California is a single taken off of Delta Spirit’s self-titled 2012 album. The San Diego indie rockers incorporate a mix of spacey, echo-laden guitar and vocal harmonies and moderate drum and synth tempos. Although this song’s sound is what we’ve come to expect from the indie rock genre, Delta Spirit have taken the sound to heart, crafting delicate melodies and hooks; demonstrating their artistic flair. The vocal harmonies in particular fill out the song, making it immersive while retaining a degree of lightness. An easy-going, lazy day kind of song.
You Put The Flame On It is the latest single off of Charles Bradley’s new album Victim of Love. Bradley, well into his 60’s, delivers a good old fashioned soul performance with his cathartic singing style and use of non-word utterances. The New York based singer demonstrates his vocal control, maintaining a smokey tone without cracking his voice. The track itself is a moderate tempo ballad featuring exquisite musicianship, especially the backing vocals and walking bassline. Given that this is Bradley’s second album, it is clear that he is a late bloomer. Despite this, Bradley’s retro soul style does the genre justice, exposing its mid-60’s Stax roots in a way that breathes new life into a genre long since passed.
Sweet Sour is the second single off of the Band of Skulls’ album of the same name. The album, which was released in February 2012, continues the band’s repertoire of no-frills, no-nonsense rock; cementing their steadily growing profile in contemporary rock culture. This is indicated both by their stints as a support for Muse and the Red Hot Chili Peppers as well as headlining their own international tours. Building on the gaining momentum of the rock renaissance ushered in by other acts such as the Black Keys, Jack White, and The Strokes; Band of Skulls demonstrate that they have what it takes to be held in the same esteem as these names. This track is a great indicator of the Southampton UK trio’s sound: polished enough to be radio-friendly, but raw enough to retain it’s human element. With it’s thudding bass line and trill-laden, weepy guitar, Sweet Sour starts off as a sinister spark and builds to a bonfire; kicking out the chucks and letting the music reach its full ferocity. The interplay between vocalists Russell Marsden and Emma Richardson adds a unique flavour to the lyrics, adding to the uniqueness I’ve come to expect from Band of Skulls. This is a rock group that is sure to make some waves.
Space Between comes to us from Toronto based singer-songwriter Samara York. This slow tempo ballad demonstrates York’s original songwriting, and is assisted by the professionalism demonstrated by her accompanying band. The atmosphere here is a drawn out anger, delivered in a gentle, lower energy manner that gives credence to the themes of the song. The lyrics themselves are introspective and give the listener the impression that they are derived from real lived experiences; a testament to York’s writing capability. The vocals themselves are powerful, and this song in particular demonstrates York’s excellent control over her vocal range. This up-and-comer has an album coming out online soon, and if it is as polished as even this live performance, it will be well worth a listen.
Biblical comes to us off of Biffy Clyro’s newest album, Opposites. Having recently finished a stint as the opening act for Muse on their 2013 North American tour and started a European tour of their own, this power trio from Kilmarnock, Scotland is clearly a growing rock staple in the UK and Europe. This popularity in Europe is well deserved given the unique songwriting style of singer/guitarist Simon Neil, which incorporates off time guitar riffs and unexpected breaks in the music; all of which make Biffy Clyro stand out as a rock group. Although Opposites is a bit of a departure from Biffy Clyro’s earlier work in that it incorporates more traditional sounding rock chord progressions and riffs, there is no shortage of musical and lyrical integrity. Biblical is definitely one of the album’s more radio-friendly songs, but don’t let that fool you. The song’s lyrical content is quite intelligent and introspective. The music itself makes excellent use of juxtaposed high octave keyboard, powerful drumming, and hard rock guitar tones, which creates a powerful background for the vocals. Biffy Clyro have clearly put a tremendous amount of energy into this song, and this album, and it comes across in the music.
Miracle Mile is the latest single from the Los Angeles based Indie-rock group Cold War Kids. With a piano intro that reveals the song’s chord progression, Miracle mile starts with an energetic bang and maintains the positive energy for the duration of the song. With more assertive drumming and the presence of more electric guitar than we’re used to hearing from the group, it is clear that Cold War Kids are expanding beyond their comfort zone a little, and it pays off nicely in this track. The energetic vocal stylings of Nathan Willett are given that much more power by the quarter-note opening drum pattern, and the Springsteen-esque pre-bridge demonstrates the band’s song writing chops. With an excellent mix of ambient and assertive sounds, Miracle Mile is the perfect pump-up song, and is sure to leave you feeling refreshed.
Taken from their critically acclaimed album Celebration Rock that came out this time last year, Fire’s Highway is an excellent example of what Japandroids are capable of. Namely, an incredible amount of energy provided by a deceptively simple, punchy guitar and drums sound. Having released two full length studio albums, this duo from Vancouver, Canada demonstrate yet again that they have no shortage of creative energy or artistic enthusiasm. This song evokes imagery best associated with reckless teenage years,driven largely by the heavily distorted guitar. Although on the surface, this song appears to be nothing more than simple pop-punk, closer listening demonstrates the intricacies of Brian King`s guitar work, with subtle, and effective, changes in strumming style that accentuate the lyrical content. Japandroids are one of the most original acts to come out of Canada in the last little while, I look forward to their future offerings.