woensdag 14 april 2021

Ten singles 2021/15

Weeks do fly by. We are in week 15 of our singles roundup for 2021, a quarter of the year already gone by. What do we have for you this week? We start and finish with some nice rock (and roll) from the Rum Bar Records label. In between there's dark wave, pop, singer-songwriter and more, from three continents no less. Once again it is a very diverse set that is presented. Enjoy!

Put Another Cross by the Side of the Road. Freeloader

Running ahead of the 'Freeloader II' album Rum Bar Records releases a first single capturing Nat Freedberg's rough and clearly used voice in a pleasant rock setting. After a little run up on the guitar the song starts a groove that has faint traces of Led Zeppelin. "Give me no quarter", appears to be the tip of the hat here. Put Another Cross By The Side Of The Road is a straight up honest song. Beside the flashy guitar solo the song is what it is, a rock song with a great groove. Nothing more but certainly nothing less.

Without Light EP. Abrasive Trees

The title song of the new Abrasive Trees EP is a mysterious affair. Electric charges fly out of my speakers. Despite the light suggested by electric charges, Without Light is a dark and dismal affair. The title is totally right as there's no light in sight in this music or it should be in the lighter intro before the dark takes over. From twilight and shades to pitch black. At certain intervals an upcoming release is suggested, but like a thunderstorm remaining in the distance it never comes closer. Over it Matthew Rochford singtalks his lyrics. Although at first listen nothing much seems to happen, besides the suspense that is built ever stronger, there are details to be noted. A lead guitar melody, and a second one, a few isolated piano notes. Close to six minutes without release is not easy to sit through, were it not that the darkness does become impressive and not oppressive, making Without Light more than just a listening experience. Can it become any darker? I believe it can. Just continue listening to the EP. The artwork does suggest some light though, like a slim consolation.

Last Day On Earth. Beabadoobee

Not even a year I ago I reviewed Beabadoobee's debut album 'Fake It Flowers' on this blog. Instead of touring for two or three years, corona kept her at home and here's a new single already. Again she hovers between pop and alternative, but more towards the pop segment of music. Not that a lot happens on Last Day On Earth. If this really was the last day, it should even be called disappointing. It isn't though. This single is simply a nice song sung with a light voice placed somewhere between happy and sad, where the many harmonies are full of life. The musical basis of the song sounds like a looped guitar sequence that is repeated over and over. Variation is built in by a keyboard sound and the harmonies, including two male voices, perhaps of Matt Healy and George Daniel of The 1975. with whom Bea Kristi worked on this single. A nice introduction to the upcoming EP, 'Our Extended Play', it is.

Lose Control. Radio Days

Bands from Italy are becoming a weekly feature on this blog. Radio Days released its first album in 2015 and in 2021 will release its fourth, 'Rave On!', in June. Lose Control is an extremely nice introduction. The single is uptempo, friendly, poppy and rocking at the same time. The influences are the right mix of U.S. alternative rock and British pop of all fairly recent ages. So think the better songs of Weezer or Fountains of Wayne mixed with the rocking side of The Kinks and Supergrass or Oasis. This results in a song that can be sung along to within minutes and enjoyed under all circumstances. The kind of pop that is so easy to get used to and like. From the familiar sounding guitar intro to the dynamics that are built into Lose Control. Sweet pop and roll it is.

Blushing. Pickle Darling

Pickle Darling is Lukas Mayo from Christchurch in New Zealand. Looking at the music scene over there from literally the other side of the world, it feels like more people release records there than there are inhabitants. Pickle Darling is a new name for me, picked out of the newsletter of Flying Nun Records. Mayo may declare that Blushing is a song like he never wrote and made before, for me it's the first ever and made me listen for a few reasons. The beginning is extremely elementary. An acoustic guitar and two voices, both not natural. In the second half of the song one of the voices is treated electronically even more, as in smurfed, changing the feel of the song totally. The electronic percussion that is added and a keyboard sound repeating the same notes over and over, makes the second half almost a different song. Delicate versus brash. Time to stop blushing as my introduction to Pickle Darling asks for more soon. A good thing an album, 'Cosmonaut, is coming up soon.

