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Indie Roundup | 16 Tracks to Try This Thursday

Marika Hackman, Leeroy Stagger, Dan Luke & The Raid and more bring the sounds.

Marika Hackman makes copies, Leeroy Stagger rolls on, Dan Luke and The Raid come out of the blue, Auras space out and more in today’s Roundup. I didn’t move from the couch all day today. Did I miss anything important?

1 Anyone who’s toiled in an office can instantly identify with the photocopier hell where Marika Hackman finds herself in the video for her buoyant pop-rocker The One, the latest preview of her Aug. 9 album Any Human Friend. But in a truly original twist, she gets inside the whole situation in a way you might not have expected — and delivers a video about copiers that just happens to be one of the most original clips you’ll watch today. Gotta love that irony. SAYS THE PRESS RELEASE:The One is probably the poppiest song I’ve ever written. I loved the idea of inhabiting this ridiculous arrogant rock star character who has totally fucked their career by writing too many sad songs.” The video for “the one” sees Marika’s rock star alter-ego come to life within a photocopier. By the end of the video, Marika is repulsed by the augmented reality she has created, she takes a baseball bat to it and destroys it forever.” Load it up and push start:

2 Leeroy Stagger is on a roll. The Lethbridge singer-songwriter just released his album Me and the Mountain in May. And he’s already gearing up for the arrival of his next disc Strange Path on Sept. 13. But it’s not just more of the same: While Mountain trod the Americana trails, Strange Path takes a left turn into glammy pop-rock — if his first single Strange Attractor is any indication, that is. SAYS THE PRESS RELEASE: “Nothing is permanent when you really stop and think,” says Leeroy. “The home we live in, the car we drive, the children we raise, the art we make and the skin that we’re in. It’s not forever, it’s barely real, and that’s ok to me because I’ve been shown the truth of it all. In seeing that it’s not that big of a deal, this has shown me how beautiful it all is. It’s precious, impermanent and beautiful. Strange Attractor is about the unseen nature of impermanence and the sacredness of the life we live.” Wig out:

3 It never hurts to have friends in high places. Just ask Dan Luke and The Raid. These Kentucky indie-rockers are already garnering some major buzz, and their debut album Out of The Blue doesn’t even arrive until Oct. 11. Of course, it probably helps that frontman Daniel Schultz’s brothers Matt and Bradley are co-founders of Cage the Elephant, and the latter produced the album. Introduce yourself with the video for their jangling and punchy garage-pop nugget Exoskeleton. SAYS THE PRESS RELEASE: “Both lyrically and musically, Exoskeleton is a blur of drugs and drinking and dancing, with Shultz fretting, “My heart is racing/I’m about to pop.” The frenzied emotion is amplified by the music’s insistent beat and angular, darting guitars. “The sound is like anxiety,” Shultz says. “We were trying to reflect what the song is about, which is being in that party zone and being out of your mind, where all you can do is move.” Get out the piñata:

4 Some bands are content to make simple performance videos. Auras are clearly not one of those bands. To introduce their new album Binary Garden — out Friday — the Waterloo metal crew have unveiled a cinematic sci-fi video for the track Momenta. It’s every bit as dark and ambitious as the track itself — and apparently the first part in a series. Stay tuned for more. SAYS THE PRESS RELEASE:Binary Garden saw the band members challenging themselves like never before, from the writing stage through the production process. They shook off preconceived notions and embraced a more “clean” singing and simpler structure without sacrificing their signature sound. The end result features more atmospherics alongside a bigger “feel.” Blast off:

5 Whenever I stay in a motel — especially a cheap one — I try not to imagine what the room’s previous occupant might have been getting up to in the bathroom or on the bed. It’s just easier that way. Of course, even my fertile imagination couldn’t conjure up anything quite as odd as the goings-on in Broken Field Runner’s clip for their moody rocker Koreatown, a preview of their July 19 album Lay My Head Down. I’m just glad I’m not next in line. SAYS THE PRESS RELEASE: “This record is called Lay My Head Down because with it I consider the various reasons why I decided to lay my head down here,” singer Anthony Bucci concludes. “I could see how someone my take it as defeatist, but I prefer to think of the record as a message of hope.” It’s check-in time:


