|Bible on the Dash||Bible on the Dash|| |
|Cast Away||Strange Talk|| |
|Try Your Best||Land of CanAan|| |
|Fix My Life||Melt Yourself Down|| |
|Melt Yourself Down|
|Sex Mission||Behind the Green Door EP|| |
|Morning Sickness||Bosnian Rainbows|| |
|Cybernetic Pimpin||CSPG|| |
|Clean This House||Reset|| |
|That Was a Day||Never Ever Ever|| |
|Hook & The Twin|
|Blind to the Blues||Ghosts Go Blind|| |
Google Play’s monthly Antenna sampler is back with more awesome free tracks from up-and-coming artists you need to know. There’s hip-hop from Maybach Music Group protege Gunplay and oddball Miami rap crew Metro Zu, soulful chamber pop/R&B from violinist Marques Toliver, and freaked-out jazz rock from UK group Melt Yourself Down. There’s also the deep house dive of Laurel Halo’s “Sex Mission,” the buoyant electro-pop of Strange Talk’s “Cast Away,” and the sultry indie rock haze of At the Drive-In/Mars Volta guitarist Omar Rodriguez-Lopez’s new group Bosnian Rainbows. All that plus Paris-based chanteuse Yasmine Hamdan, R&B/soul singer Alice Smith and more. Enjoy!
By Eric Grandy
In 2007, at the age of 20, violinist and vocalist Marques Toliver moved from Daytona Beach to Brooklyn. He busked, awed TV on the Radio's Kyp Malone, and subsequently entered the prominent local music scene. After he recorded strings for Grizzly Bear's Veckatimest, he moved to London, was hailed by Adele, and appeared on "Later…with Jools Holland", where he performed the emotionally cutting "White Sails" by himself. A major label wouldn't know how to handle him. It's unimaginable that executives have pined for artists who cite Mahler and Mtume, and can sing and play violin as the wildly dissimilar and noncommercial Noel Pointer and Long Fin Killie's Luke Sutherland have done in the past. So it's likely for the better that Toliver signed with the artist-driven independent Bella Union. The artist says that this, the follow-up to a four-track 2011 EP, was inspired by the autobiography of Frederick Douglass, Noah's curse of Ham, and contemporary music. The first two references enhance Toliver's narrative, but the third one is most significant. As creative and imaginative as these songs are, they're also direct and accessible, grounded in gospel and soul and graced with remarkable pop hooks. In an alternate universe with healthier U.S. Top 40 and R&B radio formats, the bursting "Ain't No Mountain High Enough"-quoting "Contact," as well as the yearning and bittersweet "Stay," would be in steady rotation for months. Another remarkable aspect is that Toliver never sounds as if he is showing off. What comes out of him sounds exactly like pure expression, despite the fact that he can sing his behind off as his violin saws, stings, and flutters with considerable grace and force.
In 2006, Alice Smith released For Lovers, Dreamers & Me, one of the most remarkable debut albums of the year. Epic consequently signed the soul-rooted, cross-genre singer/songwriter and re-circulated the album in 2007. The deal raised awareness -- Smith was nominated for a 2008 Grammy in the shamefully short-lived Best Urban/Alternative Performance category -- but was disastrous for her career. An album, along with other recordings, was shelved. Several years passed without a follow-up. Smith became a mother, moved from her native New York to Los Angeles, and continued to perform. Freed from Epic and on the label operated by husband Citizen Cope (himself a survivor of the major-label wringer), Smith is finally able to re-introduce her absorbing life-and-love lyrics, distinctive melodic sense, and four-octave voice. She does so with assistance from her husband, Rebecca Jordan, and Syience (Beyoncé, Marsha Ambrosius, Ne-Yo), together with a core group of musicians that features keyboardist James Poyser (Erykah Badu, the Roots). Two of her first album's many attractive attributes were the subtle and surprising twists in song structure and seamless genre fusions. They're in steady supply here, as on "Ocean," a blissfully flowing expression of romantic contentedness, and on the emotionally stinging "Another Love," an astoundingly fluid piece that, at once, is an attitudinal house stomper and a disarming chamber pop tearjerker. Smith can switch up the lyrical tone with as much finesse; she ends the first verse of the Carole King-worthy "The One" with "Tell me anything, just to get what you want," then begins the chorus with "But I'm not the one/Don't play me, son." She has enough skill and character to leave one hanging on her every note. The cherry on top is an incineration of Cee Lo Green's "Fool for You," one of her most commanding performances and the album's funkiest moment. Green's only rational response would be genuflection -- an appropriate action for anyone within earshot, really.
For much of the band's early existence, Ola Podrida founder David Wingo split his time between the bedroom folk solo project and composing scores for films. Wingo's first two albums were soft, mumbly acoustic affairs, but with an inescapable sense of underlying narrative running throughout. For third full-length Ghosts Go Blind, Wingo has expanded from his shut-in home-recording ways to form a full band and record mostly live in the studio, but even with these advances in sound, it's hard to escape the cinematic underpinnings that characterize Wingo's work. The nine songs that make up Ghosts Go Blind are a big step forward. Rockers like "Speed of Light" and "Not Ready to Stop" breathe in a way that only a live band in a room can, sounding like Magnolia Electric Co. in an especially reflective mode, or Yo La Tengo indulging their most Southern impulses. The more restrained numbers also benefit from the support of a full band. The gentle amble of "Blind to the Blues" feels more sturdy with steadfast live drumming and glittery guitars urging on Wingo's slacker harmonies, and the low-lit moods of "The Notes Remain" also sound more confident and sure-footed than they might had Wingo cobbled together the instrumentation by himself. Wingo's downtrodden lyrics fit the soft indie textures of Ghosts Go Blind, setting up images of the desperate last straggler at the late-night party, the couple in a rut who don't like to go out anymore, and a group of friends experiencing their finest hours together without even realizing it. The marriage of wistful, brightly arranged indie with Wingo's reflective and cinematic verses makes Ghosts Go Blind an impressive set, easily the most effective collection from the Ola Podrida moniker.