7 Singles for a Mellow Morning

mellow 000Daniel Trakell

“Paradise”

Hey Melbourne, I think someone needs to hug Daniel Trakell. Or maybe several someones. “Paradise” is the most beautifully depressing, elusively suicidal thing I’ve heard since Elliott Smith’s posthumously released New Moon – I can’t stop listening and it breaks my heart every single time I hear it. There is a sublime peace at the core of “Paradise” that is carried in Trakell’s voice. The artist sought a “deliberately funereal feel” and I guess it was a success. I want this song played at my funeral. The complete EP, which shares its name with this single, comes out on March 24th. Before that happens, listen to “Paradise” below so you can share in the anticipation.

Candy Cigarettes

“Stockholm”

The Portland indie act known as Candy Cigarettes released this single earlier this year and I’ve amassed quite a few listens since then. “Stockholm” kicks of with an indie-folk sound before moving into more dream pop terrain and back again. The song presents a strange sense of isolation or, maybe not so strange, considering Candy Cigarettes is the solo effort of singer-songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, and producer, Lane Mueller. As you move through “Stockholm” it will probably surprise you when you remember that this track is the creation of only one artist. This song isn’t quite as brooding as others, but it is no less meditative. Check out “Stockholm” from Candy Cigarettes below…

Willetta

“Books”

Willetta released a collection songs earlier this month, and if you haven’t already taken a swim through the cool, murky waters of Frisson, you should. “Books”, the middle child of this three-track, proved my favorite, and for more than just the personal obvious affinity for its title and narrative. On this single, Anna shares both a gravitas weight and gossamer lightness which her voice is capable of in full splendor. Implementing both aspects helps give to shape the emotionally complex soundscapes that define Willetta’s drone-folk sound. This song, like others from Willetta, present more of a thinkpiece rather than a traditional “single” so plan on repeat listens. Sink into “Books” below and then check out Frisson (available here). 

Timid, the Brave

“Alice”

I don’t know what I found most compelling about this new single from Ontario’s Timid, the Brave: the understated beauty of the music or the emotional depth of the lyrics. Tim Selles, the musician behind Timid, the Brave, wrote the song “Alice” after his grandmother passed away. According to the artist, “Alice” is “a song about love and life and death, and finding a way to fight through the varying levels of devastation that we all experience.” That seems like a hefty order to fill, but Timid, the Brave does just that with such grace you won’t even notice the sorrow that’s carved out a chink in your chest. At least, not immediately. This track comes to us from the album Firesale which Timid, the Brave released on Feb. 24th through Other Songs, an independent label based out of Ontario.

 Jesse Jo Stark

“Driftwood”

L.A. lass Jesse Jo Stark might be a relative newcomer on the scene, but she’s been locking down new fans fast with her single, “Driftwood”. Stark’s voice clambers from brooding depths to uplifting heights with the easy grace of a mountain goat. There is something earthy and authentic that one might not expect from the likes of a longtime La La Land resident. Rather than going for the glitz, Stark keeps it simple and honest as she delves the seemingly aimless intentions of love. Stark co-wrote “Driftwood” with Jonathan Rice who you might know from his work with Jenny Lewis. Rice also produced the single. I’m certainly hoping this song only marks the beginning for Jesse Jo Stark and more tracks follow soon. Until then, give “Driftwood” a spin below…

The Elephants

“I Can Feel You”

This indie-rock duo from the Ukraine crafts out a dreamy but melancholy sound on “I Can Feel You”. The instrumentation on this single has an ethereal air that is met with muted vocals. Nothing grating or jarring will abscond your sense of inner peace as you float on the gentle waters of “I Can Feel You”. This single comes to us from The Elephants’ 10-track LP, Colors, which is available here. Give “I Can Feel You” a spin below and  follow up the full release.

