North Oakland duo Main Attrakionz is back with a 12-song LP 808’s and Dark Grapes III, and one of the best tracks on it is called “My Story”. Fitting the duo’s style, the instrumentals are laid back and floating, with an elegant Japanese influence — with some kind of instrument that sounds like a koto. It’s ironic that this slow and mellow vibe is accented with lyrics about time and the urgency felt to do what one needs to do — in this case tell a story via music: “I couldn’t sit there and watch my time steady ticking on the clock …” Follow Main Attrakionz at facebook. The new record is out now via Vapor Records. — David D. Robbins Jr.
“Keep Him” is the feathery and quietly soulful new lead single from It’s Love, The Legends’ fifth studio LP. There’s nothing much to the track on its surface, but there’s no denying its soothing sound, a salve for the heartbroken soul. Johan Angergård’s whispered vocals offer up a kind of quiet reflection, tailing off into pillowy keyboard, punctuating verses with soft sighs like air loosed. It’s Love is due June 30 on Cascine. Follow The Legends at facebook. — David D. Robbins Jr.
Alessia Cara’s single “Here” is already on my list of ‘Best Songs So Far …’ this year, and if you haven’t heard that one yet you can hear her intimate and stripped-down version of Amy Winehouse’s “Valerie”. Sure, the song was originally written and performed by The Zutons, off their album Tired of Hanging Around (2006), but many will most-likely remember it as a song featuring the late singer-songwriter, which appeared on Mark Ronson’s Version (2007). It’s a bold move to from Cara, defining a kind of natural lineage in trying her hand at a song associated with a singer whose inimitable voice gilded notes into utterances and jazzy bends more often than singing songs straight out. Sure, the jazz quality is muted without electric guitar, a horns section, and drummer — but there’s a beauty to this version, in part because it sounds so heartfelt, paying a quiet soulful homage as equally as it puts Cara’s own stamp on the song, which has always sounded as Motown as Barry Gordy to me. Follow Alessia Cara on twitter. — David D. Robbins Jr.
Stockholm-based TVÅ are streaming two pretty bubblegum electro-pop songs, “Keep Me a Secret” and the more upbeat and catchy “Always Be”. Sometimes it’s good not to have any sharp edges. “Always Be” is pretty straight forward, danceable, well-rounded pop music. But it’s the exactness of the track that sets it apart from the rest, with its acute club beat, golden floating piano chords, glimmering double-tracked lead vocals (with a slight reverb) and the no-nonsense quality of the lyrics about a steadfast love in the face of hardship: “Baby, if you want me in your life / I will always be / If you want me in your arms / I will always be.” Their sound is like a lighter, breathier Everything But the Girl. These two tracks are out via CSCN, Cascine’s singles label. TVÅ is the duo of Marcus Andersson Lara Andersson. Follow them at facebook. — David D. Robbins Jr.
Peach Kelli Pop’s Part III LP is some wonderfully fun kitsch that rides a wave of surfer-punk and Riot grrrl through songs that range from childish fawning over Disney’s Princess Castle: “I saw you in a dream, I woke up from a scream / You glowed pink and green, death stare and laser beam” to hitting the “Nude Beach” and a rocking song about a kind of Lars and the Real Girl relationship called “Plastic Love”: “You don’t need to hear her views / She’ll always smile at you / When your mom comes to visit / You can hide her in your closet.” The Ottawa singer’s songs are all propulsive, pushing forward with a wink, nod and grizzly guitar. Every song has a catchy hook, humor and a psychedelic doo-wop dynamic. You can follow Peach Kelli Pop (aka Allie Hanlon) at facebook, blogspot, bandcamp and twitter. — David D. Robbins Jr.
Say what you will about Sun Kil Moon’s Mark Kozelek personally, but his style of rambling, subconscious Americana is some of the most alarmingly good music he’s ever created, from 2014’s Benji to the pickup-truck pilgrimages of his latest, Universal Themes. The record opens with my favorite song from the LP, “The Possum”, which was released at the end of last year as a teaser. It’s a weird song that begins with Kozelek seeing a dying possum in his backyard, mangled by a cat. The song shifts gears, littered with real-life friends, including his girlfriend, Caroline, who cries, disturbed at the thought of a dying animal. Kozelek takes us through a day journeying to see the band Godflesh, with a former Red House Painters bandmate. But it’s here where Kozelek drops a lyric about he and his friend enjoying each other’s company and laughing until their “guts were protruding” — a piece of imagery echoing the earlier possum. It’s a love song about what it means to appreciate life, friends, lovers, good times and even mortality. My favorite piece of lyricism is this inspired bit about watching his friend Justin Broadrick of Godflesh tearing it up: “While Justin tuned his guitar; like a church, it got so quiet / Just for a minute, and then they all soared together / Like a car off a cliff, we crashed and burned over and over and again and again / They threw hard, vicious guttural B-flats / Like a tough Roberto “Hands of Stone” Duran in the seventh round / Davey Moore June 16, 1983 / Godflesh ran around that night like an early Mark “Gator” Rogowski / Justin lunged at the mic like a hungry Great White / He was on fire, giving it everything he had and killing it that night.” Those verses are just unreal. It’s difficult not getting caught up in the fire and energy of its appreciation. — David D. Robbins Jr.