Honeyblood – Honeyblood (Listen if you like: 90’s rock revival, wearing oversized shirts over your other shirts, chicks who can kick you or spit in your face) Is it just me, or are there very few girls really taking the lead in music lately who aren’t afraid to show their bite? It’s all just felt too overdone and over-sung lately. If you’re like me, you’ve been dying for a break from all of the sultry singy-songs and overly “soulful” pretty polish of female artists. And just when music needed a rad girl duo that wasn’t afraid to kick some ass and show their assertive side, Honeyblood entered the scene with high-powered punches to represent the “cool girls” who have been genuinely and effortlessly alternative all along. Their brand of sludgy noise turns off the pop reference (unless it’s of bubblegum exploding all over the place) and sticks to a hard-to-miss new nineties vibe instead, which makes Honeyblood a great addition to your girl-power playlist alongside PJ, Courtney, Veruca, etc. Murky and messy musical fun with the right balance of wit and thoughtful lyrics? These are the lady musicians we should all get behind – or at least turn up and bang our heads to.
Protomartyr – Under Color of Official Right (Listen if you like: Nick Cave, appreciating the imperfections, intensity) Simply put, if I found these guys in high school they would have changed my life. My first words upon hearing even just a fragment of this album? I was blurting out multiple exclamations of “Holy shit!” Protomartyr’s presence is so engrossing on record that I can’t help but imagine how exciting and captivating a live show would be. They project one hell of a badass attitude! I get the sense that this band is keeping it real… They’ve got it right with their “wrongs” and imperfect moments, which makes the music feel that much more authentic. To the band’s credit it must be mentioned how as a single session, this is one fine listening experience. Amazing tracking, great energy, and the right flow song to song – start to finish. This release is post-punk perfection!
Wild Beasts – Present Tense (Listen if you like: OK Computer, unnerving sensations, goosebumps, when things get real) If there is one song I couldn’t get enough of hearing this year, it’s “Wanderlust.” I remember thinking that the combination of sound and style of it all was just “kinda weird” together. Then towards the end of the song, there is a lyric that just delivers the most gorgeous “fuck” that I’ve ever heard sung. With every next line and each new song turn, I was nothing short of mesmerized… This pretty much sums up what’s in store for the rest of the album! It pulls you in closer as it gets weirder and more unnerving. You get a lot of shaky, uncertain feelings but in the most wonderful way. It can almost sound tragic at times yet there is the underlining of something so uplifting, innocent, and beautiful. Maybe it’s just the falsetto but it can reach a point that can bring you to tears. On one hand, there are lush dance synths, hinting at all those fantastic things we love about 80’s electronic artists (think Alphaville, Pet Shop Boys). On the other, there is something modern about this album that will remind you of Arcade Fire, The Antlers, and Radiohead. There’s also a groundbreaking brilliance at play here, working out a similar composition of someone like Björk or Antony Hegarty. Do you laugh, do you cry? Do you hate it, or do you love it?
Cold Showers – 6.20.13 (Listen if you like: Black Marble, Dreaming, Ian Curtis, Fog Machines, Love/Pain) When you love something, there is often an urge that follows, commanding you to share whatever that thing is with everyone. But then there is that rare occasion, when you’ve fallen so hard over the experience and the feelings are so strong that your first instinct is to grab that thing and run… Run with it to a place where it’s hidden from everyone else and only you can find it. Cold Showers take me away to that secret place, and I find myself intoxicated by the paradise. It’s more of an alluring realm, really – filled with the musical charm that typically lures me. The familiar fuzz of shoegaze. Passion cracked with post-punk edge. A mysterious pull of playful guitar over perfect pop melody. Sounds of an era hard to define… In the best way possible, this band is still a teenager in my eyes, yet they are clearly chivalrous and valiant in their music making. And with that I finally release them from my hiding place and welcome you to dive into the EP for a taste of the addiction that comes with the discovery.
Future Islands – Singles (Listen if you like: The oldies, dancing/karaoke, happy cries, “the truth”) I’ve never been a huge fan of titles or making lists. I struggle with the back and forth decision making of placing or ranking things. I say this because it’s important not to take the following statement lightly. Future Islands is: song of the year, record of the year, band of the year, show of the year, best of the year, performance of the year, find of the year, and so on… It’s my favorite “favorite thing” of this entire year! If there’s one thing that you should know about Future Islands, it’s that they’re god damn honest. These days, so many of us are afraid to show our emotions and admit to vulnerability face to face. We hesitate to feel and connect with our real selves without first considering a poll/scale of meaningless validations. Luckily, we can count on Future Islands to hold our heads and remind us that our heartfelt and human side exists for a reason. Those of us who “get” Future Islands all have a story. Because there is always a story… Fans of this band or this album will agree that when you get lost in the raw of it all, especially during a live performance, you are then completely swept up in the understanding of being taken to church. Music church, that is. Whoever you are and whatever you have going on, Singles will speak to you. Peel everything else away, listen, and make Future Islands your outlet to — Let go. Pour it out. Smile. Shout. Seize. Remember. Absorb. Enjoy. Love. Live. For all these reasons and more, the music of Future Islands is truly timeless. And not just in that classic sound kind of way that even your parents would enjoy. When our kids – or even their kids – look back at the indie rock of our time, the men of Future Islands will have a place with the all-time greats. They are a living manifestation of inspiration, the kind that can never die.
Illustration by Lucy Salgado