The Sound of the Moment VI

The best of current music according to me, featuring a mixture of popular releases, lesser-known recent tracks, and just what is stuck in my head at the moment.

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Pumarosa – Honey

This track has been out since September 2016 but British quintet Pumarosa’s debut album, ‘The Witch’, was released only last week. The distinctive, often otherworldly vocals of lead singer Isabel Muñoz-Newsome give Honey a powerful sense of its own momentum, with its lyrics fitting in between a jagged, propulsive riff. It’s a very direct rock song about the state of the world, and its stylish, visually arresting video also complements it perfectly. Both this and their hypnotic recent single Dragonfly herald Pumarosa as an exciting new discovery who refuse to be pigeonholed – and I cannot wait to hear more of them.

Lorde – Green Light

The New Zealander is back and, though I confess to being unconvinced by some of her earlier songs, Green Light is arguably her most accessible and commercial tune yet. This performance on flagship BBC2 show Later … with Jools Holland showed perfectly why David Bowie once hailed her as ‘the future of music’. Passionately sung, and with a brilliant, jaunty piano section that drives it along, Green Light cements Lorde’s place as a performer with a unique sound. Her new album ‘Melodrama’ will be released on 16th June.

Future Islands – Ran  

Future Islands were little-known before they got their big break following a performance on the Letterman Show in 2014. An American synth pop band now renowned for their live performances, they often draw on personal experience to make raw, rousing ballads. In that vein, Ran uses frontman Samuel Herring’s lilting vocals to great effect to make another heartbreak-fuelled song. On the basis of this affecting, poignant piece of music, and Herring’s impassioned performance, Future Islands’ now-expanding fan base is well-deserved.

Beach Fossils – Saint Ivy

This American rock band, largely unknown in the UK, have been rumbling along quietly in the US since 2009. With its unashamedly guitar-based music, their upcoming album ‘Somersault’ (out on June 2nd) comes across as an attempt to break the mainstream. Saint Ivy fuses piano, guitar and a flirtation with woodwind at the end, giving it a decidedly jazzy, Motown vibe. This is not their most recent song – Down The Line and Tangerine have both been released in the past few weeks alone, but Saint Ivy is their most memorable and distinctive tune yet.

Hoops – Sun’s Out

Those currently missing the presence of Tame Impala, never fear – Hoops are here to fill the void with their debut album ‘Routines’. The first track from this album, Sun’s Out, is a laidback three-minute hymn to the summer. It very easily creates a dreamy atmosphere, complete with woozy vocals and a cracking synth that only kicks in around halfway through. The band sound as if they’re stuck in a euphoric parallel universe with no real desire to escape, which makes it all the more surprising that Sun’s Out ends up as a nicely self-contained song that knows when to finish.

Dan Auerbach – Waiting On A Song

This song comes from the upcoming solo album of the same name by Dan Auerbach, better known as the lead singer and guitarist of The Black Keys. Whilst that band have segued from bluesy rock to the psychedelic throughout their albums so far, here Auerbach returns to the old-fashioned days of a crooner with a guitar singing songs about everyday life. Waiting On A Song, with its extremely Boyhood-esque video featuring a group of adolescent friends, conjures up a very nostalgic feel. It’s coming-of-age bottled in a five-minute burst.

Sheryl Crow – Alone In The Dark

Alone In The Dark sees the American songstress coming back to the type of music she does best – well-structured and melodic, with the guitar at front and centre. The song also has a sense of real joy about it, even though it is reportedly about the negative side of social media. Her voice is as strong as ever and she looks to be enjoying this phase of her career, as this performance on Jools Holland shows. Crow fairly belts out this song, and her latest album, ‘Be Myself’ (her tenth), is out now.

KT Tunstall – Love Is An Ocean

Love Is An Ocean is the final song on the Scottish singer-songwriter’s fifth album ‘KIN’, which saw her perhaps finally reconciling both the requirements of modern pop and of her own musical style. Though not an utterly up-to-the-moment piece of music, it has stuck with me since I first heard it. This heartfelt tune is very soothing whilst seeming to be imbued with the weight of Tunstall’s personal experience in the last few years. By its final refrain, it very much has the sound of an artist at peace with herself, strumming comfortably to her own rhythm.

Finally, for something a little more considered, here is ‘This Is The Place’, from Mancunian poet Tony Walsh.

Art may be far from people’s minds at the moment, but it can still help. Thanks for reading and for listening.

Alex Nicholson 


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