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.

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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.

Is it Summer Yet? 6 Singles for Warming Weather

Garrett Hazen

“Some Brutal Love”

The L.A. vibe on this track matches up with the very L.A. story of the man behind the music. Garrett Hazen (along with his twin brother Kent) were child actors in the 90s (ever see Roseanne?) but Garrett devotes himself to the musical arts these days. There’s a beachy brightness to “Some Brutal Love” as it blurs the line between indie rock and garage pop. Hazen nails that right amount of careless-cool that feels like hanging out at the gas station and smoking cigarettes, before you’re old enough to buy them, all while drinking an inhumanly sized serving of soda pop. You know, that teenage summertime feeling. “Some Brutal Love” marks the first solo single from Garrett Hazen. Let’s hope more tracks are to follow. Give the single a spin below or head here to add the track to your personal collection.

Ryon’s World

“Grandma’s Car”

Man, this is one of those singles we can’t cover fast enough to fit with our unwritten motto: find ’em first. Between the time we added this single to the schedule before it dropped and now, “Grandma’s Car” was a Spotify pick for New Music Friday and landed the track on Spotify’s Viral 50. Although the Ryon of Ryon’s World is a D.C. native, this pop hit has an island atmosphere that will have you reaching for sunblock and a frozen fruity cocktail before you hit the first reprise. Ryon’s World is a summer anthem for those kids too broke for vacation, but no less deserving of love. Chill out in Ryon’s World with “Grandma’s Car”. Head to iTunes to get your own digi-download for those poolside playlist.

Miseryslims

“The Machine Stops”

A surf rock band from Manitoba? Maybe all that chilly weather has the Miseryslims dreaming of warming climates and that longing comes through in their music. “The Machine Stops” doesn’t really have that California surf sound, but seems like it might come from a different coastline. Miseryslims mix in some Britpop hues into their indie palette. And, frankly, I’m loving this combination. Give “The Machine Stops” a listen below and head here to check out the EP from whence it came.

Matadors

“Trumpet of Conscience”

After you listen to “Trumpet of Conscience”, it will probably surprise you to learn that the Matadors are a DIY, one-man-band who records tracks in his bedroom. The British act definitely sounds like he’s working from a studio setting with a full band at his back. On this new single, crunchy guitars drive the buoyant summertime melody that hearkens back to an earlier era of rocknroll. Matadors are definitely an act to keep an eye (or ear) on. This single was released as part of the RIP Records Introduces Series which was created to introduce little-known acts to the larger world. So far, so good, RIP Records, because without the series I might never have found Manchester’s Matadors. Listen to “Trumpet of Conscience” below…

The Starter Wives

“How Weird is Now”

The sunny energy of The Starter Wives’ new single feels like that summer breeze when you’re out skateboarding in a pair of homemade cuts offs on a listless afternoon or like drinking cold keg beer from a plastic cup in some stranger’s backyard while sweat dribbles down your back. “How Weird is Now” is luminous garage rock for those days you want to put the top down and sing-along. This Vancouver three-piece definitely sound like they’re from further south along that Western Coast; a place of perpetual sunshine, surfboards, and slender blondes. Basically, this might be your new summertime jam. Check out “How Weird is Now” by The Starter Wives below or head here for that digital download.

The Arcadian Wild

“Envy Green”

Maybe you’re not about tearing up the city in a convertible or backyard keggers. Maybe you’re summer is more about hammock naps, lemonade, and hiking along streams to the perfect picnic spot. If that’s the case, The Arcadian Wild just might be for you. The latest single from the band, “Envy Green”, paints a lush landscape with its orchestral indie folk. This Nashville trio seems like they’d feel equally at home playing barefoot on your grandmother’s front porch or for a crowd of bearded hipsters. Check out “Envy Green” by The Arcadian Wild below or head here to add the single to your personal collection.

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.

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7 Rad New Singles

radCocoRosie

“Smoke ’em Out”

CocoRosie is hard at work on a new album, but they unleashed this single in January to combat the cultural malaise that seems to be the marker of 2017. I’ve been a fan of this Paris-based duo ever since La maison de mon rêve came out back in ’04 so I was super excited to hear a new album is on the horizon. “Smoke ’em Out” features guest vocalist, and fellow “Future Feminist”, ANOHNI. If future freak folk is your thing, I definitely suggest checking out the new single from CocoRosie below. Or, if you’re like me, you’re going to want to add this to your personal library (available here).

Draa

“Even in My Dreams (All My Life)”

All you Draa fans should start getting excited now. The PHX 4-piece are gearing up for the release of a 7″ which features this brand-spanking-new single, “Even in My Dreams (All My Life)”. This dreamy post-pop number addresses the feelings of uncertainty that can arise in these unmapped lives of ours, but it does so in soothing way so as not to give rise to any additional anxiety. The 7″ will be released on March 10th through Funeral Party Records. The Deluxe Edition comes with a cassette of Draa’s Part Time Punks Sessions (previously unreleased) but that bonus is limited so get on that pre-order now.

Tashaki Miyaki

“Girls on T.V.”

This is another musical duo, but this time out of Los Angeles. Tashaki Miyaki has a dreamy lofi sound that has me totally enamored. “Girls on T.V.” came out in January as a little sample of the duo’s recently released album, The Dream. As you drift along on the lithe vocals, the garage-tinged indie sound will begin to dissolve into some heavy texturing before returning to its prior permutations, just to keep things interesting. This is a great single for summertime with its casual, cool kid attitude and easygoing melody. Sink into “Girls on T.V.” from Tashaki Miyaki below or head here to peruse the complete LP.

