It’s summertime, summertime, and if you will, sum-sum-summertime. Perhaps weatherwise it’s been that for a while for you as it has been here on the (normally) Wet Coast of British Columbia. Around here it’s actually not been very wet at all due to a particularly dry spring. That’s meant that wildfire season has started early. I’m hoping this will not be the new normal that I suspect it is (thanks, climate change). That aside, and during a year that is turning out to be personally challenging on many levels, a reliable balm to life’s slings and arrows of outrageous fortune is always going to be new music. If you’re here with me on this page today, I can only assume that I am not alone in that conviction.
To effect a change for the better as 2016 rolls on, here is a new list of summer tune-age for your consideration. As always, consider it to be my personal mix-tape to you, which should always be considered as an act of love when rendered by a music fan. Some of these tunes are fit for top-down rolling down the road in the sunshine. Some will offer an interesting contrast to that. Either way, open your ears to the new sounds of summer below with this year’s edition of June Tunes Digest. Please proceed!
“Is This What I Get?” by The Split Seconds
This band from D.C combine the nervy energy of seventies forefathers of punk-pop like Buzzcocks and the Damned and infuse it with the attack of their nineties and early oughts inheritors, such as Green Day. This song is one of three singles to be featured on the upcoming June 22 release of their self-titled debut record. File under: band to watch.
Learn more at: The Split Seconds.com
Coming back, “returning from the depths of a Canadian winter” as they have described it, is Toronto-based anthemic indie rock architects and Delete Bin favourites Wildlife. This is the title track to their most recent album due out late this summer. This song is the “flag bearer” to that upcoming album, their third full length record following 2013’s On The Heart. To my ears, this is their best song yet. And I have pretty good ears.
Learn more at: The Wildlife Facebook page.
“Motherless Land” by The Virginmarys
For some honest-to-goodness anthemic rock from the fertile musical fields of the North-West of England, The Virginmarys hold the banner high with this song that is featured on their most recent record, Divides. The new record is the awaited follow up to 2013’s debut The King of Conflict, extending their reach as a hard-hitting and stadium-ready outfit unafraid to inject some political fury into their work.
Learn more at: The Virginmarys official site.
“Seven Bright Seas” by The Late Great
Folk-rock and Americana from the north of Norway? You betcha! This track is from The Late Great, full of moaning organ, acoustic guitar, bright piano, and apocalyptic lyrics, all of which suggest a sort of Nordic Waterboys. The song is featured on the band’s recent record Songs From The 21st Century, with the video shot in an expectedly desolate-yet-beautiful location.
Learn more at: The Late Great band (English) Facebook Page.
My Love Is My Disease by The Jezabels
For some noirish synth-pop that is built on an epic and anthemic scale, Sydney Australia’s The Jezabels bring it down for us, with this newest single from their third album entitled Synthia. The song is accompanied by a video featuring Kenichi Ito – the Guinness World Record holder for being “the fastest man on 4 limbs”. The song reflects the idea of owning one’s ailments, and carrying that burden without stigma, certainly reflective of where the band are at, with keyboardist Heather Shannon currently fighting ovarian cancer, with her bandmates backing her up all the way.
Learn more at: The Jezabels.com
“The Witching Hour” by Supermoon
Vancouver’s Supermoon take new wave guitar, add just a hint of surf-rock back beat, and combine that with hushed vocals to create a charmingly jangly whole. This track is taken from their debut LP Playland, a tune that sounds like optimism as kept in subterranean conditions, full of echoey joy as it is.
Learn more at: The Supermoon Facebook page.
“Hexenhammer” by Darla And The Blonde
Darkly artful indie-folk with hints of PJ Harvey and Nick Cave is the stock in trade of Darla and The Blonde from Hackney, East London, UK. This tune is a highlight as now taken from their newest EP Eugenia, at one time released as a standalone single on Hallowe’en. But who says you can’t have a little shell-out, shell-out, the witches are out in the summertime, too? This song is a tale of the dark arts, and dabbling with forces one doesn’t fully understand. If that’s on the agenda this summer, you now have your theme song, Good People.
Learn more at: the Darla And The Blonde official site.
