Future Islands is a synthpop trio from Baltimore who released their third LP On The Water just last year. It's one of the albums from last year that I never got around to giving a proper listen to. Now that I have, I am really enjoying the band's effortless songwriting and production. The song "Balance", which is the album's single, features this great synth melody that sounds like a dolphin cry scooping up out of the ocean. When the drum machine and wobbling bass line kick in though, it's pure 80s New Wave bliss. I think I might actually enjoy this album even more than Destroyer's awesome take on the genre from last year. Listen to "Balance" below:
Mister Heavenly is a supergroup formed from members of the popular indie bands Islands, Man Man, and Modest Mouse. Not only are these guys a supergroup, they also had Michael Cera as their touring bassist last year. Doesn't get much more "super" than that. Fortunately, these guys are a really solid group also. "I Am A Hologram" is my favorite song off their debut 2011 album Out Of Love. The song features some awesome lyrics and some great group vocals too. These guys are pretty lighthearted and fun most of the time, which is something of a rarity among supergroups of this type. Check out the song below:
This song is the newest collaboration in the monthly Converse music project, which has been pretty hit or miss so far. But here, we've got Gorillaz, James Murphy (ala LCD Soundsystem), and Andre 3000 (ala OutKast) putting together a track that puts the strongest points of character, skill, and personality from all three of these artists to great use. The music itself sounds like a Gorillaz song -- fun, bouncy, and cartoonish. The song really kicks into gear though when Andre 3000 gets his hands on it though. His flow is smooth and insanely fast -- such a perfect addition to the song's zany personality. He ends the song repeating the line, "Can we get the OutKast album now?" He's just kidding, but I really wish he weren't.
Nicolas Jaar is an electronic musician that produces ambient, sparse music that is totally weird, but is just plain cool. In contrast to last year's James Blake, Nicolas Jaar's take on dub-infused art pop feels a bit more lighthearted and playful. "Space Is Only Noise If You Can See" bounces along with it's vintage drum samples, analogue synth sound, and Jaar's low awkward voice. It's not for everyone, but there's just something about this song that I find really charming. This song is from his 2011 full-length album Space Is Only Noise, but the artist also recently put out a two-song EP called Don't Break My Love that you can stream here.
I got my first exposure to this five-piece indie band last year when I covered them with Paste at the DeLuna Beach Festival in Florida and was really impressed by the band's live energy. Ra Ra Riot is straight-forward indie pop band with a baroque-pop feel thanks to the presence of cellist Alexandra Lawn and violinist Rebecca Zeller. "Too Dramatic" was one that was particularly catchy that I remember from the set and it comes off their 2010 album The Orchard. You'll hear a lot of Dirty Projectors-esque falsettos and four-on-the-floor beats on the record -- but sometimes that's totally what I'm feelin. A band that plays with baroque pop, oddball vocals, and upbeat rhythm sections seem like almost too good to be true.
The guy-girl duo that made "chill-wave" something that wasn't detestable just unofficially announced their new album Bloom, which is allegedly hitting shelves on May 15th. So in anticipation of hearing what the group is up to next, I chose their 2010 song "Used To Be" as my Song of the Day today. It's got this hooky melody that is so poppy it might as well come from a Katy Perry song -- but lead singer Victoria Legrand's smoky voice makes the thing sound like a nostalgic dream. The entire record Teen Dream is highly recommended (not to be confused with Teenage Dream).
This dance-pop band from Athens, GA just announced the release of their debut album Body Faucet, which is hitting shelves on May 1st. Whether or not they will be the next big thing in dance-rock is still up in the air at this point -- all I know is this song is irresistibly catchy and fun. After getting off a big tour with Foster the People last year, I can't help but think they've got some big things in store for 2012.
Carter Tanton is a singer-songwriter that's just getting back into the world of music again after exiting his band Tulsa a few years ago. The single off his debut solo record from last year "Murderous Joy" is an infectious little pop gem that ended up being one of my favorite songs from 2011. There was something just so timeless about the simple vocal melodies and glistening acoustic guitars -- this thing could have been from just about any decade between the 60s and now. While I found myself not being in love with the rest of his album, Freeclouds, "Murderous Joy" is an simply irresistible. Enjoy below:
Matt Elliott's recently released album is my first experience with his dirty, acoustic border music, but the dude has been making studio records for years now -- both under his own name and the moniker Third Eye Foundation. "Dust Flesh and Bones", off the record The Broken Man, sounds exactly how you'd expect a song with a title like that to sound. Spanish guitar picking sets the stage for Elliott's deep Leonard Cohen-esque grumble to suck you into his dark world of somber emotion and painful remorse. Each section of this multi-part song is equally impressive and imaginative -- it's all a mark of an artist at the top of his game. Check it out below:
Ivan and Alyosha is a band I came across last year when they did an amazing NPR Tiny Desk performance. Their West cost folk-pop is nothing new, but it's hard to deny when they pull it off this smoothly. They released an EP called Fathers Be Kind that was one of my favorite EPs of the year -- finding a comfy soft spot between the Fleet Foxes first album and a more mainstream acoustic pop sound. "Living For Someone" has some really hopeful lyrics about living simply and loving the people around you. It's a rarity in our cynical world. All in all, it's my idea of totally agreeable and pleasant music, which definitely has a place in my music library.
Here's to hoping for a full length release from these guys later this year.