I recently joined SubmitHub, a site where artists pay a small fee to send songs to reviewers, labels, bloggers and radio stations. I’m trying it out to see if I like it. But based on the response — I amassed more than 200 songs in my queue within 24 hours — I won’t get bored anytime soon. And honestly, everything I’ve come across so far has been pretty decent. Here’s what I listened to on my first day. And if you’d like to add to my SubmitHub list, click here.
in this neighbourhood, heavy petting leads to unplanned pregnancy
First of all, great title. You dangle a hook like that in front of me and I’m definitely giving it a chance. Aye, but here’s the rub: After that kind of a setup, you’ve really gotta deliver the goods. Thankfully, U.K. outfit iloveyoustill does. And those goods, to be specific, consist of: 1) A swaggering, aggressively funky backbeat; 2) A buzzing subterranean bassline; 3) Cheeky, accented vocals vaguely; 4) A razor-sharp refrain that goes, ‘It’s all in my head and I should have just said it.’ Oh, they said it, all right.
2 Timi Afilaka
There’s a whole world of pop music out there. Timi Afilaka is all the proof you need. Although the singer-songwriter hails from Johannesburg, anyone expecting to hear the rhythms, melodies and instrumentation of his homeland on his song Fall Apart is in for a surprise. But it’s most likely a pleasant one, assuming you have a taste for simple, sweet homsepun pop assembled from a gently insistent backbeat, chiming and chugging guitars, and earnestly lovestruck lyrics voiced in an endearingly dusky drawl. If this came from some college kid in the U.S. it would be swell. That it comes from one of the last places you expect makes it even sweeter.
Space is the place. That was true decades ago for Sun Ra. And it’s no different for California rapper GoldAP on his cut Fantastic Voyage. GoldAP’s fascination with life among the stars comes across in every element of his track, from the icy synth tones that shimmer and twinkle over a smoothly gliding groove to his soft-spoken, quietly flowing lyrics like, “Hand on the steering wheel floating through the vastness / In another realm far away from all the madness.” Set to a stylish video that looks like it was shot in the landing lights of an alien aircraft, the cumulative effect is transcendent — and just slightly out of this world. Ladies and gentlemen, we are floating in … well, you know.
4 Little Priest
The sound, style and legacy of the blues echoes across time and around the world — all the way from turn-of-the-century Delta juke joints to contemporary Sweden. That’s where you’ll find singer-guitarist Little Priest, a.k.a. Andreas Berglund. A devotee of 12-bar masters from Son House to Junior Kimbrough, Berglund — a full-time social worker, believe it or not — channels the sound and style of his heroes with his shuffling grooves, circular bottleneck lines and swampy howl. But he doesn’t stop there; he also adds something new to the mix with keyboards and African desert-rock sensibilities. So ultimately, he isn’t repeating someone else’s sound; he’s creating new echoes all his own.
5 George McFall
How often do you hear a rap song in 7/4 time? Just in case you’re unsure, let me clear it up: Almost never. Based on that alone, Edinburgh’s George McFall — who has also gone by the handle Clean George IV and CGIV — stands out from the pack. But the woozy waltz gait of his audacious outing Practice is far from its only drawing card: There’s also the interplay between the Stranglers-style keyboards and searing guitar, the shape-shifting arrangement that heads for the hills midway through, and most importantly, his deadpan delivery and droll motivational-speaker lyrical satire. Practice makes for a perfectly goddamn delightful way to spend five minutes.
6 Clayton Francis
Caught in Your Orbit
Gravity can pull us all in unexpected directions. Especially the gravity of life. I suspect Australian singer-songwriter Clayton Francis understands this. According to his bio, his music understandably underwent dramatic changes after the death of his sister and his band’s breakup. But instead of being mournful of dour, Caught in Your Orbit is a majestically soaring ode to the irresistible magnetic pull of love, with vocals that split the diff between Sting and Paul Simon floating above rich indie-pop decorated with shimmering guitars and ’80s synth drums. It’ll hook you. Whether you expect it or not.
7 Josh Steinhart
Picture on the Wall
Singer-songwriter Josh Steinhart was born and raised in Brooklyn, taught high school music for 14 years and released his first solo album Howlin’ at the Moon after he relocated to Detroit. So how he came to make Americana, heartland pop and alt-country that sounds like the creation of someone who grew up on a farm in the rural Midwest is anybody’s guess. But as long as he can deliver songs with the earthy sincerity and handcrafted beauty of the breezily endearing Pictures on the Wall, you won’t hear me complaining. Or anybody else, I would guess.
8 Desrun & Vidorra
Everyone knows music unites people from diverse backgrounds. Usually it’s the listeners. With Desrun & Vidorra, it’s also the artists. The former is a 21-year-old producer from Cologne, Germany. The latter is a 19-year-old British-Indian vocalist and producer living in Staffordshire. On the young guns’ collaborative electro creation Another Life, Desrun presumably supplies the bottom-heavy trap ambience and dubstep wibble-wibble, while Vidorra apparently delivers the Eastern-tinged melody, rapid-fire raps and expressive vocalizing. The result is a superb meeting of musical minds — and hopefully the beginning of a beautiful friendship.
9 Jack Simchak
A good line is worth its weight in gold. Like this gem from Brooklyn indie-rocker Jack Simchak’s single-sentence bio: “Simchak is a singer/multi-instrumentalist whose music is reminiscent of rock and roll from the Reagan Era.” I’m not sure if that’s meant to be a joke or not. But he’s certainly not kidding. His throwback song Tonight boasts chiming guitars, lush synths, romantic songcraft, swooshy phasing effects and world-weary crooning reminiscent of The Smiths, Joy Division and The Cure. Speaking of things that are worth their weight in gold.
10 Mad Alchemists
Nowhere to Be Found
At first blush, the man behind Mad Alchemists seems ill-suited to his name. And not because it’s a plural noun. Truth is, you expect a moniker like that to belong to a hip-hop collective, not a Canadian singer-songwriter and multi-instrumentalist. But as you make your way through his alt-pop piano ballad Nowhere to Be Found — as his Brit-poppy vocals and moody minor-key melody line are augmented by a laid-back groove and a noisy, grandly over-the-top organ — it’s pretty clear both halves of his pseudonym are spot on. Just like this tasty home-cooked oddity.