I’ve been absent from my “Single Play” column for quite awhile, but that doesn’t mean I’ve completely abandoned my post as a good solider of music curation. This week, it’s a bit of straight ahead rock, some trippy dream pop, and a smashing together of styles with a dash of rock and splash of dance music. Finally, a return to ’80s metal glory for some veteran rockers
And we start with…
Mona, “In The Middle”(Listen)
When you’re an American rock band from Ohio and you relocate to Nashville, where do you think you’ll find your initial success? If you guessed England, you’re right. Such is the case with Mona, who have had pretty a-ok luck hitting with UK music lovers. But they’ve also gotten some traction in the states in 2012 with TV appearances on The Tonight Show and Conan giving them a boost. They just signed with Bright Antenna Records in Mill Valley, CA and have released “In The Middle.” The tune is a slow cooker of a song that really rocks in a “four on the floor” way. If this song can get some airplay on Alternative Rock or Triple A stations in the U.S., the band may be poised for great things in the near future.
Beauty Sleep, “Living Right”
Sometimes hashtags really do sum up the sound of a band. Case in point, Beauty Sleep’s #DreamPop as evidenced in “Living Right.” This Irish group’s second single is full of wonderfully harmonized vocals from Cheylene Murphy and Aimee Williamson. There’s a hint of Cocteau Twins lurking the trio’s etherial sound — with Ryan McGroarty adding more than a hand in creating the group’s soundscape. I’ve given this song about a week’s worth of spins, and it gets better and better with each listen. The hooks certainly hit you right away, but the more time you spend with this gem (preferably with some good headphone) the more you’ll hear some solid songwriting and good production where music is allowed to breathe.
Green Day, “Bang Bang”
You gotta hand it to Green Day. Keeping that punk pop flame alive in 2016 ain’t easy when that style of music isn’t exactly tearing up the charts. It’s been 12 years since American Idiot rocketed to the top, and now the band is set to release Revolution Radio, a record that’s aimed at addressing the chaos that abounds in this rather volatile year. “Bang Bang” has those magical three chord power riffs ripped right out Punk Music 101, but lyrically Billie Joe Armstrong has crafted a powerful look at gun violence, narcissism, and social media in a way that’s not heavy-handed or preachy.
Saint Motel, “Move”
Los Angeles based Saint Motel is back with a strong single off their upcoming release, saintmotelevision. “Move” has plenty of pop power from the opening to the catchy chorus. Fronted by A/J Jackson, the band includes Aaron Sharp on lead guitar, Dak Lerdamornpong “slappin’ the bass” and Greg Erwin keeping time on the drums. There’s plenty of groove to dance to on “Move” and it’ll undoubtedly find its way up the alternative charts with its hybrid of rock and dance music coming together in a most satisfying way.
This is one band I’ve had a difficult time embracing. Sure, Metallica can rock, and they are from the Bay Area — so that’s two great thing going for them. But maybe it’s when I saw their 2004 documentary “Some Kind of Monster” when things turned sour. Maybe it was their collaboration with Lou Reed. I just can’t quite put my finger on it. Putting my feeling aside for the group, I think “Hardwired” is a really great song. The music recalls ’80s speed metal in a non-ironic way. The lyrics, while not all that impressive, do the job of expressing rage and frustration with, well, the state of the world. While that’s often been a go to topic for songwriters, I think James Hetfield sums it up with the chorus. The bands says the double album is going to be a diverse collection of songs. If “Hardwired” is but one style among many, it looks like Metallica is going to take fans on an interesting journey when the record comes out in November.