Eli & The Itches

“At Least Not Yet”

Eli Pearl is the man behind the music of Eli & The Itches. A native on the L.A. scene, Pearl grew up in Venice Beach and put in his time honing his chops in the city’s venues before he decided to focus on his own sound. Eli & The Itches is the result of that effort. Pearl assumes a gender-bending persona in the glamrock ballad “At Least Not Yet”. There is an air of drama on this track that Pearl really pulls off without sounding trite. And the music has a supercool swagger to it. Check out “At Least Not Yet” from Eli & The Itches below…

Superorganism

“something for your M.I.N.D.”

So, stay with me on this, Superorganism is a DIY musical project made up of a Japanese teenager living in Maine and seven of her London-based friends. This super chill single marks the band’s recording debut and I’m guessing we’re going to have to wait a minute for the live experience given the ocean that divides the players. “something for your M.I.N.D.” takes mellow electropop to a whole new level of zen with its trippy but unobtrusive instrumental layers. Let’s hope there are more singles in the works from Superorganism. One just isn’t enough. Give “something for your M.I.N.D.” a spin below…

Eli Raybon

“Unsymmetrical”

L.A. transplant Eli Raybon is gearing up for the April release of his LP, Greenwith this catchy new single. “Unsymmetrical” hooks listeners with its rapid fire lyrics while the stripped down production proves you can do a whole lot with just a little. The single has an alt-rock/pop fusion feel with some NYC rock club fuzz thrown in for good measure.  Check out “Unsymmetrical” by Eli Raybon below, then head here to add the track to your personal playlists.

 Christmas Pets

“Glow”

The rocknroll 4-piece out of Cleveland known as Christmas Pets crafted this catchy lofi single set for release on sweet 7″ vinyl on March 15th. “Glow” keeps things simple but nuanced with its unpolished sound and gang vocals. There is a raw energy on “Glow” that feels both intentional and authentic – a rare combination, indeed. I’m definitely interested to see what comes next from Christmas Pets and, thankfully, I won’t have to wait too long because March is just around the corner. Until then, enjoy “Glow” 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 Stellar Singer-Songwriters

stellar singer 00by Carly Schorman
Senior Editor

Ivory Tusk

“Ripples”

The folk songwriter known as Ivory Tusk enchants listeners on his new single, “Ripples”. This single provides an engaging opening for Ivory Tusk’s recent release, Rising Lights, which came out on Jan. 8th. Ivory Tusk originates from Buenos Aires where he also recorded Rising Lights. His forthcoming release, Zephyr, due out later this year, was recorded in Nashville. Ivory Tusk is planning a European Tour this year, but we at YabYum are hoping still for a Phoenix stop to be added. Last time Ivory Tusk passed through he shared the Trunk Space stage with Justin Moody. Now, that I’d like to see. Until we get those tour dates, enjoy “Ripples” below and then head here to listen to the complete EP.**[See Note Below]

Lea Thomas

“Want for Nothing”

The smoky vocals of Lea Thomas drew me into “Want for Nothing” – the title track from her 2017 album.  Calm but in no way aloof, “Want for Nothing” manages to attain soothing and emotionally tumultuous in the same stanza. Originally from Maui, Thomas is Brooklyn-based these days. There is definitely a citified air to her sound, one more cloudy than sunny. I can get behind that. Check out “Want for Nothing” below and then head here for the complete LP.

Justin Levinson

“Homewrecking Machine”

Justin Levinson applies a 60s slant to contemporary indie pop for a refreshing, summertime sound. This East Coaster definitely has some California vibes buried in his heart of hearts. “Homewrecking Machine” carries some Beatles-esque motifs in the soundscape, including rich harmonies and uplifting energy. The single comes to us from Levinson’s 2017 release, Yes Man, so if you dig what you’re hearing, I suggest procuring the complete album for your personal collection (available here).

George Linton

“That’s Okay My Dear”

I’m totally enamored with the musical stylings of George Linton. This songwriter from the U.K. has a stripped down style that hinges on the storytelling of his songwriting. “That’s Okay My Dear” has a sweet-tempered sound to match its doting lyricism. Definitely spend some time with “That’s Okay My Dear” below. This demo track is a tremendously promising start for young Mr. Linton.

Nilu

“What I’m Looking For”

L.A.-based songbird Nilu offers up this simple and soulful single, “What I’m Looking For”. Only single guitar provides the stripped bare melody over which Nilu’s voice flies. Lithe and powerful, Nilu’s vocals define this track and make it shine. Check out “What I’m Looking For” by Nilu below and then head here to add the single to your own playlists.

Lewis Dalgliesh

“My Bluebird is a Storm Petrel”

Gah! What’s with this British songwriters totally ripping out my heart this week? “My Bluebird is a Storm Petrel” comes to us from Lewis Dalgliesh’s recent release, From a Journal, which was written over a seven month period while the songwriter was driving with companions from London to Cape Town. Yes, folks, driving. And, for those of you who aren’t sure where those places are, look at a goddamn map, you’re embarrassing the rest of us Americans. This single has a wayfaring air and a calm, pensive attitude. Just the sort of thing you would hope might emerge from traveling across the world. Listen to “My Bluebird is a Storm Petrel” below. From a Journal, in its entirety, can be found here.

Swan Levitt

“You Were Human”

Swan Levitt comes to us from Isle of Wight, UK – surprise, surprise. Apparently, it’s Brit Songwriter Day here at  YabYum and no one told me. Whatever. This song, like those that came before it, is a new gem in ancient tradition. “You Were Human” has some real emotive energy and a sci-fi slant, how could I not love that? Levitt goes beyond the guitar-and-vocals combo to add some vibrant but subtle textures that really elevate the track. Take the single for spin a below. The track is also available for your private collection here.

 

**Correction: There was an error in the piece so the original content was changed to reflect the correct information. Our bad.