Category Archives: New Music

Today’s Top 5: New Music, Vol. XIX

I’m forever shocked when I read or hear someone about my 50-plus age (give or take a decade) trash the collective talent of today’s younger artists. Here’s the truth: There is much good-to-great music being made by new and relatively new singers and bands, just as there always has been. Courtney Marie Andrews, for instance:

If I’ve listened to Honest Life once, I’ve listened to it 200 times in the past few months. But you’re forgiven (somewhat) if you haven’t heard of her. It’s become easier and easier to miss up-and-coming acts due to our ever-splintering, niche-driven pop culture.

The highways and byways of popular music are littered with artists who failed to breakthrough to the big time, of course. Talent alone has never guaranteed success – luck and circumstance, and drive, play and have always played a major role. That said, below are a handful of new and relatively new-to-me singers and bands, some of whom I’ve featured before – and others that I will again.

1) Hannah’s Yard – “Close Enough.” Hannah’s Yard is an acoustic collective from the English town of Olney, Buckinghamshire, that features a lead singer, Hannah Layton Turner, whose voice is that of an angel. Their songs remind me of Melody Gardot and Norah Jones, among others, and are quite addictive. (Their debut album, Beginnings, is due out May 12th.)

2) Holly Macve – “The Corner of My Mind.” The bayou by way of Brighton? Yep. Macve mixes moodiness, melody and mesmerizing vocals into a tasty elixir.

3) Natalie Gelman – “Photograph.” The singer-songwriter and her band had the good fortune of opening for Bon Jovi recently thanks to Bon Jovi’s opening-act contest. (That’s something more veteran acts should be doing.) Here’s video of the final song of their set:

4) Bully – “Trying.” At last week’s Juliana concert, we met a cool dude who’d flown in from Detroit to attend Juliana concerts in Cambridge, Philly and Virginia. He recommended this band, who he’s seen a dozen times – and, after listening to them a bit, I hear what he hears in them.

5) Fazerdaze – “Lucky Girl.” New Zealand’s Amelia Murray, aka Fazerdaze, is a wonder – I’d say she creates teenage symphonies to God, but given that she’s in her 20s…she creates twenty-something symphonies to God. (Here’s an excellent profile of her.) One listen and you should be hooked.

And two bonuses…

6) The Courtneys – “Silver Velvet.” The Vancouver trio conjure the Bangles with their jangly pop, but, at the end of the day, influences mean nothing if the songs suck. Theirs don’t. If anything, their music sticks in the head like bubblegum on the sidewalk. (Maybe that’s not the best metaphor. But they’re damn good.)

7) Jen Gloeckner – “Row With the Flow.” Gloeckner’s latest release, VINE, is an atmospheric (and very trippy) outing that channels the likes of Mazzy Star and Pink Floyd, among others.

Today’s Top 5: That Was Then, This Is Now

Yeah, yeah, yeah: I borrowed the title from S.E. Hinton, whose 1971 novel charts the different life paths that two close friends choose to take. Or did I borrow it from the Monkees, who had a Top 20 hit with a song of the same name in 1986?

You be the judge.

After this weekend’s prior Top 5s (March 1983 and January 1994), I think it only appropriate to feature some new music – what I’ve been grooving to for the past week, basically.

 1) Courtney Marie Andrews – “Put the Fire Out.” As I wrote last week, Courtney’s album Honest Life is simply stunning – everything good about music can be found in its grooves (or bytes). Earlier this week, she released a video for “Put the Fire Out”…

2) Lucy Rose – “Floral Dresses.” The British singer-songwriter released this gem of a song, which features the Staves on harmonies, just a few days back.

3) The Staves – “Tired as Fuck.” And speaking of the Staves, who we’re slated to see this Thursday, there’s this single, released on Feb. 10th. It goes to show that even a profanity can be made to sound heavenly….

4) The Staves – “America.” And here the Staves are again, in a video released just two days back, singing this wondrous song (from their 2015 Blood I Bled EP) in a recent soundcheck.

5) Savannah Phylaw – “Love Remains.” The San Diego-based singer-songwriter, who I discovered via Twitter, released this song at the end of last year.

The Staves: If I Was

I often hear (and read) other music fans about my (middle) age say that good music isn’t being made anymore. That’s not the case, of course, and in past posts I’ve spotlighted a few (relatively) new acts that point out the fallacy of such statements. Here’s another example.

The Staves are three sisters from Britain who sound like they stepped out of the late ’60s or early ’70s. I discovered them, as I often do new (and new-to-me) acts, via a review in my favorite music magazine, Mojo. It’s a Brit magazine available in Barnes & Noble bookstores in the U.S. – usually delayed by a month. I skim the reviews, look for anything that may appeal to my sensibilities. In the case of If I Was, the phrases “acoustic folk,” “bold melodic flourishes” and “harmonies and heartbreak” leapt off the page.

The Staves Review

I looked ‘em up on YouTube the same day, liked what I heard and ordered the album; and I’ve been enjoying it since. If I Was is, primarily, a mellow, harmony-laden affair, though “mellow” doesn’t mean the music doesn’t pack a punch. It’s mesmerizing. Here’s a taste:

And another:

And one more:

Emily, Jessica and Camilla blend their voices as if, as I said in my previous post, a distaff Crosby, Stills & Nash. They also trade lead vocals in such a way that the result is an intertwining slice of heaven – “Make It Holy” is aptly named, in that regard.