The Menzingers get alienated, Tinariwen hit the road, The Grahams have a ball, Dearly Beloved bottom out and more in today’s Roundup. When it comes to politics, I have this crazy rule of thumb: I find out which party the greedy assholes, religious hypocrites and racist morons are voting for — and then I vote for a different party. So far, so good.
1 Aliens really do walk among us. At least, they do in the video for America (You’re Freaking Me Out), the single from Pennsylvania punk outfit The Menzingers’ Oct. 4 album Hello Exile. You don’t have to be a political science major to figure out the symbolism at work here. Thankfully, you can also ignore all that and just enjoy a spaceman rocking out. SAYS THE PRESS RELEASE: “We’re living in a pretty insane time, where all you can think about every single day is ‘What the hell is going on with this country?’” says vocalist Greg Barnett. “But as I was writing that song I realized that it’s kind of always freaked me out, especially coming-of-age during the Iraq War. I love so much about America, but I think you can’t deny that there are some people in power who are absolutely evil.” Welcome to alienation:
2 Tinariwen have made plenty of friends over the years — including Bad Seeds’ Warren Ellis, Micah Nelson, Sunn O)))’s Stephen O’Malley and Cass McCombs, all of whom guest on the Tuareg desert bluesmen’s Sept. 6 album Amadjar. The latter lends his talents to Kel Tinawen, the group’s typically hypnotic new single, illustrated here with an exotic road-trip video. SAYS THE PRESS RELEASE: “Kel Tinawen is about the Tuareg rebellion and its detractors. Tinariwen’s founding member Ibrahim Ag Alhabib denounces treachery and corruption and puts the stress on Tamasheq people’s resilience: they will always stay true to their beliefs, never give up and never forget their past.” Enjoy the ride:
3 “Where do beach balls turn when they’re feeling deflated? Alcohol? Sex? Adventure?” These are the burning questions posed — and perhaps solved — in The Grahams’ video for Just What You Deserve, the first single from the Nashville duo’s upcoming album Kids Like Us, due sometime next year. So, you know, don’t hold your breath or anything. SAYS THE PRESS RELEASE: “Did you ever deny a love so fiercely that it’s a definitive affirmation?” asks one half of the duo, Alyssa Graham. “This is a song that reveals its own deception. We worked with our longtime co-writer Bryan McCann and pieced together this dark love story that all of us know all too well. Deception of self and denial of passion.” Have a ball:
4 Need a fix of pop-rock romance and obsession, filtered through a campy ’80s esthetic? Well, that’s kind of weirdly specific. Even so, Winnipeg outfit The Treble have got you covered with the retro-video for their latest single Fix of You, directed by bassist Patrick Hansen and starring Reid McTavish and Madison Dueck from Winnipeg’s Contemporary Dancers. Stack up al the TVs, rip off your shirt and sing it through the phone. If that isn’t too weirdly specific for you. SAYS THE PRESS RELEASE: “Fix of You is about the people and things in our lives that we know are bad for us but we keep going back to. It’s about lying to the people you love so you can see the person that’s tearing your world apart.” The fix is in:
5 You can reach for the top. You can shoot for the middle. Or you can Race to the Bottom to the sounds of Dearly Beloved’s anthemic new single and video. It’s also the first taste of the long-running Toronto rockers’ sixth album Times Square Discount, due Oct. 25. On your mark, get set … SAYS THE PRESS RELEASE: “The song is a tribute to our grandmothers, who both ran convenience stores that we worked in as kids growing up. Their stories and achievements as immigrants to Canada that could barely speak English are even more incredible when you put them in the context of 2019.” Enjoy what’s in store:
6 German metal goddess Doro isn’t the first performer to pay tribute to lifelong friends, as she does in her shuffling single Freunde Fürs Leben (Friends For Life). But she might be the first person to do it while wearing enough studs and leather to outfit a biker gang, as the accompanying video makes clear. SAYS THE PRESS RELEASE: “The fans love the song as much as I do. The video for Freunde Fürs Leben turned out to be awesome and offers lots of really touching scenes of and with the fans. I wanted this song as my new single and definitely wanted the video to turn out how it looks right now.“ Welcome to the friend zone:
7 Good pop music should work on more than one level. Case in point: Vancouver electro-pop duo Adera’s latest single and video Little Feather. On the one hand, it’s a song about struggling with anxiety and working to better your metal state. On the other hand, it’s just a catchy tune you can dance to. The choice is up to you. SAYS THE PRESS RELEASE: “With our new single, Little Feather, I wanted to add to the conversation surrounding mental health in my own way. I still struggle, but I never stop working at it. I hope that’s what you take away from this song – we all have something that we’re struggling with mentally, but it’s okay. You’re not alone, and it will get better if you learn about what’s going on and keep working on yourself.” Level up:
8 If you bought the vinyl version of Toronto noise-rock power trio Metz’s recent rarities collection Automat, you’ve already heard their cover of Gary Numan’s M.E. — it was included on a bonus 7″ single. Didn’t shell out for the vinyl? Don’t sweat it; they’re released it as a single, with a suitably Numanesque animated video to boot. They really are your friends electric. SAYS THE PRESS RELEASE: “Watch the mesmerizing video for M.E. featuring a three-headed Pleasure Principle hydra illustrated by Kirin Booth and animated by Martin MacPherson.” Who can resist?
