In this — the age of the Coronavirus — many of us are stuck at home, isolated with only TV screens and the glow of laptops and phones to keep us connected. In other words, there isn’t much to do.
However, one thing that is available to us all is the wide world of recorded music. And now is as good a time as ever to get to know some bands you may not have heard of but ones that you will assuredly enjoy, dear reader.
So, buckle up and get ready for a digital ride around the continental United States with stops in Los Angeles, Providence (Rhode Island), New York City, Oakland and Austin.
French Vanilla, “All The Time,” Los Angles
Essential link: https://frenchvanilla.bandcamp.com/album/how-am-i-not-myself
There is something supremely satisfying about a sticky saxophone riff. And this City of Angels band has that draw in spades. Quick snares, spooky-pop vocals and a sugary dissonance that screams its own signature je ne sais quoi further bolster the band’s sax-laden hit, “All The Time.” Released last year, the group’s LP, How Am I Not Myself, is an energetic romp in a time when that extra oomph is especially needed.
Arc Iris, “$GNMS,” Providence
Essential link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?time_continue=10&v=0Ud-ksfub0c
I live on the west coast in Seattle but even on the left side of the country, rumors of the vast and prolific creative scene in Providence, Rhode Island permeate. Arc Iris is helping to lead the proliferation of that reputation as much as any. The group has a knack for interesting visuals and haunting tones and there’s something both futuristic and timeless about its sound. As artists, they achieve a great deal in even a single frame.
Boyfriend Genes, “Telephone,” New York City
Essential link: https://soundcloud.com/boyfriend-genes/telephone
These days, it’s good to have a steady rotation of songs to blare in the morning to help rouse from bed. In the mundane era of quarantine, songs that play like boisterous chants can get the blood moving in the dawn hours. And Boyfriend Genes has that mood through and through. Bouncy bass lines meet floating synths and airy, confident vocals to provide a song fit for an eye opening experience.
Howlin Rain, “Speed,” Oakland
Essential link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Uo6p-3quYFw
Sometimes songwriting can seem as much about an aura as any note, word or acoustic guitar chord. That is especially evident with the Northern California band, Howlin Rain, fronted by the bearded Ethan Miller. The band’s song, “Speed,” could be performed at a folk festival in front of thousands or it could be strummed in a dusty basement apartment somewhere in Nebraska. It fits squarely in the great American pastiche of song.
Sir Woman, “Highroad,” Austin
Essential link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yCFf511rR-0&feature=youtu.be&fbclid=IwAR2p69-BgfE1MsDilvkLZfvjffGgfjML2sqGs8U5jGqr5zra6zMHDt4HGCQ
Some voices are so sweet they’re impossible to hide. Kelsey Wilson’s voice, for example, is no shrinking violet. Her band, Sir Woman, which is but one of the several musical projects from the Texas native, is a bouncy, soulful trip through intriguing sounds. “Highroad,” as an example, crescendos and rolls, frolics and grins the whole way through. Take it and you’ll assuredly be better off for it.