Shura gets religion, Dune Rats have no plans, Metz blast back, Bruce Cockburn picks a winner and more in today’s Roundup. Fingers crossed that today’s column doesn’t earn me a bitchy email from a corporate weasel like yesterday’s did.
1 One person’s religion is another sacrilege. I’m not sure where half-Russian New Yorker Shura’s slick, superbly titled soul-pop single religion (u can lay your hands on me) will fall on that spectrum in your opinion — but suffice to say you probably should expect to hear it (or see the nun-love video) in a place of worship anytime soon. Unless the dance floor is your church. For more potential transgressions, check out her sophomore album forevher on Aug. 16. SAYS THE PRESS RELEASE: “religion (u can lay your hands on me) (is) a mediation on queer desire that explores the concept of sex being like a religion. The song was inspired by the burgeoning love affair, a time of constant texts and phone calls on different continents, where the phrase “you can lay your hands on me” takes on a playful meaning.” Did someone say sister act?
2 We all know what happens to the best-laid plans of mice and men. But what about the plans of the men of Dune Rats? We’ll probably never know — mostly since the Australian goofball trio have No Plans, as they gleefully boast on their strummy single (which also happens to be their first new music in two years). Get in the van. SAYS THE PRESS RELEASE: “No Plans was the first song we’d written after coming off a long stretch of touring and summed how we felt at the time. It’s about throwing three shits to the wind and seeing what sticks.” I don’t think that phrase means what you think it means. Even so, try to stand upwind:
3 Some bands sound great in the studio but can’t pull it off live. Swiss sound wizards Cellar Darling don’t have that problem – as the no-frills live video for their track Insomnia makes obvious. Bonus points for being the only video today to feature a flute solo AND an electric hurdy-gurdy. SAYS THE PRESS RELEASE: “Cellar Darling have released another live video from their exclusive session at the YouTube Space in London! This time you’ll get to enjoy Insomnia.” Don’t worry about dozing off:
4 To me, Imelda & Clyde sounds like the title of a time-travelling heist movie romcom starring rockabilly singer-songwriter Imelda May and Clyde Barrow — though I suspect I’m alone on that one. In reality, Belgian singer-keyboardist Imelda Gabs and Indian singer-drummer Clyde Philipp are an electro-pop duo from Switzerland. (I have no idea if either of them time-travel or rob banks.) And if all that isn’t exotic enough for you, feast your eyes on their scenic and surreal video for their gorgeous single Everything Matters. SAYS THE PRESS RELEASE: “Pop with a touch of Soul and Hip Hop, Imelda & Clyde is a unique and charismatic duo from Lausanne. Their music is a journey where bridges are build between different genres, mixing both their cultural ethnic influences with their contemporary inspirations.” Everything is beautiful, in its own way:
5 Some things never change. Especially in American society. So says singer-songwriter Imani Coppola in her new single SAMO, a soulful electro-rock waltz that pays tribute to influential, groundbreaking artists like Jean-Michel Basquiat — and comes with a video to match. SAYS THE PRESS RELEASE: “The video hints at the presence of Basquiat himself, and features Coppola’s own artistic work while using graffiti art to comment on the tribulations of struggling artists. The graffiti displayed describes “benefits” to the artist lifestyle including “Depression,” “Unstable Income,” and culminates in the cosmic declaration, “It doesn’t ever end. It has very few rewards. And we have no idea what we’re doing it for.” Just do it:
6 If you believe in miracles, you are apparently more optimistic than Blitz//Berlin. The trio of L.A.-based Canadian electronica composers’ new album is the tellingly titled There Will Be No Miracles Here. Which sounds far more pessimistic than their chilly and soothing first single and opening track Collider — and far darker than the sweeping animated video that illustrates it. SAYS THE PRESS RELEASE: “After a stressful/wonderful year of composing music for movie trailers, our reprieve was working on this strange little project. Releasing our new album, There Will Be No Miracles Here, into the world feels like divulging a really personal secret – scary and freeing.” No argument here:
7 You can always count on Metz to bring it. Or, in this case, to bring it back. The Toronto noisemakers’ latest track Dry Up is a blast from the past: It’s another preview of their July 12 release Automat, a 12-track collection of non-album singles, B-sides, and rarities dating back to 2009. SAYS THE PRESS RELEASE: “Metz have been making music together for over 10 years,” says the band’s frontman Alex Edkins. “It’s been a blur. We’ve very rarely allowed ourselves to look backward. We’ve been hyper-focused on always moving forward at breakneck speed, perpetually fixated on what’s next. The video for Dry Up, as well as the Automat album, is an attempt to pause, take a breath, look backward and take stock of our past. It’s intended to express how grateful we are to be able to do what we do. It’s a love letter to the incredible places we’ve traveled, the beautiful people we’ve met, to community, music, and friendship.” Up and at ’em:
8 Everybody thinks of Bruce Cockburn as an iconic singer-songwriter. Which is most assuredly is. But it’s easy to forget that he’s also a monumentally talented guitarist. Thankfully, his Sept. 20 album Crowing Ignites should fix that — it’s his second acoustic instrumental disc (the first was 2005’s award-winning Speechless). And it’s produced, recorded and mixed by Colin Linden, another guy who knows his way around a fretboard. Get a taste of what you’re in for with the folk-blues preview Blind Willie. SAYS THE PRESS RELEASE: “Blind Willie, named for one of Cockburn’s blues heroes, Blind Willie Johnson, features a fiery guitar and dobro exchange with Linden (Cockburn has previously recorded Johnson’s Soul of a Man on Nothing But a Burning Light).” Double your pleasure:
9 You might know Devin McKnight as a founding member of the Boston punk band Grass Is Green. Or as the guitarist in Speedy Ortiz. Or in his current incarnation as the solo artist Maneka. If none of those ring a bell, get to know him via his track Never Nowhere, a noisy ’90s-style post-grunge nugget from his July 26 album Devin. SAYS THE PRESS RELEASE: “Drawing on a collection of grunge, shoegaze and post punk influences, the single provides a hint of the sonic variety, and innovative production ideas that are among the album’s defining features. While displaying an engaging and unusual melodic sensibility, the song is a deeply personal reflection about taking responsibility for one’s own mental and emotional well-being that touches on the gendered imbalance of emotional labor.” Never say never:
10 Those who dig Texas trio Khruangbin probably can’t get enough of the psychedelic funk they dished out on their second album Con Todo El Mundo. And the band is only too happy to oblige: They’re releasing Hasta El Cielo, a dub version of the acclaimed disc, on July 12. While you count down the days, get down with the groovy lead single Mary Always. SAYS THE PRESS RELEASE: “For us, Dub has always felt like a prayer. Spacious, meditative, able to transport the listener to another realm. The first dub albums we listened to were records mixed by Scientist featuring the music of the Roots Radics. Laura Lee learned to play bass by listening to Scientist Wins the World Cup. His unique mixing style, with the emphasis on space and texture, creates the feeling of frozen time; it was hugely influential to us as a band. To be able to work alongside Scientist, a legend in the history of dub, is an honor.” Hasta la vista, baby:
11 Finish this sentence: Life is … If your answer was: Life is a post-punk band from Hull, congratulations! You’re a winner. Your prize? A free spin of the band latest track Hollow Thing, an adrenalized corker from their Sept. 20 sophomore album A Picture of Good Health. It’s just the thing you need. Trust me. SAYS THE PRESS RELEASE: “Frontman Mez Green comments of the track: “Hollow Thing is about letting go of something in your life, something that’s dead ‘wait for the past to fade, wait for that hollow thing’ and then no matter how hard it is you can and will move on ‘wade through a sea of beige, choke on great clods of dirt’. Hollow Thing is about overcoming isolation and realizing your self worth ‘I look much better than you, I love much deeper too.’” Just call them dangerous:
12 You gotta learn to crawl before you walk. And rock. Unless you’re Eilen Jewell. The Idaho singer-songwriter proves she can do both at once by kicking up her heels on the swampy roots-rock twangfest Crawl. It’s a preview of her Aug. 16 album Gypsy, her first disc in four years — and if this song is anything to go by, the LP is going to be a barnburner. SAYS THE PRESS RELEASE: “I’ve been writing bits of that one for close to eight years now,” says Jewell. “I’ve felt that polarity in my life a lot, ever since I can remember, and I wanted to capture that discomfort and angst. Putting it into words and music felt cathartic. Now, whenever I feel that tug-of-war, I can sing my song about it.” Let ’er rip:
13 Michaela Anne has been around. The rootsy singer-songwriter grew up in a military family, bouncing around the States and abroad. You can hear it in her music; By Our Design, the first peek at her Sept. 8 sophomore album Desert Dove, is firmly rooted in country and Americana without being anchored to any specific region — she sounds like she’d be right at home in California or Nashville. Not to mention on your playlist. SAYS THE PRESS RELEASE: “The song, a mid-tempo burn framed with dense violins and tremolo guitar, is a sweet ode to a carved out life together; imperfect, but adaptive and free.” And by design, presumably: