This month's top 20 playlist kicks off summer bright and sunny with a number of upbeat dance tracks. When not giving enigmatic TED talks, Alan Palomo, aka Neon Indian, found time to release a new single, 'Annie', which is full of his familiar bubbly beats. I've had a soft spot for Neon Indian ever since I took a little trip at Virgin Mobile Free Fest and somehow ended up in the front room of his set in The Dance Forest. Twenty years after her debut, pop icon Robyn has launched a new project called La Bagatelle Magique, and their first release is 'Love Is Free', which harkens back to the golden Jock Jams days of the 90s while still maintaining a certain je-ne-sais-quoi edge. Then there's fresh-faced newcomers, Superwalkers, a Swedish duo with almost googlable history. Check 'em out now before Ed Banger Records scoops up their sweet euro, nu disco sounds and blows them up.
Over in Australia two electro darlings seem to have some decidedly new sounds brewing. Chet Faker's new single 'Bend' is dark, sparse and surprisingly lyric-driven. Between flawless production and bluesy vocals, Chet Faker is well on his way to cementing himself in the hallowed halls of producer fame. Even more surprising is 'Some Minds', a haunting shifting song from Flume with vocals by Andrew Wyatt. In a major departure from his self-titled debut in 2012, this is not a song you can dance to.
But don't despair, it's still summer. Tep No bring on the beach vibes with 'Pacing', a head bobbing tune almost made for drinking pina coladas to, with the perfect tickle of guitar riffs. Then former Craft Spells' drummer, Peter Michel, tries on some new musical hats as Hibou, a project that does an excellent job of channeling all my favorite things about Real Estate and DIIV. It's very promising, and we should all keep an eye out for a full-length from Barsuk Records this fall.
Irish, teenage songstress SOAK is back with her heartrending vocals and deeply pensive lyrics on a full-length, Before We Forgot How To Dream, which is chock full o' perfectly wonderful songs, though I picked 'Reckless Behaviour' to showcase. Beirut has been making music for almost a decade now, but they've still got it. I just can't get enough of their signature horns on 'No No No'. So brassy. So good. It pairs well with the weirdly worldly 'Margarita' by Mas Ysa, a musician that musicians love who is emerging from hiding in Woodstock to release an album.
Then we make some room for some more ladies, 'cause they're pretty darn awesome. Hailing from Los Angles, meet Miya Folick, who writes songs with brilliant train-of-thought lyrics and dreamy tones. It seems that she's represented by the Danger Village music collective, so this is another newcomer to watch. Next, soulful Lianne La Havas is back with 'What You Don't Do', and her voice is more powerful than ever. Seriously, she reminds me of a young Aretha Franklin. And, Wolf Alice has jumped across the pond to give us My Love Is Cool with the finely layered 'Bros'.
Plus, Matt Pond PA is back! Let us rejoice! The new album in the prodigious discography is The State of Gold, and it sounds a lot more ambitious. This is album is more uplifting and filled with big, crescendos of sound. It's almost dancey, which may alarm purists. Thankfully I doubt too many of those follow this blog. Which is good, because they probably wouldn't like Iron And Wine covering the Talking Heads. This is a cover of a perfect song that is somehow more perfect. Blasphemy! Fie. Ben Bridwell from Band of Horses lends the sweetest slide guitar touches. I'm so head over heals for this cover, which is something I almost never say. And, everyone's already talking about Wildheart, the new album from Miguel, so I'll just leave 'leaves' right here.
Blaring into mass attention are the L.A. post punkers FIDLAR, who in good punk fashion give approximately zero fucks. Someone give these kids a forty already. They're poised to blow up. (Wikipedia just told me that the brothers Kuehn are the sons of the keyboardist for T.S.O.L.--punk isn't dead--it just had babies--that are now in bands? WTF.) On the folkier side of punk, The Front Bottoms have released a super fantastic new split that proves they're really maturing into a force to be reckoned with. The harmonies on 'Cough It Out' practically beg to be singed along to. If this is making you feel old, you'll appreciate 'Girls' from Widowspeak, which takes a tired tone while languishing from youth envy.
We finish with a little country cherry on top from Kacey Musgraves. Don't let looks deceive you. This little lady ain't cut from top 40 CMT cloth. She has more in common with June Carter Cash than Carrier Underwood. Her new album Pageant Material is contemporary visit to country music's golden era, and refreshingly sparce.