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Indie Roundup | 13 Great New Tracks to Discover Right Now

Hawksley Workman, Hannah Cohen, Cass McCombs and more make the cuts.

The Hawk gets stoned, Cass McCombs hits the streets, Jess Cornelius has some tub time, Tiny Fighter tell it, Hannah Cohen lives it up and more in today’s Roundup. Today’s winning number is 4163. Check your tickets!

1 Hawksley Workman has never been a guy who’s lost for words. But lately, the prolific singer-guitarist seems to be outdoing himself in the snappy patter department. His upcoming album title Median Age Wasteland seems to both celebrate and personally recontextualize The Who’s Baby O’Riley and My Generation in one swell foop. And Stoners Never Dream, the song where that phrase appears, simultaneously boasts precisely the sort of winking title, soaring melody and spaced-out, kitschy-cool video that Wayne Coyne would put his Flaming Lips on lovingly. Between this and Heavy Meta, the upcoming disc from his supergroup Mounties, it seems like 2019 is going to be the Year of the Hawk. About time. SAYS THE PRESS RELEASE:Stoners Never Dream is a song about childhood insecurities turning into adult ones. The title is a play on compelling anecdotal evidence that suggests regular use of cannabis can prevent dreaming or impair our ability to remember dreams. The lyric ‘…like everybody else in here, you were trained to hate your body…’ reflects society’s tendency to quell our anxieties with self-prescribed drugs and alcohol.” Share the dream:

2 Maybe you can’t go home again. But you can go back to where you started, as Cass McCombs does with the latest video to promote his recently released ninth album The Tip of the Sphere. The criminally underappreciated singer-songwriter returns to the disc’s Mark Knopfleresque first single Sleeping Volcanoes — and sends dancers through the streets of San Francisco and the woods of Marin County in this stylishly perplexing clip. SAYS THE PRESS RELEASE:Sleeping Volcanoes is about “people passing each other on the sidewalk unaware of the emotional volatility they are brushing past, like a sleeping volcano that could erupt at any moment.” Take a stroll:

3 Some people like to refresh with a long, relaxing soak in the tub. Others like to ruminate on their lives in the soothing waters. Still others like to get some work done in solitude. New Zealand singer-songwriter Jess Cornelius manages to combine all three in the bathroom-set video for her new single the gently swirling (and briefly crunching) No Difference. SAYS THE PRESS RELEASE: “We wanted to introduce the water element because of its cleansing/rebirthing properties, but water is also destructive, and the image of someone wearing a white suit in a full bathtub implies someone slightly unhinged,” says Cornelius. “We wanted to expand on this idea of rebirth by showing all these women having miniature moments of self-reckoning, which is what I feel people often do in the bathroom. We use the bathroom—and the bathroom mirror—to collect ourselves, to recover, to psych ourselves up, to escape, to self destruct, to castigate ourselves, to tally up our worth, to make deals with ourselves, to re-evaluate, to preen and primp and steel ourselves.” Don’t get pruny fingers:

4 Everybody sounds like somebody. There’s no denying it. And there’s no shame in it either. Take Swedish pop-rockers Tiny Fighter. Sure, their name sorta sounds like a pugilistic Elton John tribute band. But their sound — at least on their latest single Tell Me, the title cut of their upcoming EP — comes straight from the ’90s alt-rock of Veruca Salt, The Muffs and Breeders. Not that there’s anything wrong with that. In fact, based on this scrappy little firecracker, there’s a whole lot right with it. SAYS THE PRESS RELEASE:Tell Me is an appeal for clarity – both personally and politically – in a setting where distrust and ambiguity appear increasingly to dominate people’s relationships, both with each other and the broader world in general. It’s about exasperation, about a need for a simple, straight answer – tell me, yes or no,” says Therese Karlsson.” I say yes:

5 Whether she’s sitting around a woodsy cabin in a pink leisure suit, strumming her hand-painted guitar or dancing barefoot in a cool white dress, singer-songwriter Hannah Cohen definitely seems to be living her best life. And a far better life than I am. The story behind her endearing new single This Is Your Life — from her upcoming album Welcome Home — tells a slightly different tale. SAYS THE PRESS RELEASE: “It was the beginning of September and NYC was in the midst of a big heat wave,” Cohen says of the track. “It was very early in the morning and my partner was still sleeping, even with the air conditioning buzzing away. I was working on this song in the bathroom so I wouldn’t wake him up. At the time we were searching for our first apartment together, and had seen about 27 apartments in person. All were gross or out of our price range. It was definitely a catalyst for wanting to move out of the city – and it all came rushing at me. I really needed a change. Locked in a boiling hot bathroom, playing my nylon-string guitar, I realized that this is it… my life is crazy, it’s time to make a big move.” Make yourself comfortable:

6 It seems we spend most of our lives starting at one screen or another. And thanks to Copenhagen-based synth-pop artist Molina, you can take that to the next level — the video for her darkly romantic single Venus is features a nostalgically surreal love story depicted on an old TV set. Now, if they only had someone in that set watching an even older TV set, we’d really be getting somewhere. SAYS THE PRESS RELEASE: “On her new single Venus a live rhythm section (drums, bass, guitar) merges with Molina’s signature synth-work and layered vocals that are front and center in the mix. The production creates a musical android by humanizing the electronic parts while also manipulating the recorded instruments in a way that resembles synthetic instruments without loosing the organic touch from the performance.” If you will:

