We are going to try out Weekly Roundup on Monday mornings. That way, you can kick off your week with some excellent songs and videos!
Last week, I shared some thoughts on the new EP Better by Bridges and Powerlines and new videos from Mal Blum and Yellowbirds. Also, I started off a new weekly feature I'm very excited about, which is a look at the music of Freaks and Geeks. Here's the introductory post on the Pilot, "Come Sail Away" and high school dances.
Desert Stars are a Brooklyn band with a new album Habit Shackles out July 16th. I'm digging the track "With the Bears." After some delay-drenched piano and the first verse, the song kicks in to its pleasant shimmery haze. It's the best of kind of haze, one that doesn't fully obscure the song's melodic poppiness. With the way it accelerates towards the end, I bet this one rocks live, too. Speaking of that, Desert Stars play Union Hall June 22nd.
One of my favorite tracks of the past few months is "Whim" by Aly Tadros and Ben Balmer. We recently heard from a bandmate of Aly's named Caitlin Mahoney who has some great music of her own. She is an excellent writer with a strong voice that has that classic country feel to it, the one where you can sound so sweet but pack in all kinds of knockout emotion. Her recent EP West For A While is worth checking out. The title track captures that feeling of wanting to put the heartbreak behind and strike out for somewhere new. She plays next week on 6/18 at Rockwood Music Hall as well.
Joseph Arthur will release his new album The Ballad of Boogie Christ on Tuesday. There are several advance videos out now, and my favorite is "All the Old Heroes." It features still photographs of icons in all fields. Some have passed away, some are seen in the more vital youth. It is very affecting, making us consider the ways they have all our touched our lives, but also, what way we may have impacts. It helps that the song is very good as well. The music is relatively simple but stirring and you can't help feel a sense of nostalgia and empowerment in Joseph's voice. He plays this Thursday at Bowery Ballroom.
Catching up with Azar Swan, we have this new track "In My Mouth." It's available as a 7" record. The thing which strikes me most is how it balances dance, darkness, and a sense of adventure. It's not easy to pull off, but I think they have done it well. Honestly, you can imagine it on a dance floor or in the soundtrack of a horror film. I especially like the quick vocal bursts, such as around 1:20. The band plays Glasslands on July 15th.
The Shaking Through web series has provided me with many gifts. I know I've linked to it before, but if you aren't familiar, it's a great video series based around the idea of a band coming to a studio to write a brand new song in just a day or two. They have access to a great recording team, usually get to work with an interesting collaborator, and it's all beautifully shot. This month, they have an absolute stunner of a track from the band Hop Along called "Sister Cities." I don't even know what to say about it except that it's incredible. Singer Frances Quinlan has an amazing voice. Just listen to it and click here and here to watch the session videos.
Finally, we have the latest video from London's Turnpike Glow for the track "Her Flaming Lips." Musically, the track reminds me of Los Campesinos! for its energy and interlocking vocals. The video shows several figures all clad in white and masked. Four in the front are the band. The others are painting everything red…but get this, it plays backwards so they are actually un-painting. I'm a fan of music videos that involve painting and backwards playback, so this works for me. Plus we get to see the band play a little bit in the end. Look for their new EP Funke Pop on 7/1.