For a country smaller than the state of Florida, England incessantly burgeons with musical talent. A modern “British Invasion” has emerged on this year’s music front, with radio charts offering an English mash-up of thumping bass and the thrum of banjos. From Alex Clare’s experimental drum-and-bass to Ellie Goulding’s indie pop melodies, the eclectic range of British influence has made an influential mark on the contemporary music scene.
Another innovative artist climbing the UK charts is twenty-two year old Delilah; a London-based songstress gaining notable praise with her debut album, “From the Roots Up.” The freshman LP skillfully combines ambient, electro-bass beats with sultry, R&B vocals; successfully achieving a bold range of genre-bending tracks.
Delilah’s first single “Go” samples lyrics from the 1983 Chaka Khan hit, “Ain’t Nobody,” while flawlessly incorporating her own edgy, carnal-driven undertones. The provocative track peaked at #21 on the UK Singles Chart, and amassed heavy radio rotation.
“From the Roots Up” is a candid showcase of Delilah’s lyrical versatility, offering realistic – at times haunting – accounts of love and lust. Physical expression is glorified throughout the album, highlighting her frank and unapologetic approach to sexuality.
Delilah is certainly an artist on the rise, presenting a fresh culmination of innovation and talent, but what’s your opinion? Take a peek at the creative video for her single, “Love You So,” and see if this English artist tickles your fancy….
Sorry, disappeared for a while there. I took a week off after Lollapalooza – my first week off in two years, I might add – and I still haven’t caught up on email. I know, wah wah wah, you have too much music to listen to. Hey, I’m just sayin’, there are only so many hours in the day. My kids miss their daddy when I hole up in the music cave, and I miss them, too.
Mackintosh Braun – Could It Be
Man, if only the rest of the record could keep up with this song. In theory, I should love Mackintosh Braun. They make ELO-inspired synth pop, which is as close to my wheelhouse as things get. In reality, I merely like Mackintosh Braun. I think it was the processed vocals that did me in. They have ‘em on every track. The record overall is good, and I’m betting they can do better next time around, but if you’re going to take one song of theirs with you, this one, for now, is it.
Made the mistake of taking the week off after finishing the Lollapalooza recap. 200 press releases later (actually, there are still over 100 to go), here we are. The lesson appears to be ‘never go on vacation.’ Yeah, that’s just not happening.
Chromeo – Don’t Turn the Lights On (Christian Martin Remix)
We are positively dying to hear Business Casual, the new album by funk poppers Chromeo, but until then this (killer) single will have to do. This remix of the track doesn’t quite kill it like the album version, but hey, it’s free. And speaking of having the lights on…
Ursula – Hey You! (Shake Edit)
We’d post an mp3 of Fred Schneider reading soup recipes if we had ‘em, but this guest vocal, mashed up with “Shake” by ’60s band the Shadows of Knight, will have to do.
The Gay Blades – Try to Understand
Gay as in merry, and happy. Truth be told, we don’t know if anyone in the Gay Blades is actually gay, nor do we care. As long as they churn out catchy pop rock like this, it’s all good.
Tamaryn – Love Fade
The name alone suggested some diva R&B singer, but this is anything but. More like Mazzy Star, with a pulse.
The Black Ryder – Let It Go
And while we’re in the swirly-rock groove (not sure what else to call that. Shoegazer doesn’t seem quite fitting, nor does psych rock), here’s another slow, slightly noisy tune from a band that just got a slot opening for the Cult. Huh. Can’t say I would have seen that coming based on this tune.
Brad Laner – Eyes Close
We always try to support those dedicated, sorry bastards who still believe in power pop. By all rights, this tune, with vocals that Elliott Smith would have killed for (too soon?), should find an audience. Here you go, audience. Find this, please.
Pulling a Public Image Ltd. with the title this week, and here’s why: the week after Lollapalooza is death. Must do full-length recaps, find pictures, etc. Meanwhile, all of the other aspects of the job that I could leave behind in Chicago are waiting impatiently for me (movies, interviews, etc.). So this is going to be an admittedly half-assed column. I don’t even have time for descriptions. But hey, free music is free music, right? All right, here’s your free music.
