Native Harrow has something to offer, Hola Chica see a mirage, Sirenety pushes daisies, White Owl Red sends wellwishes and Cuja sinks in her teeth in today’s offerings from SubmitHub, the site where artists pay a small fee to send songs to reviewers like me. If you’d like to try to get in on that action, my page is here. But I warn you: The lineup is pretty long.
1 Native Harrow
Something You Have
In relationships, there are the givers and the takers. The takers can get away with anything; the givers can only look on and wonder what that’s like. The title of upstate New York singer-songwriter Native Harrow’s song Something You Have — taken from her upcoming third album Happier Now — will probably tell you which group she’s in. Though the smouldering mix of organ-fuelled Americana and guitar-spiked Southern Soul that supports her soulfully sombre vocals will definitely tell you she’s an artist whose work can entice fans of everyone from The Band to the ’70s Laurel Canyon scene. If you’re in either of those groups, Something You Have is something you want. And something you need.
2 Hola Chica
“All your dreams are getting closer,” cheekily handled Barcelona indie quintet Hola Chica promise in their latest single Mirage. A bold statement to be sure. But one that is definitely true if your fondest wishes include hearing a song that somehow manages to deftly and creatively balances disparate elements like classic ’70s pop melodicism, contemporary indie-rock energy, a danceable groove and atmospheric psychedelic textures. And it’s even better if you dream of getting acquainted with a band that would fit seamlessly between Portugal. The Man and Foster the People on your playlist. In that world, Hola Chica’s magical Mirage is nothing short of a vibrant, lively oasis in the artistically arid desert that dominates the pop-music landscape.
Love is strange. And torturous. Granted, it’s not usually as weird and damaging as it is in Japanese horror director Takashi Miike’s twisted 1999 masterpiece Audition, but still. And like love, musical inspiration can be strange. Just ask the London singer-songwriter who calls herself Sirenety. For her last single Daisies, she has, believe it or not, taken her musical cues from Miike’s demented tale of a businessman looking for love in all the wrong places. That is definitely not something you come across everyday. And as you might expect, she has used them to fashion a song that’s every bit as singular: An ominously sparse post-modern ballad of obsessive love and emotional trauma. Framed by noisy textures, a brooding bass rumble, a sparsely unsettled groove, a pitch-black melody and ghostly moans swirling around the edges, Sirenety‘s hushed delivery and plaintive desperation will haunt your dreams like a lover who vanishes without a trace. And who’s keeping something unusual in a sack in her apartment.
4 White Owl Red
Wishing You Well
Familiarity is said to breed contempt. And often it does. But not this time. White Owl Red’s kindhearted breakup sendoff Wishing You Well — which appears on the San Francisco Americana artist’s third album Existential Frontiers — is built from stylistic and instrumental elements any experienced music fan will recognize instantly and intimately: A lightly strummed acoustic guitar, some fingerpicked arpeggios, a plaintive harmonica, a bouncy two-step shuffle, a simple melody, a sincere sentiment and an everyman vocal. But over the course of 148 seconds, he combines them into a lovely, thoughtful and ultimately uplifting missive that wins you over even as it maintains the high standards and timeless traditions of American folk music. You really couldn’t wish for more than that.
Turnabout is fair play for Cuja. “I’m a liar, I’m a cheater, I’m a one-stop-shop maneater,” the L.A. popster boldly and unabashedly proclaims on her song Maneater. But it isn’t just hyperbole. As she explains, the cut is “an anthem for the women who are kicking ass and taking names … boys aren’t the only ones who know how to play.” Well, fair enough. And here’s something that’s more than fair: The steadily pumping thump-thump and twinkling synth notes that support her icy-sweet vocals — and give the cut an ’80s vibe at odds with its of-the-moment message of empowerment — ultimately prove to be every bit as seductive as her lyrical come-ons. Either way, you’re a goner.