It has been one of those weeks where I got a dreadful cold and didn’t do much besides sleeping, reading, and eating of comfort foods.
So my choice of songs is resting heavily on music I heard last week. But hey they’re great songs and I would like to think that the zeitgeist hasn’t quite got to the over-frantic point where a week-old song is considered passe.
FREELANCE WHALES: “Locked Out”
With a new album, Diluvia, beckoning with promise and due for release on October 9, Freelance Whales, an indie rock band from Queens, New York, have kicked off proceedings with lead single, “Locked Out”.
It’s a beautiful track, suffused with the band’s penchant for interesting melodies, tight interwoven layered vocals and a sunny demeanour that suits its release in the northern hemisphere summer. Possessing an almost orchestral lushness, it ambles along for the most part, this pace belies a driving presence which resolutely pushes the song forward, dragging any listener along with it.
It is the sort of song you can lose yourself in. By that I mean, it’s not the sort of song that glances off the peripheries and makes little impact. Rather, it is substantial and impactful, underscored by a delightful urgency and an emotional truthfulness that really connects with you.
It draws you deeper and deeper into its rich harmonies, and joyful vibe with each listen. It is the sort of song you can happily fall into over and over again, and not tire of the experience.
This bodes well for Diluvia, which much like Passion Pit‘s current release, Gossamer, will likely flout the idea that albums as a cohesive grouping of songs are dead. I certainly hope so. I could do with losing myself in some long-playing bliss.
BAT FOR LASHES: “Laura”
Natasha Kahn, better known by her musical nom de plume, Bat for Lashes is a woman with a gift for haunting melodies – which is appropriate given that her album due out October 15 is called The Haunting Man – and a voice evocative enough to bring them to life.
She is able to plug into emotions so painful and searing, or mysteriously dark, that you are left gasping for breath at the beauty of her delivery.
Her new single “Laura” is no different. The spine-tingling melancholy of the song, which nonetheless carries with it a lyrical hopefulness, sweeps over you in powerful waves. But rather than feeling weighed down, you are instead uplifted by it raw power and beauty, in much the same way that Kate Bush’s songs entrance and delight, no matter the gravity of the lyrics or the minor keys driving the of-kilter melody.
It is a gorgeously affecting affirmation of friendship, and the innate worth of a person in the face of regret, and the remorseless march of time, and is simply astonishingly, heart-rendingly beautiful.
WALK THE MOON: “Anna Sun”
I am a teensy-weensy behind the luminous curve of the zeitgeist with this one. Like 2 years out of sync. “Anna Sun” was released by this Cincinatti, Ohio-based band way back in November 2010 but it just came my way via one of those YouTube “Hey you like Bat For Lashes, you’ll love these guys” suggestions.
Let me start by saying they are not alike at all, save for sharing great pop sensibilities, so you could question whether YouTube’s suggestion algorithm has sprung one almighty leak somewhere, or is having a HAL-esque 2001 Space Odyssey moment where it totally and comprehensively losing the plot and linking whatever it damn well pleases.
Or you could say that in its random madness, it has found a gem of a song that shimmers with summery joy and happiness and celebrates the innocence of carefree existence before the heavy weight of adulthood saps much of it out of you. Says one member of the band, Nicholas Petricca:
“It’s about college, about maintaining that little bit of being a kid,” Petricca said. “Don’t be afraid to play.” (interview with Carson Daley on 4 November 2011)
Don’t be afraid indeed. All work, no play is no way to live so take heed of this song’s lyrical encouragement and bouncy music and take some time out to play a little.
SHEILA MCQUEEN: ” Paris”
Paris is a gorgeous city so I am told. While I have yet to walk its famously romantic arrondissements, I have seen enough to know that it likely deserves its fabled reputation as the city of romance. How could all those lights not induce a sense of otherworldly bliss? What … are you made of stone?
So it makes perfect sense that this talented sisterly duo from the UK – known to friends and family as Genevieve and Jessica Arnold; but to a soon to be welcoming world by the glam musical moniker, Sheila McQueen (a name evocative of 50s Hollywood starlets and a world of glamour long gone) – would want to pay tribute to Paris with a song that bounces along with joyful abandon and a glowing synth-rich admiration for a city that has obviously made its mark on them both.
What is most impressive about the song is that even though it is perfect pop of the highest most musically contagious order, it is not a slavish copy of a thousand other wannabe pop hits. Rather, it wears its slightly quirky unique sensibilities with pride, and stands out not just as a luscious ode to the City of Lights but as a strong melodically-rich, toe-tappingly unique slice of pop loveliness.
So while I may not have made it to Paris the city yet, I have found “Paris” the song and that will be delight enough for now.
NO DOUBT: “Settle Down”
They walked the pop stage of the 90s like Ska gods, their insistently catchy songs rarely off the airwaves, a soundtrack for millions of people looking for a feel good, up-and-bouncy soundtrack for life.
Then life kind of got in the way. Lead singer, Gwen Stefani tried her hand, very successfully as it turns out, at a solo career, everyone else in the band – Tony Kanal, Tony Dumont and Adrian Young – got busy doing their own thing. They all married, had kids, lived mostly separate lives until …
… they realised they wanted to be a band again. The result is new single “Settle Down” which captures the fun and exuberance of the band’s heyday without sounding like a paint-by-numbers copy churned out by committee. It’s loud, its brash, it bounces along like jellybean-filled kids on a trampoline and is the perfect way to announce the arrival of their album, Push and Shove which bows September 25th.
Want to restore a skip to your step, and some fun to a dreary day? This is the song to do it. Even better with a trampoline I’m sure!
So what track/s will be joining the soundtrack of your life?