Welcome to another sporadic edition of “Single Play!” This week, it’s a mix of familiar and not-so-familiar in terms of artists whose songs, though, will be mostly unfamiliar since they are fairly new. Okay, time to get on to the main event!
Tom Petty, “Somewhere Under Heaven”
I’m sure Tom Petty isn’t the only one who’s surprised that this song was left off of the 1994 album, Wildflowers. I’m glad he was able to go back and dust off old tunes like this and complete them (Why keep them locked up if they’re good, right?). But this isn’t just a one-off in terms of a previously forgotten track. Nope. Petty has a whole album of older material from that era that’ll be released as Wildflowers: All the Rest. While “Somewhere Under Heaven” doesn’t break much new ground lyrically, I absolutely love the guitar work that alternates between dreamy and poignant — with a more than a touch of psychedelia.
Astrid’s Tea Party, “Black Swan”
One may call this type of music bombastic, but if you’re Astrid’s Tea Party, the preferred term is “electroshock.” Don’t go running for your earplug just yet. “Black Swan” is a tasteful tune alternates between aggressive beats and more conventional pop hooks that finds the right balance between the two — in other words, electroshocking musical elements in a judicious manner. The lead singer (Astrid in Astrid’s Tea Party) describes “Black Swan” as a “what goes around comes around love song for the FOMO generation.” Well if you have anxiety over a fear of missing out, then perhaps “Black Swan” is your anthem. Have a listen and see.
Heart/Dancer, “Outro (Entry Code, Dial Tone)”
Sometimes in an effort to distinguish music from other genres, some bands make up the most ridiculous descriptors of their music. However, with Heart/Dancer the term “dream pop” completely nails what this Swedish duo’s music sounds like. “Outro (Entry Code, Dial Tone)” is not ethereal, atmospheric, or ambient. Rather, Linnéa Atieno and Joakim Buddee have created a dreamy, infectiously pop song whose hooks don’t clobber you — but they do work their way into your head in such a manner that you can imagine yourself driving out of Stockholm with nary a care in the world.
The Darkness, “Hammer and Tongs”
Oh thank the music gods The Darkness are back. If you want real bombast that evokes Queen, look no further than the Hawkins brothers. While the lead single (“Barbarian”) off their new album Last Of Our Kind was a return to form, “Hammer and Tongs” finds The Darkness wading into the rock and blues territory The Rolling Stones have made a career out of. It’s a good thing for a band to be more than a Johnny One-Note (not that singer Justin Hawkins can only sing one note), but I think you’ll agree that “Hammer and Tongs” is a welcome stylistic change for the band. Hearing them play in a less operatic way will either thrill their fans, or make them go “What the…” For me, it was the former. If I ever say “What the…” with The Darkness it’s more with amusement than derision.