9 I don’t know if Lower Dens’ latest single Galapagos was inspired by the volcanic island archipelago itself, Charles Darwin’s work on evolution that originated there, the Kurt Vonnegut novel set there, some combination of those things or a whole other topic entirely. But I do know it’s a seductive synth-pop single, and the third preview of their Sept. 6 album The Competition. So we’ll just have to make do with that. SAYS THE PRESS RELEASE: “The issues that have shaped my life, for better or for worse, have to do with coming from a family and a culture that totally bought into this competitive mindset. I was wild and in a lot of pain as a kid; home life was very bleak, and pop songs were a guaranteed escape to a mental space where beauty, wonder, and love were possible. I wanted to write songs that might have the potential to do that.” Bon voyage:
10 What’s in a name? Go ask singer-songwriter Jong SL. After two years, he’s decided to change his stage handle to Peach Luffe. I guess we all need a change sometime. Though he needn’t make any changes to the charming indie-pop of his latest single On My Side. It’ll win you over. SAYS THE PRESS RELEASE: “I was feeling pretty down when I first started writing it last year, and I guess this is my attempt at capturing that feeling of hopelessness.” Every peach has a pit:
11 Bend the knee, you peons. Belgian sludge-punk lords Your Highness have returned to reclaim their throne with the crushing Devil’s Delight, the first single from their self-titled third album, due Oct. 11. You can hail them. Or you can hail Satan. But you gotta hail somebody, you know? SAYS THE PRESS RELEASE: “‘It represents a revolt to weariness and a need for action. Whether it’s our liberties, our environment or just a basic sense of humanity: nothing should be left for grabs for anyone but ourselves. The crown of the Enlightenment is waning. The rule of reason is under attack 24/7. You have to take a stand on a lot of matters. Neutrality is an undesirable ideal. Internally, we also closed the book on two years of musical apathy and status-quo. This album is a testament to this new modus operandi.” Delightful:
12 We could all use a little more freedom in our lives. Australian singer-songwriter Sampa the Great does her best to help out with her new single — quite rightly titled Freedom — from her Sept. 13 release The Return. Play it now. Or not. It’s a free country. SAYS THE PRESS RELEASE: “Freedom is about one of the most important talks you will ever have as an artist in this industry.” explains Sampa, “The balance of earning a living and expressing your artistry, and what you’re willing to compromise through it all. It’s a blessing being able to create and express yourself through the arts and an even greater blessing when that artistry can provide a livelihood for you, but it’s likely you’ll reach a point in your career where you’ll be given a choice to compromise your artistic expression. How much you’re willing to compromise is a conversation discussed in Freedom.” Let freedom ring:
13 Swiss psych-rock weirdos Dirty Sound Magnet (whatever that means) make an Organic Sacrifice (whatever that means) with their funky new single, which also happens to be a preview of their upcoming album Transgenic. Whatever that means. But hey, at least they mean it. SAYS THE PRESS RELEASE: “The song depicts a lifeless, tasteless world. The lyrics are ambiguous: are they describing a dystopian near future or providing a vision of a gloomy present?” Are those really the only two options?
14 Too many contemporary artists are so busy trying to be the next big thing that they fail to appreciate the lessons and legends of the past. Not Australian electro-soul singer-songwriter Esmé. She pays tribute to a legendary jazz vocalist Ella Fitzgerald on her dreamy new single Ella, fusing modern electronic and hip hop beats with jazzy sounds of the past, and a spoken-word sample of Fitzgerald herself. It’s the first single from her upcoming debut EP. She keeps this up, she might just be the next big thing. SAYS THE PRESS RELEASE: “I was always drawn to a certain kind of jazz voice growing up, Esmé reveals, a breathy sound that almost seems fragile, but it isn’t, and often reminiscent of a horn instrument, like Chet Baker. Listening to voices like Ella Fitzgerald always took me to a lighter place when I was young; this song kind of pays homage to that feeling, and to her.” Get in the swing:
15 There’s more than one mood to summer. So there certainly can be more than one kind of summer song. Victoria dream-popsters Peach Pyramid have a new one that’s perfect for these lazier, hazier days at the tail end of the season — and still contains a topical message: Wear Sunscreen. Entertaining and helpful: You can’t ask for more than that. SAYS THE PRESS RELEASE: “Co-produced by and featuring keyboards from Kathryn Calder of The New Pornographers, the track is a gorgeous example of Peach Pyramid’s timeless dream pop, matching frontwoman Jen Severston’s assured and melodically imaginative songwriting with rich harmonies and layered synth parts, creating a sonic palette that blends a hazy summer psychedelia with a sound that recalls Glaswegian indie greats Camera Obscura and the earlier releases from Severston’s fellow Canadian Feist.” Soak it up:
16 The Brits seem to have an insatiable appetite for ruggedly soulful male vocalists. That bodes well for London’s Samuel Jack. And his instantly hooky new single Fighting Fires — the followup to his equally impressive June release Feels Like Summer, which also appeared in this space — bodes even, um, weller. Sorry, it’s been a long day. SAYS THE PRESS RELEASE: “I was growing more and more frustrated with the situation I found myself in, I felt like I had a million people to please and I was going under — but rather than let it kill me, the crux of the song is really that, I wouldn’t let it. Sometimes you just gotta dig deep to overcome.” Ready, aim …