Skin & Bones

“Lightless Star”

We dig the roots rock music of Skin & Bones and first featured them back in November last year. And now, the Cali-duo is back with a new number. “Lightless Star” still has that blues-rock feel that drives the band’s sound, but this single is a little more mellow and a little more passionate. I guess one should expect as much from a song somewhat inspired by the poem “For the Anniversary of My Death” by W.S. Merwin [see here]. Give “Lightless Star” a listen below…

Crystal Cities: Who’s Gonna Save Us Now

crystal cities 01by Joe Golfen
Staff Writer

The debut EP from Sydney trio Crystal Cities is a dreamy affair, even if some of those dreams turn pretty dark.

The great lead single, “Who’s Gonna Save Us Now”, is one of those troubled dreams, built on dark synths and minor key guitar lines. But it also has a sense of the majestic to it, with insistent drums and breathy vocals from Geoff Rana.

Despite this dark opening salvo, the Australian group’s EP is actually a pretty sunny affair. Musically anyways.

“Cut Me Loose” takes the album in that direction, with the noodly guitar twinkle and soft falsetto of a Real Estate record. The sense of worry always permeates all that sunshine however, like when Rana sings “Words come out wrong/when I’m with you,” dropping the falsetto into his real voice for that second line, adding a great sense of menace.

“Good Life” keeps the mellow vibe going, this time adding a great fuzz guitar and the kind of chorus that lasts for days. “Talking To Myself” keeps the trend going, maybe one song too many like that in a row.

“Tell Me Know” is a welcome change of pace, a slick, driving britpop number that sounds a bit like The Kooks, and Rana going back to that breathy register. The chorus finds the return of that noodly guitar work, but in this different context, it turns out to be an interesting twist.

Closer “Binary Eyes” sounds like classic U2, though where you’d expect a world-conquering chorus, Crystal Cities takes things in a mellow, dreamy direction. Though the chiming build up in the last minute of the song would definitely make The Edge proud.

With their first EP, this Aussie three-piece has set themselves up for success, and I wouldn’t be at all surprised that they end up being huge sometime soon.

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joe golfen 100Joe Golfen has been writing about music since 2007, appearing in the Arizona Republic, Phoenix New Times and Tone Audio Magazine. He also plays guitar and sings for desert psych band The Lonesome Wilderness, and plays the organ in power-poppers The Breakup Society.

7 Flavors of Folk

folk 002

by Carly Schorman
Senior Editor

Old Star

“Out Here Alone”

Old Star comes out swinging on their debut single, “Out Here Alone”. Seriously, this indie-folk number will kick you in the heart, but it does so with such beauty that you’ll want to go through the ache all over again as soon as the song ends. “Out Here Alone” erects a solitary atmosphere around the listener that feels a bit windswept and desolate, but there’s a warmth there too. Check out “Out Here Alone” from Phoenix’s Old Star below. Let’s hope there are more tracks to follow…

Bad Dad

“Some Bunny Gun Love Me”

This came across my desk labeled “Oklahoma City based country vapor wave-blues music” – so I was definitely interested. “Some Bunny Gun Love Me” might leave you feeling a little forlorn but that doesn’t mean you won’t be hitting that play button again and again. On this new single from Bad Dad, bourbon smooth vocals hover over dreamy Americana tinged with just the right amount of loneliness thrown in for authenticity’s sake. Give “Some Bunny Gun Love Me” a listen below…

The Fair Wells

“Where is Your Heart”

This duo might have the polish you’d expect of a Los Angeles-based band while holding to an earnest sound that one might expect to hear at a county fair in North Carolina or maybe Virginia (their home state). The Fair Wells craft a simple, sweet-tempered sound on “Where is Your Heart” that will hit you right in the sentimental side. Spirited harmonies meet earthy folk as The Fair Wells  pose the question, “Where is Your Heart”? This single comes to us from the band’s debut EP, Hurricanes, which is available for preview or purchase here. But, first, give “Where is Your Heart” a listen below…

Jordan Merrick

“Untitled #1”

The single comes to us all the way from Australia. Yes, what we would term “Americana” is considered just a good ol’fashioned Australian Bush Ballad down under. Folk knows no boundaries, geographic or otherwise, I suppose. Jordan Merrick’s “Untitled #1” sounds straight from the American Heartland from the anguished vocals to the rustic guitar. After you give the single a spin, it won’t surprise you learn that Merrick drew inspiration from Dylan’s Blood on the Tracks. Both Merrick and Dylan share an unadorned candor in their music that I love. Check out “Untitled #1” by Jordan Merrick below…

Ryanhood

“Alright Tonight”

This Tucson folk-pop duo dropped their new LP, Yearbook, earlier this month. Ryanhood is the combined effort of Ryan Green and Cameron Hood. Together, the pair create indie folk with a bit of bounce, but don’t let the feel-good attitude in the music distract you from the seriously dexterous guitarwork on the album. “Alright Tonight” is the opening track from Yearbook and offers listeners a sampling of what’s in store as they progress through all nine songs. Give the single a spin below and, if you dig the Ryanhood brand of folk, delve into Yearbook here .

The Roads Below

“I Want Us”

This Nashville 3-Piece puts a country spin on folk-rock with “I Want Us”. Now, if I’m being totally honest here, I’m not particularly partial to Contemporary Country as a style in either music or fashion, but I find myself quite taken with all the syrupy feelings in “I Want Us”. The Roads Below managed to unearth the squishy center of my black punk heart. This is the first single from the band, but I’m hoping that more will follow. Check out “I Want Us” from The Roads Below, uh, below…

Sam Coppenger

“Between Your Heart and Mine”

Sometimes it’s good to get in touch with your inner innocence. I bet even the most cynical of you out there harbors a little lost love for Mayberry (or maybe this generation is more Stars Hollow). “Between Your Heart and Mine” will bring you back to a time when love was earnest, the streets unlittered, and life seemed a little less complicated. Coppenger comes to us from Nashville by way of Pensacola, FL and you can give his single a spin below. To hear the album from whence this track came, head here.

7 Radio-Ready Pop Jams

Passerbye

“Karaoke Knife Fight”

The Houston-based quintet known as Passerbye dropped their EP – Apathy, TX – earlier this year, just in time for the Superbowl. Now that may not seem like an important connection to draw but the band was picked up to play the Superbowl Festival sooo one might expect big things to come from Passerbye. “Karoake Knife Fight” comes to us from that release and you can tell from the punchy hooks and crisp delivery that it was predestined to captivate contemporary audiences. Give the single a spin below and you’ll hear what I mean. “Karoake Knife Fight” just might be radio gold. For the complete release, head to iTunes here.

Calvillo Sisters

“Come Through”

The Calvillo Sisters throw some vintage style into the musical mix on their new single “Come Through”; the first single from their forthcoming album, Ziklag. Emma, Angelique, and Dominique Calvillo – yes, who are actually sisters – grew up in L.A. so they were in just the right place to launch their fresh revivalist sound that might best be described as “pop gumbo” for its melting pot combination of pop, R&B, gospel, and jazz into one funky fluid sound. Give “Come Through” a listen below and join us in the wait for Ziklag by the Calvillo Sisters.

Evalyn

“Filthy Rich”

Evalyn was introduced on Louis the Child’s “Fire” and now she’s ready to branch out on her own with “Filthy Rich”. Whether the songwriter assumed a persona for this song or Evalyn really is as filthy rich as the track describes, I can’t really say, but I’m a poor writer and I’m still kicking the track around. Maybe that’s because of the slick hook and brooding “California noir” style. “Filthy Rich” by Evalyn just might be the next chill club kid jam. You can hear it for yourself below or head here to add the single to your personal playlist.

William Bolton

“NO”

William Bolton give shape to this lively number with a chillax feel and his easygoing vocal style. There’s a casual air to the song’s delivery that seems to contradict the firmness of the title. But, seems to me, like this track might have been penned at the point when one really is finished – finally finished – with that relationship that’s not working out. “NO” was produced by the artist with Mischief Boy on the assist. The two worked on another track recently (“Be My Bae”) which is also available through Bolton’s Soundcloud page. Before you check out the new single, make sure you give “NO” a spin below or get your own copy from iTunes.

filous ft. Mat Kearny

“Goodbye”

This addition to our list is an cross-Pacific undertaking. The Australian-based producer known as filous joined forces with Nashville-via-Eugene singer-songwriter Mat Kearney to create “Goodbye”. What I perhaps like most about this track is the subtly shifting soundscape that supports Kearney’s stirring voice. The production is vibrant yet unobtrusive and it keeps the track compelling without upstaging the vocals. Give “Goodbye” from filous, and featuring Mat Kearny, a listen below or head to iTunes for your own copy of the single.

KNGDAVD

“Medicine” 

This high-energy track comes to us from the indie/electro side of the pop pool. KNGDAVD combines the efforts of two NYC artists: one a producer/multi-instrumentalist and the other a vocalist. “Medicine” packs a pop punch and an infectious hook so be warned that this song could get stuck on your head in repeat. The subject matter addresses the hot button issue of toxic relationships that rely on sex to avoid the dysfunction. The steamy single dropped in January so you can score your digital download of the single here or give it a spin below…

Biscaine Bay

“We Don’t Talk Anymore”

Man, why are so many pop songs about troubled relationships? Is romantic love really the driving force of our lives? Or are we just suffering for our entanglements? This chill electro pop single has a pensive air felt in both the lyrics and the underlying musicality, but there is also a sense of calm resignation that keeps things on an even keel. Retro-style synths are used to add some vibrant texturing, but their presence does not overwhelm the track, leaving it feel dated and artificial. Other fans of similar synth sounds would be wise to take note. Give “We Don’t Talk Anymore” a listen below or head here for the download.

7 Fresh HipHop Singles

by Carly Schorman
Senior Editor

Lucky Dice

“Memoirs”

Boston’s Lucky Dice just dropped his debut LP, M.O.S.A. (Memoirs of a Starving Artist), last week and this chill number comes to us from that release. “Memoirs” sets a vintage soul vibe with its kickback beat (compliments of Berdz) as Lucky Dice lays out contemplative lyrics. Check “Memoirs” from Lucky Dice below and then head here to get your own digi-download of M.O.S.A. (Memoirs of a Starving Artist).

Pwest

“Coast”

The L.A.-based emcee maintains a steady lyrical spit on “Coast” that will bring you current on the the artist’s life and inner workings. Pwest applies an indie slant to his brand of hip hop that reminds me of the Anticon crew from a bit further up the coast. I really don’t know what I like more on this single: the subtle strength of Pwest’s lyrics or the thoughtful lack of unnecessary adornment. “Coast” is a stripped-down single, but that makes it no less compelling. Check out “Coast” by Pwest below…

Big Limn x StarLawd

“Each Day I Rise”

Phoenix’s Big Limn teamed up with the beatmaker out of Tampa known as Starlawd. The result? Third Eye Society: a fourteen-track album of fresh takes including this stellar single. Nimble rhymes ride old school beats on “Each Day I Rise” with a little added horn flavor. Seriously, Big Limn’s rhyme style is straight maniacal with how quickly he can spit out a phrase. Give “Each Day I Rise” a spin below and then head here for the complete LP from Big Limn and StarLawd.

Davey

“White Kids”

Ever wonder what it might be like for a black kid growing up in a predominantly white community? Like Australia? Davey shares his experience with just that on his new single, “White Kids”. Now, white people, please don’t go into this song thinking that you’re suddenly going to be totally woke by the end of “White Kids” and embarrass everyone else. Davey is only offering his own personal narrative here, but he does so in silver-tongue style against a minimal urban beat. Give the single a spin below…

Vidorra & Young Twaun

“No Rolex”

This pretty slick collaborative effort comes to us from UK producer Vidorra and US rapper Young Twaun. “No Rolex” takes the best of both worlds and smashes it together. You get the vigor of Young Twaun’s rhyme style set against the distinctively different soundscape of Vidorra. The DJ, producer, and multi-instrumentalist from Birmingham might only be 17 years old, but he’s doing some interesting things in the texturing on this track that other producers would be wise to give the once over.

