “Swimming With Sharks,” builds its hook upon a surf-rock infused bass melody and a hook which catches you off guard with its insistent groove. Ilya Lagutenko’s giddy sense of pop-rock fun is catchy and makes this one of the band’s strongest singles yet, and their best by far in the English language. The video itself is pitch-perfect, proof of the band’s talent as Russia’s greatest pop export and more than enough reason to check them out if you’ve yet to take the plunge. Swimming with these sharks is all the more dangerous because there’s blood in the water, but what fun is there in always playing it safe?

Keep an eye out for the band’s 11th full-length, which they’re recording in English and Russian in between dates on their relentless touring schedule.


LET ME SHOW YOU WHAT A HERO DOES: DNA’s “Stonewall Jackson” breathes life into pop music with epic mythmaking

Saw these guys in Tell City, Indiana during their Schweitzer Fest performance the night before they laid down this spectacular live version of “Stonewall Jackson” at a show in Illinois. I had never heard the band prior to seeing their exceptional live show, yet I was singing along with this one instantly, the kind of thing which heralds a hit hands-down.

“Make ‘Stonewall Jackson’ the single and make station managers play it at knife-point,” I wrote in a quick email to the band after the set. “They’ll thank you for it later.”  A month later I still agree. From the slow-burn guitar and keyboards opening to the frenzied chorus, the song’s got everything you need for a repeatable, ear-catching hook. And the rest of their songs fully live up to the hype, as fully laid bare on the band’s debut full-length Plenty of Thoughts.

There’s definitely plenty of room in the pop scene for a group of guys from St. Louis who have this much songwriting sense and the willingness to get out there and build a fan-base from the ground up. If you haven’t heard DNA, give the songa  listen and then head over to their Facebook page. Then sit back and let your ears thank you.

LET IT BURN DOWN: Jonny Lang’s “Blew Up (The House)” kicks the pulse of blues-pop up a notch

Though many of us could be forgiven for not knowing Jonny Lang still had a recording presence, he returns today after a seven year absence with Fight For My Soul, which contains a surprisingly catchy first single — “Blew Up (The House)”, which features a man saving his soul by burning down all vestiges of his prior life “just to watch it burn down.” The song features as crunchy a groove as the young bluesman has yet produced, coupled with a Greek chorus of vocals which reminds this critic of Star Turtle-era Harry Connick Jr.

Rest assured, once you hear this song, you won’t forget it easily. And you’ll be likely to want to seek out the remainder of Fight For My Soul, which looks to be the musical maturation of a man who’s spent half his life reveling in all things blues. If you wondered, when hearing Lie To Me back in ’96, just how good this kid would sound like with some experience under his belt, the new material quickly, assuredly answers: “pretty damned good!”

For the tour-minded among you, Lang can be spotted in Minneapolis on September 18th, to be followed by a series of shows in the Midwest and along the east coast, before he hits Europe in October.

“HEAR! HEAR!” EXCLUSIVE: The Winter Sounds’ “The Sun Also Rises” Video and MP3

The Winter Sounds (credit: Laura Meek)

The brightest spot in New Orleans’ pop music scene has to be The Winter Sounds, a band which brings the best of Arcade Fire, Mumford and Sons and Snow Patrol together into one meaty sound worthy of repeat listens. The band’s latest, Runner, comes out November 27. Today we have an exclusive on their brand new video for single “The Sun Also Rises,” a shiny pop nugget with the pop hooks of Snow Patrol merged with the sonic heft of “Intervention”-era Arcade Fire. You can watch the video below, and download the mp3 for free here!

When it comes to crafting memorable hooks, The Racer won’t “Settle” for anything less than the best

The Racer Settle

If Dexter Morgan had The Racer’s album as his dark passenger, he wouldn’t need to settle for serial murder — they’ve got “killing it” handled!

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PassengersDon’t let the first thirty seconds fool you. Monroe (New York)’s The Racer delivers with their latest single “Settle” from their sophomore album Passengers, due out November 11. At first the song echoes classic Coldplay — heavy on the pianos but advocating the tried and true slow build. No doubt, however, they deliver the payoff — the subtlety of the keyboards and vocals during the first verse makes way for the blistering chorus. Instantly there’s no doubting the band much more comfortably compares to Matthew Good. You won’t escape the earworms once the band drops all pretense and lets Steve Kondracki’s blistering guitar solo take over. “Tell me, who are you?” Pete Marotta wails on the refrain, and quite frankly, I’m asking the same question about them. I can’t wait to delve into the whole album!