Have a ton of stuff to do before heading off to Lolla next week, so this will be a short one.
Pete Yorn – Precious Stone
New track from Pete’s upcoming, Frank Black-produced album Self Titled. Sounds like Pete, but rawer, which is just what I was expecting.
Ex Norwegian – Jet Lag
Having reached out to me on MySpace a while back, these guys are quickly becoming a favorite around these parts. At the risk of tagging them as a throwback band – to the ’90s, no less – their sound is definitely not of this time. Big, ringing choruses, slightly dirty bass lines, horn-kissed verses…this would have been a #1 modern rock hit in 1995.
White Car – No Better
Holy Wax Trax, Batman. This Chicago industrial outfit has just made a track that will have fans of “Everyday Is Halloween” running for their Doc Martens.
Team Bayside High – No Sleeves Attached DJ Mix
In truth, this is not the most mind-blowing DJ mix you’ve ever heard. In fact, it’s pretty raw and basic, and when the drums kick in at the end of “Song 2,” I couldn’t help but wince a little. But I like their choice of songs, since they spend most of the time mixing rock songs, and I like the melding of rock and dance. Putting “Smells Like Teen Spirit” in here was a stretch (they had to speed it up to the point where it sounds unnatural), but we’ll still check out their DJ set at Lolla, schedule permitting.
Hesta Prynn – Can We Go Wrong
Formerly of “female Beastie Boys” Northern State – and the author of this great couplet: “If you got a sweat suit and you’re dripping in diamonds / Tell me, are you a rapper, or a mom from Long Island?” – the girl her mom calls Julie Potash goes the indie pop route on her debut EP of the same name as this song.
Yacht – Nausea
Their 2009 song “Afterlife” beat every other synth-pinking wannabe act all to hell, and as they prepare to make their next record, they’ve recorded an X song, just in case we didn’t already know that they get the ’80s in ways that most other bands only dare to dream.
Diego Garcia – You Were Never There
Forsaking the full-blown glam of his previous day job Elefant for something closer to his heritage, Garcia delivers a gorgeous acoustic gem that sounds like a modern-day “Walk Away Renee.” Man, we hope the rest of his first full-length album, due next year, is on par with this.
PVT – Window
We will confess to being new to the band formerly known as Pivot, but if their new material has the drive and flair of this song, we’re in.
Radio FreQ – Where You Been
New York ’80s synth pop with a bit more…fabulousness, if you catch our drift. And look, more silly capitalization. We get it, Eq, blah blah blah, but still, enough already. Just spell the damn name in a manner that doesn’t give people splitting headaches. And while we’re on the subject of band names…
Shit Robot – I Found Love (TBD Remix)
Naming your band is a lot harder than people think. It’s your invisible handshake, the first impression that makes people decide whether or not they wish to get to know you better. The name needs to be something catchy but not annoying, and no matter what kind of music you play, the name should still maintain a sense of accessibility.
Which is why we laughed out loud when we learned that someone concluded that the best possible name for his band was Shit Robot. Well played, sir.
Note to self: never go away for the weekend. Had 160 emails waiting for me when I got back. Ugh.
Dale Earnhardt Jr. Jr. – Vocal Chords
Fans of Robin Williams comedy album Reality, What a Concept surely laughed out loud when they saw the name of this Detroit band (“Oh no, Sammy Davis Jr. Jr.!”). For a city known for its no-nonsense rockers, this tune is remarkably sunny and airy, a lot like many were expecting the most recent Vampire Weekend album to sound like.
SAADI – Bad City
Sounds like an unfinished Curve track. That’s not a bad thing, in our book.
New Collisions – Dying Alone
After my beloved Tribe stalled on their way to world domination, I never miss the chance to pimp a Boston band, especially if it’s a female-fronted five-piece, just like Tribe. Oddly enough, this group may be coming 20 years after Tribe, but this song sounds like it was recorded roughly five years before them. (Read: it’s new wave-y.)
Lower Dens – Hospice Gates
Bravely venturing into Mazzy Star-ish ambient guitar pop territory without boring me to tears. Well done, gents. That’s a compliment, seriously.
