Videos by American Songwriter
Nobunny, Darwin Deez, Dark Dark Dark, Atlantic/Pacific (pictured, left to right)
Breathe Owl Breathe
“I want to start doing my own stunts,” sings Micah Middaugh, a funny coincidence considering Evel Knievel was always envious of vocal harmonies, acoustic guitar and handclaps. This three-piece folk rock ensemble hails from Michigan and you can hear the frostbite on every note.
Dark Dark Dark
(SUPPLY AND DEMAND)
Don’t let the accordion fool you – there’s a reason the band’s name isn’t Joy Joy Joy. Muted female vocals, haunting melodies and dissonant piano, like on the spine-tingling track, “Daydreaming,” can be more than a little unsettling.
The Stargazing Soundtrack Mixtape
Continuing the tradition of Atlanta rappers from another planet, Aleon Craft isn’t afraid to get soulful, or lustful, on the track, even when sampling The Doors. Gangster rap is so 1990.
Rose’s Pawn Shop
Dancing On The Gallows
(ROSE’S PAWN SHOP)
You could string ‘em up until their legs start kicking, or you could turn on this collection of polished bluegrass for the same effect. Thudding country bass lines slide up next to finger-licking good banjo while bluesy guitar solos rain in from above. Brace yourself – even with the classic-sounding vocals – this ain’t your grandfather’s country.
On the newest release from the label that brought you The Very Best, songwriter Aleks Martray drops Caribbean-style melodies and choice samples. The vocals are drowned in effects, which give all the more room for the percussion and complex instrumentation to shine through.
Darwin Deez is like The Strokes with a sense of humor. Frontman Darwin Smith mines the lyrics for “Constellation” from the children’s nursery rhyme, “Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star.” With upbeat guitar work and a dance floor groove, we can’t wait to see how these latest Wesleyan U. exports, who have been making waves across the pond in the U.K., will interpret “Mary Had A Little Lamb” on the sophomore effort.
“Up, Up, Up,” the standout track from this Lafayette, Louisiana, outfit’s debut, wraps its loving arms around you. By splitting the vocals into a boy-girl duet, Givers is pure bouncy indie rock with a little splash of Jamaica thrown in. Who knew hipsters did reggae so well?
Lo-fi and proud of it, Nobunny keeps each slice of sometimes-explicit pop around two minutes long. After dropping a live LP on Jack White’s Third Man Records earlier this year, the nightmare of Easter brings more catchy power chords and gritty punk vocals to Memphis’ Goner release. Tap your foot, bob your head and try not to sing along in mixed company.
This is what Postal Service would’ve sounded like if Ben Gibbard wasn’t so sad all the time. Or if he’d been a fan of Auto-Tune. Nic Zwart’s bedroom project brings you a Pacific sunset with just enough beat to dance to and just enough heartbreak to score that black-and-white film you’ve been working on. Someone get Sofia Coppola on the line.
Meet Your New Love
(NO SLEEP RECORDS)
For there to be a new love, there has to be an old. Atlantic/Pacific admit as much on their debut album, Meet Your New Love, as they are constantly chased, both by their broken hearts and all of their musical influences. The standout track “Some Weary Valentine” warns, “Dear brother, you have been told this story once before,” while the bass line sighs along in mourning underneath. Such attention to detail is common on the collaborative effort between Garrett Klahn and John Herguth as they mix and match as many styles as they can recall. That’s the only way to get songs that range from “The Latest,” a slice of ‘90s alt-pop complete with an angst-y snarl that would make Liam Gallagher proud, to “Ship to Shore,” which centers around a tribal rhythm, so in vogue these days across the indie set. Despite the variance, there is still a constant thread to follow throughout Meet Your New Love, connecting the ambient piano hits and well-placed shaker and tambourine combinations. The end result is a perfectly captured introspective mood. Each song does not demand your attention. Instead, each creates a nostalgic soundscape to drift off into, urging you to take some time to think about what used to be, both the good and bad.