Recorded under the sparest of conditions -- apparently just two microphones and an open door -- Gwyneth Moreland's "Little Black Flies" finds the Northern Californian in a timeless, contemplative folk mood that lingers long after the small but lovely song is through.
New York City band Hollands (husband-and-wife duo John-Paul and Jannina Norpoth) lets it all rip -- clever lyrics, charming harmonies, a string interlude, a whole lot of groove and even more fuzz -- on the new track "Great White Shark." A song with so many elements shouldn't have so much bite, but somehow its orchestral-rock teeth sink in deep.
The Swedish duo of Ola Frick and Carina Johansson, who've been making music together since the late '90s as Moonbabies, have decisively departed from their shoegazy origins with the beautifully-tailored, incessantly-pulsing pop of their latest single "Chorus."
The gurgling, grimy soundscapes of electronic artist Tricky are familiar by now; when they get the remix treatment from the talented likes of Moscillate, they sound wholly fresh, fascinating and even more seductive.
The title to the new cut "Baseline" by Ann Arbor, Michigan songwriter Vincent Colbert describes both his theme and his pared-down but still intricately acoustic sound. "Addicted to progress and chained to sucess, we're holding our breath just to fill these shoes." Words to try to live by in these often maddeningly competitive times.
"I've been breathing, disbelieving, all the sins and signs," sings Al Smith of Darwen, UK band India Mill. "I never knew just what it took to make your heart unwind." With music that echoes U2, R.E.M. and the National, it's a potent opening to a potent declaration of independence.
The minimalist multi-synth-pop approach of "Heart Explodes" reflects, perhaps, the loss of band members even as it was recorded. But somehow UK band Coves & Caves sound all the assured of their emotional direction.
The music of Dolly Spectra is cabaretesque art-rock of the strangest order. On "Moving Circles," singer and composer Dani Ashjian wails and wanders through a surreal but somehow still emotional landscape.
Vermont-based singer-songwriter Jay Nash has joined forces with Nashville, Tennessee-based drummer Josh Day for a new project called the Contenders. Standout track "The Contender" has a ripe and rugged Americana sound, with a honky-tonk spirit and harmony-driven soul.
The anti-SEF band S features Jenn Ghetto from long-lost, pre-Band of Horses cult group Carissa's Wierd with production assistance from Chris Walla from very-much-not-a-cult-band Death Cab for Cutie. "Brunch" is as delicious and darkly satisfying as indie guitar pop gets.