Cinema. Tessel (featuring Amber Arcades)

Dark pop from Utrecht with a front row seat for Annelotte de Graaf better known as Amber Arcades on this blog and elsewhere. In information I found Tessel is called a surfpop band. Now I'm hearing a lot in this single, but surf? It comes a lot closer to 70s pop with a soul twist, like The Doobie Brothers with Michael McDonald in the driver's seat. Cinema could almost be a happy song. The lead guitar has a sprightly jump in its playing, were it not that the whole song seems to be hidden under a blanket. This belies the happy sounding guitar solo. Reading back on my review of debut single 'Family Time' the sound is becoming a trademark of Tessel. As a whole it is clear that Cinema is well built up and a song that it is easy to relate to, next to the fact that it's great to hear Annelotte de Graaf sing in a new song. That has been a while. Great move, Tessel.

Gold. The Wandering Hearts

New folk has not gone and still brings forward new and interesting songs. Gold, that can't be denied, uses every trick in the book known to bands like The Oh Hellos, The Lumineers and many other hey-ho or ho-hey bands, as I call them. Gold adds to the whole as the harmonies between AJ Dean-Revington, Tara Wilcox and Chess Whiffin are stellar, of the kind that "breaks up the sky", as they sing themselves in Gold. The floortom drumming sounds familiar. Even our Dotan made a trademark of it in 'Home'. It gives Gold the pace the song can use in the right moments, creating a contrast between verses and chorus and great dynamics. The Wandering Hearts went all the way to Woodstock, yes, THE, to record its new album with Simone Felice and David Barron. If Gold is anything to go on, the trip paid up. With memories of 'Rumours' Fleetwood Mac hidden in Gold, the link to older pop fans is made as well.

Keel Timing. Manchester Orchestra

No matter how different Keel Timing is, Manchester Orchestra has certainly heard of The Beatles. The psychedelic effect on one of the vocal parts is classic The Beatles from 1967. The rest is not. Keel Timing is classic pop/rock and electronic song. A true hybrid it is. After a short, percussive intro a driving rhythm is introduced that the band let no let go off until the very end. At the start of the verse the electronic pulsing is set to pasture for a short while, the drums driving the song with the bass. In between Django Django percussive guitar rhythms can be identified, fitting quite well here. Here and there a short eruption of enthusiasm is allowed before the band is reigned back in to continue the solid propulsive rhythm. Keel Timing is the kind of song that I can dance and listen to. As I wrote a true hybrid it is.

Die Young. Soo Line Loons

Die Young is a song that surprises in a few ways. The song as it starts is not that surprising though. An American band playing music in the realm of early Chicago (Transit Authority) or Blood, Sweat and Tears with a more rocking edge to it and a little less jazz. Grant Glad's rough voice fits the song and the unforgiving title extremely well. In between of that rocking a saxophone finds its way for the whole of the song, as do keyboards, instruments not found in the six man/woman line up of the band. And then some really nice, soulful backing vocals are added. These surprises slowly but surely unfold during the song. In the solo the tempo is brought down totally and a jazzy interlude in which the saxophone takes the lead again after a previous uptempo solo. Andy Meyer more or less takes over the song and sends it in a totally different direction. The soulful keys by Erick Anderson do the rest. Interesting song, Die Young is.

You're A Doll. Pale Lips

In the guitar intro I thought that The Sweet was resurrected. That would have been quite a feat considering that three of the four Brit glamrockers have traded the temporal for the forever. Quite soon I was brought out of my revelry of things long past. Pale Lips is a band in the here and now with a female front. So more Suzy Quattro than The Sweet to remain in the Chinn/Chapman realm. You're A Doll is not a new song. Pale Lips released its album 'After Dark' in 2019, but releases You're A Doll on single now. Pale Lips is a band from Montreal in Canada and far removed from the music I usually hear from that town. Arcade Fire, Patrick Watson, e.g. Somewhere off of main street some rock and roll aficionado's do reside. With a nice boogie rhythm sped up, a little thin sounding organ like they don't make anymore. Singer Jackie Blenkarn has the right girl sound in her voice for this kind of song. Last week I happened to hear Bow Wow Wow on the radio and Jackie goes for Annabella Lwin's crown alright. In You're A Doll Pale Lips brings together pumped up rock and roll and girl pop, in other words, experience and teenage longing. The mix works a miracle in You're A Doll.

Wout de Natris

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