“HEAR! HEAR!” EXCLUSIVE: From Mumbai to Los Angeles, Natania’s “Cherry Love” will tie your heart in knots

Stream and Download Natania’s single “Cherry Love,” exclusively here at “Hear! Hear!”

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Two years ago Natania left her home in Mumbai for Los Angeles, with a guitar and a dream. She’d always thought of her music as a hobby, but arriving in the US, she took a leap of faith, enrolled herself in Berklee College of Music’s five-week summer program, then followed that with Musician’s Institute’s vocal program. From there, a hobby became her way of life.

Now she’s ready to take the indie-pop world by storm with her ear-catching blend of Ingrid Michaelson and Sarah Bareilles. “My cherry love / you taste like chapstick on my tongue / when you tie a stem I come undone,” she sings over a melody crafted of acoustic guitar, tasteful keyboards and slightly off-kilter percussive riffing. It’s just the kind of pop confection to give you a perfect pre-Thanksgiving sweet tooth, with a singable hook you won’t easily extract from your head … or your tongue.

Download the song through the SoundCloud app above, and sound off below in the comments — what do you think of Natania’s first single?

Mixed Blood Majority ready to take 2013 by storm, Mayans be damned! If you’re not listening to “Fine Print” on repeat, you’re doing it wrong

Mixed Blood Majority

The best thing about rap music today is how, among underground collectives, there’s been a trend toward collaborating on entire records. A rapper might work with several fellow collaborators on material, allowing for a constant stream of amazing music to reach the listeners. Get ready, because the next big super-collaboration has arrived, in the hands of Mixed Blood Majority, which brings together Crescent Moon (Kill the Vultures), Joe Horton (No Bird Sing) and the ever-talented Lazerbeak (Doomtree). The group’s first single, “Fine Print,” heralds the eventual arrival of a full-length in early 2013.

Now we’re all fine with the words that confine us
Defined by the climate designed by the fine print
Did you read the fine print?
No, but I signed it
Soon you’ll be reciting it like poetry

Lazerbeak’s thundering beat flips the switch to midnight as Horton and Crescent moon flip consistently incendiary verses which showcase the state of music today — seemingly trapped by a previous generation’s ruined paradigm, these three use their collaboration to flip convention on its ear, “staggering their tracks to wake the sleepwalkers.” No more need for frustration or fatigue — fuck the fine print, it’s a new hip-hop revolution. If you’re not playing this song over and over, steeping in Mixed Blood Majority’s dark twisted view of where modern hip-hop is headed, you’re doing it wrong. Get in on the ground floor — based on what this single offers, the full-length should be required listening.

Everybody needs a Hero (Jr) — Alt-rock Revivalists Take Indianapolis, With Eyes on America

Hero Jr

Proof from the Hoosier Heartland that Hero(e)s do exist.

Backup PlanI love Hero Jr guitarist Ken Rose ‘s explanation of what his band’s song “Ann Boleyn” really means. When you get down to it, he says:  “When the going gets rough, don’t lose your head.” These Indianapolis alt-rock darlings, having received accolades from the Indy Star and Nuvo Weekly, are now ready and willing now to take on the rest of the country. And the music they bring on Backup Plan is more than worth some serious exploration.

Remember when rock and roll seemed to have it all? The band strives to bring together passion, power and chemistry to craft “timeless songs people can relate to.” Lead singer Evan Haughey is gifted with magnificent pipes, his vocals soaring over a guitar-heavy alternative groove which reminds instantly of a cross between nineties-era Tonic and pretty much anything by the Black Crowes or Cracker. Check out “Ann Boleyn” below — if you like it, download it, it’s free and legal! And if you happen to be in the Midwest, check the band out at one of these dates. I hear they bring the roof down every time.

