“Like a Lily” – Out of Clouds

Unlike the other three seasons, which fade into their successors, summer ends with the sense of a door slamming. Everyone seems to hate it, but truly we are co-conspirators: against the reality of the Earth’s steady revolution, we insist on seeing a sudden end where there is none. So okay, it may be cool and rainy, and school buses may be back on the streets, but me, I’m not going to lose the full seasonal experience, and offer a most summery-sounding song to help recover calendar reality. Out of Clouds is an earnest six-piece band from Gothenburg, Sweden with an obvious affinity for innocent ’60s pop sounds of both the British and American variety. But don’t mistake the gentle piano chords, easy beat, and tender harmonies as purely an exercise in retro-ness; to my ears, “Like a Lily” has a vital and appealing heart. Singer Joel Göranson’s voice isn’t just sweet–listen closely and you’ll hear a subtle edge; it’s Brian Wilson with Thom Yorke mixed in. The chorus nails this all down for me with its unfolding melody and continually interesting series of chords. “Like a Lily” is the lead track on the most recent Out of Clouds EP, Into Your Lovely Summer, self-released in June. The MP3 is from the band’s site.

“Nature of the Experiment” – Tokyo Police Club

Listen to how quickly this band builds a compelling song: first comes that buzzy, lo-fi bass, then a quick cathartic grunt, then that really wonderful guitar line, at once chimey and dissonant, both careful and slightly unhinged. And then to top it off a splendid opening line—“We’ve got our tracks covered/Thanks to your older brother”—that plunks us right into the middle of a conflict of some sort, while simultaneously recalling spiky Britpop from some previous generation or another. We’re just 16 seconds into the song at this point; when the whole thing is only two minutes you clearly have to hit the ground running. The singer, Dave Monks, is also the bass player; and it could be my imagination but it strikes me that when the lead vocalist is the bass player, the bass is inescapably more interesting–let’s face it, a guy who sings lead is used to being heard, not blending into the background. A young band, the Toronto-based Tokyo Police Club sounds rough around the edges but the song is a winner, a skittering blend of melodic bursts and lyrical salvos (“It’s an ancient Russian proverb/I doubt it’s one that you’ve heard”) set to an invigorating Gang-of-Four-ian beat. “Nature of the Experiment” is from TPC’s debut EP, A Lesson in Crime (Paper Bag Records), slated for a U.S. release in October. It was originally released in Canada in April. The MP3 is via the Paper Bag site.

“Overgrown” – Darling New Neighbors

From Austin comes a different sort of rough-around-the-edges band. Darling New Neighbors is a trio that plays a lopsided, homespun sort of indie pop that veers, song to song, in a variety of directions. “Overgrown” is their take on something resembling country, but I don’t think you have to think you like country to like a tune that manages to sound so heartfelt and, well, goofy at the same time. Elizabeth Jackson’s forthright, naive-seeming alto, with its penetrating falsetto, seems the perfect vehicle for this landscape-driven tale of love gone wrong. All three members of the band play multiple instruments (things like mandolins and accordions and ukeleles); Jackson herself takes a solo on the violin in the middle of this one that goes on and on and makes me smile every time I hear it. “Overgrown” is the first song on the band’s debut CD, Every Day is Saturday Night, released in August on I Eat Records. The MP3 is via the I Eat Records site. (Note a delay of about five seconds at the beginning of the MP3; don’t worry, it’ll start.)




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