For those living in the U.S. we’re going into the Labor Day weekend where it’s supposed to be about honoring workers who do all the heavy lifting to keep capitalism afloat. However, this long weekend is more about getting out of town, eating, drinking, and stumbling back into work on Tuesday complaining that you’re wiped out. Wait. All that stuff also keeps capitalism afloat. Okay then, why not add to your library some new songs that’ll keep the long weekend more interesting because suddenly the people you’re hanging out with will turn to you (if you’re the designated DJ) and say, “Hey, I like this. What’s the name of that band?”
Nova Heart, “We Are Golden”
Nova Heart is one of those bands who do not sound like where they are from. The Beijing trio channels decidedly Eurocentric electronic vibes on “We Are Golden,” and do so in a masterful way. Helen Feng leads the group with a sometimes deep, resonant voice that captures a propulsive and angular sound she, Bo Xuan (bass), and Shi Lu (drums) lay down in a hypnotic groove. I dug this track from the first time I played it. If their upcoming self-titled album that comes out on October 2nd is as strong as this single, I think we’ll be hearing a lot more from Nova Heart in the U.S. and beyond.
-We-Are-Z- have a grinding and slightly funky bass line going on in “Knucklehead” that it really drives the song in such a great way. This London based band describe themselves as “…thrilling new purveyors of quirkily rhythmic indie-pop with an askew lyrical slant. They sing songs about plastic surgery, drug ODs and auto-destruction.” Okay, not quite the sunny and upbeat lot you’d have ’round to mum’s house for Sunday lunch, but they do rock both hard and melodic. That’s because Marc “Archie” Arciero (bass) and Gabriel Cazes (on drums, vocals, guitar and keyboard) really lay down a thick and meaty groove that makes “Knucklehead” quite the boot-stomper.
The Wooden Sky, “Maybe It’s No Secret”
Alternative Rock is such broad term that it becomes a bit of a challenge when trying to describe a band like The Wooden Sky within the scope of the genre. To me, this Toronto-based group are a rock band with an expansive sound, a dedication to melody, and a solid understanding of what makes for a good song. I’m not sure what’s “alternative” about that, but okay, if that’s how they want to categorize themselves, then so be it. What I do love about “Maybe It’s No Secret” is the rootsy foundation of Gavin Gardiner’s vocals have a little twang that recalls shades of R.E.M. That’s not to say that Gardiner sounds like Michael Stipe (he doesn’t), but there’s a brightness to their flavor of rock that shines a lot like R.E.M. did back in the day.
Skinny Lister, “Trouble on Oxford Street”
Somewhere in the universe, Joe Strummer is smiling. If “Trouble on Oxford Street” emanates outward toward some cosmic connection to the dearly departed ex-Clash member, he’d be happy to hear that a sound he was very much part of popularizing is still around. Skinny Lister certainly have a Clash thing going on with this song, but not so much that it’s a direct rip-off of The Clash. It’s catchy like many Clash songs are, but it there’s also a dash of Flogging Molly as well that veers off into a slightly folksy territory. Call Skinny Lister the scion of these bands if you want, but they have created a one of the most upbeat songs about getting your teeth knocked out in a long time.