S. Carey – In the Dirt
Bon Iver percussionist makes solo album. Pitchfork wets themselves. And while I live for resisting anything that can be remotely classified as hipster, this is pretty. Very pretty, in fact.
Ah, the post-holiday edition. It’s admittedly small this week. The publicists have been unusually quiet so far, which is fine because I need to put questions together for an interview with former MMi subjects Hey Champ. They’re awesome, by the way.
Bishop Morocco – Last Year’s Disco Guitars
It’s as if this Toronto duo saw that James Mercer was off doing the Broken Bells thing, so they decided to make a Shins record…you know, if they were into the Jesus and Mary Chain and the Joy Division rather than the Beach Boys. They even got Martin Hannett to produce. How’s that for authenticity?
Deluka – Nevada
We were big fans of “Cascade,” the lead single from the band’s EP, but were less excited with the rest of that set. If “Nevada” is any indication, they’re saving up the really good stuff for the full-length, which is due in October.
Kathryn Calder – Arrow
The second song released from the New Pornographers keyboardist’s upcoming solo album Are You My Mother?, and it’s another gem. So why is it that she’s not being invited to the songwriting table for her day job, again?
Robert Pollard – Moses on a Snail
If it’s Tuesday, it must be another solo album from Robert Pollard, who’s put out, no joke, ten solo albums since breaking up Guided by Voices in 2004. This is the title track, and it does something almost no Pollard song has ever done: crosses the five-minute mark.
With the long weekend ahead, we have an extra-long list of songs for you to play at your next party/intervention/funeral. Mostly party. And we start by shamelessly using the success of the biggest phony in pop music in order to drive some extra traffic to the site. Given the way she’s made us suffer, she owes us this, at the very least.
Katy Perry – California Gurls (Hyper Crush Remix)
I was willing to give Ms. Everybody Look at Me Why Isn’t Everyone Looking at Me Come On I Have Big Tits Please For God’s Sake Look at Me the benefit of the doubt when EW claimed this was the song of the summer, but I’m sorry, I’m still not convinced. She bends over backwards to be lyrically controversial because she knows that if she doesn’t, everyone will realize how utterly ordinary her songs really are. This one is no exception. Um, I mean, come on and download this killer remix of the summer’s best song by Hype Machine regulars Hyper Crush! Katy RULZ! \nn/
Apples in Stereo – Hey Elevator
I’m loving the ELO renaissance that’s sprouting among the indie poppers. First this, and the Silver Seas give them a nice name check (with matching string riff) in their song “What’s the Drawback.” Any fan of Jeff Lynne should check out the Apples’ new one, Travellers in Space and Time. ‘sGood.
Violens – Acid Reign
This is a tune I’ve wanted to share for a while, but only recently got the green light to do so. This is right in my alt-rock-dance wheelhouse, with a driving rhythm section and vaguely Manchester-ish sound. There’s a bit too much swearing (nothing will turn you into a prude faster than having children), but it’s a damn good track. Looking forward to the full-length album Amoral, due in October.
Trances Arc – Boom City
You mean there are white people in Atlanta making music, too? Can’t say I’m crazy about their band name, but I like the Airborne Toxic Event-style slow build-and-explode that the song possesses, and minus the melodrama, to boot.
Steel Train – Bullets
Gotta say, this band is carving out quite a unique niche for themselves. Scarlett Johannson has covered them. They have an undeniable reach-for-the-rafters grandeur to them. And then sometimes, they want to be MGMT. Not on this song (that would be “Turnpike Ghost”), but still, for a band with such an unrevealing name, they’re quite versatile.
Jukebox the Ghost – Empire
Good to see this band back after their impressive debut a couple years ago. This song, from their upcoming album Everything Under the Sun, is a bit more mannered than their debut, but it’s no less catchy. Think Ben Folds, back when he allowed himself to have fun.
Halsted – Walking Shoes
Their name matches a Chicago street I used to live near, so I was predetermined to like these guys before I heard them. But then when I discovered that they play smoothed out guitar pop, well, that’s when they had me.
Carl Broemel – Heaven Knows
Taking time from his day job in My Morning Jacket to do a solo record, Broemel gets downright rootsy, at least on this song. Haven’t heard the rest to know if it’s like this or MMJ.