(Artwork care of Karen Ramsay (www.karenramsay.com), profile photo care of brianlackeyphotography.com)

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

May singles

It's time for a new group of singles to share. This month's set includes modern Americana, danceable synth pop, an interesting cover, and some great lo-fi indie rock.

Dom Liberati - We Own the Night

Dom Liberati strikes a balance of modern rock and Americana on We Own the Night from his album, The Good Hurt. The track starts out with an Americana, singer-songwriter vibe, but the turnaround after the first verse sets up the song as the rock anthem it reaches for in the chorus. Vocally, Liberati reminds me of Bryan Adams. His writing style is more confessional but he has some of that same ability to imbue his lyrics with import.

Liberati breaks the standard front man mold since he's a bass player. The bass work on We Own the Night is solid but not showing off, which is a savvy move to connect with his audience more as a singer.

Swedish House Mafia - Save the World

This electronic group is delightfully unironic. They actually are a house band from Sweden. Okay, so "Mafia" is an exaggeration, but this group of DJ/producers have been loosely working together for several years. Last year, they released their first big album on Virgin/EMI under the name Swedish House Mafia, garnering lots of buzz and critical success. Save the World is the band's first release in 2011.

Save the World meshes a house beat with a synth pop groove. Swedish singer John Martin (Miike Snow) has a smooth voice that builds into an emotional plea. The electronic backing groove develops into a full sound that delivers some sweet club friendly breaks. The video is not what I would have visualized for this song, but it's certainly entertaining.

Émilie Simon - Smalltown Boy (from The Big Machine)

Smalltown Boy was Bronski Beat's biggest hit, back in the '80s. Now, French singer, Émilie Simon offers her cover of the synth pop classic. Staying true to the basic structure, Simon makes it over into moody ballad. Her down tempo piano arrangement is much more expressive as the rhythm varies slightly along with the dynamics. Her idiosyncratic voice is playful and girlish like Kate Bush's early material.

Bronski Beat's version perfectly fit its era. The sheen of synths, the staccato chop of the accompaniment, and the slight detachment of the falsetto vocals built up a dreamy feel. By contrast, Émilie Simon taps into the inherent sorrow of the song, without being overwhelmed by it.

Simon's Smalltown Boy is available for download from Filter.

Radical Dads - New Age Dinosaur (from Mega Rama, due in mid-June)

A wall of splashy indie rock guitars fills New Age Dinosaur with a loose, happy vibe. The trio is loosely linked to Clap Your Hands Say Yeah: keyboard player/guitarist Robbie Guertin contributes drums and vocals for Radical Dads. While both bands have a kind of lyrical innocence, Radical Dads has a rockier edge and skips some of the dreamy vibe that CYHSY loves to include.

New Age Dinosaur is infectious. The lo-fi guitars are loud and sloppy, capturing a live sound that would ring through your ears and vibrate into the middle of your back. Even when it mellows in the bridge, feedback resonates and echoes through the track.

Get New Age Dinosaur from Bandcamp.

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