Home Hear Indie Roundup (High Score Edition) | 20 New Songs For Wednesday

Indie Roundup (High Score Edition) | 20 New Songs For Wednesday

Go big with new songs from Pup, Foxwarren, Dub Trio — and 17 others.

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Dub Trio get Buzzed, Pup get covered, Foxwarren get Busy, Ben LaMar Gay gets weird, Dragon Welding gets anagrammed and more — while I get inundated by the biggest Roundup to date. Are you sitting comfortably? Then we’ll begin:


1 Be honest: When you think of dub music, you think of Jamaican Rastafarians with dreadlocks and huge spliffs randomly twiddling knobs to make obscure reggae songs sound even weirder. Well, that’s because you haven’t heard Dub Trio yet. Yes, the Brooklyn threesome are an honest-to-Bob dub band — but their songs and grooves are fuelled by metal, punk and alt-rock instead of skank. Here’s an example: World of Inconvenience, the new single from their next album The Shape of Dub to Come not only crawls along to a sludge-rock groove but also features vocals from none other than corkscrew-maned sludge-rock icon King Buzzo of the Melvins. Take that, Lee Scratch Perry. SAYS THE PRESS RELEASE: “We got comfortable with the space. We could let it breathe and let it go, one step at a time. Even though we hadn’t necessarily been that sludgy in the past, it made room for the dub.” You had us at King Buzzo, dude:


2 Everybody wants to be famous. Even if that fame consists of nothing more than the chance to appear fleetingly in a Pup video. I suspect that’s why more than 250 people responded when the Toronto mischief-making punks recently posted the chords and lyrics to a new song and asked folks to cover the tune without hearing it. Should you want to spend 14 hours down the rabbit hole watching all the results, you most certainly can. Or you can make it easy on yourself and just sit through the highlights — along with the band’s rendition of the typically raucous and anthemic number. SAYS THE PRESS RELEASE: “We received hip hop versions, ska versions, grindcore, EDM, Mariachi, Ukulele, Polka, and piano ballad versions. Incredibly enough, none of the 253 covers sounded like ours. And even more astounding, no two of the covers sounded the same either. The amount of creativity and love put into these things absolutely blew us away.” That doesn’t make you special:


3 If you still haven’t heard the Foxwarren album, you need to remedy that oversight STAT — the long-gestating debut from singer-songwriter Andy Shauf and his bandmates was one of the finest Canadian releases of 2018 (and one of the most commercially overlooked, IMHO). And there’s no better place to start getting up to speed than with the laid-back beauty and gliding, gleaming flourishes of the suitably dusky and nostalgic single Sunset Canyon, artfully illustrated here by a stylish retro-style video starring the one and only Busy Philipps. SAYS THE PRESS RELEASE:Sunset Canyon is one of my favorite songs from the Foxwarren album and I basically have been making my own music videos to the song since it came out,” said Philipps. “Working with [Director] Laura-Lynn on the video was so amazing. She is such a talent and I loved the easy going vibe of the day, wandering through the canyon with her in my mom’s dress from the sixties.” Get busy:


4 True originality is hard to come by. Especially these days. So you really have to make the most of it when it finally shows. Prolific Chicago musician Ben LaMar Gay — whose style is a heady fusion of sounds and styles from experimental jazz and funk to South American grooves and electronics — is easily one of the most distinctive and different artists to come down the pike lately. And it’s wonderfully easy to do a deep dive into his work, since his previously unreleased back catalogue of seven albums — which were mined for his 2018 breakout debut Downtown Castles Can Never Block the Sun — are being made available. The fourth, titled Confetti In The Sky Like Fireworks (This Is Bate Bola OST), comes out in March, but first, here’s a video for the tune A Saida that’s every bit as colourful, striking and mindbending as the song itself. SAYS THE PRESS RELEASE: “Vividly capturing the chaotic jubliee of Melhor Que Tem (The Best There Is) and their battle to be the wildest, most vibrant, most beautiful crew over carnival weekend in Guadalupe, Rio de Janeiro, This Is Bate Bola illuminates an inner dimension of carnival that is often overlooked, misunderstood or dismissed by the Brazilian mainstream as violent or obscene.” Take to the streets:


