I was lucky enough to find myself in Paris and Geneva recently, where I got to hear some of the latest in French music. One day while watching TV in my hotel room in Geneva, a short clip aired about a singer called Jain. The 23-year old was born in France but lived in Abu Dhabi, Dubai, and the Congo while growing up. She learned different instruments and musical techniques in each location, and the influence of her worldly upbringing can be heard on her EP Hope. “Makeba” and “Come” are danceable earworms for sure, combining African beats with strummed guitars and synths to create a unique soundscape. Listen to a few tracks below, and if you like what you hear, you can read her in-depth interview with The Fader here.
Last Friday, Band of Horses released their fifth studio album, Why are You OK. I was hyped for this release, but my mood deflated as I listened through it. I loved the singles released in advance- “Casual Party” and “In a Drawer” definitely caught my attention in the weeks leading up to the release. However, I got the feeling of watching a movie whose best moments were given away in the trailer. The songs were good, but I was left wanting more. And I can’t lie, the last few tracks made me drowsy. As much as I wanted to love Why Are You OK, it was just… OK. Sad face.
Summer is almost here, and with it will come releases from several of my all time favorite bands. Get excited in advance for albums from Band of Horses (!) and Red Hot Chili Peppers (!) among others.
I’m kicking my summer off with Catfish and the Bottlemen’s newest release, The Ride. It was actually released this week, but isn’t yet available on most streaming platforms. However, if “Soundcheck” and “Twice” accurately set the scene, it should be excellent.
Next up is a new release from Tegan and Sara, called Love You to Death. The twin sisters haven’t released an album since 2013, but their single “Boyfriend” features the same synthpop vibe as 2013’s “Closer.”
On June 10, get ready for 3 (hopefully) great albums at once.
Band of Horses: Why Are You Ok? Featuring “Casual Party,” which I am in love with. I have very high hopes for this one, and will definitely post a review.
Fitz and the Tantrums’ self-titled album- this one will be on repeat, even if it’s just to hear “HandClap” one more time.
Peter Bjorn and John: Breakin’ Point- Not sure what to expect from PB and J. “Dominos” sounds really different from old favorites like “Young Folks,” so we may be in for a surprise.
A week later, look out for the newest album from Red Hot Chili Peppers. The Getaway will be their first release since 2011’s I’m With You. I’m already repeating the title track and cannot wait to hear the rest. They just don’t quit!
The last album with a definite release date (for now) is the Avett Brothers’ True Sadness, out June 24. While I’m an outspoken opponent of country music, the Avett Bros cross genre lines with every album. We’ll see what True Sadness has to offer!
Happy listening, and don’t forget to mark your calendars for some hot new tunes.
Hey all, hope your 2016 has treated you well so far. I’ve been listening to tons of new music lately, and one artist keeps coming up in my “recommended” playlists. Now based in London, Dublin-born Sample Answer has a sound that ranges from funky and urban to poppy acoustic tunes. His debut effort Good Boy EP was released last July, and he released another, Textile Baby EP, in October. Songs like “No Need to Say” and “Hold On to Me” feature simple vocals and acoustic guitar over harmonized string parts, while “Proud” (my favorite) and “Good Boy” feel almost like hip hop, with heavy drums and rapped lyrics. Give Sample Answer a listen and let me know what you think on Facebook or Twitter!
I received two submissions fairly recently that I felt mirrored the exact emotions I’ve been feeling lately. With the changing seasons, exam weeks, and general chaos of campus life, I often feel like a mental case indeed. And while the senior slide is undeniable, the sophomore slump is a beast of its own. All I want to do lately is read books, listen to music, and have long conversations with friends. School is important, of course, but the general mood lately has been one of introspection.
So, for the songs of the day. I like the laid-back fingerpicking featured in “Sophomore Slump.” Chicago-based songwriter Bryn Rich does a nice job of balancing guitar and vocals, playing in swells when he isn’t singing. The song is slow, and while I favor more upbeat tunes I am thoroughly enjoying the mellow, melancholy feel of this one.
“Mental Case” by New Yorkers SKATERS features a more typical indie rock sound: drums, synths, the works. “I’m a mental case… I really might be sane” are the words repeated over and over: sad, dysfunctional, and oh so catchy. Give these two a listen and do some deep thinking or fireplace staring or something.
Tune in to Indie @ ND this morning at 10 EDT/ 9 CST for some new tunes!
BOY‘s debut album Mutual Friends (2011) had me hooked at first listen. “Skin” was the first song I learned to play on the guitar, and the voices of Valeska Steiner and Sonja Glass were the first I heard on the main stage at First Avenue. They’re kind of my absolute favorites. As such, I was thrilled to hear that their sophomore release We Were Here was arriving this fall. I’ve listened through it a few times now, and while I liked it initially, this album somehow leaves me a bit more satisfied each time I hear it.
We Were Here is the result of experimentation with new soundscapes while preserving the infectious indie/folk/pop sound that first drew listeners to “Skin” and “Little Numbers.” While WWH is fairly short for a full-length album (it’s just 9 songs), BOY’s new tracks incorporate more intricately crafted layers and an overall more mature sound. Their new songs feature drawn-out buildups, pleasant guitar licks, more intense bass and drums, and of course Steiner’s beautifully distinct voice over Glass’s airtight harmonies.
“New York” is the most upbeat tune of the bunch, with lyrics like “And the truth is/ I was wrong when I said I was bored/ any street that I’m walking on with you/ anywhere with you could be New York.” The acoustic version is superb, so I’d recommend listening to that version first. Surprisingly, my least favorite song is the title track, though its lyrics provide a great opener for the rest of the album: “Everything’s on the move/ the paint is wet, all colors are new/ But if you look carefully, you’ll see us shining through.” My most-loved has got to be “Flames,” which I think best shows the duo’s ability to write emotionally captivating lyrics. “If I knew how/ I’d calm your nights/ And soothe your soul/ And I’d clear your sight/ Oh, I would fix you/ I’d put things back in place/ And wave goodbye to nightlong days.”
While there is currently only a mixed version of We Were Here available, I suspect that an acoustic version will drop sometime in the coming months, if 2013’s Mutual Friends double release is any clue. Their label, Groenland Records, has also posted several acoustic versions of tunes from WWH on YouTube. While I definitely preferred the acoustic version of Mutual Friends to the remastered album, it’s a much harder choice for We Were Here.This album shines with BOY’s familiar charm and upgraded instrumentation, and is headed to my list of favorites for sure.
Fall has finally arrived, and tagging along is Indie @ ND, Notre Dame’s favorite indie/alternative radio show. I started the show last year and fell in love with WVFI, our college radio station. The show went into hiatus during the spring semester, but it’s back and better than ever! WVFI is an internet-only station, so tune in here Friday mornings at 10 Eastern/9 Central for fresh tracks and commentary by yours truly. This week’s playlist includes tracks from Carroll (check out their new full-length here), Bad Bad Hats, Beirut, and BOY (a review to come about their new album, We Were Here).
Fall semester is in full swing here, and while blogging is always at the back of my mind, that’s where it seems to stay. However, I want to keep the site updated regularly, so if you or anyone you know would be interested in writing for SH, let me know! Comment here or shoot an email to email@example.com. I’ve got lots of submissions in my inbox, so if you want to write but you’re not sure what about, I’ve got you covered. Listen to today’s Indie @ ND playlist below, and hit me up with any requests for next week!