NEW INDIE MUSIC - WEEK 38
With a deluge of indie music arriving on a weekly basis, it can be hard as listeners to not feel completely overwhelmed. It's a genuine problem – a problem that We Are: The Guard is intent on finding a solution to. If we could sum up the aim of this column – and, indeed, this entire blog – in one sentence, it would be to put the ease back into music discovery. With the task of plumbing the unfathomable depths of YouTube, SoundCloud and beyond left to us, you can spend less time being inundated by indie music, and more time enjoying it. And, really, readers – who can say no to that?! Featuring St. Vincent, MUTEMATH, TOPS, Susanne Sundfør, Fyfe and plenty of others, there's something here for everyone!
ST. VINCENT – LOS AGELESS
While “New York” showed a more intimate, vulnerable side to the Tulsa singer-songwriter, St. Vincent is back to her ballistic best on “Los Ageless.” “In Los Ageless, the winter never comes/In Los Ageless, the mothers milk their young,” begins the second single to be unveiled from MASSEDUCTION – a scathing critique of the City of Angels that finds a lovelorn Annie Clark (“How can anybody have you and lose you/And not lose their minds, too?” she questions in the chorus) once again knocking out fuzz-caked, hyperkinetic riffs over sputtering, Depeche Mode-style synthesizers and electronic drums.
MUTEMATH – BREAK THE FEVER
Paul Meany, frontman of New Orleans band MUTEMATH, puts his crippling anxiety to good – not to mention funky! – use on “Break the Fever.” Featured on MUTEMATH's recent fifth album, Play Dead, it's a nerve-riddled synth pop groove about Meany's internal battle with those negative voices that so often get the better of us. “The whole mantra of this album came from this song in the line 'play dead, don't be afraid tonight,'” reveals Meany. “Playing dead became a picture of meditation for me. How to turn off the noise and realign myself back to a sense of well-being. How to evade the very thing that's trying to kill me. Thoughts. If I can get control of those, I've got a chance.”
TOPS – MARIGOLD & GRAY
TOPS are lost in a nostalgic haze in the video for Sugar at the Gate cut “Marigold & Gray.” The clip, which was directed by Laura-Lynn Petrick, follows the Canadian trio around an old-school amusement park, with the band's sun-kissed daze pop, paired with the soft-focus, vintage-style home footage of Jane Penny and friends eating ice cream and riding roller coasters beneath a baby blue sky, really encapsulating that end-of-summer vibe.
KODA – LEVIATHAN
Koda returns after a period of relative quiet this September with “Leviathan.” Pairing his tremulous, Thom Yorke-esque tenor with a melancholy swirl of acoustics and strings, the song – which arrives ahead of the Los Angeles balladeer's appearance at the coveted Red Bull Sound Select in Chicago in November – is a profoundly affecting piece of music that finds Koda coming to terms with the devastating realization that “Every one of us is alone.”
SUSANNE SUNDFØR – GOOD LUCK BAD LUCK
It's been a while since we last heard from Susanne Sundfør, but the Norwegian folk artist returns to positively sweep us off our feet with her latest single, “Good Luck Bad Luck.” Featured on her recent fifth album, the critically acclaimed Music for People in Trouble, it's a theatrical threnody to a doomed relationship as performed over piano, double bass and baritone saxophone, all of which return for the song's smoky, late-night jazz coda.
COURTSHIP. – TELL ME TELL ME
Summer may be over, but courtship. are keeping the spirit alive with their scintillating latest single, “Tell Me Tell Me.” Coinciding with their headline tour with Saint Mesa, the follow-up to “Sunroof” is a synth-speckled piece of indie pop ebullience about fearlessly throwing your arms around love. “We were sitting around talking, and one of us was like, if every single human feels love, as one of our strongest emotions, why the hell do we hold it back?” explain the Los Angeles duo. “'Tell Me Tell Me' is about just that. Just say it.” Amen!
TOULOUSE – MAN FROM PENNSYLVANIA
Introducing TOULOUSE, the Nigerian-born, New York City-based singer-songwriter and producer, who delivers soul with a social conscience on his latest single. Featured on the Terrible Records signee's recent debut EP, Extended Plea, “Man From Pennsylvania” – which Zane Lowe named as his World Record on Beats 1 on September 12 – is a funky mid-tempo ballad that finds TOULOUSE's emotive falsetto giving life to thoughtful lyrics about “the phenomenon of gossip” over a deeply groovy rhythm section.
DENM – BLESS YOUR HEART
Following on from the release of his Internet-breaking debut EP Dreamhouse in 2016, We Are: The Guard's very own DENM continues to do us proud this month with his lit latest offering. Written alongside songwriter-songwriter Nicole Morier (Demi Lovato, Ellie Goulding) and producer Robopop (Britney Spears, Little Mix), the party-starting “Bless Your Heart” hears the Santa Barbara native continue to refine his signature blend of beach pop and dance music, and comes accompanied by a video of DENM cutting some fire shapes while the lyrics scroll across the screen.
FYFE – CLOSER (ACOUSTIC)
Having previously offered up stripped-down versions of his songs “Stronger” and “Love You More,” Fyfe returns to do it all over again this September with an acoustic take of The Space Between cut “Closer.” While the original – which the London crooner wrote alongside We Are: The Guard favorites Klyne – showcases Fyfe's talent for crafting suave, cohesive electronic pop, the latest interpretation reveals a vulnerability behind the beats, with the back-to-basics production allowing the focus to fall on the lyrics about saving a relationship: “Just a little bit closer/I'm not saying it's over/Could be there for each other.”
BENJAMIN JAMES – LUMINARY
Hailing from Boone, the picturesque historical town located in the Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina, Benjamin James makes his debut on We Are: The Guard's New Indie Music this month with “Luminary.” Opening with an atmospheric surge of orchestration, before falsetto vocals and xylophones enter to add texture and elevate it to even lovelier heights, “Luminary” is a devastatingly charming folk reverie that features on the singer-songwriter's latest album, Change Is Everything.
Thanks for listening! See you next week! x
Jess Grant is a frustrated writer hailing from London, England. When she isn't tasked with disentangling her thoughts from her brain and putting them on paper, Jess can generally be found listening to The Beatles, or cooking vegetarian food.