Every week, there’s more new music waiting to be discovered.
It seemed we should all be back out, enjoying the end of summer. Instead, we’re still stuck at home for what seems like the 200th day. The virus is here to stay. Saturday feels like Tuesday, and Netflix’s well of passive entertainment seems all but dry. We’re all over “social distancing” (but shouldn’t be), so it’s time for new music to ease the nerves.
Somehow, it feels like there is less time in the day. Who really has the time to fill playlists with new tracks? RIFF still does! We’re happy to bring you the latest, greatest new songs in this weekly segment.
Enjoy this week’s hidden gems.
The Nude Party, “Shine Your Light” — The groove of “Shine Your Light” kicks in at the 30-second mark, immediately recalling early Rolling Stones. This song’s blues rock sound and ridiculously catchy hook will have you grooving along. A sick guitar riff blends seamlessly with the keys, perfecting the song. Lead singer Patton Magee’s voice sticks to you—not too gravelly but not too sweet. He oozes swagger. Days later, the chorus is still stuck with me. Thanks to some of the band members working in film, the band was able to shoot its own video while quarantining together. Once discovering the band, I wanted to know where in England The Nude Party was from… but I was astonished to find out the band formed at Appalachian State University in North Carolina. The Nude Party has toured with Jack White and the Arctic Monkeys, and will drop its second album, Midnight Manor, this fall.
Secret Machines featuring Benjamin Curtis, “Everything Starts” — I wondered if there was a re-issue when this new Secret Machines song popped up. Over 10 years later, “Everything Starts” is a fresh new start. Featuring guitar playing by the late Benjamin Curtis (brother of vocalist-bassist Brandon Curtis), and drumming by Josh Garza, the song feels larger than life—reminiscent of Interpol’s post-punk revivalism and 2000s space-rock of Spiritualized. “Everything Starts” generates a spacious and expansive feel. The fuzzy, textured guitar riff soars with atmospheric brilliance. The lyrics are hauntingly beautiful, driven by Curtis’ melancholically passionate singing.
“For a brief and infinite five minutes, I’m taken to a sonic landscape that is special and unique, with a sound that only Benjamin can deliver,” Garza said in a news release. “I’m glad we’ve been given this chance to honor his legacy in this way, and to fold this final collaboration into a new chapter for Secret Machines.”
Ghost Tense, “Gone” — Avant-garde trio Ghost Tense met at Rock n’ Roll Camp for Girls in Los Angeles. Their music is similar to The xx’s minimalism mixed with Bjork’s wailing grandness. The song and video feel like entering a witch’s coven. The song’s sweeping build-up evokes a long-lost world—ethereal, raw and emotional. A slow beat guides this haunting journey, pulling you in with hypnotic, soundtrack-worthy ambiance. Torii Wolf’s vocals remain sensual and unfiltered, howling into the deepest recesses of the mind. The band has said that song “explores the feelings of being territorial and possessive in lust. Having a tumultuous relationship and wondering if your person thinks about you while they are intimate with another lover.”
Smith, Lyle & Moore featuring Dhani Harrison, “Fate” — “Fate” is the epitome of California folk. The song’s earthy sound is made for the blustery outdoors and flower crowns. The band combines Tom Petty’s Americana and the robust vocals of Polyphonic Spree. It’s hard not to tap your foot along to the airy chorus, but the real standouts are the big harmonies. When the singers come together and add in Dhani Harrison (son of George Harrison), it’s pure magic. Smith, Lyle & Moore are: Jack Moore (son of Thin Lizzy guitarist Gary Moore) producer and musician Andrew Smith, and songwriter-musician Tyler Lyle.
Said Moore on working with Harrison: “It felt like full circle working with Dhani, given our fathers had done the same in the Traveling Wilbury’s, and meaningful in that Dhani had often encouraged me to come to Los Angeles for the music.”
ALA.NI, “Lament for Emmett Till” — Last Saturday would have been Emmett Till’s 79th birthday. The song centers on a 1955 poem of the same name by radical activist, journalist and organizer Claudia Jones. The song is achingly beautiful. Yet, there is a strength to Jones’ words as harrowing images comprise the visuals. The video begins with images of Emmett Till and quickly turns into a stirring series of images that will make your blood boil. Pictures of the KKK members, laughing white men in the courtroom and Till’s grieving mother are hard to witness. The imagery hits hard as it shows how history repeats itself. ALA.NI is an official ambassador of the Emmett Till Legacy Foundation, which is currently asking the public to sign this petition demanding justice for Till. Specifically, it demands the FBI release the findings of their recent reinvestigation into Till’s murder. All proceeds from this song will be donated to the foundation.
Suburban Living, “Dirt” — This dream-pop song’s shimmering keys could fill any space, as swirling, swelling guitars bring it to life. With definite nods to The Cure’s Robert Smith, and a dark-wave-ish synth-pop sound, “Dirt” goes beyond any genre. The angular post-rock sound is similar to The Editors and the punchy guitar playing of Franz Ferdinand. The song pure is dream-pop fun and makes you want to get up and dance. Once the the guitars come in, it inflates into a big anthem. Wesley Bunch, singer of Suburban Living, initially saw this project as a solo act. It’s hard to imagine this as a small bedroom pop song, as the song presents vibrant, lush goodness. It’s been on repeat since I first heard it and it only continues to grow on me.
Rachel’s Pick: The track from Secret Machines hit me hard. I first saw Secret Machines playing with Interpol when I was living in Virginia. Then I saw them countless more times in New York. Benjamin Curtis would go on to form School of Seven Bells (highly recommend!), which I have also seen a lot. Benjamin Curtis and I are roughly the same age, so his death at 35 hit me hard. Cancer, and so young. Fuck cancer! Hearing Curtis’ guitar with the rest of the band’s music is one of the greatest things I could have ask for as a fan. The song is gorgeous, atmospheric and layered—everything I love about Secret Machines. I cannot wait for the new album. After 10 years, I can only say thanks.