Album review: Mac DeMarco – Salad Days {Psych Pop/Rock}

April 7, 2014 in Album reviews, Psych Pop, Psychedelic Rock


REX’S RATING: 9.5 / 10


“Passing Out Pieces”
“Salad Days”
“Treat Her Better”
“Let My Baby Stay”

How the fuck do all these people know who I am?” Truer words could not have been spoken by DeMarco following the release of this new smash album of his. Because as much as his sophomore release marks a new beginning for what is bound to be a very fruitful career for the Vancouver Island-born musician, it also marks the end of his “indie class clown” status as he slowly becomes a household name in the underground music community.

One could say that Salad Days is to Mac DeMarco is what The Suburbs was to Arcade Fire. DeMarco has earned a massive cult-like following with his onstage antics (like sticking a drumstick up his bum bum, just to paint a picture for you) and his surfy rock, slacker vibes, but even before the release of Salad Days DeMarco commented about the pressures of putting out an album in order to please “The Man.” Over the past couple of years his fanbase seemed to be growing by the minute, so naturally the big cheeses are going to jump all over DeMarco’s shit with dollar signs flashing in their money-hungry eyeballs.

But that doesn’t mean us indie snobs should scoff at Salad Days the same way we did at Arcade Fire after the 2011 Grammy Awards. The album still sticks true to DeMarco’s slacker, indie roots, and was even recorded in DeMarco’s tiny Brooklyn apartment (not to mention that he played each and every instrument heard on the album all by his lonesome); but that’s not the only reason why every music nerd on the planet should listen to Salad Days. Hearing the album’s singles separately before the release of the album was a gem in itself, but seeing how the album was crafted from start to finish and appreciating how the tracks interlace with one another is where the true delight lies in Salad Days. The album seemed oddly familiar and comfortable; kind of like bathing in old bath water. Warm, soothing, dirty bath water.

It starts off with a bang thanks to the title track “Salad Days,” and with high-pitched, laugh-along vocals Mac DeMarco pulls a Gene Ween by beckoning the listener over to his side as we begin the wondrous journey that is listening to Salad Days. The listener is then taken on a joyride through the glistening riffs on “Blue Boy,” the distortioned-up-the-ying-yang (and second single off the album) “Brother,” before leading them into “Let Her Go,” which can only be described as what sounds like a Syd Barrett-like acid flashback. He then ventures forth into the tangled (yet intriguing) “Goodbye Weekend,” before slowing things down for a tropical delight on “Let My Baby Stay;” (is it just me or is there a slight bit of Walkmen in there? Because if so, I’m going to lather all up in that shit).

But the true shining star of the album was none other than the album’s leading single “Passing Out Pieces,” which is a sort of sharp contrast to the rest of the album with its elaborate keyboard section and soothing harmonies. If it wasn’t for this track I wouldn’t have been counting down the days to the release of Salad Days as passionately as I had been doing for the past few months, because yes, my life is that sad and boring like that.

So why didn’t I give this album a perfect 10 / 10 score when clearly my love for DeMarco delves much deeper than having a bias for Vancouver Island-born musicians? Well besides the fact that even the instrumental outro had its place, it seems as though the album fell short at what DeMarco is clearly capable of. Each and every track on the album was short (and sweet) but I’m sure it only scraped at the surface of what goes on inside Mac’s crazy little head of his. In total the album came to a whopping 31 minutes, which is about the same amount of time it took me to realize after watching How I Met Your Mother for the first time that the show was going to have a shit-tastic ending leaving its fanbase feeling angry and Lost-like (AKA not that long).

But one of the main factors driving Salad Days down IMO was that it seemed like DeMarco wrote each track on the album on the same drug day, and it’s hard to really differentiate one song from the other unless you listen to the album over and over again like I did over the course of a few days. I was expecting a lot more variety and a hell of a lot more flavour, but that’s not to say that it didn’t leave me with an entirely new perspective of DeMarco altogether

…OK so maaaaaybe I have taken a liking to Salad Days because DeMarco is from my island, but all us Vancouver Islanders have is the Costello-fucking Diana Krall and the sell-out that is Nelly Furtado; so cut me some slack yo!

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Guest post: 10 Canadian Artists Who Are Cooler Than Justin Bieber

March 5, 2014 in Electronic, Electropop, Experimental, Indie, Noise Rock, Psych Pop, R&B, Rock, Synthpop, Synthrock

This article was written by Jason Schellhardt, a writer for the ticket search engine,

When asked to name a Canadian musician, most Americans immediately think of Justin Bieber–sometimes Nickelback or Celine Dion. That is a pretty bum rap for a country that has given us plenty of much cooler bands to celebrate. In case you have not heard, Bieber is quickly wearing out his welcome in the U.S. In honor of his 20th birthday, here are 10 Canadian artists who are way cooler than the Biebs.

1. Arcade Fire

Why they are cooler than Bieber: Because, duh. Forget Canada for a minute, this might be the biggest indie band in the world. Arcade Fire has won Grammys and rocked sold out festivals and arenas across the globe. Despite the band’s overwhelming success, Win Butler has never been caught pissing in a mop bucket or egging his neighbor’s house.

2. Grimes

Why she is cooler than Bieber: This indie-pop/electronic icon hails from Vancouver, and is one of the most buzzed-about artists in recent memory. Her unique blend of hip-hop, electronic and pop elements is unprecedented and accessible to a wide range of listeners. In December, Grimes got the ultimate co-sign, inking a deal with Jay Z’s Roc Nation. Bieber’s coolest hip-hop endorsement is Lil’ Twist. Advantage: Grimes.

3. Mac DeMarco

Why he is cooler than Bieber: This dude just exudes coolness. In a relative short amount of time, DeMarco has made a reputation based on his raunchy, raucous live shows. His guitar-heavy indie jams have drawn praise from all over the internets, and DeMarco is reportedly working on new material with Tyler, the Creator. The Edmonton native still uses a guitar he bought for 30 Canadian dollars. That’s pretty punk-rock.

4. Chromeo

Why they are cooler than Bieber: At first glance, Chromeo’s suave ‘lady’s men’ persona may seem like schtick, but these guys have the grooves to back it up. The band’s forthcoming album, White Women, is one of the most anticipated releases of 2014. Sure, Bieber can pull chicks with ease, but P-Thugg and Dave One do it with a lot more style.

5. Purity Ring

Why they are cooler than Bieber: Sonically, Purity Ring is probably the most direct competitor to Bieber on this list– though, the competition is not so close. The Edmonton-based duo writes beautiful pop tracks–with substance –and reside at the top of one of the most relevant scenes in music right now. The electro-pop market has become crowded, but few bands have found more success there than Purity Ring.

6. Metric

Why they are cooler than Bieber: This Toronto-based band has been around almost as long as Bieber has been alive. Metric is one of the first bands to start dabbling in the indie dance-rock arena. With a livewire frontwoman like Emily Haines, it is hard to avoid the Yeah Yeah Yeahs comparison here.

7. Death From Above 1979

Why they are cooler than Bieber: Musically, Death From Above 1979 is the antithesis of Justin Bieber. The duo of Jesse Keeler and Sebastien Grainger have created a surprisingly danceable, yet super-heavy strain of thrash rock that has made fans out of metalheads and EDM kids alike. The band is reportedly working on a new album, which would be its first release since 2005.

8. The Weeknd

Why he is cooler than Bieber: The frequent Drake-collaborator is at the forefront of the PBR&B movement and he boasts the finest falsetto this side of Prince. This dude can hit high-notes that Bieber hasn’t seen since he turned 16. Also, The Weeknd’s mysterious vibe and absence from the public eye is something that Bieber should consider trying.


Why they are cooler than Bieber: Apparently Toronto is a hotbed for super heavy, scrappy artists. METZ is a three-piece, no-nonsense noise rock band that has managed to make major waves with only one full-length release. This band was one of the most talked-about acts at last year’s SXSW, and they certainly have a bright future ahead on them.

10. Majical Cloudz

Why they are cooler than Bieber: This synthpop duo has been recording for a few years, but really its stride in 2012 with its Turns Turns Turns EP. Majical Cloudz makes very moody, atmospheric music that tends to make Devon Welsh’s lyrics the focal point of most tracks. While recording his early EPs, Welsh collaborated often with Grimes. Here’s hoping Majical Cloudz finds similar success.

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{Photo credit: John Londono}

Top 5 indie tracks of the week

March 3, 2014 in Alt-Folk, Alternative, Americana, Disco, Electronic, Experimental, Free downloads, Funk, independent bands, Indie

The Two Koreas – “Can Explain” {Alternative Rock}

The fact that I’m sitting in a pile of my own piss might have already given it away that our numero uno favourite Canadian band has FINALLY released the EP they were hinting at when we interviewed them a couple of years back, and to say we’re excited is an understatement. To buy their LP Winner EP for as little as $4 (or each track for $1) click here.

Sam Sniper – “Something To Say” {Americana/Rock}

This vocalist sounds just like Adam Duritz from Counting Crows (minus the nasty dreadlocks/singing about how he wants to be Bob Dylan and buy himself a grey guitar, of course) and his voice swooned us within seconds of pressing that play button. The band is currently running a Kickstarter to fund the release of their album on vinyl this summer, so if you want to help some brothers out click here.

Ang Low – “Voodoo Woman” {Experimental/Electronic}

This Afrobeat/world music-ish song is as trippy as Ween’s “Voodoo Lady,” and that’s saying a lot. Low is based out of Brooklyn, New York, and this wicked song is off his brand spankin’ new and debut EP (which hits the pavement on March 31st via Luv Luv Luv Records).

Uaxyacac – “Double Seeker” {Experimental/Electronic}

A tribal, belly-dancing kind of beat, a Liars/Grimes vibe and enough layers and textures to make you feel as if you’ve floated onto another planet for a few minutes…have I given it away that this group is Quebecois yet? This track is off their Double Seeker album which was released in December, and you can buy it for $5 here.

Few Friends – “You I’m Moving To” {Disco/Funk} + Free downloads

Who needs “a few friends” when you can listen to funkalicious tunes like this? This is actually only the second song the band has released to date, so if that impressed you as much as it impressed me you can download the song for free in the player below and give the group some “Like” love on Facebook here.

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Album review: Sam Roberts Band – Lo-Fantasy {Pop/Rock}

February 24, 2014 in Album reviews, Pop, Rock


REX’S RATING: 10 / 10


“The Hands Of Love”
“Human Heat”
“Metal Skin”
“Too Far”
“Golden Hour”

I’ve been stalking Sam Roberts a Sammy-heart for going on ten years now. But besides the epic “Graveyard Shift” I pretty much skipped through his band’s 2011 album Collider; and I was starting to think that Sammy was losing his creativity now that he’s been popping out kids left, right and center with a woman other than me. So the first time I heard about Lo-Fantasy I grimaced. I didn’t need another reason to lose faith in my beloved Sammy, and if Lo-Fantasy was anything like his last album, I wasn’t prepared to give it a listen. Well I’m telling you now folks that after listening to his band’s new album I can honestly say that Sammy is back; and this time, he’s got a synth with him.

Sammy has always had a knack for knowing when to slow things down all sexy-like, speed things up all sexy-like, and not do anything particularly interesting all sexy-like; (you get my drift…), and this album is no exception. Besides the dance-happy “The Hands Of Love” as well as a dash of synth here and there on tracks like “Shapeshifters” and “Angola” (not to mention the Synthy McSyntherson “Chasing The Light”), Sammy proves that he is savvy enough to know that sometimes, just sometimes too much synth can be a bad thing. And yes, I understand he’s a little late on the rock-gone-synth front (which has been a hit or miss with a lot of peeps), but for me it’s…(you guessed it)…A HIT YO!! Is Sammy secretly reading RMD and writing an album according to our own personal tastes? (He did play “Taj Mahal” for me at a concert in British Columbia after all…true story). Maybe I have a stalker on my hands?

Now don’t go thinking that Sammy went all Reflektor-like and completely changed his sound to a more electronic, danceable vibe (like many of the critics claimed he did), because the majority of the songs mirror some of his past work on previous albums; (like what “We’re All In This Together” does to the verses of Chemical City‘s “Mind Flood,” the classic off-beat rhythm on “Angola” does to “With a Bullet“, or the poppy “The Hands Of Love” does to We Were Born In A Flame‘s “No Sleep”/Love At The End Of The World’s “Oh Maria“). As a whole the album isn’t that much different than his previous albums (besides Collider, of course), and it still features all of the great Sammy-like qualities I look for in any Sam Roberts/Band record.

The album is packed full of happy-go-lucky songs that you can dance and sing along to with a shit-eating grin on your face as you imagine yourself dancing with Sammy in the moonlight (or maybe that’s just me…); and although it may sound basic for first-time listeners and/or non-Sammy-hearts, this album encourages us to look deeper into his music and see just how much he and his band have flexed their musical muscles this go-around in terms of introducing a variety of new sounds. There’s also soothing harmonies, a coyful play on melodies, cultured lyrics, impressive instrumentation and songwriting (oh yeah, and the band is nice to look at too…not that that matters or anything…)

And of course with this album, just like any other Sammy album, there’s a complex arrangement of guitars, pianos, vocals and drums which proves the band’s inescapable chemistry. There’s the psychedelic guitar section and experimentation on vocals in “Human Heart,” (where in my opinion the album truly starts off),  the great one-liners on “Chasing The Light,” the lo-fi guitar section in the intro for “Angola” …oh and can we give a round of applause to Sammy for the rare falsetto heard on “The Hands Of Love”? Because that was amazeballs.

But just like any other Sammy album, the songs are perhaps best meant for live consumption. And you’ll know what I mean once you go to your first Sammy show (Editor’s note: DO IT). So understand that if you’re not a huge fan of this album, check to see if Sammy is coming to a town near you because I can guaran-fucking-tee you will enjoy this album 1000x more once you’ve heard the tracks live.

So am I giving this album a perfect ten because of my Sammy bias? Hell yeah! No, not at all. It would be hypocritical of me to praise Arcade Fire for turning to dance and tropical beats on Reflektor when Sammy pretty much did the exact same thing, only he toned it down a hell of a lot; (as best heard with the tropical xylophone action going on in “Kid Iracus” – what did I tell you about dem bongos hipsters?) I always have a soft spot for artists who tread new ground and completely revamp their sound and vibe, but only if they do it well, and Sammy certainly did just that. The album is cohesive, the catchy songs get stuck in your head for days, and even the songs you don’t like at first eventually grow on you after awhile.

Oh and Sammy? I’m living in England now. So the next time you tour across the pond, maybe, just maybe I can meet you after one of your concerts and we can hop off the good foot and do the bad thing? Just a thought…

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Rex Manning Day’s 10 Most Anticipated Albums of 2014

January 27, 2014 in Album News

10. Outkast – TBA

It didn’t surprise me too much when I heard that Outkast would be reuniting for a 40-date festival tour, (only because that’s what two talented musicians who have haven’t been making music together for awhile should do….except Simon and Garfunkel, of course). But to find out they were releasing a new LP made their reunion extra, extra special. Maybe André 3000 will write a sequel to “Ms. Jackson” and call it “Kiss My Glittery Ass“? Because that would be awesome.

9. Sharon Van Etten – Are We There?

Listening to Van Etten’s last record Tramp made me want to sit in a dark room, light some candles, chug back a bottle of wine and feel like a WO-MAN (Shania style). In the same vein as Cat Power and Fiona Apple, Van Etten’s songs stand for empowerment, depth, passion, and intense heartache fueled by the complacent asshole who broke your heart into tiny little pieces. Apparently her new album is going to be released in May, and although not a lot of information is being released about it yet, the Tumblr-er of F Yeah! Sharon Van Etten has been posting a few speculations here and there, so if you’re a fan I would check that shit out.

8. Modest Mouse – TBA

It’s been seven long years since Modest Mouse released their last album We Were Dead Before The Ship Even Sank, which is pretty much the equivalent of a lifetime in the music world. Vocalist Isaac Brock could have been chilling in a flooded basement for all we know, or the bassist could have pulled a Weezer and disappeared off the face of the planet. My point is, is that I just don’t know what to expect from this new Modest Mouse album, but that doesn’t make me any less curious. It could be shit, it could be (in the words of Simon Cowell) “forgettable” or it could be totally MIND-BLOWINGLY-AWESOME!! Either way the suspense is killing me, and I can’t wait to see what 2014 has in store for MM.

7. The New Pornographers – Together

Living in British Columbia during the early 2000s, it was hard to escape the amazing wrath of The New Pornographers. Initially I only gave them a chance because I was beyond-obsessed with Ryan Dahle (AKA the brains behind Age Of Electric and Limblifter), the brother of drummer Kurt Dahle (who also drummed for Age Of Electric). But eventually their melodic and ridiculously happy music grew on me, and if anything off their new album sounds like “Bones Of An Idol” or “My Rights Versus Yours” I’ll be a happy camper. The album is being released on May 4th via Matador, and will also feature contributions from Beirut, St. Vincent, an Okkervil River and the Dap-Kings.

6. Tokyo Police Club – Forcefield

If I didn’t hear the band’s leading single off the album (“Hot Tonight”) a couple of weeks back, then TPC (as us hardcore fans like to call them) would have been way higher up on this list. But as soon as I pressed the play button my heart sunk. Where’s the sporadic drum beats? The trancey piano chords? The chorus of people chanting in the background? AnyTPCPleaseComeBackToMe, I’m still curious to see what the band has in store, I just hope they don’t let my fragile little music nerd heart down. The album is being released on March 25th via Mom + Pop (in the US), Dine Alone (in Canada) and March 24th via Memphis Industries (in the UK).

5. Liars – Mess

2012 just wouldn’t have been complete without seeing that warped energize bunny doing all sorts of sexual and kinky moves on my computer screen. And in all honesty, I wasn’t expecting to like their last album WIXIW (which is technically pronounced as “Wish You” but I like to incorrectly call it a word sounding similar to “Worcestershire”) as long as I did, but that lovely mullet eventually swooned me, and I’m still listening to “Brats” on repeat to this day. So in a classic case of “sweet baby Jesus YES!,” finding out that some new Liars would be coming our way in March made me piddle in my panties a little. The album will be out March 24th/25th in the U.S. via Mute.

4. Grimes – TBA

With a unique sound combining the electronic, industrial, noise rock and R&B genres, and a voice that I can only describe as sounding like a lispy chipmunk whose been sucking on helium balloon for the past four days, Grimes’ music was definitely not my cup of tea when I first heard it; but her last album Visions eventually grew on me. Apparently Grimes (real name Claire Boucher) wrote Visions holed up in an apartment for three weeks high on amphetamines, and it’s obvious once you focus on the amount of layering and texturing going on in the release. Her new album isn’t due out until September, but in the mean time you can stay up to date on any Grimes-related news on Boucher’s Tumblr page.

3. Thee Oh Sees – TBA

It seems like only last week we were talking about how much we loved Thee Oh Sees 2013 album Floating Coffin (oh wait, it was last week), and it also seems like only last year we were talking about how much we loved their 2012 album Putrifiers II (oh wait, it was last year). So the fact that the San Francisco-based psych rockers plan on releasing yet another release this year, despite the fact that they’re supposedly taking a hiatus (*tear*) gives us hope that this won’t be the last album we’ll hear from them.

2. Black Lips – Underneath The Rainbow

The almighty Black Lips are coming back for another round, and I can’t wait to hear what the drugged-up lunatics have been up to since we last heard from them. With any new Black Lips album there’s always going to be some kind of experimentation, new vocal arrangement or a strange high-pitched (and slightly annoying) sound that I’ve never heard before, so I’m expecting a lot of surprises and delights from this new record. The album (appropriately titled Underneath The Rainbow) was recorded with Tommy Brenneck (of Budos Band) and Patrick Carney (of The Black Keys), and is being released on March 18th.

1. Julian Casablancas – Voidz

The Strokes are DONE, man. And the sooner everyone gets over it, the better. They fulfilled their RCA contract, Albert is off quitting heroin and working on his own solo career, Fabrizio is busy getting over Drew Barrymore, Nick Valensi is knocking women up with twinsies, and Nickolai is being silent, as usual. So as far as I’m concerned, Julian has every right to keep releasing solo material. Apparently he was bummed how his last album Phrazes For The Young did buzz-wise, but clearly he didn’t hear my telepathic message saying “OH MY GOD JULIAN YOUR SOLO WORK IS SO AMAZING I WANT TO HAVE YOUR BABIES AND WALK AROUND IN THE DARK AND LISTEN TO YOU TALK ABOUT YOUR PHILOSOPHIES ON LIFE!!!” Yeah, I’m pretty stoked.

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Rex Manning Day’s Top 10 Albums of 2013

January 17, 2014 in Album reviews, Alt-Country, Alternative, Americana, Classic Rock, Electronic, Electropop, Funk, Jazz, Psychedelic Rock, Rock, Top 2013

10. Cage The Elephant – Melophobia


Alright I’m not going to lie: There are only two songs I listened the hell out of on this album, and by “listened the hell out of” I mean played that shit on repeat; all day, erryday. I feel bad ignoring the rest of the songs on the album. Honestly, I do. But when I’m staring down at my iPod and “Halo” and “Take It Or Leave It” are sitting there and screaming “LISTEN TO MEEEEEE!!” I have a weak moment and disregard the rest of the album. But I can’t deny the fact that I’ve been listening to these songs probably hundreds of times each since I first discovered this album a couple of months back, and that deserves some proper recognition. (Not to mention that I expected the band to burn out in a fiery, one-hit-wonder haze after “Ain’t No Rest For The Wicked.”) If it wasn’t for the band’s nasty habit of constructing a limp-dick chorus this album might have been higher up on the list, but either way this release proves that Cage The Elephant aren’t going anywhere anytime soon.

9. Elvis Costello and The Roots – Wise Up Ghost


I know, I’m just as shocked as you that this album made our list. Yes, The Roots are great, but I’ve been grimacing at Costello’s tunes since oh, I dunno…1995, but after listening to this album I can honestly say for sure: Costello and his Roots have officially raised the bar for future collaborative albums. Although there are a few skip-worthy tracks like the title track “Wise Up Ghost” and “Tripwire” and the tail-end tracks off the album, “Viceroy’s Row,” “Wake Me Up” and “Walk Us Uptown” make up for it. Anyways, we’ve already ranted and raved about how much we loved this album here and here, so instead of boring you to death with our Costello/Roots collaboration obsession I’ll just say this: If The Roots can act as a musical prozac for someone as old as Costello well then…hey ?uestlove, call me!

8. Thee Oh Sees – Floating Coffin

Thee Oh Sees Floating Coffni

Oh, Thee Oh Sees: Continuing to put out great release after great release, year after year. I know it’s not fair that the band has been getting quadruple the amount of coverage than any other band covered here at RMD, but I just can’t help it! The Kurt Cobain-like squeal on “Toe Cutter – Thumb Buster,” the Pixies-meets-Joy Division vibe on “No Spell” and the hyperactive guitar section that mirrors some vintage Ramones on “Tunnel Time”…there are so many memorable tracks on this album that I never got sick of, which seems like a true rarity these days. But before you give this album a listen I must warn you: It may bring out the hidden ADHD in you and make you want to strip off all your clothes, run out into the street and mosh pit with random people while old people stare at you with a disapproving look and scoff in your direction. Not that it happened to me or anything…

7. of Montreal – Lousy with Sylvianbriar


I’ve been a huge fan of of Montreal (heh) for quite some time now thanks to the epicness that is “Wraith Pinned To The Mist” and “I Was Never Young,” but I’m ashamed to admit that I’ve been shying away from the band’s releases as of late because everything I’ve heard from them has just been way, way too out there for me (and that’s saying a lot considering I praise the holy Boognish). So in a classic case of “woooahhh where did that come from?” I was nearly blown off my seat the first time I listened to this album. It’s so…normal! I still can’t believe this is the same Kevin Barnes, who chose a more personal and vulnerable approach to the album, and the end result was nothing short of amazeballs. Not to mention that tracks like “Colossus,” “Belle Glade Missionaries” and “Hegira Émigré” were some of the best alt-country songs I heard all year. I shit you not.

6. The Black Angels – Indigo Meadow

Black Angels Indigo Meadow

There’s so many things I like about this album I don’t even know where to start. From The Doors nostalgia to the continued tribalness…and most importantly, the fact that the group has our numero uno favourite female drummer and is led by a bearded hippie who I may or may not have been crushing on for the past five years because he looks like Jesus (you know how us Catholic girls can be…) But anyways…I’m begging you don’t let The Black Angels fall under the radar with the rest of the Blackie rock bands like The Black Keys or Black Rebel Motorcycle Club, because this group has so much more to offer. Sure their psychedelic vibe hasn’t won over all the critics out there, but from all of us here at RMD: Flower Power on, dudes.

5. The Knife – Shaking The Habitual

The Knife Shaking The Habitual

There are so many tiny little details hidden in this album, I could listen to it hundreds of thousands of times and still discover something new after each listen. From the grunting alien heard on “Full Of Fire,” the addictive riff on “Without You My Life Would Be Boring” to the palette of different drum beats and instruments on “A Tooth For An Eye,” listening to this album is more like travelling across the globe and experiencing all these new and different cultures, ideas, sounds, smells and tastes. But what I loved most about the album was its lyrics and the duo’s passion for using their music as a tool to help bring awareness to political issues that they deem important.

4. Jagwar Ma – Howlin’

Jagwar Ma

I was already listening to “Come Save Me” on repeat for a few months before I immersed myself in Howlin’, but the first time I heard/watched “The Throw” music video something just clicked. Maybe it was the slow motion sexiness, or the vocal range that is so out of this world it’s hard to believe that it comes from a human, but suddenly we “got” Jagwar Ma. It’s weird because if you were to listen to any of these songs individually you wouldn’t even think they were by the same band. The album covers every musical corner and quirk that I love (from tribal and experimental to electronic and poppy rock), and just listening to “What Love” changed the way I listened to how a song can be created just because there are so many different elements, layers and designs going on that you will never get bored listening to it.

3. Austra – Olympia


Olympia is a release that marks a considerable change in the band’s musical style, with Austra switching from dark, gloomy witch house to danceable, electropop tunes (but still with the trademark Stelmanis edge, because of course). Even Austra’s primary songwriter Katie Stelmanis (AKA Mozart-in-Bloom) claims she wrote the album differently than she wrote Austra’s past albums by focusing more on the structure of the song instead of its “vibe.” There are still some typical Austra and experimental operatic-like tunes like “What We Done?” and “I Don’t Care (I’m A Man)” although the true gems are found in tracks like “Forgive Me” and “Painful Like.” But what I liked best about this album is that it proves that Austra is constantly evolving and changing, so instead of becoming stale fans are forced to grow along with them.

2. Wampire – Curiosity


This album is packed full of so many different vibes (the psychedelic “Magic Lights” or the Americana-ish “The Hearse”) as well as punches (the keyboards on “Snacks” and the sexiness on “Trains”) it’s hard not to be intrigued by it all. (Oh who am I kidding? The powerful, glowing yellow eyes are what really drew me into the album…) But the organ sounds are what truly sold us on the record, and are so vampire-y is the band actually from Transylvania (or Transylwania? Hard to be sure…) The album as a whole is like a rock essay that’s constructed meticulously, with each song flowing into the next and providing a cohesive structure for the listener to get comfortable with. Let’s just hope that the band doesn’t get a case of the sophomore blues, because Curiosity is going to be pretty hard to beat.

1. Arcade Fire – Reflektor


I’ll be the first to admit of the Arcade Fire-overload these past few years, and I was ready to shit all over this album once it was released. But given the fact that LCD Soundsystem has officially risen from the grave through Reflektor, I don’t give a flying fuck what people think of Arcade Fire and this new album; they have officially redeemed themselves in the eyes of RMD. Yes, they’ve received more mainstream attention than Lady Gaga and Nickelback combined (OK that might be a slight overstatement), but there’s no denying that Reflektor is to Arcade Fire like what OK Computer was to Radiohead. Well maybe James Murphy being producer has something to do with it…Oh and one more thing: Don’t judge the album by its singles. The end.

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Top Tracks of 2013 {Part 4}

January 14, 2014 in Alternative, Americana, Country, Dream Pop, Electronic, Electropop, House, New Wave, Pop, Psych Pop, Psychedelic Rock, Rock, Shoegaze, Sunshine Pop, Top 2013, Traditional Country

{PART 1} {PART 2} {PART 3}

Girls Names – “Hypnotic Regression” {New Wave}

This song is so deliciously 80s you can almost picture Emilio Estevez playing with the strings of his hoodie and Ally Sheedy crunching up potato chips in her sandwich…but I digress. Plus the song sounds like The Cure and Joy Division meshed together perfectly; Oh and if Cage The Elephant needs any tips on how to write a chorus properly they should take a note from this track.

Quilt – “Arctic Shark” {Psych Pop}

We were in a rush the first time we discovered this song, and we were so wowed by it that we made a mental note to ourselves to come back to the song and listen to it again, just in case it was all a dream. And after watching this video a second time we can honestly tell you that yes, it was a dream. A wondrous, flowery, colourful dream:

Pearl Jam – “My Father’s Son” {Rock}

Pearl Jam’s new record sucked monkey balls, but it would have sucked major monkey balls if this track wasn’t included on it. It may start off sounding like any other basic Pearl Jam rock song, but the chorus does all these interesting twists and turns via Vedder, which makes it one of the most memorable tracks on the album by far.

Tennis – “Mean Streets” {Sunshine Pop}

Tennis has been on the receiving end of a lot of review hate for their lacklustre live shows, but this song proves that the sunshiny duo are best listened to through headphones and/or speakers. (Well actually, Tennis is really best listened to on a sunny, warm day while you’re chillin’ on the beach sucking back double piña coladas…but anyways). Sounds like recording in pajamas really paid off!!

The Dismemberment Plan – “Invisible” {Alternative Rock}

The first 30 seconds of this track really threw us off guard. Is it rap? Is it classical? Is it Alt-J trying to pull a quick one on us? Not to mention that it has a perfect blend of Frightened Rabbit-like vocals, Stooges-like piano chords, and a Duncan Sheik-like chorus…what’s not to love?

Billie Joe Armstrong & Norah Jones “Long Time Gone” {Traditional Country}

We were already digging Billie Joe Armstrong’s and Norah Jones’ collaborative Everly Brothers cover album before the news broke of Phil Everly’s death, so we’ve been blasting the record ever since we lost one of the world’s best harmonizing geniuses. This is one of our favourite tracks on the album, but if you have some time on your hands check the rest of the album out and you won’t be disappointed.

Whitley – “TV” {Rock/Americana}

Sure the chorus leaves a lot to be desired…but that dark, gloomy American riff tho. Whitley is a one-man-band led by the Australian musician Lawrence Greenwood (although he is often joined onstage by a few other talented peeps for his live shows), and if you like this tune as much as we do you should give him some “Like” love on Facebook here.

Dr. Dog – “The Truth” {Blues/Rock}

It may not be the most memorable song the first time you listen to it, but after a few listens it gets stuck in your head for days, and then weeks (or in our case…months). We’ve already professed our profound Dr. Dog-love here, so instead of boring you to death you should really just press that play button, sit back and enjoy the ride.

Toro Y Moi – “Say That” {Electronic/House}

This South Carolinan cutie pie has been a huge, huge thing in the indie world over the past few years, so naturally a lot of indie kids hopped all over his new album (us included). The song was our favourite off of the album, and is all over the place musically, lying somewhere in between R&B, electronic, trance, old school house, and a bunch of mellow awesomeness.

I Break Horses – “Denial” {Dream Pop}

We’re still riding our dream poppy haze from last year, and while Empress Of kept us going throughout this past spring, it was “Denial” that wet our delicious dream pop appetite throughout the second half of the year. Them Swedes never fail to impress.

Queens of the Stone Age – “If I Had a Tail” {Alternative Rock}

We’re not going to deny that QOTSA’s 2013 album …Like Clockwork was just …meh, and despite our QOTSA tattoo and our heads being so far up Homme-boy’s ass we’re not afraid to say it. But this was hands-down the best (and only?) good track on the album, so we have to give a shout-out when a shout-out is due (especially when Josh Homme’s sexyness is involved…)

The Mary Onettes – “Hit The Waves” {Alternative Pop}

We first checked out the band because we thought their name was “The Mary Omelettes,” but this group proves you don’t need an accidentally hilarious name to get our attention (well….) This here is another tune that defined our 2013 thanks to the mad Cure vibes and 80s nostalgia.

Washed Out – “All I Know” {Dream Pop}

Looking back at 2013 it would be hard to imagine our year without “All I Know” and the close-up of Victor’s blubbering face at the start of this music video. And as much as we loved Washed Out’s latest album, nothing beats this leading single off the record.

Zero 7 – “On My Own” {Electropop}

This song may start off just like any other Cut Copy or !!! song, but Londoners are full of surprises like that…and they certainly know how to craft a great electropop tune. This track is off the duo’s 12″ of the same title, and you can stream a crapton of their songs for free over at their Soundcloud page.

{PART 1} {PART 2} {PART 3}

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Top Albums of 2013 {Part 4}

January 7, 2014 in Album reviews, Alternative, Art Rock, Blues, Chamber Pop, Chamber Rock, Electro, Electrofunk, Electrogoth, Electronic, Electronica, Electropop, Experimental, Folk, Funk, Garage Rock, Hip Hop, House, Pop, Psych Folk, Psychedelic Rock, Punk, R&B, Rap, Rock, Soul, Top 2013, Witch House, World Music

{PART 1} {PART 2} {PART 3} {PART 5}

Crystal Stilts – Nature Noir


RIYL: The Velvet Underground, Joy Division, The Jesus and Mary Chain

The Brooklyners have officially wowed us with this third release of theirs, which starts off with the trancey, tribal opener “Spirit In Front Of Me” before it churns through some of the best tracks we’ve heard all year like “Memory Room” and “Sticks And Stones.” If you have some extra time on your hands give this album a listen from start to finish, because hearing is believing.

To read our “Future Folklore” song review click here
To read our “Star Crawl” song review click here

!!! – Thr!!!er


RIYL: Cut Copy, Happy Mondays

Maybe it’s because it’s been a great year for electrofunkers (yes, even Daft Punk), or maybe we were swooned by the sexy-as-hell Rolling Stones-inspired short-shorts…oh who are we kidding? What made us really fall in love with this record was this music video, and this music video alone. And once you hit the “play” button you’ll see what we mean…

To read our “Californiyeah” music video review click here.

Arcade Fire – Reflektor


RIYL: LCD Soundsystem, David Bowie

Just the fact that David Bowie sings on the album’s leading single and LCD Soundsystem’s James Murphy produced the album speaks volumes for itself. See what happens when eccentric musicians collaborate together? OK James Murphy, I’ll forgive you for disbanding LCD Soundsystem now;  but only because we know where you truly belong is in the co-producer’s chair.

To read our Reflektor album review click here
To read our “Reflektor” music video review click here

Janelle Monáe – The Electric Lady


RIYL: Lauryn Hill, Outkast, Erykah Badu

You can always count on Janelle Monáe to bring the crazy-as-fuck visuals with her music videos, but this year she brought the crazy-as-fuckness to a whole new level. With The Electric Lady dominating the R&B releases of 2013, it’s no wonder why Erykah Badu turned her back on her glittery collaboration with The Flaming Lips to work with Miss Monáe.

To read our “Q.U.E.E.N.” music video review click here

Dr. Dog – B-Room


RIYL: The Band, The Beatles

It was love at first listen as soon as we heard “The Truth”, and although we have a nasty habit of skipping through sappy slow songs, this one helped hook us in within the first 30 seconds of the album…but our listening love didn’t stop there. There’s one great track after another, each with its own unique vibe and hook; not that it’s too much of a surprise though considering Dr. Dog’s massive discography is littered with solid album after solid album.

HAIM – Days Are Gone


RIYL: Feist, Paramore, Fleetwood Mac

We’ve been getting drips and drabs of HAIM since as far back as November of last year, and it seemed like everywhere we turned HAIM’s long luscious hippie locks were waving at us. This record was the perfect buffer for us while we wait for Stealing Sheep’s next record, and like ’em or  love ’em Days Are Gone certainly deserves its place on any end-of-year list.

To read our song review of HAIM’s “Edge” click here

David Bowie – The Next Day


RIYL: The Kinks, LCD Soundsystem

If the music of 2013 was a popularity high school contest, David Bowie, James Murphy and Arcade Fire would have been the “cool kids” this year. We may not have been the hugest fans of the album, but The Next Day pushed a wave and ripple effect in the music community, and lived up to Bowie’s knack for tailoring to the weird, eccentric and oddball target audience.

To read our “Love is Lost” (Hello Steve Reich mix by James Murphy) song review click here
To read our”Valentine’s Day” song review click here
To read our The Stars (Are Out Tonight)” music video review click here

Austra – Olympia


RIYL: Grimes, The Knife, Bjork

Set up like a broadway musical and starting with the “what-the-fuck-was-that” opener that immediately draws the listener in, this album is all over the map musically. The listener is taken on an electropop (“Forgive Me” and “Home”) before finishing with the mysterious “I Don’t Care (I’m A Man)” and “Hurt Me Now.”

To read our Olympia album review click here.
To read our “Home” music video review click here.
To read our “Home” song review click here.

Belle and Sebastian – The Third Eye Centre


RIYL: Iron and Wine, of Montreal

Belle and Sebastian have always had a specific kind of sound that isn’t well received by everyone, but with a palette of different instruments scattered all throughout this record, it was hard not to be mesmerized by the rarities release. From psychedelic rock to alternative folk and world music, this album is so musically diverse we don’t even know where to start, but to dumb it down in laymen’s terms The Third Eye Centre is basically a poppier version of Arcade Fire’s Funeral or Neon Bible.

To read our review of the “Your Cover’s Blown” music video click here

Action Bronson – Saab Stories


RIYL: Ghostface Killah, Das Racist

Once we took our feminist hats off and got over the atrocious album cover, we came to appreciate what all the Saab Stories fuss was about, just for shock value’s sake alone (these are Miley times we’re living in, after all). It proves that sometimes EPs can provide just as much punch as a full-length, and it’s easy to see why all my fellow music bloggers were ranting and raving about it.

To read our review of “Morey Boogie Boards” click here

Cut Copy – Free Your Mind

Free Your Mind

RIYL: New Order, Holy Ghost!, Chromatics, Happy Mondays

Out of all the electropop releases of the year, Cut Copy’s Free Your Mind stood out from the rest for us in 2013 (yes, even after seeing !!!’s sexy short-shorts). But this album is filled with so much more than just electropop sounds and proves that Cut Copy are more than just an electropop band; but motivational speakers for electronic-loving hippies (in a nutshell).

To read our Free Your Mind album review click here

Edward Sharpe & The Magnetic Zeros – Edward Sharpe & The Magnetic Zeros


RIYL: Buffalo Springfield, Grateful Dead, Jefferson Airplane

All the haters must be smoking crack (or not smoking enough, in the eyes of Toronto mayor Rob Ford that is) because this album is some of the best Americana we’ve heard all year. With a specific, narrow and cohesive focus, yet bordering on everything from classic rock, psychedelic rock and soul, Edward Sharpe and his Magnetic Zeros have brought fresh eyes to an older sound yet again.

No Age – An Object


RIYL: Joy Division, Eric’s Trip, Black Flag

With the Sub Pop stamp of approval, No Age have torpedoed their way onto the top of the 2013 punk charts with this record, but don’t let the “punk” label fool you. The album features everything from nitty, gritty garage rock to surprisingly melodic and catchy rock, and even a little tribal and electronic action on “An Impression.” Oh and you can stream the album in full for free below. (Thanks, Sub Pop!)

The Weeknd – Kiss Land


RIYL: Michael Jackson, Frank Ocean

His voice and vibe may be drenched in R&B, but it was the electronic backbone of this record that made us fall in love with it. From the electronic/experimental track “Adaptation” to Drake’s cameo on “Live For,” it’s clear why so many peeps consider Kiss Land to be 2013’s response to last year’s channel ORANGE. Plus he’s from Toronto, so we may or may not have some kind of Canadian bias about the album.

To read our review of The Weeknd’s “Live For” music video click here
To read our “Kiss Land” song review click here

Blood Orange – Cupid Deluxe


RIYL: Prince, Frank Ocean

Blood Orange’s outstanding new record Cupid Deluxe was perhaps overshadowed by its interesting cover…but Cupid works in mysterious ways like. With its November release the album just barely cut this year’s end-of-year-lists, but there’s no denying Blood Orange’s place in 2013 considering he was busy remixing everyone from Friends to Drake (love that shit).

To read our song review of Blood Orange’s remix of Friends’ “That Way” click here.
To read our song review of Blood Orange’s remix of Drake’s “Hold On, We’re Going Home” click here

{PART 1} {PART 2} {PART 3} {PART 5}

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Top Indie Pop Tracks of 2013 {Part 2}

December 19, 2013 in Ambient, Art Pop, Classic Pop, Dream Pop, Electropop, Experimental, Folk, Garage Pop, independent bands, Indie, Pop, Shoegaze, Top 2013

{PART 1}

Chronic City – “Key Biscayne” ft. Henri Joel {Dream Pop} + Free download

This dynamic dream pop due is based out of Vienna, and apparently they’ve been collaborating with everyone from French indie pop singers to church organists and even tigers! (Really, it’s true). If you like this song you can download it for free by heading on over to their official website.

Hits Of Ocean – “Cereal” {Experimental/Art Pop}

This song is all over the place it’s hard to make sense of it all, but that’s why we love it, oh so much. If you dig this tune as much as we do we highly recommend you stream the rest of their new album It’s Pretty Bright Out There for free here, or buy it for as little as $7 (or each individual track for $1) here.

Cajsa Siik – “The Fix” {Electropop}

Don’t let her unpronounceable name deter you, because this Swedish popster is not one to be missed. Cajsa is based out of Stockholm, and this single was officially released on November 12th via the independent digital label 100 Songs. If you like the tune you can buy it for $1.47 via iTunes here.

Choses Sauvages – “Violence” {Electropop}

Normally we’re not the type to condone violence, but this track proves that sometimes violence can be OK…when it comes to music, that is. Plus this group is from Montreal, and if you follow this blog at all you’re probably well aware that we’re convinced that anything Quebecois musicians touch turns to pure gold. If you dig this track you can download it as a name-your-price download here.

High Safari – “Waves On Waves” {Surf Pop} + Free downloads

Let’s see here…we like safaris, we like waves, and we like free music…so this track was pretty much a recipe for awesomeness. This duo is based out of London, and if you dig their work you can download some of their tracks for free over at their Soundcloud page, but make sure you follow them on Facebook and Twitter too.

Goodman – “Dawdling” {Pop/Rock}

We’ve been keeping our eye on Goodman for awhile now, just because his vocal style reminds us of our hero Julian motherfucking Casablancas. (Not only that, he’s the first artist here at RMD to make our top end-of-year lists two years in a row as well.) This single was released back in March, and you can buy it for as little as $1 over at his Bandcamp page.

Meeka Kates – “Thinking About You” {Pop/Folk} + Free downloads

We’re not the hugest fans of John Mayer, but there’s so many elements and pleasantries going on here it’s safe to say that this track is better than any Mayer song we’ve heard in our lifetime (which isn’t saying a lot, I know…) If you like the song make sure you download it in the player below, or download his entire Junior EP for free via Bandcamp too.

Jazz Mills – “Pop Song” {Classic Pop}

Hailing from Texas, this “lolly pop” songstress sounds so classy it’s hard to believe this track was released in 2013 and not 1964. If you can digs her classic vibe be sure to stream the rest of her self-titled album in full for free via Soundcloud here, and check out her music video for “Little Baby” here.

Easter Island – “Dinosaur” {Dream Pop/Shoegaze}

This dreamy, hazey tune will make you feel as if your’e floating into another dimension while you’re listening to it, so make sure your feet are planted firmly on the ground before you press that play button. The group is based out of Athens, Georgia, and if you like this track you can buy their new two-track EP for as little as $2 here.

Foreign Television – “Longlights” {Dream Pop/Ambient}

2013 was a great year for dream pop (Beach Fossils, Washed Out, Empress Of…need we say more?) and this artist is no exception. Foreign Television is actually a one-man band led by Francis Allen who is originally from Wales but is now based in Moscow, and you can buy his new album Youthless as a name-your-price download here.

Ghost Lake – “I Thought You Were My Friend” {Indie Pop/Folk}

If you’re not familiar with Ghost Lake, then you probably didn’t read our coverage on his wicked track “Late Spring Morning Sunlight,” which we played on repeat throughout the whole spring/summer seasons of 2012. So as soon as we saw that the Swede was releasing some new pop-happy tunes we got all over that shit. If you like the track you can buy it as a name-your-price download here.

Hippy – “Cat Resort” {Garage Pop}

Hippy’s new album Almost Live blew us off our feet with its awesomeness, and has been one of our numero uno favourite indie records to come out of 2013 thus far. You can purchase their new album as a name-your-price download here, but make sure you give them some “Like” love on Facebook while you’re at it too.

Swords – “All The Boys” {Electropop}

This Irish trio (consisting of Diane Anglim, Ian Frawls and Jarlath Canning) first formed back in 2010, but have been causing a stir in the Irish underground scene ever since the release of their debut album Lions & Gold. You can buy the album for €8.99 via iTunes (or each individual track for €0.99), but their tunes are also available on CD Baby and Google Play as well.

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Top Indie Pop Tracks of 2013 {Part 1}

December 18, 2013 in Alternative, Chillwave, Dream Pop, Electropop, Folk, Free downloads, Funk, Galactic Pop, independent bands, Indie, Pop, Psych Pop, Rock, Soul, Sunshine Pop, Surf Pop, Top 2013, Tropical Pop

{PART 2}

Boardwalk – “I’m To Blame” {Dream Pop}

Oh Boardwalk, where have you been all my life? (Well apparently in Los Angeles, but that’s besides the point…) Plus we’ve already covered another one of their tracks in our Top 5 Indie Tracks of the Week series, so that should show you right there just how obsessed we are with this group. This track is off their new self-titled album which you can buy for $8.99 here.

Elastic Bond – “Find A Way” {Pop/Soul}

When it comes to all the countless submissions we receive on a daily basis, this track/band was everything we’ve wanted and more. The group is based out of Miami (hence the Latin-y vibes), and if you like this song you can buy it for as little as $0.99 via iTunes here and check out the rest of their music videos here.

NEW FOUND LAND – “The Hunter” {Pop}

Don’t even bother with those Newfie jokes, because despite this artist’s name this track is actually Swedish pop at its finest. This track is off her Hunter EP which was released back in July, and you can buy the album for as little as €3 (or each individual track for €1) here.

The Fadeout – “Fantasy” {Surf/Sunshine Pop}

If this is what fantasy sounds like then get us the hell out of our reality….ASAP. This Beach Boys-y group is based out of Montreal, and this is the sixth track off their debut LP Shapes Of Animals. You can buy the album for $8.99 over at their Bandcamp page, and follow them on Facebook here.

The Assyrians – “Oceans” {Galactic Pop}

These Assyrians were the first to break RMD’s galactic pop cherry, so we can’t help but have a soft spot for these Milanese. This is the first single off the Italians’ debut album Tundra which was released last month via Foolica Records, and if you’re lucky enough to live in the land of Spotify (sorry, Canadians!) you can listen to the rest of the album here.

The Derevolutions – “We Found That Beat” {Pop/Funk} + Free downloads

We don’t get nearly enough funky submissions, so when we do we jump all over that shit. The song is described as sort of sounding like “1964 and 2014 collided”, and if you’re feeling funky you can stream the rest of the band’s tunes for free (and take advantage of those free downloads) here.

THE TRANQ – “My Heart Is A Yo-Yo” (Coconut Slaying Remix) {Tropical Pop} + Free download

Last year we came across a ton of great tropical pop, but 2013 has been pretty quiet on the tropical pop front…except for these guys. (Plus they’re political and stuff too, so we can digs it.) You can download the track for free in the player below, but make sure you give the band some “Like” love on Facebook while you’re at it too.

Banana Beach – “Mobile Homes” {Electropop} + Free download

Dem Swedes are at it again; swooning us with their ridiculously catchy pop-happy tunes (have the Swedes ever written a bad pop tune…like, ever?) The quintet is based out of Stockholm, and recently recorded their debut EP independently in an office of an abandoned floor inside a factory complex (if that isn’t indie I don’t know what is). If you like the track make sure you download it in the player below.

Mammoth Life – “Building Bridges” {Dream Pop/Rock}

This band’s new self-titled album is so good it was hard to pick just one track, so if you have some time head on over to their Bandcamp page and give it a listen (and be prepared for a case of the warm-fuzzies before you do so). You can buy this track for $1 here, or the entire release for $9.99 here.

Dream Stretcher – “Make Light” {Dream Pop/Chillwave} + Free downloads

With jaw-dropping harmonies, an electronic base spread over a chillwave foundation…there is absolutely nothing we don’t love about this track. This group is based out of Los Angeles, and if you dig this track as much as we do you can download it for free in the player below, and check out the rest of their tunes here.

Iida – “Life Will Kill You” {Pop/Folk}

There’s something about this Swedish songstress’ track that just spoke to us, (which may or may not be because some say the song has a “language of its own”?) This track was released as a single earlier this year on the Swedish record label 100SONGS, and if you dig her work make sure you give her some “Like” love on Facebook.

{PART 2}

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