The first sounds of February should be refreshing and reassuring. Powered by Januarian inertia, the next mix contains first and second singles from upcoming albums, in addition, of course, to some burgeoning bands with promise. After the jump, ten essential downloads from this past week in music — all free for the taking! Lend us your ears and then tell us what you think.*
1. Shout Out Louds – “Fall Hard”
The second single off of their upcoming album Work (2/23), “Fall Hard” best represents the new, more “life-affirming” Shout Out Louds sound. By peeling away a couple layers of bells and shakers, they’ve left us with straight indie pop, courtesy of Stockholm.
2. The Magnetic Fields – “We Are Having A Hootenanny“
Stephen Merritt takes a jump from the moody depths of “From A Sinking Boat” to a folkier territory, and to the vaguely familiar tune of “She’ll Be Coming ‘Round the Mountain.” “We Are Having A Hootenanny” is the third track on Realism — the conclusion of the band’s “no-synth” trilogy, which dropped on January 26th.
3. The Radio Dept. – “Heaven’s On Fire“
With layered major chords from both real and toy pianos, this second track from their upcoming third full-length, Clinging to the Scheme, will turn any conspicuous frown upside down. Automatic. The retro throwback denouement would definitely make for a great ending montage.
4. Boxboro – “Dear Arthur“
Like a younger Ben Folds guesting his vocals on a Belle & Sebastian single from The Boy With The Arab Strap, Boxboro combines an upbeat chorus with earnest lyrics. It’s both pretty and pretty damn catchy.
5. Lo-Fi-Fnk – “Marchin In“
After working on their upcoming album for two years (so far), Swedish electropoppers Lo-Fi-Fnk have perfected the art of the precise layering of lush keys, peer-pressuring bass, and female voice that marches in halfway to piggyback off the lead’s laidback vocals.
6. New Young Pony Club – “Lost A Girl“
The powerful femme fatale allure of Tahiti Bulmer’s voice never gets lost in the swirl of ethereal oohs and las. With a split second break and crash, “Lost A Girl” is the first track to be leaked from their upcoming sophomore album, The Optimist, out on March 8th.
7. Sonny & the Sunsets – “Heart of Sadness“
When you see the hilarious contrast between the band name and the song title, expect the same from this clap-a-long of a song. Picture Wavves with the same surf sensibility and catchy melodies, but a decent haircut and soundproof padding in his garage.
8. Skybox – “In A Dream“
Sounding like a lo-fi version of Empire of the Sun, “In A Dream” is essentially a ’90s pop song after the electronic future had an intervention. With a two-part chorus, this breath of sunshine ends up sounding really original after all.
9. Veronica Falls – “Starry Eyed“
Though it rips off the harmonizing oohs of U.N.P.O.C.’s “Here On My Own,” the spritely vocal licks and backing male replies are endearing enough for you to realize that it is in no way, shape, or form related. The beginning is such a honeysuckle of a guitar chord progression that the rest is saccharine.
10. First Rate People – “Film Star (For Museum of Bellas Artes)“
First Rate People unabashedly produces yet another song to listen to in a sunstorm. More electronic and less playful than “Girls’ Night,” “Film Star” is a Canadian-Swedish high-five between First Rate People and Museum of Bellas Artes.
*Per your request, download the entire mix here .