Treezy

“Burnout”

This new single comes to us from Treezy’s latest album, Phoenix. But all you Phoenicians should hang on for a sec, Treezy is actually from Seattle by way of Louisiana. On “Burnout”, Treezy’s rhyme style is both slinky and slightly aggressive at the same time. He holds to the beat, which is stripped-down, but solid, and proves you don’t need a lot to do a lot. Listen to “Burnout” from Treezy and then head here for the complete Phoenix experience.

Jackson Alexander

“Rolling Stone”

Kansas City musician Jackson Alexander has a unique approach to HipHop or, excuse me, “Folk Hop”. Alexander takes his own unique rhyme style and applies it to some Heartland folk. You know, kind of like Rap-Rock, but a little earthier and, hopefully, a whole lot cooler in its connotation. Either way, “Rolling Stone” by Jackson Alexander pushes those traditional genre boundaries and that’s something we can always get behind. Check out the single below….

7 Funky New Jams

funky 00RILLAKILL & Brandyn Burnette

“The Freshest”

You might be familiar with producer Brandyn Burnette. After all, we’ve featured him on YabYum before so you should know him. Anyway, Burnette wrote this track on his 26th birthday and brought it to Rillakill to help bring the hit to life. “The Freshest” has that slick radio style that immediately gets you dancing and stays stuck in your head for days. Consider that your only warning. The crisp production and catchy hooks of “The Freshest” won’t let go of listeners. Give the single from Rillakill and Bradyn Burnette a listen below or head here for your very own digital copy.

Lucille Crew

“Something”

HipHop, funk, and electropop melt together in this banger from Lucille Crew, an international act that originated in Tel Aviv. “Something” grooves with club energy while the melody sticks to you like glue. Or sweat. The lushly layered monotone vocals really sold me though. Give “Something” from the Lucille Crew a listen below. This single is just a little sampling from their forthcoming album, Respect the Dawn, which is due out this Spring.

Berry Juice & Josh Tobias

“Creature of the Night”

Retro synths and a funky hook really make “Creature of the Night” sizzle. The single was produced in collaboration as an international undertaking combining the efforts of Amsterdam-based producer Berry Juice and Brooklyn-based vocalist Josh Tobias. Part of a two-track single that dropped last December (available here), “Creature of the Night” feels like driving through has just enough contemporary cool to keep the 80s throwback style from inflating your hair. Let’s hope “Creature of the Night” is just one of the many collaborative tracks that emerge from this partnership. Give the single a listen below…

Swindail

“Jussrite”

The Aussie artist known as Swindail has an uncommonly self-effacing attitude for a producer, but you can’t tell that from listening to his slick singles. “Jussright” mixes chill but upbeat energy with all the little textural niceties that take a track from amateur hour to totally pro. The vocal additions from SACHI and Naji help Swindail capture that breezy summertime vibe that defines “Jussrite”. If it’s winter here that means it’s summer Down Under, right? All of us above the equator get a a little while longer to learn all the words to “Jussrite” before we hear this single on those poolside playlists. Give the single from Swindail a spin below or head here to snag your own copy before those temperatures get turned up.

Black Giraffe

“Kansas”

This song is about two days spent driving cross-country to visit a dying friend. Somber, yes, but funky too. The Seattle trio known as Black Giraffe offers up a foxy R&B/rock sound that’s backed by a solid groove. There’s an added experimental layer that keeps things interesting in a modern way.  Give “Kansas” a spin below…

Unified Highway

“Are You That Somebody”

Unified Highway fuses the talents of Eric Rachmany (Rebelution vocalist/guitarist) and Amp Live (producer, DJ, remixer formerly of Zion I). The duo creates a kickback vibe on their new single, “Are You That Somebody”, with the help of a few musician friends. The track has a reggae twist but you can hear a melting pot of styles from electropop to soul and beyond. Meander down that Unified Highway with their track “Are You Somebody” below or get your very own copy here.