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10/25: The Hideaway Saloon (Louisville KY) – w/ The Delta Routine
10/26: Hamilton St. Pub (Saginaw MI)
11/02: Fearless Radio Unplugged Studio Session (Chicago IL)
11/02: The Bird’s Nest (Chicago IL) – w/ The Delta Routine, The Hawkeyes, Glendenning
11/03: Radio Radio (Indianapolis IN) – w/ The Delta Routine, The Hawkeyes*
11/04: Scarlet & Grey (Columbus OH) – w/ The Delta Routine
11/05: World Café Live (Philadelphia PA) – w/ The Delta Routine, The Hawkeyes
11/06: HeadHouse Restaurant (Philadelphia PA) – w/ The Delta Routine, Boy Wonder
11/08: Fontana’s (New York NY) – w/ The Delta Routine
11/09: The Monkey Wrench (Louisville KY) – w/ The Delta Routine
11/10: Lemmons (St. Louis MO) – w/ The Delta Routine
11/11: High Noon Saloon (Madison WI) – w/ The Lucas Cates Band
11/16: Czar’s 505 (St. Joseph MI) – w/ The Delta Spirit
11/29: Old Haunts (Akron OH) – w/ The Hawkeyes
11/30: Legendary Hobbs (Philadelphia PA) – w/ The Hawkeyes, Late Ancients
12/01: The Place (Indianapolis, IN) – w/ The Hawkeyes12/07: The Crack Fox (St. Louis MO) – w/ The Lions of Gatwood
12/15: Rock House (Indianapolis, IN) – w/ Phoenix on the Fault Line, Veseria, Bullet Called Life
01/05: Uncle Slayton’s (Lousiville, KY) – w/ Po’ Brothers

* Backup Plan
CD release show

Wax Fang’s “Mirror Mirror” is an incisive cut of demonic-edged rock, relishes the sinister in life

Wax Fang

Another Louisville band front and center for you today: Wax Fang puts serious flesh into the game with their latest single “Mirror Mirror,” which will sink in deep and demand to be spread like the aural virus it is. The instant we hear singer-guitarist Scott Carney’s first haunting vocals, the trap is set. There’s no release but to play more, devouring the rest of what Mirror Mirror EP has to offer (out October 30 via Karate Body Records).

Once the percussive guitars slam into play ninety seconds into the song, there’s a gleeful sense of dark tent revivalism at play — Carney lures us under the guise of some deeply twisted ritual to wield a poisonous snake or two in the name of alternative salvation. It works, the melody digging its way in, insisting there’s no escape. All’s fair in the search for amazing new music. Skip the genre comparisons and simply check out the video below. And if you’re going to be near Louisville on the 17th of November, you’d be insane to miss the band’s homecoming at Headliners Music Hall with Old Baby and Anwar Sadat — only $10, with tickets still available!

Single “Harbour Lights” proves A Silent Film is definitely no one hit wonder

A Silent Film

A Silent Film rocketed into this critic’s consciousness when the Oxford, UK-based band issued “Danny, Dakota and the Wishing Well” back in April. The post I made here on this site extolling the virtues of that track and dubbing the band’s at-that-time-unreleased full-length “the indie pop album to watch for this summer,” quickly became the most popular “Artists To Watch” post ever!

Since that time, Sand & Snow, the band’s sophomore album, came out in early June. And though it is unfortunate the band still remains mired in obscurity here in the US, the album has launched a new single which builds on the potential of “Danny, Dakota and the Wishing Well,” upping the ante on Robert Stevenson’s stadium-worthy vocals. Comparisons to Snow Patrol and Bell X1 are still valid when aimed at “Harbour Lights,” but the band is quietly making its mark and proving they’re ready to dominate the same stages. It is past time for this band to get a push here in the US. Radio won’t play it, but “Hear! Hear!” will — lap it up in a stripped down live version below (you’ll really hear the “Rocky Took A Lover” comparisons in that version) or enjoy the full single version here.

The Zolas tie themselves up in knots to create amazing alt pop hooks and win hearts

The Zolas

If I’d heard this one a few months ago it could have easily been my song of summer. Okay, actually I did hear this song a month ago, but it fell off my desk only to earworm its way back in, and I’m damned glad for it. The Zolas have a distinct sound — “Knot In My Heart” opens with an oddly familiar strain akin to touches of Flight of the Conchords mock folk, but twists off-kilter keyboards and haunting vocals quickly enter the mix, crafting a pop hook as warped as anything you’ve heard this year. The band’s latest album, Ancient Mars, came out this week on Light Organ Records, and is definitely an album you’ll want on your Fall driving radar. If you enjoy music by the Wombats, with hooks taking modern techno-pop touches and merging them with 90s alt-nostalgia, the Zolas will be your new favorite.

