This post is a little later than I intended, but I think everyone was sufficiently distracted by the beast that is SXSW and the roaring chaos that comes with. I already had a trip planned to Napa so have been fending off FOMO while deleting showcase alerts from my inbox and slobbering all over NPR’s South X Lullaby series (specifically Jealous of the Birds) – but all while poolside with a goblet of wine. I think I’ll be fine.
So because I have been collecting all during March, some of these might not be new news. But still worth sharing for those of us who were comfortably settled under rocks, or for the Northeasters, buried under 12” of snow.
Portland's Alexandra Savior dropped “Mirage” in late February and it is a swanky Kate Nash meets Lily Allen lovechild. With snarky hooks and aptly-placed F-words, it’s a calculated exercise in defiance ft. Savior's alter ego Anna-Marie Mirage AKA Nasty Woman (my words, not hers), who refuses to succumb to predisposed expectations. Savior's debut album Bella Donna drops worldwide April 7, so if you like what you hear, keep her on your radar.
Brother-sister duo Family Friends takes us back with some 90s-inspired beach rock, that for them is pretty soft. “New” has a Weezer-esque intro, grungy guitar licks and a melody that reminds me of Sheryl Crow’s rebellious phase, if she ever had a rebellious phase. With an album cover that is a Furby face, we’re feeling that rush of nostalgia elicited only by a synthetic electric toy craze.
Newcastle’s Jake Houlsby graces us with “Howl” and it’s everything I want in a despairing folk track, with hums weaving between the verses like wind around trees and a shamanic guitar guiding the vocals to the precipice of peace. Annabel Allum's “Rich Backgrounds” is another retro-rock track from a fierce female. The verses are full of grinding electric guitar and vase-breaking percussion, and Allum says this was the easiest song on the EP for her to write. “It started out as an alcohol-induced jam, it was kind of sarcastic but then I started to find a lot of enjoyment out of playing it. It’s not necessarily ragging on rich people, but more rich attitude.”
If you've perused the Hypem charts, you might have heard of Freedom Fry – the husband/wife duo comprised of Michigan-native Bruce Driscoll and Parisian Marie Seyrat. Their track “Napoleon” is the b-side to their last single, “Junkie” and is about conquering fears with a nod to Seyrat's French roots. Her voice is casually caustic, with commanding lyrics leading a willful and pure melody into uncharted territory. Even more recently, they released their twist on the Tom Petty classic "Mary Jane's Last Dance" which is streamable on their SoundCloud page & website.
I included Allan Rayman again because if you know me, you know I've been singing his praises to anyone who will listen. I went to his record release party a few weeks ago for Roadhouse 01 (released on February 24) and I included my favorite track "13" from this album as it adequately showcases his signature artistry i.e., resonating rasp, shrewd lyrics, and sauntering melodies.
And to touch on two more briefly: I was sent BJ Wilbanks “I Can’t Help It” and it has Matthew E. White soul-rock verve with brassy angles giving shape to the malleable melodic curves. Wild Rivers' “Do Right” mentions Death Cab in the first sentence, so truth be told, at that point I was sold. As if I needed reassurance, it re-ensnares me with old-school country vibes, specifically calling to mind Mary Chapin Carpenter's “I Take My Chances.”
I’ll end on that very obscure 1992 reference. But will also take my chances slash hope that someone somewhere knows that song. Help keep me in 2017 by tagging me in your new or niche #IndieSkim favorites for inclusion in the round-up.
Now back to my regularly scheduled catching up of what I missed in Austin.