April 9, 2021

So Much New Music I’m Going to Explode


Sometimes I go weeks without hearing anything interesting. Sometimes I’m overwhelmed by waves of new music released practically on top of each other. Last week saw a brilliant release from St. Vincent and a decent, though uneven, EP from Foxes. This week, there is more new music goodness than I can describe. It’s as if the buffet was getting depleted so the kitchen decided to not only replenish but double down on it. Here’s some of my favorites so far:

  • London Grammar, “America” – The resonant mezzo voice, the reverb laden guitar, and slow but sweeping pacing of this song so reminds me of Live’s “Lightening Crashes” from 1994’s Throwing Copper that I didn’t even have to think about it. No “Wait! What does this remind me of moment?” The song is soulful and emotional; It makes me hungry for a full album. The artwork accompanying this single shows an album cover entitled California Soul. I can only hope we will see that soon. Based on the singles, it has the potential to be my new favorite thing.
  • HÆlos, “Luna” – Actually the entirety of the Somnum EP. HÆlos started out very trip-hop and electropop. This EP is not that. They have leaned heavily into the atmospherics, creating music more like Jean-Michel Jarre than Massive Attack. Like Jarre, it is electronic music that is avoids both the hippy-drippyness of New Age and the unrelenting beats of EDM. HÆlos knows how to do slow and intense while avoiding superficial tropes. The latest single and EP builds on their strengths of creating soundscapes that avoid becoming only about the soundscape.
  • KEIR, Fenne Lily, “leave the light on” – A collaboration between soul pop artist KEIR and singer songwriter Fenne Lily, this is a perfect get back together song. It’s about two people who have hurt each other but still want to “Leave the light on” and continue to hope for better times. The vocals are soulful, orchestration minimalist, and emotional content high. I suspect this will show up on a lot of “I’m sorry, baby” playlists.
  • Twenty One Pilots, “Shy Away” – Ok, this is not a deep song. It’s straightforward pop music with a catchy tune and beat you can dance to. Back in the 80s this would have been one of those throw away new wave songs that would have been played to death. And rightly so. Sometimes you just need a good fun song in your head.
  • The Wallflowers, “Roots and Wings” – One of the great bands of the 1990s, The Wallflowers flavor of roots rock mix of Jackson Brown like guitars with Springsteen type throaty vocals, created some of the best music of the 90s roots rock revival. Their seminal album, Bringing Down the House, which produced the great hit single “6th Avenue heartache” is a classic. Their latest single, which presages a new album, is from a reconstituted band. Soulful vocals and twangy guitars combine with tale of heartbreak to make a song that is pure Wallflowers.
  • Queen of Suffolk County, “Dropkick Murphys” – First performed live on St. Patrick’s Day as the centerpiece of their livestream, the new song by the Dropkick Murphys is almost subdued by their usual standards. That’s not a bad thing at all. It’s still very much “them” with accordion, mandolin, punk guitar, and singalong choruses over lead singer Mike McColgan’s gruffy vocals. It’s slower though and as close to a ballad as the Dropkick Murphys’s ever get. Even better, we are expecting a new album, Turn up That Dial, at the end of April. It’s like a second St. Patricks Day. I’ll need to lay in the Guinness for that one.

There are so many singles, Eps, and albums come out now that it’s hard to keep up. As Herculean a task as it might be, I will do my best to find some of the good stuff. What is life without good music? It’s a movie without a soundtrack and new movies need new soundtracks.