Killing us not so softly, Amanda Palmer’s taking listeners over by sheer force of will

Amanda Palmer

I’m not a member of the Church of Amanda Fucking Palmer, and I only have a passing acquaintance with the Dresden Dolls. Her recent splash on Kickstarter aside, I’ll admit to having not heard much of her actual music, but the word-of-mouth on the internet won me over and I discovered this astonishingly addicting nugget from her latest album. Palmer may not be the killing type, though she does a smashingly good job of contradicting that via the arresting images in the video, but she kills via her music. This is one of the strongest songs to come out this year on the strength of the hook alone, but Palmer kicks it up to twelve with her all-in performance. If you haven’t heard it, stop reading and listen now — and if you have already heard it, another ten times won’t hurt. Then buy a copy of Theater is Evil featuring her full band, the Grand Theft Orchestra, because Palmer’s got a lot more going for her than just mere hype.

Throwing deft lyrical punches, Jason Myles Goss is alternative music dynamite

Jason Myles Goss

Of bad nights and bruises, Jason Myles Goss’s songs show, rather than tell.

I was born in the gutter from a mother just seventeen
No father or a brother in a world so hard and mean
I learned to fight before I learned to read
I could could throw my hands with a devilish speed
And someday, Mama, you’ll see I’m gonna be somebody

For this 90s-music veteran, having cut my teeth on Counting Crows’ August and Everything After and whetted my appetite for roots-alternative via the Wallflowers’ Bringing Down the Horse,  it’s refreshing to hear a songwriter with the honest songwriting ability of Jason Myles Goss. The Massachusetts songwriter who is equally indebted to similar influences, owes a great deal to the former Dylan’s ability to craft a memorable lyric, coupled with Joe Pug’s amazing modern folk delivery. Couple that with an amazing pop-rock hook which instantly reminds of Tonic’s Emerson Hart, and “Black Lights” is a stunning discovery which serves as a perfect introduction to the songwriter’s fourth album, Radio Dial, an album which works as hard as this song’s boxing protagonist to craft meaningful music which resonates like a brutal right-hook.

All I have are bad nights
Wrapping knuckles, taping hands tight
The calm after a fistfight is the hollowest sound I know …

Almost like the hollow sound you’ll briefly hear between your ears before you hit play and dig up a copy of this stellar album so you can hear a dozen more just as good.


FEATURED SONG: Eyes Lips Eyes – “Don’t Blow It”

Eyes Lips Eyes

Maybe it’s not too broke to fix
It’s a thrill to give you (what you want)

It’s everything you dreamed of (what you want)
Put everything on plastic if you just don’t blow it
Everything’s going down …. whoooooooooooooooh!
But you just can’t stop it

Opening with a series of Ramones-esque “Yeah!”s, Eyes Lips Eyes’ impressive “Don’t Blow It” follows its own mantra by morphing immediately into a melodic pop romp through everything eighties. It’s a hook made from B-52s surf-pop with hints of Beach Boys in the background vocals, coupled with a tune which draws just enough from Billy Idol’s “Dancing With Myself” to be immediately tip-of-the-tongue memorable. The song is currently streaming for free at Spinner, so you can hear for yourself, Co-produced by the band alongside John Goodmanson (Death Cab for Cutie, Nada Surf) and mixed by Mike Roskelly (Kaskade), the single is the perfect lead-off from What You Want (If You Want), the band’s four-song follow-up to their debut project Blue Red, which is sure to be the perfect blend of seventies-era post-punk, eighties new-wave hooks and the modern rock energy of the Strokes. This Los Angeles by way of Utah fouresome warrants some serious watching!

FEATURED SONG: LP – “In The Pines”


When you hear her voice, you’ll understand …

There are some things which are simply beyond words. You’ll understand when you hear LP’s magnificently full voice resonating as she strips Lead Belly’s “In The Pines” down to its rawest fury. I haven’t been literally forced back in my seat by a voice since I first heard John Jacob Niles sing. The whole solo ukelele thing is so played out, I wanted to say, but that voice! I can’t stop listening to it. If the rest of her Into The Wild: Live at EastWest Studios album is as good as this, I may just have to be committed to an asylum where it’s just me and that voice. Excuse me while I listen again a few more times. Listen below yourself, and you’ll know why I can’t help myself!

FEATURED SONG: Mörse – “Le Bannissement”


For those about to rock out to Mörse, “Salut!”

I get some fun stuff in my email-box these days, but nothing has rocked quite as much as this song I got from French punk-rockers Mörse. “Le Bannissement” doesn’t waste any time. In 110 seconds they storm into town, trash the place, steal your woman and leave you with nothing but hard-edged thrash rattling around in your head as you hope they’ll play the song again and let you bask in it. It’s a shame to say I don’t know much about this band, but hearing songs with this much power and grit, I think that needs to change. Fast.