7 We’re not in Kansas anymore, Toto. We’re in Charlie Wilson’s War. Or at least a skewed musical reinterpretation of it, courtesy of Washington, D.C. punk trio Priests and the lyric video for their latest single Good Time Charlie — a fittingly upbeat fuzz-pop bottle rocket from their upcoming album The Seduction of Kansas, out April 5. SAY THE PRESS RELEASE: “I like to think of this song a little bit like the Gilligan’s Island Theme song, but for a Hollywood tale of Charlie Wilson. It’s also a little bit about 9/11 but much like Otessa Moshfegh’s My Year Of Rest And Relaxation, the character sketch is more drawn out in its absence rather than presence.” Well, obviously:

8 Who says you can’t have it both ways? Donovan Woods seems to be pulling it off. The Sarnia-born singer-songwriter’s 2018 album Both Ways lived up its title, garnering both critical acclaim and radio play. Now he’s back with another double-barrelled single: Go To Her, an urgently powerful heartbreaker that balances fingerpicked guitars and shivery strings with an unforgettable refrain. The audio version dropped a couple of weeks ago; here’s the animated lyric video. SAYS THE PRESS RELEASE: “Illustrated by long-time collaborator, Andrey Sorokin, the video is a first-person perspective of life on the road and living out of hotels, “It’s about what you decide to do the day after something big and bad happens, and it’s about the anxiety we feel for our loved ones’ safety when we’re away from them,” explains Woods, “when you’re a touring performer, waiting around for the show can be a real killer.” Do not pass Go:

9 Not long ago, I hadn’t even heard of Durand Jones & The Indications. Now, thanks to the retro-soul crew’s songs Morning in America and Don’t You Know — which set topical and political lyrics against timeless sounds — I’m eagerly awaiting their sophomore album American Love Call. If you’re not up to speed yet, get there with their latest old-school throwback Long Way Home. SAYS THE PRESS RELEASE: “I can’t help but think of the brothers and sisters in America’s prison system whose lives are ruined over minor convictions. How some of my friends at home now navigate their young adult lives as felons, and all the barriers— social, political and economic— that come along with that. I also think of how we are not walking these trials alone. And if you’re willing to give a hand to help something, it usually comes back around when you need it. We have to show up for each other.” Head home:

10 If you’re catching Wilco frontman Jeff Tweedy on his upcoming tour, chances are you might also be crossing paths with Buck Meek — the Big Thief guitarist will be opening many of the shows. Which makes this a fine time to get acquainted with his solo work via his intimate, suitably luminous new single Halo Light. SAYS THE PRESS RELEASE:Halo Light is a gently rumbling rumination on the afterglow of loss, humanity’s ephemera, and the eternal nature of love.” Feel the glow:

11 Who is that masked man again? Why, it’s Orville Peck, the mysterious cowboy whose full-length debut Pony arrives later this spring. But first, the lone stranger and enigmatic country crooner with the fringed mask will treat us to another preview of the disc — in the form of moody country-rocker Turn to Hate. SEZ THE PRESS RELEASE: “The melancholic country rocker finds our masked singer struggling to keep his resentment from building into hatred. A continuous battle between embracing the strength and freedom of being an outsider, and the inevitable struggle of wanting normalcy and familiarity. It encapsulates Orville’s dilemma as a cowboy.” OK, then:

12 You know what they say about early birds and worms. But I’ve also read that those who sleep in are more intelligent. I don’t know if that’s why New Jersey pop-punks Sleep In chose their name, but it’s certainly a good-enough reason to keep it. Either way, you could say things are looking up for them, simply based on the fact that their upcoming album is called The Stars On Your Ceiling. Or because Deena, the first single from said album, is a wonderfully melodic and catchy little gem. Maybe they’ll get that worm after all. SAYS THE PRESS RELEASE: “We definitely feel this record is a big step forward for us in terms of songwriting,” guitarist Eric McNelis explains, “This record came together very organically and there wasn’t a lot of laboring over the songwriting and arrangements. We really let the music dictate the direction.” Twinkle, twinkle:

13 Justin Rutledge recently got married and moved to a new town. So he quite naturally feels like he’s entered a new chapter in his life — which is why he decided to call his upcoming eighth studio album Passengers. The professional part of that story includes at least one new character — including Tragically Hip guitarist Rob Baker, who has apparently joined Rutledge’s band. See if you can pick him out on the endearing folk-pop single Good Man. SAYS THE PRESS RELEASE: “With Passages, Rutledge manages to retain his Americana roots while diving into more textured sonic landscapes. “Country and roots music will always be my first love,” says Rutledge, “but lately I’ve been listening to a lot of ambient instrumental music like Four Tet and Nils Frahm and I wanted to invite that influence into the way the songs on Passages are encircled.” The story begins here:

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