It’s 2017, finally! We’ve kicked 2016 to the curb and good riddance.
From here, we have quite a job to do to make sure that this year, 2017, doesn’t suck as much. It’s early yet. But I get the feeling it may be a tall order. This is particularly given our political climate as racist organizations re-brand themselves, slither into the mainstream, and drip poison into the ears of the public. We have to fight them. For that, we’ll need fuel for the trip.
Among other sources of spiritual nutrients, music is pretty high up on my personal list. If you’re here, you probably share my point of view on that. With that in mind, here is a selection of new music to kick off your new year. As is the norm, I invite you to take a deep dive, and tell me about your favourite tracks, and maybe even some ways you’re going to make sure that 2017 rocks instead of sucks. So, what are you waiting for? Step into my office …
Let’s kick things off by getting straight to the point about how some of us are feeling about things. Somewhere between punk and power-pop with a dash of garage rock we find Brooklyn, NY duo The Falling Birds. This cut is a single taken from their upcoming EP What Is There To Talk About? petulantly capturing the zeitgeist for our era, full as it is of both anger and ennui, while still managing to sound really fun somehow at the same time.
You can find out more at thefallingbirds.com.
Summery power pop isn’t restricted to just the summer, Good People. For fans of “the one that got away” style songs, full of crunchy guitars and sunshiny production ala XTC, gather ye ’round and consider this one by self-described gadabout, raconteur, and ne’er do well Gilbert Neal. He’s a North Carolina-based musician who’s tackled all manner of genres and musical contexts from country bands to Genesis tribute bands (!). This song comes from the EP The Mayor Of Estes Park.
Get caught up at gilbertneal.com.
Love songs can often be about distance and feeling out of reach as much as they’re about connection, especially when you’re young. South London’s Thom Worth communicates that very headspace and heartspace with his very Difford-and-Tilbrook-esque tale of an elusive love. The song is the lead track from upcoming EP Meet Me Tonight that you can look for this year. If you’re in Britain, you can catch him on tour starting at the end of the month!
To learn more, check out thomworth.com.
Speaking of the elusive nature of love and the impetuousness of youth, this one from Ukrainian indie-pop band Brunettes Shoot Blondes has the goods. The tune comes complete with lyric video (posted above) in time for an entry in the celebrated Eurovision song contest, mixing in unabashedly catchy hooks with just a dash of melancholy to keep things in balance. This one is a single, following up their 2014 LP Bittersweet.
Find out more about the band at brunettesshootblondes.org
Here’s a roots-rock anthem made for radio play from Austin Texas-based singer-songwriter Bonnie Whitmore. The song touches on the often destructive nature of love coming from both sides of the equation, and the worth of taking the risk to discover its true nature. The song comes from the elegantly titled F#@k With Sad Girls, described in some quarters as an abandonment of her country roots, and more like a tribute to pissed off women in American music, and in general. They say that like it’s a bad thing!
For more, make sure to visit bonniewhitmore.com
Pop songs have been a way to take a culture’s temperature, and this is certainly a modern example that shows us that western culture really should take a few days to stay home in bed to get better. Brooklyn, NY’s Jesse Ruben brings this acoustic social commentary tune with verses taken straight from the headlines. There’s a sentiment in its title that can be claimed by many from inside America as well as out, too. The song is a harbinger to his upcoming EP A Reply To Violence released later this year.
Learn more at jesseruben.com.
London-based newcomer Arlissa presents this acoustic version of a song that is (presumably!) going to appear on a soon-to-be released EP. It’s a song destined for pop radio in a firmly gospel-influenced R&B vein. Arlissa made an appearance on the BBC Sound Of … program a few years back, having since built up a grassroots following after work with Nas. I’m sure we’ll all hear more of her story as it emerges in 2017.
Learn more at arlissa.com.
Berlin, Germany-based singer-songwriter and harpist Sissa Rada trades in art rock texture that is as compelling as it is unpredictable in terms of structure and tone. This cut takes Kate Bush and Bjork influences and throws in some R&B herbs and spices while she’s at it to the best possible effect. The song is taken from her most recent full-length offering Pragma, a record two years in the making bound together in a genre that the artist herself calls “coquettish-classical-electro-doom pop”. How could you resist?
Delve deeper at sissirada.com.
London-based singer-songwriter Natalie Bouloundis presents this tale of decay and the passage of time using the dilapidated piers found in Brighton and the south coast of England as a way to talk about uncertain futures. In 2017, I cannot think of a more relevant theme. This tune mixes moody and melancholic indie rock with earthy folk textures all wrapped up in a distinct jazzy sheen. This is her first single released just last month, an intriguing starting point by any measurement.
Keep up to this upcoming artist’s progress on her Facebook page.
Toronto’s Winchester mix ambient and shoegaze textures with a cinematic sense of scale, pulling from influences like Purity Ring and M83. This one is a single described by the band as part song, part tech-art piece, evoking a crystalline and wintry longing to help you kick off the New Year. The band is made up of two artists, Lauren Austin and Montgomery De Luna, both with a wide spectrum of creative interests from architecture, to classical music, to DJing, each seeking to bring it all together to drive a shared creative vision.
Learn more about them at soundsofwinchester.com
For an anthem that is both radio-friendly and sort of wintry and windswept at the same time comes Pontifract, Yorkshire four piece Glass Caves with this song, a single that follows up the band’s last LP Alive. That release was a product of hard graft laying the groundwork for the long haul. Their multilayered and yet very pop-accessible sound is certainly fully realized here.
Discover more about the band at glasscaves.co.uk.
Here’s an instrumental jazz palette cleanser where this list is concerned from San Franciso-based by way of San Juan, Puerto Rico progressive jazz sextet as led by bassist Torres. The piece is the sound of a foreign idea making its way into our thinking unexpectedly, hence the title. Full of effervescence, at least it sounds like a good idea during an era of very bad ones. The piece is taken from the band’s most recent release Of The Musical. Stanley Clarke/Return To Forever fans take particular note.
You can learn more about Torres and his band at joantorresmusic.com
Love songs that are filled with longing and with turbulence in equal measure are sometimes just what you need when winter is at its coldest. This is a BIG one from LA-based folk-rock group Cranky George, the members of which include The Pogues’ accordionist James Fearnly, and guitarist Dermot Mulroney who you may recognize from many a rom-com movie as a leading man. The song appears on their recent release Fat Lot Of Good, their debut.
Learn more about the band at crankygeorge.com.
Sometimes you need to rail against the forces that are keeping you down. The history of rock music is full of that impulse and expressions of it, of course. But in this era, it’s becoming a necessity. East London’s Sonïtus plug right into that spirit with this brooding anthem touched by flashes of R&B, dub, and reggae mixed in with indie-rock aesthetics, and as featured on their most recent EP Kleptocracy.
Learn more about the band at sonitusband.com.
For 2017, goodness knows we need some anthems of positivity. This one by L.A-based singer-songwriter is just the ticket to end things off on our list. It’s about the very big difference between vulnerability and weakness, and about having courage to move towards something positive even when all around is dark. Apropos for our times, no?
To learn more about Jordana, take a stroll along to jordanalilly.com
So there it is, Good People.
What are your favourite tracks? What new stuff are you all into this New Year? Where are you buying your supplies for the coming apocalypse?
Tell me all about it in the comments section. Happy New Year! And as always,