FEATURED SONG: The Royal Concept – “Gimme Twice”

The Royal Concept

The Royal Concept’s latest video takes infectious pop to a new level!

Stockholm’s The Royal Concept has a ripping new video for “Gimme Twice,” which features the band being forced to perform like puppets under the total control of their handlers. The song itself is so mindlessly infectious, it instantly reminds one of the Wombats’ This Modern Glitch, which was dominated by hook-filled nuggets “Tokyo” and “Anti-D.” The key to enjoying the Royal Concept, however, is understanding they’re not taking themselves nearly as seriously as Wombats lead singer Matthew Murphy. To the contrary, this is dance-infused pop to set your feet on fire. There’s no time for serious considerations. “Come on, say it out loud so they all can hear!” their lead singer howls at the chorus “I’m the one for you …” By the end of the listen, you’ll believe it, and you’ll want to hear more. Thankfully, their full self-titled EP is available to provide exactly that.

FEATURED SONG: Clockwork Radio – “Feel It Up”

Clockwork Radio

Clockwork Radio

Clockwork Radio

Something about this new song “Feel It Up” by Clockwork Radio makes me think of a sonic alliance between Vampire Weekend and Crowded House. It’s an invigorating pop listen which builds its reputation more and more as you play it. Featured prominently on their new EP Unbuntu, which is available via purchase at Bandcamp, or for free if you choose to “Pay With A Tweet” by sharing the EP on Twitter or by suggesting the EP to your friends on Facebook.These alt-rockers, based in Wales, have had a measure of success in parts of Europe, but to this point have been an undiscovered gem here in the States. Here’s hoping they don’t stay that way for long — songs like this need to be spread around!

FEATURED SONG: JEFF The Brotherhood – “Sixpack”

Jeff The Brotherhood

JEFF The Brotherhood (credit: Jo McCaughey)

Hypnotic NightsThey’ve got a six-pack and they’re here to save us from another drawn-out summer with nothing to get excited about. With a fuzzed-out blend of modern indie with hints of 90s-era Weezer and just the slightest touch of Jack White’s brand of forced genre fusion, Nashville’s JEFF The Brotherhood definitely bring the goods! Their debut album for Warner Bros. Records, Hypnotic Nights, comes out July 17th should see the Orrall brothers finally get some notice after their six underground albums which got them here. You can pre-order the album via the band’s website.

FEATURED SONG: Matthew E. White – “One of These Days”

Matthew E White


It’s hard to look away from such a subtle track as “One Of These Days,” which demands repetition to expose its deepest layers. The languidly subtle track isn’t going to hit you over the head with its rewards, but once you hear it you’ll know you want to hear more from this guy who channels the likes of Allen Toussaint and Dr. John so effortlessly, even if it means you have to work for those rewards. Matthew E. White’s Big Inner has already been championed by the music behemouth which is Pitchfork, so I was immediately predisposed to dislike the music as pretentious indie bullshit, but White’s charms instantly revealed themselves, making me thoroughly ready for more from this “formidable” debut. The album comes out August 21st on the newly joined labels Hometapes and Spacebomb, and features Spacebomb’s house band, choir, string, and horn sections which should make for a positively headphone-quality experience. There’s nothing like a little of “the sweetest thing the Lord has ever made” (his words, not mine!) to brighten up your listening day!

FEATURED SONG: A. Wolf and Her Claws – “Zero To 60″

A Wolf and Her Claws

A. Wolf and Her Claws' Aby Wolf

This is some wild ragga-elecro-pop you’ll soon be unable to get out of your head, and it’s all thanks to the vocals of Aby Wolf. From the self-titled debut A. Wolf and Her Claws, “Zero To 60″ blasts into the dub stratosphere with a boost by synthesist / programmer Jesse Whitney’s twisted arrangement, but Wolf’s voice is what wins you over in the end. What is immediately clear is that the band wants to push the envelope of what inspires modern electronic pop, and their energy is immediately contagious. Not that it should be a surprise, with Wolf hailing from Doomtree, the groundbreaking hip-hop crew responsible for some of the most innovative albums not to come from Rhymesayers. A. Wolf and Her Claws is available now as a free stream via AOL’s Spinner, so there’s no excuse — groove to the video below, then check out the full album. It is definitely worth the listen.