I first heard of the band Kins where I usually hear of the awesomest of bands - KEXP. This time it was through an in-studio performance they were giving, which is really worth a listen. I followed up with a quick listen of their debut album and located my favorite track, Absblurd, where the instrumental bits of bass, drums and guitar swirled around me until I was definitely, without a shadow of a doubt - hooked. I have to say, the band itself sums up its sound really well with this one-liner on their website saying they “specialise in the sound of doubt, detachment and muted aggression.” Pretty spot-on from what I’ve heard.
Looks like I just missed their U.S. tour with yesterday’s featured artist, Courtney Barnett—what an amazing show that would have been! But you peeps out in Europe still have a chance to catch them. Click over here to find the details. Love!
COURTNEY BARNETT, Avant Gardener (from The Double Ep: A Sea of Split Peas, 2014)
Melbourne-based singer/songwriter Courtney Barnett penned this catchy single, Avant Gardener, that really shouldn’t be all that catchy - it doesn’t have a ton of structure (chorus/verse etc.) and instead comes off as a ramble about a gal tending to her garden during a heat wave. But yet it is addictive, and I’ve been humming it for days. So enjoy and you’re welcome.
And hey, looky here - she’ll be touring Europe and the U.S. from now until the end of the summer.
London-based band THUMPERS is exactly the kind of bombastic, energizing and textured sound that I require on this Monday, in the midst of a winter that refuses to end. Childhood friends Marcus Pepperell and John Hamson Jr. joined forces in 2011 and finally signed with Subpop to releasedtheir debut Galore (officially) in early 2014. This probably isn’t going to sound like an earth-shattering revelation to you, but it’ll rock your day. And for that, I find it worthy!
This Italian band returns this year with a new album made up of a beautiful collection of ethereal-sounding songs. They are sparse yet filled with emotion, almost cinematic. Captured Heart is one of the catchier tunes, but there is also the stunning Totem - a two-minute track with no vocals, just gorgeous layers of guitar and percussion wrapped up in the band’s signature a gauzy haze.
HOSPITALITY, I Miss Your Bones (from Trouble, 2014)
The sophomore album from Brooklyn indie rock trio Hospitality carries an intensity that I enjoy. In I Miss Your Bones Amber Papini’s vocals forge ahead with determination over the strong and jagged sounds of drums and bass. Given the subject of the song, this forcefulness gives me the sense that I should steer clear from this chick…But the album sounds amazing.
ASAF AVIDAN, Different Pulses (from Different Pulses, 2013)
I’m late to this party, and I feel ashamed! I should know about Asaf Avidan for many reasons, but better late than never. Yes, I said HIM. This is a skinny white dude. His voice is like that of a rusty angel and he is the Israeli male version of Nina Simone. Doesn’t make sense? That’s OK. Just listen, you’ll get it.
The whole album is this kind of beauty, therefore I highly recommend you shell out a few bucks for it. He’s currently touring the U.S., then over to Europe before he heads back to Israel. Share this widely and make him even more well-known so that he’ll come back for a more comprehensive tour!
NOAH GUNDERSEN, Poor Man’s Son (from Ledges, 2014)
I’ll be the first to admit that some of the songs I post are pretty random and obscure to most readers. Case in point - Noah Gundersen. How many of you have heard of this talented singer/songwriter? It’s likely that very few. Washington native Gundersen partners with his equally-talented sister and brother on his first full length album, Ledges, that was just released a couple of weeks ago. The Gundersen tribe was raised in a very religious household, a fact that is apparent in their beautifully soulful songs, and especially in the gospel-esque Poor Man’s Son. Noah has stated that he no longer subscribes to a religious lifestyle, but the spirituality definitely seems to linger on in his music—to our advantage.
Now back to how I post lesser-known artists. Lots of people ask me how I find out about all these great musicians, and I say with confidence that it is 90% owning to the amazingness of a Seattle radio station (that I stream in NY) called KEXP. The station is having its pledge drive now, so not only do I recommend you tune in to their broadcasts but I would also like to ask you to become a fellow member. Not only will you be supporting commercial-free radio but you will become a part of an awesome community. Stream and support here.
TEMPLES, Sun Structures (from Sun Structures, 2014)
GOOD AFTERNOON! Are you awake yet? No? Then press PLAY on this post. That will do the trick. English darlings Temples will explode in your ears with the title track from their new album, Sun Structures, that is filled with their psych rock craziness (loved by English rock “royalty” Oasis…).
