Charly Bliss Guppy
If you’re like me you may think that you couldn’t love a pop punk band that channels 90’s rock and grunge with a cute blonde frontwoman with a high pitched voice. However, I was pleasantly surprised to find the Brooklyn band Charly Bliss balances all of this masterfully and not only did I not hate them, but I became obsessed with them. Frontwoman Eva Grace Hendricks and guitarist Spencer Fox met in line at a Tokyo Police Club show and Charly Bliss was born. Eva’s high voice could’ve been the groups greatest detractor yet it is actually the greatest asset and helps make their music distinct. It also adds to her scream, which makes several appearances, it’s piercing peak feels so visceral and expressive. She can sound like Taylor Swift at her sweet or Kathleen Hannah at her fiercest. Eva’s writing revolves around friendships, relationships, and growing up. Often with self-deprecating humor, painting herself as a sort of bumbling anti-hero who you root for despite their follies. One of my favorite tracks “DQ” chronicles a time when she “bounced so high I peed the trampoline,” and she foresees a grim future for herself, “I’m gonna end up working at Dairy Queen.” Amidst the humor you hear the soul of a person who is just trying to find their way, and she taps into truths about youth, love, and growing pains. Every song on this album is in your face, super catchy, and rocks so hard, channeling the likes of Nirvana and Bikini Kill they are reminiscent of the 90’s while feeling perfectly suited for 2017. This album was not on my radar and now it’s shot up to the top of my list. Hear Brian and I talk about them and play their song “Black Hole” on Best Song Ever.
Overcoats is band made up of besties, Hanna Elion and JJ Mitchell. They describe their sound as “Chet Faker meets Simon & Garfunkle” which is a good way to describe it. I’ve said they’re do synth pop in the vein of Sylvan Esso but with a bluesy country/folk influence like Fiona Apple or KT Tunstall. It makes sense that they are such close friends, hearing how their voices move together almost telepathically to create heavenly harmonies over flawlessly assembled electronic compositions. They sing about love, loss and family, on the opener “Father” and closer “Mother” they examine these themes through the lens of parents. I would usually be turned off to another female synth pop band who sings about love, but they do it so well and sound so perfect it’s hard not to love them. On “23” they chronicle a marriage that happened too young, on “Siren” they counsel a girl who’s just had her heart broke, and on my personal favorite track “Nighttime Hunger” they long for the love of a man, though recognizing the inclination to be alone, while tapping into the frenetic regret and loneliness that can hit when you’re up at night while everyone else sleeps. This an astounding debut album, it is beautiful and innovative from start to finish. I’m bout to play them on the podcast (don’t tell Brian) and I’m having a hard time deciding whether to see them or The xx and Sampha, so head over to @BestSongEverPod on Facebook or Twitter and cast your vote in the poll.
Real Life Buildings Significant Weather
Brooklyn has delivered some incredible indie-rock in recent years. The Epoch collective bands like Bellows, Told Slant, and the band formerly known as Eskimeaux have given some great albums. Not to mention, Vagabon which gave us one of the best albums of the year so far. Laetitia Tamco who is the voice and mind behind Vagabon, along with Crying’s Elaiza Santos, back up frontman Matthew Van Asselt to add to the lexicon of great rock coming out of Brooklyn. This band does carry on the same style of those Brooklyn bands I mentioned, with 90’s/early aughts emo and indie-rock influences, songs often begin bare and deceptive, exploding unpredictably into power pop hooks. Matthew’s soft shaky vocals make song feel very vulnerable. Yet with this band of heavy hitters they take that sound and maximize it, making it rock even harder, often taking the listener by surprise. Laetitia and Elaiza adds some lovely backup vocals and harmonies, and Elaiza’s keys add a really interesting feel to this style that you don’t hear too often. Matt’s lyrics stem from simple thoughts like his key not working in a door, or a picture of a sunset on Instagram, then they meandering with stream-of-consiousness trails leading to relatable truths about finding your way through life and figuring out your purpose. His writing feels very casual with random thoughts assembled together, making it feel like your friend is talking to you trying to connect many different examples to make a point. All songs kind of bleed together seamlessly, yet take on their own personality throughout. This is a fantastic second album from my favorite new indie-rock supergroup. Hear when Brian played their song “Tare” on Best Song Ever.
