What have musicians been doing during the year-long COVID crisis? Writing and recording new material, of course. That supply has built up to the point where this material needs to start coming out. There were more than 800 new pitches just to me last week. I managed to winnow things down to just these five.
1. Jade Bird, Open Up the Heavens
Recommended If You Like: The grittier side of indie-folk.
Jade, the Nashville-based singer-songwriter, continues to live up to the hype. This track from her upcoming sophomore album (the third advance single) was written and recorded over two days in a proper studio. It was the last song recorded and according to Jade, her favourite part of the album.
2. Art d’Ecco, Head Rush
Standard Definition (Paper Bag)
RIYL: Modern art-rock with a touch of glam
If you don’t look at the metadata of this song to find out its release date, you would be forgiven thinking that it’s a recently unearthed song from the golden era of British glam in the early 70s. Add in some layer vocals and tougher guitars and you’ve got something The Sweet would have released. And I say that as a massive complement. The whole album will be out April 23.
3. Manchester Orchestra, Bed Head
The Million Masks of God (Loma Vista/Concord)
RIYL: Silversun Pickups, Cold War Kids, Death Cab for Cutie
Once again, they’re from Atlanta, not Manchester—although a few Britishisms sometimes slip through with their sound (I hear a bit of Mumford & Sons in this one). Their sixth album (due April 30) shows more growth in the band’s songwriting. Nice production on this first single.
4. Frances Forever, Space Girl
RIYL: Simple guitar-based bedroom pop
Say hello to Boston’s France Garrett. She and her friends have been releasing material for about three years. Can you have an intergalactic same-sex crush? Frances thinks so. Watch for this one to continue to be a big hit on TikTok. Lovely melodies, too.
5. Greta Van Fleet, Heat Above
The Battle at Garden’s Gate (Lava/Republic/Universal)
A mid-tempo rocker featuring acoustic guitar, Hammond organ, tympani drums, and a touch of strings, complete with a trippy, psychy video? It’s a combination that worked well in 1973 and still sounds pretty cool today. The band may be polarizing, but no contemporary band is making music like GVF today. And that’s a fact.
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