BECK, Blue Moon (From Morning Phase, out on February 25, 2014)
Beck has made us wait long enough for a new album (the last one was in 2008, time indeed flies!), and it finally will drop next week. Blue Moon is the first tasting we get of Morning Phase, and it seems Beck has finally created that sequel to his incredible Sea Change. The track is textured with orchestral layers that soar, while his grounded vocals land us back on our two feet. Really looking forward to hearing what else this album has in store, since Sea Change is still in the top ten albums of my life (to date)…
THE NATIONAL, Heavenfaced (from Trouble Will Find Me, 2013)
The National’s formula of rock songs starting out quietly and building up to an emotional firestorm is, well, a formula. But a very successful and mostly enticing one at that. I’ll admit it took me quite some time to even listen to their 2013 album Trouble Will Find Me, as I was growing a bit tired of the repeat sound. But then I started hearing some of the songs on the radio and they broke me down. There’s something just very delicate about the National’s version of rock—that’s a bit of a contradiction, and that’s why I like it. So listen up to Heavenfaced, my favorite of the moment.
They’re touring all spring and summer 2014. Check it here.
Oh yeah, and Happy Valentine’s Day! Or, whatever :)
WESTERN HAUNTS, Come Around (from Western Haunts, 2014)
Seattle band Western Haunts blends a variety of dreamy sounds - folk, shoegaze, and even a little Americana peppered in. Come Around is the perfect soundtrack for this morning, where I woke up facing a partially-frozen Lake Michigan and a very snowy Chicago. The track throws me into a sunny daze and warms my bones.
The band just released their first LP yesterday - I am looking forward to exploring their incredible range!
It took me a few months to listen to Volcano Choir’s sophomore album, which came out in September 2013. As you may have realized, the lead vocalist of this band is Justin Vernon (of Bon Iver), who collaborates on so many projects that sometimes I wonder if he ever takes a break from recording. His work with Volcano Choir on this second album emphasizes more of his signature falsetto voice, and differs from Bon Iver in that it is no longer the essence of the song, but rather an accompaniment to a soaring arrangement of instruments and electronic sounds that push us far, above, and beyond.
ELBOW, New York Morning (from The Take Off and Landing of Everything, out March 10, 2014)
If I had to choose a male vocal that pierces through my heart, I would have to name Guy Garvey of Elbow. How does someone’s voice manage to encompass so much pain and so much strength all at once?
This British alt-rock band has been together since the late 90s and I haven’t really heard an album of theirs that I didn’t like—many of their songs express sorrow and gloom but the compositions are often soaring and therefore seem hopeful. They have been working on a new album for a couple years now and it is finally slated for release on March 10. New York Morning is quite the heartening song, as it touches upon the ambition and desires that rule this wild city. Listen up!
It looks like they are only touring Europe this summer, but hopefully that’ll be updated soon! Check it here.
LIARS, Mess on a Mission (from Mess, out on March 24, 2014)
This NY trio sounds like they are at least 10 people - they have a loud and expansive sound that will either give you a serious headache or energize you for the next 10 hours. After listening to their new single a few times in a row I’m feeling pretty pumped. New album Mess drops on March 24.
You can find more info here, if you can make sense of their website (!)
SUN KIL MOON, Richard Ramirez Died of Natural Causes (from Benji, 2014)
Sun Kil Moon is the well-known project of SF-based singer-songwriter Mark Kozelek, whose songs are often dark in lyrics and beautiful in vocals. His new album, Benji, which comes out tomorrow in the U.S. (February 4) couldn’t be more of a personification of this “rule.” All 11 tracks describe the life of a person who has died. They are by no means gruesome, but rather just tell stories that memorialize a few individuals—showing us that at the end of the day, every life is an interesting narrative that’s worth telling. The track here - as evident from its title - is about a man named Richard Ramirez who died of natural causes. Kozelek takes us on a tour through the Bay Area as we learn about Mr. Ramirez and the life he lived.
I used to make mixtapes for everyone I knew - they were carefully constructed with an overall theme and I gave close attention to the pace of the songs. Then came CD mixes and finally, mp3 playlists that were zipped and sent. So rather than contribute to the world's waste by burning CDs, or crowding everyone's inbox by sending mp3s and links--I thought it would be better to just invite you all here throughout the week for song recommendations. I hope you will enjoy them just as much as I do.
I can be found at: info [at] daysofmusic [dot] net, or by leaving a comment (a link is provided at the bottom of each post).
Thanks for visiting!
[And on another note: this site is meant solely to spread the word and admiration for these songs further and beyond, so if any of the featured artists do not wish to be here, please just shoot me an email and I will delete the post. No hard feelings!]