6 What do Beastwars have in common with Billie Eilish and The Black Keys? Almost nothing — except for the fact that 1) Their names all start with B, and 2) The New Zealand metal behemoths leapfrogged over the other two to top the charts with their recently released album IV. Their onslaught continues in the fittingly grim and brutal video for the song Wolves and Prey. SAYS THE PRESS RELEASE: “Based on a story from a 4,000 year old Babylonian epic, Wolves and Prey is the brand new single from Beastwars. As director Amber Beaton explains: “When I first heard the song and title it reminded me of one of the stories in Gilgamesh where the shepherd is turned into a wolf, his own worst enemy. That then reminded me of a different time when I was interviewing Matthew for a documentary about the new album and he had told me that while he was doing chemotherapy he had to poison himself to get better. So you have to turn into your own enemy in order to live. That’s what lead me down this path. And because of that, looking more into the original story of Gilgamesh, he’s on a mission to find out how to live forever. And then he finds out that of course we’re all meant to die.” Join the hunt:

7 As Men Without Hats reminded us so many years ago, pop goes the world. And for anyone who doubts the global ubiquity of dance-pop music, meet Nykki. The self-proclaimed “future queen of bop” (whatever that means) hails from the Czech Republic — but she’d clearly be right at home on any radio dial or dance floor, based on her catchy summertime single No Cry. SAYS THE PRESS RELEASE: “The video sees the pop princess busting some strong dance moves, talking about the making of the visuals she explained; “the black and white scenes where I’m dancing with a boy represent the ups and downs of a toxic relationship, while the fun and colourful shots with my girls are about me moving on and regaining my own confidence.” Bop till you drop:

8 Perhaps you remember The Hector Collectors as a DIY Discovery earlier this year. But if not, don’t worry: You can make the Glaswegian oddballs’ acquaintance easily enough by checking out their video for bouncy (and drastically overtitled) ditty It Takes A Lot To Laugh, It Takes a 25 Minute Response Video to DESTROY Your Argument — which comes from the equally elaborately named album Remember the Hector Collectors? ..You Won’t Believe What They Sound Like Now! SAYS THE PRESS RELEASE: Nothing, thankfully. I can only imagine how long that would be.

9 Sometimes two heads really are better than one. Especially if they belong to Rae Spoon and Northcote. The Canadian singer-songwriters recently joined forces on a song for Spoon’s Aug. 16 album Mental Health. And the resulting track — the incongruously titled Blaring, a patient, seducitve and intimately lovely duet — speaks volumes. SAYS THE PRESS RELEASE: “The song talks about the distance that happens in relationships when communication fails. The combination of the two singer’s voices is something remarkable and together they create the feeling of being lonely even though you’re with the person you love. Blaring was “one of those wonderful surprises that come out of co-writing a song,” says Spoon. “Northcote and I sat down for an hour or so and this song felt like it came out of nowhere in an easy way. I loved singing with him on the record as well.” Sssssshhhhh:

10 Some things are right. Some things are wrong. And there are some things you just know are wrong. Fortunately, that does not apply to the song I Know It’s Not Right, a ramshackle gem from New York City garage-psych rockers Beechwood. It was a bonus cut on their 2018 album Songs From the Land of Nod. But even if you missed that album, it deserves a nod. SAYS THE PRESS RELEASE: “Singer-songwriter-guitarist Gordon Lawrence recalls of the track, “I was in bad shape when I wrote and recorded this song. I was physically and mentally broken and didn’t see a way out at the time, but I still believed that things would get better, even at my worst. I just didn’t know what that would look like or when it would be. It’s hard for me to listen this song because I don’t like to think of that time, but at least I was self aware enough to come out and say ‘I know it’s not right.’ I’ve never tried to justify what I was doing, but I knew it was wrong. I just didn’t know how to get help until about two years later. Recordings capture a moment in time, and as dark as things may have been, I’m still happy that I was able to capture how I felt, just in case I ever forget.” Now you know:

11 Another day, another dollar. Unless you’re a woman — in which case it’s significantly less. Not surprisingly, singer-songwriter Eilen Jewell has a few things to say about that in her new single, the tellingly titled 79 Cents (The Meow Song), from her upcoming album Gypsy. Here’s her two cents on the topic. SAYS THE PRESS RELEASE: “Skewering sexism and discrimination with pointed humor and a rousing sing-along chorus, Jewell sings, “And don’t forget, Mama gets less/It’s the motherhood penalty/With a baby on her hip/Office phone against her lip/ For a raise she’ll never see.” It’s payback time:

12 I owe Racket Man an apology. The Cleveland indie-popsters sent me the link for their new track Front Seat a week ago — but between one thing and another, it took me until today to get to it. Sorry about that. But you won’t be sorry if you give this soulfully soothing number the attention it so richly deserves. After all, better late than never, right? SAYS THE PRESS RELEASE: “Influenced by the likes of Prefab Sprout and Mint Condition, Racket Man falls somewhere between a Todd Rundgren-inspired yacht rock quartet and 00’s boy band.” Take a seat:

13 Far as I know, I have never sleepwalked. Nor do I spend a lot of time engaging in reverie. So I truly have no idea what a sleepwalk reverie is. Thankfully, singer-songwriter JindaLee is here to sort that all out — with the help of her trippy electro-pop dreamscape Sleepwalk Reverie, from her Aug. 2 album Vela. Close your eyes and enjoy. SAYS THE PRESS RELEASE:Sleepwalk Reverie is about being endlessly curious with the natural world. It is a song about delving into the beauty of an experience … During some time I spent at a residency in the mountains, I reflected on the feeling of finding direction through nature and the various ways we are taught to know how to orient ourselves when lost. Sleepwalk Reverie references those skills as a metaphor for finding yourself and your bearings when you feel emotionally lost or ungrounded.” Wakey-wakey:

14 I miss Hüsker Dü as much as the next guy. Unless the next guy happens to be in All Eyes West. This Chicago trio does a pretty uncanny job of channelling the buzzsaw ferocity and aggressive melodicism of Bob Mould and co. on their new track As I Bleed, a sneak peek at their upcoming album Like Lightning. It’s a cut above. SAYS THE PRESS RELEASE:All Eyes West are no newcomers to the D.I.Y. scene. Formed in 2010, the Chicago trio immediately made a splash with their brand of angular alt-rock with their self-titled 2011 debut. The band built a reputation for putting on an energy filled live show and made a point to tour relentlessly across the United States and Europe.” Duck and cover:

15 I don’t know if it’s really better to burn out than to fade away. I just know that Toronto rockers Fade Awaays (yes, that’s how they spell it) don’t seem to be in any danger of doing either just yet. In fact, they’re back with a new track — a hooky blast of Britpop-influenced indie-rock titled As They Do. Do as I say and give it a listen. SAYS THE PRESS RELEASE: “This song is about being in a mass social situation – the buzz of being in a huge group of people whether it’s at a gig seeing your favourite band or watching your beloved football team score. “They” in As They Do represents a passionate crowd.” Do tell:

16 You might know Angel as Angel the Author, the bestselling writer of Electric Impulse. Well, now you can call Angel the Singer, thanks to her seductive new singe He’s Got Me Saying (feat. Payjae). Her story continues. SAYS THE PRESS RELEASE: “If writing is her passion, then singing is her First Love. She’s been singing since she was 5, holding informal competitions against her cousins. The day she was finally crowned the best, she knew music was where she wanted to be. Listening to artists such as Whitney Houston, Lauryn Hill and Aaliyah, inspired her to become the singer she is today; sultry and soulful with a hint of pop, truthful yet sometimes playful in her lyrics, and subtle and sleek in style.” Read on: