Bird Mancini, Brad Peterson, Cupid's Carnival, Dave Sheinin, Evan Myall, Half Catholic, Jeff Roberts, L.A. Exes, Leadfinger, Mattiel, Middle Kids, Nah ..., Palmyra Delran and the Doppel Gang, Richard Turgeon, Silver Synthetic, Sloan, Stephen Schijns, The Brandy Alexanders, The Caternary wines, The Rockyts, Tristen
Tis the season for shovels and snowflakes … and singles! What better way to wrap up the year than a slew of new 45s. Here’s 21 songs to get you through your snow-shoveling workout.
Atlanta’s Mattiel’s have early-dropped a single from their forthcoming new LP, the aptly named Georgia Gothic. The song is titled “Jeff Goldblum” and this outing is a bit more pop, kinda like something 1978 bordering on new wave. I like where this is going. I’m sneaking in another holiday-themed tune, but only because it’s so subtlely done. Brad Peterson’s “Beautiful and Bright” is lovely low-key ode to peace and goodwill, and who really gets enough of that? Nobody, that’s who. A year ago it was political drama central but amid all the competing headlines I somehow missed Sloan’s fabulous on-point single, “Silence Trumps Lies.” No fake news here, just slick melodies and wise sentiments. I may be getting to it a bit late but it’s definitely worth a replay. With “Stranger” Evan Myall combines some classic rhythm guitar shimmer with a nice bit of Todd Rundgren-like pop songcraft. From his recent EP Snail. Sticking to America’s west coast L.A. Exes offer up a light jaunty neo-early 1960s romp on “Baby Let’s Pretend.”
Cupid’s Carnival are clearly working their way up to a new album release sometime soon, given the singles we’ve seen this year. “Thinking About You Girl” is what the boys do best, another catchy mid-period Beatlesque charmer. Boston’s Bird Mancini manage to sound both very familiar and highly original, all at the same time. From their recent album The One Delight, I’m loving the rollicking joy of “Space Between Two Worlds,” driven by Ruby Bird’s impressive vocals. Sydney Australia’s Middle Kids remind me of a certain kind of contemporary poppy rock sound, like Grouplove. The keyboard opening to “Stacking Chairs” is so magnetic, drawing you in, building to a calliope-like drive in the chorus that’s aided by some nice guitar work. The song is from their most recent long-player, the perhaps only slightly over-stated Today We’re the Greatest. Dave Sheinin takes his reliable power pop chops in a sometimes rockier, sometimes more mellow direction on his recent release The Measure of Things. “St. Paul” has got a hooky bar band rockin’ feel. Richard Turgeon turns on the mellow meter for “7 Stories,” lulling us with some nice guitar swing and vocal harmonies that vibe that distinctive Eagles shiver-inducing effect.
It’s been a while since we’ve heard an album from Wollongong, South Australia band Leadfinger but a few new singles have come out this last year. I’m currently attached to “The Fall of Rome” with its addictive lead guitar runs and ominous melodic undercurrent. I’m guessing a new album is not far off. Ottawa’s teen sixties retro band The Rockyts are clearly between albums so they released “It’s a Dirty Shame” to tide us over this year. The track plays to their melodic rock and roll strengths while adding just a bit of contemporary polish. Jeff Roberts is a mysterious guy from Charlottesville, Virginia who likes to just give his songs away. That’s right, just click on ‘free’ on Bandcamp! And you’re gonna want to with tracks like “Bones,” a shuffle-demon of a track that’s a little bit country, a little bit rock and roll. Half Catholic is another band on its way to a new album, for sure, if the spate of recent singles is any indication. “What Good is Gone” has his trademark jangly lead guitar and expressive vocal delivery. It’s mournful and peppy in the same moment. For a change in direction, we head to Munster, Germany where Nah … get their twee baroque pop going on with a new single “The Useless Model.” It’s very theCatherines with some Everything but the Girl thrown in.
DIY poprocker Stephen Schijns has a load of one-off singles on his Bandcamp page and they’re all pretty good. Indeed, some are pretty great even. Like the alluring charm of “I Met Her Yesterday” with its Byrdsian overtones and Al Stewart inflections. “What Do I Know About Love” is also pretty sweet. The Brandy Alexanders’ “Conventional Lie” starts off very George Harrison “My Sweet Lord” but quickly segues down its own distinctive path, combining winning vocals with some cool guitar and keyboard lines. Palmyra Delran and the Doppel Gang give their single a super-charged lick familiar to any early 1960s pop fan but it works on “Lucky in Love,” adding rather than overwhelming the tune. They’re a group with a limited resume that I’d love to see more from. New Orleans band Silver Synthetic have got a classic Americana thang going on. You can’t go wrong dropping your needle anywhere on their self-titled debut album but if I were calculating special moments I’d put my money on “In the Beginning.” The Caternary Wines have an otherworldly aura about them. There something Moody Blues/Jethro Tull spooky here. I’m hard pressed to choose one song from that their fab record Birling Gap but I’m going with the Enya-esque “Face on the Rail Line.”
I can’t recall who put me on to Nashville songstress Tristen but whoever you were, thank you. Thank you! She has an amazing ability to reach inside you and find some feeling you barely knew was there. At some point I’ll pay tribute to her great catalogue but for now let’s attend to her latest LP Aquatic Flowers. This is a very listenable album, with so many great cuts. I was going to recommend “I Need Your Love” and it is a great song but if I can only feature one tune then it has to be “Athena” with its dissonant lurch and melodic purity. It’s pretty special, but then Tristen is no ordinary songmaker.
No snowflake is exactly the same – ditto our singles. Celebrate the icy cool of our snow-inspired single selections. And drop a few bucks over at Bandcamp for these stellar artists.