5 I like a good anagram as much as the next guy. So when I saw that the British outfit Dragon Welding is actually a pseudonym for Wolfhounds founder Andrew Golding, I gave him one point for creative wordplay. And when I checked out his trippy video for his killer single The Builders — a preview of his self-titled album that sits smack dab in the middle of a Venn diagram containing industrial, Krautrock, psychedelia, post-rock and The Stranglers — I was sold. I suspect you might be too. SAYS THE PRESS RELEASE:The Builders is an epic six-minute hypnotic journey à la Moonshake. It is about the gentrification of our cities. Andrew Golding himself also animated the accompanying video for this song.” Anybody know a good anagram for multi-talented?


6 Kevin Morby is not losing his religion — because he never apparently had much to begin with. But that didn’t stopped the Brooklyn-based singer-songwriter from focusing on spirituality for his upcoming concept album Oh My God. And it certainly shouldn’t stop you from enjoying the grand, heavenly pop of the disc’s first single No Halo — along with the surreal and very cinematic video that goes along with it. SAYS THE PRESS RELEASE: “Religion is around all of us,” Morby says. “It’s a universal language and there is profound beauty in it. I’ve found it a useful tool within songwriting, as it’s something everyone can relate to on some level. There are religious themes or imagery in a lot of what I’ve done, so I wanted to get all of that out and speak only that language for a whole record.” Thank heaven for that:


7 Hamilton post-hardcore punks Rarity are a long way from home on their latest single and video. And not having much fun by the sounds of it. Shawinigan, an introduction to their new album The Longest Lonesome, isn’t exactly a love letter to the Quebec town — something that’s pretty obvious from the moment their singer wails, “Room is black, the room is black” atop the band’s surging propulsion and bendy guitar work. Guess they won’t be getting the key to the city anytime soon. SAYS THE PRESS RELEASE: “We went with a nighttime shoot, utilized a lot of neon lighting and a spotlight to simulate a paranormal vibe. We wanted to emphasize the feeling of isolation and introversion that we touch on in the lyrics. The light coming in through the windows feels threatening and the world outside is a mystery.” Welcome home:


8 Can’t dance? Join the club. But don’t be discouraged. As On Your Mind, the supple, smoothly gliding new single from Toronto electro-popsters Jaunt conclusively proves, a lack of true terpsichorean ability does not prevent from strutting your stuff in a video. Only shame will do that. And if you lack that, well, you have bigger fish to fry. SAYS THE PRESS RELEASE: “We have been deep in the sonic sauce and wanted to put something out that’s a little different than what you might typically expect from us. On Your Mind is Timbaland programming circa 2002. It’s Arthur Russell lyrical sincerity. It’s another permutation of the ever shape-shifting Jaunt.” And it’s right here:


9 Stella Donnelly has some new tricks up her sleeve. Specifically the new single Tricks, a poppy ditty from the Australian singer-songwriter’s upcoming album Beware of the Dogs. Speaking of warnings: As is often the multi-faceted Donnelly’s way, the song’s sugary melody and bouncy beat — personified in her playful new video — conceal a slightly more serious message. Which is a different kind of trick. SAYS THE PRESS RELEASE: “This song is a playful zoom-in on the ‘Australian Identity’ and a loose dig at the morons that used to yell sh*t at me when I played cover gigs on Sunday afternoons. It probably served me right for singing Wonderwall every weekend.” Well, after all:


