Nada Surf • You Know Who You Are (March 4)
I was this close to writing up Nada Surf’s thundering debut, High/Low, as one of the best albums in the greatest year ever for alternative rock, 1995, when I discovered the damn thing came out in 1996. Well, to celebrate the 20th anniversary of that classic, the band is back with their eighth proper album, You Know Who You Are (Barsuk). For a band that’s been on hiatus since 2012’s The Stars Are Indifferent to Astronomy, they’ve been far from silent. Get There, from Matthew Caws’ Minor Alps partnership with Juliana Hatfield was one of our favorite albums of 2013 (#3). The following year, Barsuk released B-Sides, a digital compilation of Nada Surf’s bonus tracks and other international rarities, that easily stands alongside their best work. On top of that, a concert LP: Live at the Neptune Theater.
The new album marks the band’s first official outing as a quartet, with Caws, bassist Daniel Lorca and drummer Ira Elliot being joined by Doug Gillard on second guitar. In my last column, 21 Things We Learned From Adele’s 25, I wondered where in the world Semisonic’s Dan Wilson has been hiding. Well, here’s your answer. A casual writing session in LA between Wilson and Caws resulted in two new tracks for the album, ‘Rushing’ and ‘Victory’s Yours’. The band promises this album marries the full throttle attack that made their debut and The Proximity Effect so enthralling with the laid back harmonics that cemented them as indie darlings ever since.
Angela Perley & The Howlin’ Moons • Homemade Vision (January 22, 2016)
2014’s Hey Kid sailed to the upper rungs of my Best Albums of 2014 list and remains one of my most beloved albums of the decade (‘Athens‘ from that LP still stops me cold in my boots whenever it comes on). Needless to say, I just about jumped out of my seat the moment Magnet magazine debuted ‘Green Eyes’, the first single from their new album, Homemade Vision. Listen to it here and download it FREE for a limited time.
We’ve just started spinning the new disc. Producer Michael Landolt captures every aspect of their sonic lightning with an expansive mix. Homemade Vision could have easily landed on our Best of 2015 list, but alas, we’ll have to wait until this time next year for those kudos. Until then, get yerself psyched with this delicious ditty, ‘White Doves’:
If you’re on the dark side of the Moons right now, you have plenty of time to catch up. Perley, Chris Connor (lead guitar), Billy Zehnal (bass) and a stable of drummers who dive in for their legendary live shows deliver a wicked cocktail of Americana, roots rock, ball busters and heartbreakers, cinematic in scope (perfect for a Tarantino or David Lynch soundtrack) and ready for arenas — so catch the club shows while you can. Here’s another preview:
M.I.A. • Matahdatah (Release Date TBD)
After that whole hipster-cred killing appearance with Madonna at the Super Bowl, M.I.A. is back full force with a video project, “Matahdatah Scroll 01 ‘Broader Than A Border'”, that will lead up to the release of her latest Interscope album sometime who the hell knows when. Read more on the project over at Rolling Stone.
When it comes to apparent Matahdatah single, ”Borders’, the cinematography is so astounding, the subjects are so captivating, the message is fucking important for our society to figure the hell out that it’s almost completely irrelevant that it’s also a brilliant pop song. When she’s in the zone, M.I.A. produces some of the most urgent, original and spellbinding music of this young century. When she’s in too deep, she can be a bit much. ‘Borders’ returns M.I.A. to the early ear candy of Arular (2005) and Kala (2007).
While it will be nice to have a new disc by end of 2016, keep your eyes peeled for more videos as she globe-trots this ever warming rock to open our eyes, minds and ears to her message and music.
Scary Little Friends • Silent Revolution EP (January 29, 2016) — POPDOSE WORLD PREMIERE
What better way to segue from the intensity of M.I.A. to the dreamy beauty of Lissie (below) than by an ear smack of buoyant power pop courtesy of the Bay Area’s Scary Little Friends. Imagine Matt Bellamy of Muse fronting Cheap Trick and I think that lands you remotely close to their sound. We have yet to hear the EP, but the single is a pure delight so we jumped at the chance to bring it to you first.
“The internet is the modern battlefield. It is inevitable that that world comes crashing down upon us,” says band leader Chris Jones, “Perhaps there is hope in the aftermath. Perhaps we will be born anew into a world without technology.”
Wait. I thought this was a harmless pop song? It has a message? He goes on…
“The song is about our addiction to cell phones and how we are turning away from our family and friends to be a part of this ‘silent revolution,’” Jones explains. “The irony is that the silent revolution is, like many revolutions, only pulling us further into a dystopian reality and bringing us further out of touch with ourselves. It’s making us less human.”
Well, considering the zombie like way most of us (I am so guilty of this) are glued to our smart phones and tuning out the people in the same room, I’m down with where he’s going. If the melodies and messages on the EP’s other six songs are as tight as this one, Scary Little Friends should be one of the top bands to emerge nationwide in 2016.
Lissie • My Wild West (February 12, 2016)
Lissie and I ran in the same circles (but never met) back in my Los Angeles days. I saw her captivating live show at clubs around the city and was thrilled to see her break out on the international stage. Prior to leaving LA for the farm life in Iowa, she recorded her third album, My Wild West, with producer Curt Schneider in his Studio City, California home. The album promises to be another melodic stunner and fans will surely follow her music no matter where she calls home.
“California and the West Coast weren’t problematic and I certainly didn’t struggle,” she said at the album launch. “Like any life phase, they had their ups & downs, beautiful and challenging moments. Rather, I felt empowered that I could leave and get out, take off, demand a new adventure from life! (‘Don’t You Give Up On Me’) is a plea to God or to a person or to whomever to hang in there with me while I figure it out!