As these New Music Fridays roll on, 2016 is shaping up to be a rough year for the world but a decent year for music. We’ve found some real gems and it’s been a blast seeing which of the selections you all like best. Are you just here to vote for a band that you already know? Please consider listening to the others as well. Chances are you’ll find other bands worth supporting in the future. Go back to past episodes for other great content (even if the contests are finished).
Bamik – “Chasing Heights”
-If you’re a fan of Mumford and Sons or other pop folk outfits like that, you’ll find a lot to enjoy with Bamik. They have an addictive, fun flavor. The harmonies dance between an emo sensibility and a toe tapping barn raising. When you bring the sound all together, strings and vocals that is, you find a concoction that feels like joy in sonic form. The lyrical content captures a hope filled, youthful exuberance. I find it inspiring. Do you?
Farewell Milwaukee – “The Blister and the Palm”
-Every once in a while I run across an artist who is the real deal. Authenticity drips from each line, making the song transcend its own moment. Farewell Milwaukee has that kind of style. Following a Jason Isbell style Americana music, this is an excellent track. The vocal harmonies remind me of Mandolin Orange. When you consider my deep love for both of those Americana acts, it’s no wonder that I adore this track. Give them a spin, won’t ya?
Simon Alexander – “Phoenix Fire”
-Simon Alexander writes with a sincere focus on an encouraging message with this track. There are some unique production elements, but at the end of the day it’s a cool acoustic guitar and heartfelt vocal that win the day with this track. The song dips and runs with a sound like Needtobreathe sometimes, while other times feeling more like a singer songwriter like Dylan Leblanc. In any event, it’s an intriguing track well worth your time.
Gert Taberner – “In Need”
-To be a good singer songwriter, you need to understand the concept of phrasing. Gert Taberner is an expert at phrasing. His vocals are clear and his song is nicely done, but really what makes it work is the way that he poetically develops each line. The rhythm is so nicely laid out that the song just unfolds like you’ve heard it a million times. The downtempo style and excellent delivery are a joy to the ear.
Radical Something – “One Soul”
-What happens when you take a reggae “one love” concept and combine it with a hippie sensibility? You get Radical Something’s “One Soul.” It might be a bit more transcendentalist than most are used to, but the song is well executed and comforting. It’s also a sentiment that feels much needed in certain parts of the world right now. What does it mean for us to come together and sing the chorus together? “Put your arm around somebody. Can you feel the love?… We are one soul.”
Barefoot 57s – “Take Me Home”
-When’s the last time you heard a prominent saxophone in an Americana song? It’s been a while, I can guarantee you that. But look no further than the variegated sound of the Barefoot 57s. There are tones from the 70s, some vocals that feel like a Cheers Friday night band, and an overall feeling that feels familiar. If you’re looking for a national act that feel like the band next door, these might be the folks for you.
The New Children – “What Will You Say”
-This tack comes across as a genuine, thoughtful lament. Maybe it’s a diary entry or a letter you never really sent, but it has that nice level of sentimentality that really works. The song’s structure, including some beautiful chord changes, has shades of vintage Beatles songwriting and a cool 60s feel. It all comes together for a sound that feels heavily influenced by the golden age of folk music. It’s an unexpected treat from a rising Swedish folk band.
The Fair Wells – “Where Is Your Heart?”
-I am a sucker for subtle folk music. If it happens to be romantic male-female duo folk music, I’m basically mush. I know that’s a strange public admission, but seriously listen to this song and tell me it doesn’t melt your cold, broken heart. The vocals on both singers are PERFECT. The song is quaint, perfectly fresh. If you’ve been missing the Civil Wars, you finally found the chemistry and high quality performance to replace them. Feel your heart skip a beat or two on this one.
Autumn Chorus – “Snake in the Grass”
-Whoa the 70s called – they said you can keep the bellbottoms but they want their harmonies back. This is a such an intriguing retro sound that pulls me in deeper and deeper as the song goes on. It captures a definitive vintage vibe, but it also feels like a genuine artistic expression. It’s a bit paranoid, but ultimately works with the style. I can feel the shag carpeting between my toes already. But it’s just so good.
Nicole Boggs – “Something New”
-Every time we get a “Nashville” submission I get a little defensive; I mean, you don’t need us. What’s your angle? But then sometimes I hear an artist like Nicole Boggs and suddenly just melt. What. A. Voice! Boggs has a well-articulated lead vocal here that works nicely with a track that combines some slow soul, cool country guitar licks, and an overall “southern” song that blends styles. Put it this way, if someone played this for Elvis, he’d be into it. It’s timeless (including an organ), but also the vocal keeps the sound fresh and satisfying. This is real American music.