Weekly Roundup: Feb 12 – 18, 2012

I gotta say, this past week was not one a very good one. But there's nothing like some great new music to lift the spirits and help move things forward, which is exactly what we have in this brand new Weekly Roundup.

-I know I've mentioned this before, but I'm always thrilled to share good music from the Triangle in North Carolina because I lived down there for two years and loved it. We have two greats songs straight outta Durham this week, the first of which comes to us from Baobab, a project driven by Phil Torres. Their self-titled debut album just came out – available for free download – and it features a beautiful fusion of the acoustic and the electronic. I was floored by this track "Music for a Movie." The only failing of the title is that I don't think it could easily be in the background of anything because of how it grabs your attention and sweeps you up in it. It is lush and intricate and the world music vibes radiate a universal warmth. I dig.

Churchill is a Denver-based band with a new EP due out March 9th. Title-track "Change" is an infectious number. I have been thinking of it as R&B – rhythm & bluegrass. It's got a nice folk element from the mandolin and guitars, which merges with a pop/dance/R&B style, largely from the melody. The keyboards fit more in this latter category too. The band pulls off the fusion well and the lead vocals of singer Bethany really power the song to another level. "Change" tells the tale of a conflict over if a person should change – or if they even can – at the behest of someone else, but you may not notice from being too busy dancing.

Churchill – Change

-I love this video from Freedom Fry for their new song "Earthquake." It's visually creative, with member Marie reconstructing other member Bruce after he had shattered into small pieces, and it also provides a cool take on the song's message. There just might be a twist at the end too, watch and find out. It reminds me a little of those flashback scenes in Edward Scissorhands when Vincent Price was developing his creation. This duo is part French (Marie) and part American (Bruce) and all delightful pop. This song is hyper-catchy, especially with all the "sh-shake-a-shake-shake-shakes." I love how the surface sweetness masks some lyrical pain. They are working on their debut LP. Looking forward to it.

-Here's one to save for next Valentine's Day, fellas. It's from the son of an incredible talent, proving that sometimes genetics do give you a head start. Adam Cohen is the son of Leonard Cohen, and on his latest album Like A Man, he finally chose to embrace his heritage. I completely understand why someone would want to strike their own path (and I'm sure Jakob Dylan can commiserate about the ups and downs of trying to be a musician in the shadow of an ultra famous father), but judging from a song like "What Other Guy," maybe Adam shouldn't be so reluctant. This is an amazing song, impeccably written both lyrically and musically. The chorus describing the intimate details that he understands about his girl that no other guy would see, with the lovely background echoes, is a sign of mature talent. It straddles the line of a confident love and an imploring "why are you with him," giving the song a delectable ambiguity.

Adam Cohen – What Other Guy

-Shifting gears to something more loose and jangly, this song "Get Burned" by Sleeper Agent first made me think of the great, spirited garage rock sound the Strokes channeled so well when they emerged over a decade ago. There is one of those epic "breakdown plus choir" moments straight out of the pop-punk/emo playbook that to me fits in really well also. Overall, it's an energetic rush and the band offers a great male-female vocal interplay too, which I often dig. Check out the video, it's got the band rocking out, running around and goofing off, plus people in bunny suits.

-We end this Weekly Roundup the way it began: with great new music from Durham, NC. Midtown Dickens will be releasing their third album Home on April 3rd, via the great regional label Trekky. The advance single "Only Brother" is a folk/Americana powerhouse. The instrumentation is spot on and wonderfully played and if you aren't knocked out by the vocal performance here, you may not be human and should probably go to the nearest robot clinic immediately and get your joints oiled. Anyhow, I like the device of each verse telling of an animal that is actually another animal and how that fuses with the chorus of "I am my only brother." It's just a lovely song all around and it should be an excellent album. You can also watch a live performance from Trekky House here.