Seattle singer-songwriter Damien Jurado may be associated with the upper Northwest, but he’s nailed down that hazy, top-down, wistful Southwest thing — whether it’s 2012’s Maraqopa or the beautiful newly released single, “Allocate”, off his upcoming Secretly Canadian LP release, The Horizon Just Laughed, due out May 4. Listeners online mentioned the track had a sound reminiscent of the smoothness of Bill Withers, and that’s not too far off base. The opening violins are old-school soul, falling away into a softer single background sound that sets a contemplative tone for one of music’s deepest dreamers. Listen to Jurado’s pretty opening (unofficial) lyrics: “I arrived at 2 from a thought I had / Talkin’ with Q in the back of a cab / Once we were lost and we never came back / I can only exist so long as you laugh.”

COOL SOUNDS: I just saw a facebook post from Beko Disques record label (which I thought was defunct — but thankfully is not) that simply read “NEW COOL SOUNDS”. Well, the band is Cool Sounds and they have a new 4-song EP called “Gristle”. Don’t let the humorous name fool you — there are no rough, disposable parts to this little gem. The title track is a beauty. (Listen below.) If you visit the Melbourne band’s facebook page, you’ll find photos of a group that may have been anywhere between 4-7 members at one time.

MISHAAL: I’ve been jamming to Mishaal’s lounge-y goodness via the track “Runaway”. I really don’t know anything about him, but I dig the aesthetic of the digital album covers for his singles and the X-ing out of his eyes via an Instagram avatar. Also check out his latest song “Frostthrone”, listed as Mishaal & Madson Project at Soundcloud. It’s terrific.

ROLLING BLACKOUTS CF: The Melbourne trio isn’t making anything difficult with this new track “Talking Straight” from off their upcoming debut release Hope Downs, due out June 15th. It’s pretty straight forward indie rock, but it’s done so tightly and with such expertise that that becomes its charm. It’s dynamic punk, with a heavy hook and soaring electric guitars at the close. Hard to find better.

EMMA RUSSACK: Okay, I guess I’ve been on the Melbourne kick lately — because here’s a third entry from the Aussie city. Really enjoying this laid-back strummer from Emma Russack and Lachlan Denton called “Where It Ends” from a forthcoming record of the same name.

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