Dahj

“Size Up”

Chad Phillips is the Jamaican singer/producer/songwriter who performs under the moniker Dahj. His slinky new single “Size Up” fuses R&B, Dancehall, and HipHop for a fresh sound with island flavor. If you dig “Size Up”, I suggest checking out other singles available from Dahj. He only recently moved from the role of producer to center stage so he only has a few tracks under his belt. But fear not, Dahj is currently hard at work on his debut EP. Until then, enjoy “Size Up” below or head here to get your own digi-download.

7 Eclectic Indie Singles

eclectic indie singles 00The Blurst

“Dogdog”

The Blurst is the undertaking of Sydney-based multi-instrumentalist Liam O’Shea. His latest single, “Dogdog”, comes to us from The Blurst’s November, 3-track release of the same title. O’Shea fuses lithesome vocals reminiscent of Elliott Smith with a gritty, back alley, noise pop. Check out “Dogdog” by The Blurst below and then head over to Bandcamp for your free digi-download of the three-track release from whence it came.

The Psychedelephants

“Lunar Treatment”

The Psychedelephants add a grungy, psychedelic edge to their own brand of indie rock.  “Lunar Treatment” brings together trippy organs, richly textured vocals, and crisp guitar work for a powerful number. Hopefully, this new single means The Psychedelephants might be hashing out a new album. Hopefully? Maybe? It’s been a more than a minute since the band released their 2014 (and much loved by YabYum staffers) LP, Asymmetrical Geometry. Give “Lunar Treatment” a listen below…

Emily Afton

“Golden Mountain”

Smoky vocals meet magical storytelling on “Golden Mountain”, the new single from Emily Afton. The soundscape shifts suddenly from gently meandering to forceful and driving. It’s the completely fluid juxtaposition of gritty garage energy and the jazz-tinged indie that really sold me on this single. “Golden Mountain” is as compelling in its aural variance as it is lyrically. This single comes to us from Afton’s 2016 LP, Archetype. Listen to “Golden Mountain” by Emily Afton below and then head here for the complete LP.

Mateo Katsu

“Diplomatic Boner”

If you’re a regular reader here, there’s a chance you’re already familiar with the musical stylings of Mateo Katsu. As part of his Fourteen Weeks project (and album), Katsu recorded a song a week for (you guessed it) 14 weeks. “Diplomatic Boner” is another stellar single from that undertaking. The indie rock Katsu creates has a relaxed summertime vibe – like friends jamming in a garage – but the lyrics are often pensive. “Diplomatic Boner” is no exception. The lyrics on the track suggest wry amusement as the world stumbles into chaos. Even as the texture shifts, the tone remains strident: amused, if slightly despondent. Listen for yourself below or head here for the complete album.

Monte Del Monte

“LA Mental”

This new single from Monte Del Monte kicks off with a mellow lounge sound, but it quickly gains energy until you find yourself dancing at a seaside bar in the middle of the Pacific with one of those little umbrella’d drinks in your hand. Okay, maybe this magical transportation is more metaphysical than, you know, physical-physical. Whatever the case, Monte Del Monte lifts spirits and sways hips with “LA Mental” so make sure you give it a spin below…

Bridesmen

“You and Me”

Bridesmen is the new project from Kenton Chen, a singer-songwriter from Los Angeles. Combining indie, electropop, and soul for a chill sound that will have you reaching for the repeat button, “You and Me” delves the complicated web of communication that exists within relationships. Produced by Eric Cannata (of Young the Giant), “You and Me” by Bridesmen really stood out amongst the insane number of indie/electro tracks that flood in everyday for its supple vocals and precise production. Give the single a spin below or head here for that digital download.

Rob Daiker

“All for a Kiss”

This indie-pop single from Portland producer/songwriter/musician Rob Daiker has the romantic charm of candlelight and scented bubble bath. I have to say, there’s just something about a piano-driven love song that really hits home this time of year. “All for a Kiss” is just that: sweet, if more than a little sentimental, but executed with serious musicianship. The single comes to us from Daiker’s 2016 LP, Binary Affairs, which can be procured for your personal collection here. First, give “All for a Kiss” a listen below…