AHHH, we’ve FINALLY come to the end of this little experiment of mine. I decided, after letting my inbox fill with music—WAY MORE MUSIC than I would ever have time to write about—I decided go through and highlight some of my favorites from the bunch. Ultimately, I came up with a list of 20 songs that made me feel some kinda way this past month—some by new artists … some by established artists … some by indie artists … some by major label artists. The one common denominator for me—THEY ARE ALL REALLY F**KING GOOD!
- Alan Walker
- Big Wild
- Chelsea Lankes
- King Deco
- Little Boots
- Alexandra Savior
- Bishop Briggs
And now for the fourth and final part …
- Charlotte Cardin
- KT Tunstall
- The Aces
- Maggie Rogers
Charlotte Cardin / Faufile
I have no problem when an artist experiments with different sounds and genres—especially an artist brimming with as much talent as Charlotte Cardin. I got to see Charlotte play her first ever show in New York City a couple of months ago at Joe’s Pub, and she absolutely blew me away. Throughout the evening, Charlotte dazzled and charmed the audience, both with her voice as well as her masterful skills as a pianist. She also proved to me that she could sing virtually anything—any style, any genre. Her new single, “Faufile” is out now (iTunes / Spotify). The song will appear on her forthcoming Big Boy EP, which is due July 15th via Cult Nation. Pre-order the 8-track collection here. Check out the gorgeous Sebastien Duguay-directed video for the new single, up-top and stream the song down below. Cardin will be playing a series of shows around Quebec and Canada this summer and autumn, as well as a show at Hotel Café in Los Angeles on September 22nd. Grab your tickets here.
KT Tunstall / Evil Eye
In addition to “Evil Eye,” the new EP—which was written in Los Angeles—features two additional new tracks, “All Or Nothing” and “The Healer.” There’s also an “Evil Eye” remix by UK alt rock outfit, Django Django. The Golden State EP (iTunes / Spotify) is the first bit of new music from KT Tunstall since 2013, and offers fans the first taste of her forthcoming 6th studio album, due in September. Fans who want to snag a physical copy of the new EP can head on over to Barnes & Noble, who are exclusively selling a CD version, complete with a bonus track, “Bad Dream.” KT and her band are currently on the road throughout the summer, playing various festivals and theaters with a full US & UK tour to come, so be sure to check her official website for dates and ticket info. Check out the self-directed video for “Evil Eye” above, and listen to the Django Django remix below.
The Aces / Stuck
The 2016 pop scene (and beyond) needs more young bands like The Aces—bands that are a bit less POP and a bit more ROCK. While, don’t get me wrong, I love a good girl group—I like, respect and appreciate the sound these girls are going for. So much of the pop music landscape today is saturated with electronic manipulation—whether its synthesizers, drum machines, heavy vocal effects, or some combination—it’s nice to see a new group emerge that can play instruments AND sing. Hey—don’t get me wrong! I fully realize that, 95% of the music I write about on here is electronic at its core, I’m just saying, it’s been a minute since I’ve heard something like The Aces and it’s really refreshing. In the dreamy, nostalgia-dipped “Stuck” video (which premiered last week on Idolator), we see clips of the girls rockin’ out in a misty haze, bathed in colored lights, intercut with scenes of a talented young dancer with a pixie cut dancing for her life. The video was directed by The band’s drummer, Alisa Ramirez and draws inspiration from a photo of her and her sister’s (lead singer, Cristal Ramirez) mother taken at a party in the 1970s. This inspiration comes to life in the video in one scene, where you see dancer (playing the role of their mother) looking in the mirror and seeing Cristal staring right back. Check out the video up top.
Maggie Rogers / Alaska
Earlier this month, I started seeing articles pop up on my timelines—something about Pharrell‘s face and his reaction to hearing a new song. Stubborn as I am, I ignored the hype. I have a weird thing where I don;t like listening to bootleg quality songs on YouTube, rather choosing to wait until they are actually released in HQ. However, as the days went on, I kept seeing this girl’s name—Maggie Rogers—popping up, articles talking about massive follower spikes across ALL of her socials. It was at this point that I realized something big was happening. Time to see what all the hype was about. Well folks—the hype is real, and so is Maggie Rogers’ potential. The song in question—”Alaska” is massive. Its genre…undefined. Its appeal…broad. Rogers, a self-identified “folk singer” who got into NYU by playing the banjo found herself inspired by electronic dance music while studying abroad in France. It was this time in Europe, coupled with some deep self-reflection that inspired a musical renaissance within her and lead her to fuse her two loves—folk music and dance music. If the results heard here on “Alaska” are any indication—Maggie Rogers is onto something.
While Rogers isn’t the first artist to combine folk with dance music (Ellie Goulding‘s vibe was once labeled “folktronica”) “Alaska” feels different. In an increasingly cluttered pop music landscape, Maggie Rogers‘ sound is refreshing. In a recent chat with Pitchfork, the young artists reveals that she wrote the song in 15 minutes, and co-produced it alongside Doug Schadt. “Alaska” starts out sounding, very much like a traditional folk song—a gentle, soothing drum beat, joined by a myriad of clicks and finger snaps. Even the song’s lyrics, which invoke all sorts of beautiful nature imagery—sounded folky; “I was walking through icy streams that took y breath away / Moving slowly through westward water over glacial plains.” Then, 1 minute in, right in the middle of the first chorus—”Alaska” subtly transforms into a glistening, synth-riddled pop masterpiece, Rogers’ breezy falsetto, floating along with the swift-moving, percussion-lead current of those westward waters.
While Rogers rushed to release the song (doing so independently), soon after the Pharrell video went viral, it doesn’t sound like she’s in a hurry to make any big, potentially life-changing decisions. Next up—prepping the “EP’s worth of songs” she has ready for release and hopefully shooting a video for her breakthrough single. Let’s get real for a minute—a co-sign from Pharrell is a BIG F**KING DEAL. Especially for an artist as new-to-the-scene as Maggie Rogers. I have to say, it’s refreshing to see her remain so humble and grounded in reality. Give “Alaska” a listen below. It’s also available for download and streaming (iTunes / Spotify).
Rozes / Hangin’ On
Like much of the world, I first discovered Philly-based alt pop singer/songwriter Rozes (AKA Elizabeth Mencel), thanks to a high-profile collaboration with NYC producer/DJ duo The Chainsmokers. The song, NOT coincidentally named “Roses” went on to become an international smash hit, going Top 10 here in the States (No. 6), Australia (No. 5), Canada (No. 6), Norway (No. 8) and Top 20 in Sweden (No. 13) and the UK (No. 16). Rozes has appeared with Andrew and Alex, performing her namesake on The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon, The Late Late Show with James Corden and at Coachella this past Spring. Now, as great as all this exposure has been for the indie pop starlet, I’m beyond excited that she’s taking some time to focus on her own music.
Following appearances at SXSW, a U.S. club tour with Atlantic recording artist Max Frost, not to mention a string of headlining dates of her own—Rozes is priming herself for that spotlight she so deserves. Earlier this year Rozes independently released her debut EP, Burn Wild (iTunes / Spotify), a fabulous 6-track collection filled with scintillating synthpop. Unfortunately, this release came in the midst of the tidal wave that was her hit collab, “Roses.” Now that those rose-scented waters have started to recede, releasing a solo summer SMASHER like new tune, “Hangin’ On” makes SO MUCH SENSE. Moving away from the “straight-up synthpop” of her debut, “Hangin’ On” explores more of a reggae-influenced sound; seamlessly bringing together those lush island vibes with a more traditional electronic pop soundscape. The song was produced by longtime collaborator, Ian Walsh alongside Patrick Mencel, giving us all a taste of who “ROZES” the solo artist is. “Hangin’ On” is out now (iTunes / Spotify). Give it a listen below.