In this latest batch of “Brilliant Pop Bits You Might Have Missed,” you really get a mishmash of sounds and styles, so sorry if you were hoping for some genre consistency… ¯_(ツ)_/¯
Today, we’ve got three fresh-faced, pseudo new-to-the-scene female pop artists, each of them generating substantial online buzz. We have the return of an alt rock legend (if you can call him that), 12 (soon-to-be 13) records deep into his career and seemingly about to return to THE sound that first made me fall in love with him 20 years ago. We also see the musical reemergence of a British indie pop band with a sexy frontman, 4 years after the massive worldwide success of their debut record.
I don’t know about you, but I’m ready to dive in here! Check out new tunes from (in order of appearance below, not mentions above) Alexandra Savior, Bastille, Beck and Bishop Briggs and CAPPA.
Alexandra Savior / Shades
Alexandra Savior isn’t a name you know yet, but it’s a name you WILL know soon. It’s DEFINITELY a name you’ll want to know, that’s for sure. The 21-year Portland, Oregon native unveiled her debut single, “Shades” June 17 via Columbia Records (iTunes / Spotify) following a worldwide première on Zane Lowe‘s Beats1 radio show. “Shades” is a rollicking little retro stomper, steeped in nostalgia. Genre-wise, it’s hard to pin down—but maybe that’s a good thing? Savior’s tone is distinctive and memorable. Reminiscent of a voice you might hear in one of those lounges— you know, one of those dark, smokey lounges of yesteryear. The kind of place where you might find a retired mob boss, sitting in a plush red velvet booth, puffing away on a cigar and sipping a scotch. Smooth, sultry and ever so haunting, with just a little jaggedness around the edges. After listening to “Shades” once, that’s it—you’re mesmerized, hypnotized and completely smitten. Alexandra Savior is about to leave the world spell-bound.
While “Shades” is technically the first music Alexandra Savior has put out into the world in an official capacity, if you’re thinking that voice sounds familiar, you’d be right. Last summer, a demo of a song she did with Arctic Monkey‘s front-man, Alex Turner called “Risk” was featured on True Detective Season 2. A few months later, Savior was featured on a Cam Avery (Tame Impala, Ponds) ballad called “We’re Just Making It Worse.” Cut to Turner & Savior SEEMINGLY working together on the entirety of her forthcoming debut. Pretty exciting, especially if you get a chance to hear her do the songs live. She’s a vocal powerhouse. “Shades” was produced by Turner, alongside James Ford (Florence and The Machine, Haim) and makes for a lovely introduction to this bright and promising new star.
Bastille / Good Grief
While a release date has yet to be announced, Bastille is talking about the album. In a recent interview with DIY Mag, the boys talk about the making of the record, and it sounds they created A LOT of songs before ultimately settling on the final tracklist—TWO or THREE album’s worth of songs, in fact. According to Dan, “We were exploring much darker R&B, much heavier guitar stuff and soon we did this roundabout route back to what we initially loved about Bastille.” Part of me would really like to hear this “darker R&B” sound, because I think Dan’s voice is INSANE and I’d love to hear him stretch his instrument—STILL—”Good Grief” really does feel like a quintessential Bastille record, so no complaints here. PLUS, the band is good at releasing one-offs here and there, whether in the form of a random single or a mixtape. Perhaps we’ll hear these castoffs down the road. Be sure you check out the completely WACK (and AWESOME), just-released video for “Good Grief” up top, directed by NSYU (Wild Beasts, New Order). Now, it’s been a minute since Bastille last played the festival circuit, but their about to start that up again. Having just played this year’s Glastonbury, the boys will head to Chicago in July for Lollapalooza (DEFINITELY a show I plan to see). The band will also play Colorado’s Red Rocks amphitheater in October. Keep an eye on their official site for a tour dates and ticket info. In the mean time, check out this special intimate performance of “Good Grief” from Glastonbury.
BECK / WOW
Beck has been making music for over two decades! That’s INSANE to me, especially because, in all of those years, there’s only one album—one album out of TWELVE that, to this day, I can legitimately say I love. 1996 … Odelay. BOOM. I’m pretty sure that (and I’m about to date myself heavily here) Odelay was one of the first CDs I ever bought. There was something so iconic about that album’s sound and production style (much of it, thanks to The Dust Brothers). It was decidedly alternative rock (my go-to sound in high school) but with loads of hip-hop flare—bolstered by Beck‘s forcefully poetic, often-biting lyrical style. It was like nothing I had really ever heard before. This is why I think I’m gravitating towards Beck‘s new single, “WOW,” out now via Capitol Records (iTunes / Spotify). The song is very reminiscent of that, now iconic Odelay sound—alternative rock, meshed with elements of hip-hop, and electronic. I like how Stereogum addressed the similarities; “Beck has somehow come up with a 2016 version of the bemused surrealist funk of Odelay.” YES — it’s Odelay, but tweaked and modernized ever so slightly. With that album just having celebrated 20 years on June 18th, having “WOW” return to and celebrate that sound seems very fitting. It also shows me that, Beck was very much ahead of his time back in 1996. Playing Odelay today, it sounds fresh as the day it came out.
It’s been more than a year since Beck released a single—the last one being “Dreams” in 2015. His last album, Morning Phase came out in 2014. “WOW,” produced by Greg Kurstin (Sia, Tegan and Sara) is expected to be on the 45 year-old singer/songwriter’s upcoming as-yet-untitled 13th studio album, due October 21st via Capitol Records. Give “WOW” a listen below.
Bishop Briggs / The Way I Do
Admittedly, I stumbled onto Bishop Briggs a little late—relatively speaking, of course—but in the music blogging world, “late” can mean only by a few days. Anyway, I’m here now and I’m here to stay, ESPECIALLY after seeing her live last week in Brooklyn. HOLY GOD, can this girl sing. The London-born Los Angeles based singer/songwriter broke through the clutter, thanks to her dark & gritty soultronic smash, “River,” which I first discovered after it appeared on one of those “personalized” Discovery Weekly playlists on Spotify. I instantly connected the song, impressed with the power and intensity of Briggs’ vocal performance. A month later, the song was prominently featured on Spotify’s New Music Friday playlist and it was clear the powers that be were positioning her for big things.
While very much an extension—musically speaking of her previous releases, new single, “The Way I Do” feels bigger to me—like a sweeping alt-pop epic. The build up between the pre-chorus (“You will never know this touch / Will never know this shame / Will never know the way I want you to”) and the CHORUS (“You will never know my love / You will never feel the way I do”) is I-N-T-E-N-S-E. Mark Jackson and Ian Brendan Scott‘s sepulchral production complements the intensity and strength heard in Briggs’ voice, working together to paint a gloomy, yet aurally appealing soundscape. My favorite part might actually be the background vocals, which at times, sound like an old church organ, thanks I’m guessing, to some strategically placed vocal effects. Listen to the darkly hypnotic “The Way I Do” below and catch Bishop Briggs on the road, first this summer opening for Coldplay, then this fall opening for Kaleo.
CAPPA / I’m Good
Check out the Chancellor Warhol-directed clip for “I’m Good” (apparently his directorial debut??) up top. The song is available now to download and stream (iTunes / Spotify). Oh, and if you’re craving new tuneage from CAPPA, doesn’t look like we have that long to wait!
new song. one week. dare you to try and fill in the blanks. pic.twitter.com/ppH2gYnFZI