Born in Iran, and raised in the Netherlands, Sevda Alizadeh became a successful basketball player and walked away from a position in the corporate world to pursue music. It’s a good thing she did too, because not only is she skilled when it comes to sports, business, and academics (she has a master’s in communications), but she’s an extremely gifted songwriter and performer. Over the past couple years she’s released two EP's, remixed one of her songs with A$AP Ferg, dropped her first Persian language track in protest of the travel ban, and now her debut full-length is on the horizon. This album doesn’t feel like a debut though, because her sound is already so refined. She worked with frequent collaborator, Mucky, which is both his name and the perfect way to describe the production on this album. These songs do a lot with very little, every sound feels meticulously placed, and small changes have a big effect. These songs can by moody, sexy, eerie, and lovely. To read the rest of my thoughts on this fantastic album head over to Ghettoblaster Magazine and subscribe and check out when I played "Marilyn Monroe" on Best Song Ever.
Eric Slick Palisades
Eric Slick is the drummer for one of my favorite bands, Dr. Dog, and now he’s released his debut which is in stark contrast with the band’s sound. However, some of Dr. Dog’s folk-rock structures and hymnal melodies have stuck with Eric, yet his production is a bit more chaotic. Eric breaks up finely assembled folk compositions with noise-rock bursts, adding an interesting edge to the sound. His vocals are often soft and restrained yet with passionate swells at the right moment. This album take a bunch of crazy turns, it can go from bouncy and modest, to ominous and epic. Eric recently moves from Philly to North Carolina and he underwent meditations and dream therapy to help him through it, the result was this collection of songs chronicling the experience. This accounts for the dreamy vibe of many of the songs. I always enjoy seeing a supporting member of a band step out from behind the kit and show us a side of them we hadn’t previously seen. This is a well done debut and establishes Eric as a standalone creative force.
Joe Goddard Electric Lines
Here we have another member from a band I love breaking off and doing their own thing. The driving force behind Hot Chip’s infectious synth compositions, Joe Goddard, has released his first proper solo album, making dance music more soulful that I thought was possible. Electric Lines, stands up beside much of Hot Chip’s catalog, which is rare when a member’s solo work is as fully formed as their work with a band. Goddard blends bouncy synth-pop with funk and soul samples added in. Like any dance record you expect excessive repetition, yet Goddard knows how to add in elements to keep the listener engaged throughout. Goddard himself adds some auto-tuned soaked vocals, yet many of the instrumentals can standalone. English vocalist SLO contributes soaring vocals on two songs, making them feel more like full-fledged pop songs. Goddard continues to innovate in the field of electronics, adding interesting synth tones and vocal effects. This record is not only one of the best dance albums I’ve heard in a while, but it’s also one of the best side-project/solo albums I’ve heard this year.
DJ Shadow feat. Nas Systematic
Every year this time the HBO show Silicon Valley starts up again, a day I anxiously wait for. The show is packed with comedy actors I adore and they always find away to paint our heroes into a corner right before they cut to credits, making you ache for next’s week episode. The music that ends each episode is crucial to making the stakes feel high. Last year, an episode ended with “Nobody Speak” by DJ Shadow feat. Run The Jewels which alerted the world to the fact that DJ Shadow was returning, shortly after he delivered The Mountain Will Fall. Shadow also tags this season’s premier with another legendary rapper by his side. Over a badass driving beat, Nas, gives killer verses about how “the system is fucked”, his dream of selling guns in the hood, talking about investing in startups, and “methodical corporate culture.” All this feels fitting following the scene where Gavin Belson moves Jack Barker's desk to the basement across from the men’s room, all over a minor travel squabble. I’m not sure if this song will appear on another release from Shadow, but one can only hope. It’s just good to see two heavy hitters team up to add to the already high quality of Silicon Valley.
Jason Singer a.k.a. Michigander has enjoyed success while remaining unsigned. Though the band is in it’s infancy he’s released a handful of singles opened for the likes of Flint Eastwood and Ra Ra Riot and he’s playing MoPop Festival in Detroit this summer. I feel like he has the potential to be an inescapable pop-rock act. His songs are so catchy, his lyrics heartfelt and passionate, and his vocals soaring and emotive. All this is demonstrated in his new single “Fears” Over a bouncy composition with thunderous drums and twinkling keys, he pleads with a lover in the chorus, “You can go but just don’t leave me. Cuz I need to feel your heart beating.” This is the latest of many beautiful and infectious singles that Michigander has released recently. He has quickly become one of my favorite local acts to root for and I am anxiously awaiting his debut full length. No word on when that will be yet but until then enjoy this song and check out when I played “Nineties” on Best Song Ever.