Artist: Stolen Jars
Song: “Ghost Towns”
Album/EP: A Reminder
Jittery, stuttering, and beautifully melodic indie that lives somewhere between rock and the stilted syncopation of synth pop, “Ghost Towns” is a touching, frisson-inducing little morsel. Sporadic instrumental quips and harmonic vocals trade barbs much like The Postal Service’s delivery, albeit more rock-oriented in its stylings.
Artist: The New Pornographers
Song: “The Surprise Knock”
Album/EP: In The Morse Code of Brake Lights
It just wouldn’t be The New Pornographers without soaring vocal harmonies and infinitely catchy choruses that appear like from a vacuum, and new offering “The Surprise Knock” is no exception. Vaulted singing, shimmering poppy synths and guitars, and a vaguely interstellar tone round out the unsurprisingly earwormy single – after all, it’s what these Canadian legends do best.
Song: “Upside Down”
Album/EP: Upside Down
Busy and complicated in parts yet soft and simple in others, “Upside Down” is an interesting offering of contemporary adult alternative from Montreal’s BELLFLOWER. Seemingly endless instrumentals layer upon one another in a baroque pop-like styling, not too unlike Arcade Fire: no one performer carries the melodic thread on their own as synths, guitars, horns, vocals, and percussion ebb and flow in tandem.
Song: “Rising Waves From the Ocean”
Album/EP: Land of Eternal Dreams
Catchy power metal featuring poppy synths masquerading as strings that sound like they belong on an Andrew W.K album, “Rising Waves From the Ocean” presents a heavy, pounding, party-ready anthem that doesn’t dip too far into the darkness of its other metal cousins. Operatic vocals, the aforementioned synths, and a critical focus on melody help reign in the energy of this driving tune.
Artist: MR NO
Album/EP: NO. 1
Glitzy keys, crisp guitar, syrupy vocals, and a locked-in groove that only comes from tight familiarity together produce “Wait”, a jazzy pop/soul/rock offering from MR NO. Slick production and even smoother performances from the Los Angeles newcomers drip with the sizzling bittersweetness one could expect from the sunny state.