10 It’s always weird when a young band writes a song that has the same title as a pop classic. Case in point: Uptown Girl, the latest single (and endearing video) from New Zealand outfit The Beths. At first, you would naturally expect it to be a cover of the Billy Joel standard. Then, once you realize it’s an original — and a fine nugget of scrappy pop-punk to boot — you wonder: Are they pay homage? Taking the piss? Or is it possible they actually haven’t heard of the original? I have my suspicions. But only they know for sure. SAYS THE PRESS RELEASE:The Beths are back in North America this week for their largest headline tour in support of 2018’s breakout album, Future Me Hates Me.” Just because:


11 The Lake Michigan shoreline in winter isn’t exactly a tourist magnet. But it’s the inspiration behind Chicago singer-songwriter Rich Jones’ lazily flowing and intimately soulful new single Overcoats — and the setting for what must be one of the most-straightforward video shoots ever staged. SAYS THE PRESS RELEASE: “The cold can make it very easy to become isolated because who the hell wants to be outside anyway?,” says Jones. “The benefit of this though is that for me, it puts me in a great position to reflect away from all the distractions that might otherwise put me out on the town. Even better, when I get to work with a small group of people this time of year, it’s special in that we’ve chosen to brave the elements to create and share together.” Bundle up:


12 Love is as big as a galaxy. As beautiful as the Earth seen from space. As powerful as an erupting volcano. As unstoppable as flowing lava. At least, that seems to be the point that Brooklyn singer-songwrter Lady Lamb — a.k.a. Aly Spaltro — is trying to make on the video for her earnest new folk-rocker Deep Love, a sneak peek at her forthcoming full-length Even in the Tremor. SAYS THE PRESS RELEASE: “I had just gone into Manhattan and I felt like an alien seeing all the workers on their lunch break. I spent my train ride home to Queens, wondering if we’d lost our purpose. I started singing the first line, ‘I’m not convinced we should strive for midtown,’ and by the time I got to the chorus refrain I was full of a deep, volcanic kind of love which poured out of me and filled the song. It felt like it was writing itself, and when I realized I was singing through tears, I knew the album was finished.” Yikes:


13 It’s barely been six months since Animal Collective released their audiovisual album Tangerine Reef, a collaboration between the band and avant-garde coral macro-videographers Coral Morphologic. But singer-guitarist Avey Tare — real name: Dave Portner — isn’t taking any time off to rest on laurels. He’s already back in action with the suitably titled Taken Boy, a typically dreamy slice of psychedelic pop from his upcoming solo album Cows on Hourglass Pond. That’s what you call grabbing the, um, bull by the horns. SAYS THE PRESS RELEASE: “Captured during sessions between January – March 2018 by Dave Portner at Laughing Gas in Asheville, NC, Cows On Hourglass Pond was recorded on a Tascam 48 half-inch reel-to-reel tape machine.” You don’t say:


14 Bricks are heavy. Black is heavy. Ergo, black bricks are doubly heavy. That’s just logic. And it’s borne out in Black Brick, the pummelling and punishing new song from Grammy-nominated California metallists Deafheaven. The seven-minute epic is reportedly a leftover from last year’s acclaimed Ordinary Corrupt Human Love, and it’s obvious why: It would have made the album so heavy even God couldn’t have lifted it. SAYS THE PRESS RELEASE: “While Ordinary Corrupt Human Love was lauded for its avant-garde approach, Black Brick sees Deafheaven performing at their heaviest yet.” Build it and they will headbang:


15 You and I have witnessed many things, but nothing as bodacious as Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure. So it’s only right that Belfast synth-master (and Friend of Tinnitist) Alpha Chrome Yayo and singer-bassist Danny Madigan have chosen to commemorate the 30th anniversary of this awesome and gnarly cinematic achievement with a lush cover of Robbi Robb’s underappreciated classic In Time. All we are is dust in the wind, dude. SAYS THE PRESS RELEASE: “This song means a lot to me. Excellent Adventure was the first movie I remember seeing, and I was obsessed with it. I still am. This song always stood out to me, and is basically the reason I ever wanted to play music. You won’t see it in any ‘best power-ballads of the ’80s’ lists, but you should. So when my excellent friend Danny Madigan suggested we collaborate to mark B&T’s 30th birthday with our own cover, I jumped at the chance.” Listen to this guy:


16 Monday is a mess! Fats Domino knew that. Ditto old-school singer-pianist Mitch Woods. Perhaps that’s why the retro-rocker waited until Tuesday to release his cover of the fat man’s classic Blue Monday to bang the drum for his upcoming live album A Tip of the Hat to Fats (which was recorded in New Orleans and also pays tribute to Professor Longhair, Wynonie Harris and others). Or maybe I’m just overthinking the whole calendar thing. SAYS THE PRESS RELEASE: “The music I love and the songs I write in the spirit of that music domake people dance and laugh. It all comes from the era of the late 1940s through the early ’50s — a soundtrack of jump swing, blues, New Orleans music and early rock ’n’ roll, and I love to go right to the roots of it.” When he isn’t working like a dog all day, that is:


17 Prins Thomas can feel the love. Or at least he feels the love for Feel A Love, a vintage tune from late Norwegian pop star Alex Naumik. That obscure tune (at least in this part of the world) forms the basis of the ethereally groovy Feel The Love, the lead single from the producer’s sixth album Ambitions — which seems to be something of an ironic title, given that its songs (including this one) are reportedly shorter and more melodic than his previous works. Guess that’s how he really feels. SAYS THE PRESS RELEASE: “The sun rises, the sun sets. This collection of new songs wasn’t intended as an album at first. It gathers up loose ideas sketched down on my computer or hummed into my handheld recorder in the last 2 years with a shifting work environment, from hotel rooms in San Francisco, backstage in Osaka, on a plane from Miami to Chicago, my garden patio, and finally my B15 Studios in Asker.” Share the love:


18 Things are rolling along for Rolling Blackouts Coastal Fever. The Australian indie-rockers released their widely acclaimed debut disc Hope Downs last year. They’ve extended their latest massive tour with dates throughout North America and Europe. And they’re just dropped the glistening pop-rock single In the Capital, which you can hear right here. Guess some fevers never take a break. SAYS THE PRESS RELEASE:Fran Keaney describes how In the Capital came together: “I first had the idea for the melody and some of the lyrics when I was swimming. It’s taken a while to finish the song, to make it feel like the initial feeling. I can’t neatly describe it, but something like connection despite distance. I was thinking about transience and water and death and big cities and fishing towns and moon river.” Go coastal:


19 Albany punks Hate Club recently decided to rush-release their new EP A Clear Mistake. Why? Where’s the fire? Well, funny you should ask — it was in singer Noah Bondy’s apartment, which apparently burned to the ground recently. On the plus side, there were no reported injuries. And it gave them the cover art for their EP, which debuts with the slow-burning (sorry) single Unpredictable. SAYS THE PRESS RELEASE: “This song finds Hate Club widening the scope of their sound and chasing ineffable feelings. Their expanded use of dynamics pays homage to their 90s slacker rock and indie punk heroes, which arrangement touches like piano and long reverb offer poetic breadth in the music to match its searching lyrics.” Make no mistake:


20 You’d think there would be umpteen bands and albums named for Seinfeld characters and lines. But so far, all I can think of are the metal band Grindfeld, Wale’s Jerry-endorsed Album About Nothing — and Saskatoon’s Close Talker, of course. If you haven’t heard them before, their subdued yet soulful new single Half Past Nine serves both as a fine intro and a musical personification of their intimate handle. SAYS THE PRESS RELEASE:Half Past Nine is about a moment we all shared at a local music festival, surrounded by friends, all watching our pal, on stage singing his heart out. It’s rare to recognize true significance without the help of hindsight, but this particular moment was special and we all knew it right then and there. In short, this song is about trying to hang on to those times, or simply enjoy them while they last, knowing that they’re fleeting. Be thankful for one another, enjoy one another, life is short.” It’s gold, Jerry, gold!