Pop music that moves in unexpected directions is one of my favourite things in the world. That’s what Oslo, Norway’s Broen deliver here, a song that questions the wisdom of a selfie-obsessed culture, featured on their newest EP, Yoga. It draws equally on woozy synthpop, complete with a dub-centric toast on the idea of seeking attention and oblivion rather than seeking answers. The iPhone-shot video was created in several Norwegian public bathrooms, during times of the night when oblivion was a big theme for those queuing to get in.
Learn more at: The Broen Facebook page.
To add a bit of psychedelic flair to your summer comes Seattle’s Colorworks and this song as taken from their new EP, Dreams Of Mangoes, out on June 22. On this song, the band work within a late sixties Monkees-Zombies-Kinks spectrum, with music as vital and strangely nostalgic all at once. You can virtually see the lysergic light shining through the blinds on this tune, illuminating that part of the brain that says that no one makes music like that anymore, while at the same time hankering for a new take on an established recipe.
Learn more at: Colorworks official band site.
“California’s Callin’ Ya” by The Explorers Club
Making a heady contribution to the Endless Summer myth as forged by Brian Wilson comes Charleston, South Carolina’s The Explorer’s Club. This song just sparkles with optimism with every note, with those sweetly melancholic changes that are fit for any teenage symphony to god built right in. It’s featured on the band’s upcoming third album Together, tailor-made to be the soundtrack your summer’s been needing. The new record is due out on June 24.
Learn more at: The Explorers Club official site.
Hailing from New York, and led by creative brain Jason Perillo, Azwell bring this track from their latest LP, From Now On. The sound here is a gloriously gauzy guitar pop excursion with sixties and seventies influences, appropriately dreamlike and expansive. This is one of those songs you wish they’d play more on indie radio. Amazingly, this band has been releasing albums since 2003. So, there’s lots more to discover, friends.
Learn more at: the Azwell official band site
Professed inventors of a sound they like to call “New Wop”, this Los Angeles-based brother and sister duo (Charlotte on vocals, and Hank on guitar) deliver a brand of hyper-pop that is unique no matter what label you want to place onto it. Can’t quite imagine The Drifters as mixed with punk rock energy, you say? You know what to do, then. This song is a key track off of their second and most recent EP titled “II”, due out on June 24.
Learn more at: The Fontaines official site.
When you’ve played bass for Beyoncé, Gladys Knight, Eryka Badu, and Patti Labelle, where do you go next? You go solo, and mix indie guitar pop, with hip hop, and with modern R&B, while bringing all of those elements into a tasteful and compelling balance with a message, too. That’s just what Atlanta-based Divinity Roxx has done here. This song is a lead track as taken from her recent album ImPossible (pronounced “I’m Possible”, of course).
Learn more at: Divinity Roxx official site.
Speaking of disparate musical ingredients as brought into a unique unity, New Haven Connecticut’s Olive Tiger bring chamber pop strings into a moody indie-folk rock space, with a hint of hip hop phrasing. That is quite a stew, with none of the flavours being too dominant, making for a wholly original sound. This song, their debut single, is to be featured on their upcoming debut record Until My Body Breaks, due out this summer.
Learn more at: the Olive Tiger official site.
Minimalist and experimental, the Montreal trio Braids features the hypnotic vocals of singer Raphael Standell-Preston, seemingly able to take a melody from a whisper to a full-throated cry in an instant, while (very effectively) not always choosing to do so. This track is featured on the EP of the same name, a companion piece to their 2015 release, Deep In The Iris, their third record. This song, and the other three tracks on the EP serve as a coda to that earlier release, in a constantly evolving process of musical becoming.
Learn more at: Braids official site.
Ambient, atmospheric, and subtly unsettling are words that come to mind when listening to (being enveloped by?) this track from Israeli producer, singer, and songwriter Amit Buium, all of seventeen years old at the time of the release of her debut album Void on which this track appears. The record, and this song, pulls from Berlin-era Bowie, Cocteau Twins, and Grimes, among other influences. Drift along with music that is unafraid of space, taking its time to wind its way around and into your imagination.
Learn more at: the Amit Buium Facebook page.
So, good people. What are your favourite tracks from the above? What new band or artist is turning your crank these days? Let’s talk about it, and as always and in the meantime,