Way back in 1977, I remember my father took me aside after presumably listening to the radio on his drive home from work, and said to me “Son, there is no good music being produced and there will never be any more.” I rolled my eyes, of course. I mean, this was even before Zeppelin broke up! So, let’s plug you into some new artists (and new releases from existing ones) that you should keep an eye on … so you don’t become my dad.
Let’s start with a trio from Britain, who combines a Vampire Weekend sound with solid vocals and a catchy island groove. Their latest single “Small Space” conjures up a sweet reggae beat, and words like “I want a different space, a place where I fit in, a place with all the answers”. The group eschews their local South Cheshire sound and instead their provides their own brand of calypso-flavored tropi-pop. “Weekend” from their 2018 album “Movers and Shakers” is both danceable and easy to listen to, with a solid hook and jangly chords. The band includes Rob Ellis on Lead Vocals, Guitar, Lou Cotterill on Bass, Vocals and Jacob Leff on Drums, Vocals.
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2. Sam Fender
With a decidedly 1980s alternative musicality that smacks of the Cure or Depeche Mode (without the heavy synth), and a voice that sounds a bit like Brian Eno, Sam Fender has been releasing music for two years now, but only recently did people take notice, signing onto Polydor records in 2018. His 2017 single “Millennial” is an autobiographical take on that demographic classification and includes the line “This tube is the gospel. Carcinogens keep the wheel in spin, I’m a machine. Feeding on dopamine.”
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Muse continues to release rockin’ good music. Despite being a trio, the combination of synths and midi-guitar create a wall of music that sounds like a much larger band. This is the band’s eighth album and includes such solid tracks as “Pressure” and the futuristic anthem “Algorithm”. Lead singer Matt Bellamy has a silky-smooth voice that slides easily into a far-reaching falsetto. Like a modern-day Depeche Mode, most of the songs are about oppression or dystopian themes, but musically it is solid, well thought out and organized “Dig Down” is an encouraging anthem about fighting back the forces surround us. The cover art on their latest release “Simulation Theory” was created by “Stranger Things” poster designer Kyle Lambert and appropriately reflects both the throwback sounds and future wary lyrics of the songs on this release. If you hear some Queen influence in the music it’s likely because Bellamy has repeatedly referenced that super group as inspirational.
4. The Struts
The Struts just released a solid album of catchy pop music that sounds like a mashup of the one-hit-wonder-bands “Jet” and “The Ting Tings”. Singer/songwriter Luke Spiller claims they are influenced by Queen, the Rolling Stones, Oasis and the Smiths, to name a few, and it shows. Their latest album, “Young and Dangerous”, includes the toe-tapping catchy “Body Talks” (featuring Kesha) and “Primadonna Like Me” that could have been recorded and released by Mick Jagger, including a Keith Richard’s intro lick, but also has an “Abba” style musicality to it. Other songs on the album almost sound “The Knack”-ish or even 1970’s FM guitar-driven classics. Really an eclectic mix of music.
5. The Raconteurs
Want something a little edgier? Supergroup “The Raconteurs” that includes Jack White (White Stripes), Brendan Benson, Jack Lawrence (The Dead Weather) and Patrick Keeler (The Greenhomes) just released two singles that are said to lead to a 2019 album release. The group has been on hiatus since 2010 and after a number of failed attempts to regroup, they finally got things together and released a pair of new songs. “Sunday Driver” is your typical overdriven-guitar-lead that Jack White cranks out in his sleep. Definitely catchy, crunchy and an ear-worm. The second “Now That You’re Gone” is closer to metal than rock and roll, and slowly drives up the grunge. sarcastically sings “What will you do, now that you’re gone? On to somebody new. Well, that didn’t take long”
Photo: The Struts. Press/Wilful Publicity
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