Weekly Roundup: Jun 5 – 11, 2011

It's time once again for another Weekly Roundup, featuring some new tunes & videos we've been digging lately.

-After an 8 year period of inactivity, the duo Fonda has returned with a new song "Better Days," from an EP of the same name. It is not as if the pair – who are a couple – haven't done anything at all, it's just that they've worked on other things, ranging from screenwriting to music editing on TV to raising their son. A song like "Better Days," though, makes me wonder if it isn't unfortunate for the rest of us that Fonda has taken so long to record more music. I like the blend of a swirling wall of sound with a sharp melody, which is exactly what "Better Days" does so well. The EP is out now, more on the band is here.

Wakey! Wakey! is a band created by Michael Grubbs, and the song that has caught my attention is called "Feral Love." This is more of a downbeat cut, driven by the keyboard line and drums at the outset. It doesn't actually sound like it, but for some reason it kind of reminds me of Beck, especially his cover of "Everybody's Gotta Learn Sometimes." There is a certain understated, wry feel to the song. The singer sounds damaged, yet his words have a sort of playfulness to them, in a way. Just think of the title – what an oxymoronic way to describe a connection between two people! The song builds, adding in multiple horns, before everything fades away except the vocals. The album is out now, more on the band is here.

07 Feral Love by Wakey!Wakey!

-Similar to Fonda, Toy Camera is a male-female duo with a dream pop vibe, emphasis on the dreaminess. I think Toy Camera's track "Tall Trees" is even more ethereal than "Better Days" (though both are equally enjoyable). The vocals, synths, and percussion give a sense of gliding. Perhaps it is a priming effect of the band name, but a lot of the instrumentation sounds like it could have been made on toy instruments, like a symphony of wind-up toys. This juxtaposes with the song name, which provides a sense of the outdoors and natural open spaces. So there's a few different interesting things going on here, and it's definitely an enjoyable listen. The EP will be out in August, here's their bandcamp page.

-The band Team Me is from Norway and I'm digging their track "Dear Sister." It brims with energy, combining the tinkling sounds of a group like Toy Camera with the expansive, communal vibe of a group like Arcade Fire. The song feels triumphant musically though the lyrics convey more of a sense of melancholy – "I guess you fell in love with a state of mind," is a gorgeously heartbreaking line for a chorus. I can imagine this song being a killer anthem to hear live for its propulsion and its sentiment. This group has an EP out, but is working on a full length album. Here is their website.

Team Me "Dear Sister" radio edit by Propeller Recordings

-I have been giving a lot of spins to this track "Three Car Garage" by You Won't. It doesn't offer much of anything that will dazzle a listener for being innovative or out of left-field – this is just some guitar and drums basically, and there's nothing especially distinctive about the vocals – but listen to it and try telling me it's not awesome. In my opinion, there's nothing wrong with straightforward lo-fi (ish) indie rock when it is done well, and You Won't does it well. The guitars and drums do impart a sense of urgency and pure feeling that gives the song an appealing immediacy. Their album Skeptic Goodbye is available here, and you can check out their website here.

Now to catch up with some previously featured artists:

-Tampa's Sleepy Vikings have just begun a US tour and also released a new single called "Flashlight Tag," from debut They Will Find You Here. The band continues to impress me. This track really twists and turns but always sounds good. Not an easy thing to do. Check out their website here.

-I recently wrote about Ra Ra Riot for Label Year, so it was interesting to get some material from bassist Mathieu Santos. He put out a 7" record called "I Can Hear the Trains Coming." It is quite catchy and unsurprisingly has some prevalent bass lines. I think fans of the band will enjoy this release too.

Mathieu Santos – I Can Hear The Trains Coming by MathieuSantos

-Last week's Roundup featured Phil Cook, and I included a performance video from a series called "Live! from Trekky House." Here is the latest installment of that fine series. This one is a performance by Brice Randall Bickford. It is another beautiful, spare take on a good tune called "Songstress," only this one takes place in the backyard. His album is out tomorrow. Here's the Trekky website.

-Finally, there is a video circulating for "Put Your Blue Dress On," by We Can't Enjoy Ourselves. It uses all found footage and not only syncs up well between the motion and the sound, but the chosen clips match the vibe of the song well too. The song conveys a sense of the cinematic with all the references to auteur directors, and I think the video does that justice. Check out their bandcamp here to get the music.