Sir Sly- “You Haunt Me”

I don’t always listen to breezy, lighthearted indiepop, but when I do, it usually sounds something like this latest song by the up and coming Los Angeles trio Sir Sly, who first caught my attention this spring with their cover of Drake’s “Marvin’s Room.” On their new track, “You Haunt Me,” the bright, wistful arrangements and shiny vocals belie the melancholy tinged lyrics, creating a beautiful, uplifting backdrop to a song that speaks of loss.

Stream “You Haunt Me,” the title track on their upcoming album below, and if you like what you hear, pre-order the album before its September 29 release date.

The American Scene- “4th and Broadway”

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After unveiling one of the best tracks of the summer last week, The American Scene have just debuted the second single from their upcoming album, Haze (out September 9 via Pure Noise Records). “4th and Broadway” follows in a similarly upbeat indie rock vein as the first single, “Royal Blue,” but it takes the upbeat, dancy vibe a step further. This is infectious, indie rock ear candy at its finest, and it calls to mind the likes of Bombay Bicycle Club, Tokyo Police Club, and Two Door Cinema Club (And I swear I didn’t realize until I finished typing that sentence that all three of those bands end with the word “club”).

I’m excited to hear “Haze” in its entirety. From what we’ve heard so far, it is shaping up to be an excellent album, and also quite different in sound than its predecessor, Safe For Now. I have a feeling that this stylistic shift will win the band many accolades and a much broader fan base.

You can stream “4th and Broadway” here, via Angelica Nicolle

Sufjan Stevens- “A Little Lost” (Arthur Russell cover)

Sufjan Stevens all but abandoned his signature lavishly adorned indie folk style and made a bold foray into landscape of dark, glitchy, electronic music for his last proper (non-Christmas music) album, 2010’s “The Age of Adz.” Since then, he teamed up with rapper Serengeti and producer Son Lux earlier this year to create the hip hop/electronic/indie fusion project “Sisyphus,” and now he has resurfaced with a cover of Arthur Russell’s “A Little Lost.”

This cover would have fit right in on Sisyphus’ debut; it’s stylistically in line with the tracks on that album that showcase his vocals, but with an added sense of grandeur and jubilation that recalls his early albums, “Michigan” and “Illinoise.”

Stream the song below and read more about The Red Hot + Arthur Russell “Master Mix” compilation that will feature Sufjan and more than 20 other artists.

City and Colour- “Suffer The Children” (Tears For Fears cover)

Dallas Green (a.k.a. City and Colour) has covered everything from his own former post-hardcore band Alexisonfire’s “Boiled Frogs” to Madonna’s “Love Don’t Live Here Anymore,” and he’s always managed to infuse his covers with an authentic sense of sincerity and yearning that make for a powerful re-interpretation of the original work. His latest cover is a piano based version of an 80’s synth pop song, Tears For Fears’ “Suffer The Children.” If you’re at all familiar with the original song, this seems like an especially odd choice for Green, but of course he pulls it off masterfully. The bare bones instrumentation highlights the resonance and beauty of his vocals and harmonies, which manage to convey a glimmer of hope and upliftment in an otherwise sorrowful landscape.

Stream it here and be sure to also check out his “Covers” EPs if you like what you hear.

Turnover- “Disintegration”

Turnover went through a pretty remarkable transition between their 2011 self-titled EP and their full length follow-up, Magnolia, which was one of my favorite albums of 2013. So it will be interesting to hear what other shifts in sound and style this band has in store for us with their upcoming EP, Blue Dream, which comes out on August 26.

The EP’s first single, “Disintegration,” begins with a simple, minimalist kind of sound, stripped down to gentle guitar arpeggios and subdued vocals that enhance the song’s especially reflective, introspective lyrics. Then, a little beyond the halfway mark, the emotional floodgates open as the chill guitars and somber vocal style abruptly give way to a beautifully noisy, turbulent crescendo that pretty much leaves me speechless every time I listen to it.

If you’re a fan of Balance and Composure or Brand New (especially their 2006 magnum opus The Devil And God Are Raging Inside Me), you’ll most likely love “Disintegration.” Stream it below, courtesy of Brooklyn Vegan, pre-order their EP here, and fall in love with this extremely talented, ever-evolving, genre defying band.

The band will also be touring with Light Years and Malfunction this fall. Tour dates are listed below.

http://www.brooklynvegan.com/archives/2014/07/turnover_releas.html

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Turnover — 2014 Tour Dates

SEP 17 – Virginia Beach, VA @ Shaka’s w/ Light Years, Malfunction
SEP 18 – Baltimore, MD @ Metro Gallery w/ Light Years, Malfunction
SEP 19 – Long Island, NY @ Amityville Music Hall w/ Light Years, Malfunction
SEP 20 – Howell, NJ @ Gamechanger World w/ Light Years, Malfunction
SEP 21 – Philadelphia, PA @ The Barbary w/ Light Years, Malfunction
SEP 23 – Holyoke, MA @ The Waterfront Tavern w/ Light Years, Malfunction
SEP 24 – Poughkeepsie, NY @ Pizza Shop w/ Light Years, Malfunction
SEP 25 – New York, NY @ The Studio at Webster Hall w/ Light Years, Malfunction
SEP 26 – Ottawa, ON @ Pressed w/ Light Years, Malfunction
SEP 27 – Toronto, ON @ Hard Luck Bar w/ Light Years, Malfunction
SEP 28 – Buffalo, NY @ Waiting Room w/ Light Years, Malfunction
SEP 30 – Cincinatti, OH @ Legends w/ Light Years, Malfunction
OCT 01 – Lansing, MI @ Macs Bar w/ Light Years, Malfunction
OCT 02 – Chicago, IL @ Beat Kitchen w/ Light Years, Malfunction
OCT 03 – Cleveland, OH @ Mahall’s 20 Lanes w/ Light Years, Malfunction

The American Scene- “Royal Blue”

The American Scene are one of those hard to categorize bands that usually just get lumped into that amorphous genre called “indie rock.” They’re also an extremely underrated band who I hope will get the attention they deserve with the release of their upcoming album, “Haze” (out September 9 via Pure Noise Records). The band showcases an interesting hybrid sound on “Royal Blue,” the album’s first single, that lies somewhere between the slightly hazy, grungy, post-hardcore/emo influenced style typified by bands like Balance and Composure and Seahaven and the jangly, sun drenched indie rock crafted by Tokyo Police Club.

Their ability to create such a well-balanced blend of sounds and to carve out a significant niche for themselves in the indie rock scene might help them experience some crossover success. I think this new single will appeal to fans of more poppy, mainstream indie rock as well as fans of less accessible and less polished bands in the post-hardcore/post-rock/emo genres. I’m really excited for the new album and to see what kinds of success and recognition it earns this especially talented band.

You can stream “Royal Blue” below and pre-order “Haze” here.

Slow Magic- “Hold Still”

I tend to be pickier about electronic music as opposed to rock, and Slow Magic makes just the kind of electronic music that suits my tastes. It’s a little on the chiller side, flows in a casually intriguing way, makes minimal use of vocals, and tends to layer and stagger the beats and sounds to make the composition feel varied, balanced, and well thought out. His tracks are intricately detailed and carefully produced. And the arrangement he has laid out with this latest track, “Hold Still,” has a subtle way of enticing the listener to dive deep into the soundscape and get carried by the rather unpredictable currents that move it along.

Slow Magic will release his new album, “How To Run Away,” on September 9 via Downtown Records. You can pre-order it here smarturl.it/SlowMagicRunAway

Hostage Calm- “Your Head/Your Heart”

Hostage Calm have gone through quite an interesting evolution over the course of their first three albums, transitioning from a straight up melodic hardcore/punk band into one with more of a penchant for power pop. If this new single, “Your Head/Your Heart” is any indication, their upcoming album, “Die On Stage” should solidify their status as a strong power pop band.

Given that the track sounds a bit like a Beatlesque/Elvis Costello-style punk hybrid song, it’s especially appropriate that the band chose to pay tribute to the Fab Four with the video. Stream it below and check out the artwork and tracklist from “Die On Stage” below, courtesy of A.V. Club. The album will be released via Run For Cover Records on September 16.

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Die On Stage

1. When You Know
2. A Thousand Miles Away From Here
3. Love Against!
4. Someone Else
5. Fallen Angel
6. Your Head / Your Heart
7. Raised
8. 12/31
9. Darling You
10. Past Ideas Of The Future

Saint Pepsi “Unhappy” (American Football Remix)

This is one of the more intriguing and unique remixes I’ve heard in a while. It takes American Football’s “The Summer Ends,” puts it on speed, distorts the vocals, and ties it all together with a bright, wistful, trappy beat that lends an oddly blissful, otherworldly feeling to the forlorn tale of departure and endings that colors the original song.

It’s interesting that Saint Pepsi chose to call his remix “Unhappy” because, while American Football’s lyrics and delivery were definitely meant to convey a certain sadness, this remix puts me on the complete opposite end of the emotional spectrum. And that’s not a bad thing at all. It’s a bold move to completely flip a song in this way, but Saint Pepsi pulls it off pretty powerfully, and I think the members of American Football would agree.

Taking the “guilt” out of “guilty pleasures”

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What do All Time Low, Yellowcard, Ke$ha, Chingy, and Taylor Swift all have in common? Before you start formulating a bunch of judgy, sarcarstic answers, I’ll just go ahead and say that they’re all artists I’ve typically considered to be “guilty pleasures,” a term I’ve recently begun to deconstruct and reevaluate. What leads us to define a band or an artist as a “guilty pleasure,” and why do we attach a sense of guilt to music that we sincerely enjoy? As someone with an especially eclectic taste in music, I’ve come to accept that my preferences encompass everything from emo, post-hardcore, and indie-folk, to hip hop one hit wonders and even a few irresistibly catchy pop songs that eventually climb their way into the iTunes top 10. And while I wouldn’t have included Miley Cyrus’ “Bangerz” on my “Top 10 Albums of 2013” list, I don’t feel guilty about having enjoyed listening to the entire album multiple times when it came out last fall.

We all have songs in our iTunes or Spotify libraries that we feel slightly embarrassed about, just as we all own music that we consider a little more “cutting edge,” which gives us a certain “indie cred” or makes us feel as though we have more refined tastes. This same description could also be applied to our Netflix queues or our bookshelves; most of us enjoy supplementing our typical cinematic and literary diets with at least a few rom-coms and beach books. Our tastes and desires are often unpredictable; a song will catch our ear or a movie or book will appeal to our senses “just because,” and it’s a bit ludicrous that we feel the need to justify our reasons for liking it and attach so much meaning to something that gives us a certain pleasure.

I certainly have different reasons for liking bands such as The Smiths or From Indian Lakes as compared to bands like All Time Low or New Found Glory. The former are bands I appreciate for their strong musicianship, unique songwriting and lyrical depth, whereas the latter are bands that feel fun and carefree to listen to and usually find their way onto my running or road trip playlists. It wouldn’t feel fair for me to say that From Indian Lakes are a “better” or “more talented” band than All Time Low; they’re just different bands who appeal to different audiences and sensibilities. I’ll admit that the more nuanced, intricately constructed songs that From Indian Lakes write tend to appeal more to my general tastes and senses, but I’ll also admit that All Time Low’s tightly crafted melodies and soaring choruses are total ear candy to me, and I admire the way in which they’re able to deliver such consistently strong, catchy pop punk songs.

I derive a great deal pleasure from listening to pop punk bands and pop singers, and even though I have friends and colleagues who give me shit for listening to them, I don’t attach any guilt or shame to these pleasures. I probably listen to “poppy” bands and artists just as much as I listen to artists in the “indie rock/emo/post hardcore” vein, and I don’t see one grouping of artists as “less than” the other. Rather, I feel like both groups complement each other and lend a nice sense of balance to my listening habits. I mean, I gotta have a little Miley alongside my Morrissey…

Maybe we should consider replacing the term “guilty pleasure” with “just for fun.” It still provides an accurate description of bands and artists who you might not take too seriously or whose lyrics don’t necessarily make you pause and reflect, but it sounds way more positive and accepting. If we reframe our language in this way, it might free us up from feeling that silly sort of guilt and embarrassment that sometimes comes with admitting to your friends that you’re kind of a huge Britney fan (even though you mostly listen to indie rock…) We all have a wide array of preferences and things that appeal to our senses, and sometimes they have no real rhyme or reason. So let’s embrace them all, whether we think they serve to enhance our intellectual prowess or whether they’re “just for fun.”