Music has an ability to inspire. Youth marketers often need inspiration to come up with cool new ways to connect with youth. These songs should do just that. While some of these recommendations are not necessarily from new artists, their recent releases are worthy of attention and some blog love.
Vampire Weekend – White Sky. Vampire Weekend was a much buzzed about band even before their debut studio album was released in 2008. The popularity of these Columbia University graduates has only continued to grow, with their latest release, Contra, debuting at #1 on the Billboard charts – quite an accomplishment. It’s hard to single out just one track, but “White Sky” is the latest single getting airplay and a great example of their upbeat, afro-pop sound. If you like this, pick up the entire album – it’s well worth it.
Spoon – I Saw the Light. This Austin, TX band has been around for well over a decade, but they continue to churn out albums of critical praise. It’s hard for me to say that their latest album Transference lives up to their previous effort, the polished pop of Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga, but is definitely worth of the attention it has been receiving from fans and critics alike. And it’s clear that the album has a different approach than its predecessor. Transference is much more stripped down and raw, even disjointed at times. But it’s all intentional, and all part of why it works. Again, it’s hard to pick out just one track but “I Saw the Light” is representative of the album as a whole and feels like classic Spoon.
Broken Bells – The High Road. Broken Bells is a new project from super-producer Danger Mouse (of Gnarls Barkley) and indie-rock band The Shin’s lead singer James Mercer. “The High Road” is the only track that’s been officially released thus far, but there have been numerous tracks leaked online (the entire album set for release on March 9th). Typical of Danger Mouse projects, Broken Bells don’t seem to fit neatly into a specific genre. The single has apparent influences from The Shins but with an injection of experimental, computerized soul.
Matt Morris – Someone to Love You. It helps to have friends in high places, and singer-songwriter Matt Morris knows that all too well. He got his start back in the early ‘90s on The Mickey Mouse Club, alongside such stars as Justin Timberlake and Christina Aguilera and has since gone on to write songs for both. Timberlake also signed Morris on to his label, Tennman Records, which released his Morris’s debut album last month. He recently got major screen time performing a stirring rendition of “Hallelujah”, a duet with JT naturally, on the Hope for Haiti Now telethon. It was a good choice of songs too, as Morris’s style evokes that of the late, great Jeff Buckley (who arguably does the best cover of “Hallelujah), especially on the recommended track “Someone to Love You”.
Sade – Soldier of Love. It’s been a full decade since Sade released their previous album, and this proves that good things come to those who wait. The first single (and title track) off the album is this gem. There’s a lot going on sonically in this song – from the marching band drum line, to the horns, to the guitar, both rock and flamenco – so you’re never quite sure what is coming next. But of course it’s Sade’s laidback, sultry voice that takes center stage, providing a welcome contrast to the song’s urgency.
Cold War Kids – Audience. I was a fan of the Cold War Kids’ soulful indie rock since I first heard single “Hang Me out to Dry” in 2008, but their follow up album left a little something to be desired (save for one or two catchy singles). “Audience” comes from the four-song EP Behave Yourself issued earlier this year, in which the band shows that they have found their groove again. The single brings back more of the “barroom piano” and foot stomping beats sound. I’m happy to see that their more soulful side is back after their darker sophomore album.
Neon Trees – Animal. Neon Trees is an indie-rock band hailing from Provo, UT. They have gotten national exposure by touring with The Killers, but their first major label record won’t be released until March 23rd. Clearly The Killers have been an influence. Neon Tree’s sound is new wave-y synth-pop but with rock intensity. The danceable lead single, “Animal”, exudes high energy and glossy production. In the words of the band themselves, I want some more.
Charlotte Gainsbourg – Heaven Can Wait. Charlotte Gainsbourg’s latest album IRM (the French term for the MRI scan) comes after the French actress/singer had emergency surgery for a cerebral hemorrhage. The title track from the album even incorporates the sounds of the brain scan, an interesting concept that actually works. But what made me tune in is that her latest album was written and produced by Beck, and it definitely shows. Beck even sings along in the toe-tapping first single “Heaven Can Wait”.