Kiesza “Hideaway” http://youtu.be/Vnoz5uBEWOA
I’ve been seeing this video everywhere this summer, and for good reason. Not only is this tune damn catchy, the single-take dance video is a genre that never gets old in my book. And according to an interview she did with Rolling Stone, she shot the video with a broken rib! Kiesza is a Canadian songstress with an interesting past. She was a trained ballerina until a knee injury took her out of the dance world (or at least the ballet world as this video showed us). She taught herself to play guitar, and it’s worth looking up her cover of Nirvana’s “Heart Shaped Box” on YouTube. Her debut EP also contains a surprisingly effective cover of the Haddaway song of Night at the Roxbury fame, “What Is Love,” which she turns into a ballad.
Cut Copy “Meet Me in a House of Love” http://youtu.be/nTgcaIB-PHk
How to be the hero of your own story: A vivid imagination, cardboard cut-outs, and just keep re-writing until you get it right! (I think some psychotropic substances might help too.)
Austra – Habitat http://youtu.be/3FgXIjWFTks
Austra is a Canadian electro act named after the Latvian goddess of light. That said, their sound is decidedly dark. This video is an interesting exploration of sexual wants and needs. While it is easy and familiar to watch the young, attractive couple in the video, the other pairings are intended to provoke. One, for the extreme difference in ages of the two lovers, and for the hustler/john dynamic. The other pairing provokes simply by showing two older women, expressing physical affection, while not having tight, tanned skin and perfect gravity-defying breasts—something we rarely see on the large or small sceen.
Banks “Beggin for Thread” http://youtu.be/Twix375Me4Q
There’s some part of me that wants to not like Banks—the jaded part. She’s a pretty, skinny girl from LA who became a blog-darling and, surprise, surprise, landed a record contract. Okay, enough. She’s also got that smoky, cool voice, and really well-produced songs. This is the first one of her songs that really feels like a hit to me, and I expect that her debut will do very well when it is released later this month.
DFA 1979 “Trainwreck 1979” http://youtu.be/wqBYHrw9_ys
ERMAHGERRRD!!!!! It’s been ten years, you guys!!! So happy that they are back. Sure, we’ve had MSTRKRFT and Sebastien Grainger & The Mountains to tide us over, but it hasn’t been the same. If this lead single is any indication, they are back in fine form.
The Kooks “Bad Habit” http://youtu.be/VGxSsD9xPPU
The Kooks are back, and their sound is a bit funkier than when last we heard them. I thoroughly enjoyed their debut, Inside In/Inside Out, which was more of a straightforward rock album at a time when fellow Brits like Kaiser Chiefs and Franz Ferdinand were producing dancey, synth-laced indie-rock. There is a definite dance-rock vibe to what we’ve heard so far from The Kooks’ fourth album, Listen. Apparently, they enlisted a hip-hop producer named Inflo to help produce this album. If the rest of it holds up to the promise of this single, then this could be the start of a refreshing second chapter for the band.
Sondre Lerche “Bad Law” http://youtu.be/hkyUKXdFw_E
It is hard for me to imagine anyone wanting to divorce Sondre Lerche, but that is exactly what fueled this single and his upcoming album, Please. He and his filmmaker wife divorced in 2013, shortly after he completed the soundtrack for her latest film. (Never mix love and work, fellas!) In the self-deprecating video for the lead single, Sondre perfectly portays a lovable fop on a self-destructive night of self-abandon. I’m pretty sure we’ve all had a night like this—or maybe that’s just me!
The War on Drugs “Red Eyes” http://youtu.be/1LmX5c7HoUw
This is not wholly logical or accurate, but I will always think of The War On Drugs as disco Bob Dylan. There is an undeniable Dylan-esque quality to singer Adam Granduciel’s voice, and a certain folkishness to their sound. But there is also an element of indie-dance music to The War on Drugs sound as well. This album, Lost In The Dream, seems more heavily influenced by Springsteen than Bob Dylan. There is a synthy shimmer over most of the album that is reminiscent of “Streets of Philadelphia”-era Springsteen.
Perfume Genius “Queen” http://youtu.be/Z7OSSUwPVM4
Perfume Genius is a frank, soul-baring songwriter. He’s written about his own abuse, and his most famous music video stars now deceased porn star Arpad Miklos, who committed suicide in 2013. It is difficult to watch that video now and not think about the sadness that both men shared. This song, from his upcoming album, Too Bright, is a bit of a sonic departure from his previous piano-driven work. Nice to hear some guitars. His songs often sound like sketches, half-written. This little glam-rock adventure feels like a call-to-arms to live free and die queer. “No family is safe when I sashay,” he declares. Indeed.
Cate Le Bon w/Perfume Genius “I Think I Knew” http://youtu.be/gyHQFs2bzL0
The new material from P.G. immediately made me recall his amazing duet from last year with Welsh musician Cate Le Bon. Cate is a modern day Nico, and this song sounds like it would be right at home on a Velvet Underground record. She’s an incredibly talented musician, who writes beautiful, complex, melody-driven tunes that recall ‘60s folk and psychedelia. If you like this tune half as much as I do, check her out.