Summer is now in full swing, and you probably need some new music to enhance your sunny, warm days. Well here to help you in that endeavor is our Back of the Rack compilation album for July, comprised of 10 free tracks generously donated from bands & artists you probably don’t know – but should. In this issue we have some hip hop, reggae, singer/songwriter, electronic, rock, and pop.
The musicians are from all over the United States, and all over Europe (way to be Sweden). So sit back, crack open your favorite cold beverage, and let yourself take in a wonderfully varied – and free – compilation album. And remember, if one of the tracks intrigues you (and we know a few are guaranteed to), click on the link to their website. Check them out, listen to some of their other tunes, and if you like it go get yourself an album of theirs!
If you would like to download the complete issue just click here. We will send you this month’s issue/download and each future Back of the Rack to your inbox once a month.
The Yupps – Life
Indie / Rock / Pop
The Yupps are an unsigned band that hails from Metz, France, a town that sits quite close to both Belgium and Germany. Not unsurprisingly, they have a very neo-euro-rock feel to their music. There is energetic electric guitars, quick and powerful drumming, swaggering vocals, a quasi-pop like approach to the song progession, and electric-synth undertones. Your energy level will certainly rise with this number. There is a wonderful little breakdown about 2/3rds of the way through the song, with the focus turning away from the vocals to focus on the swimming synth lines, and then soaring guitar riffs. So while there is a definite pop sensibility to their music, you can tell they also really just want to rock out. At least in this song, they have accomplished both tasks well.
Soul Khan – Wellstone Clean
New York City, NY
Hip Hop / Rap
This song begins with a sample from the universally known 60’s song Let’s Live For Today, from The Grass Roots. You know it, it’s the early classic rock n’ roll song with the chorus that goes, “sha la la la-la-la, live for today…”. It turns out to be a pretty bad ass choice for a sample to use in a hip hop song. Using the main guitar riff from that song, played on a sitar, as the central sound around which be builds a simple hip hop beat, the result is a catchy and intoxicating track. He casually takes on subjects varied as America at war or his parties. His flow is quick, but totally discernible, with a way of moving between three different rhythms patterns; one in which he slightly slows down at each rhyming word, one that is fast and gives equal emphasis to each word, and one that is a slowed down pace that also gives equal weight to each word. That may seem uncomplicated, yet it isn’t, and the proof is in the pudding. Also, one has to appreciate the way the song ends with a philosophical monologue, it’s a nice little psychedelic touch that pays homage to the song in which he found the sample forWellstone Clean’sfantastic hook.
Natalie Prass – Good Faith
Folk / Pop / Soul
Good Faith is a track off of Natalie’s album “Demos”. It is an alluring and pleasing song. You can hear two of her powerful attributes clearly, a clear and beautiful voice that can be used to either finesse or impress the listener, combined with adroit acoustic musicianship. In some ways this song might come off like a female Bon Iver track, with the vocal layering aside, which is meant to be quite a compliment. This is a great song to relax to, so sit back and drink it in. Natalie can currently be seen this month as the opening act for Grace Potter and the Nocturnals. So needless to say, he career is surely in it’s first upswing, so pay attention now!
XOV – Crashing Stars
Electro / Pop / Indie
XOV has an interesting background story that adds weight to the feel and poetry inherent within his music, and this song. XOV’s parents were from Iran, but fled during their horrible war to Sweden as refugees. XOV subsequently lost his father at an early age, and started writing poetry to express his emotions. As you can imagine it wasn’t long before this drive for poetry turned into a passion for music creation as well. Crashing Stars is found on his debut EP “Clowns”. It is a song that combines sultry r&b-like vocals, with thick electronic beats, and a hip hop undertone. It is accessible to most anyone, as his genre mixing is done magnificently. And while this track stands strong on it’s own, one could also see this song eventually being successfully remixed by many different artists / DJs.
Aer – Feel I Bring
Reggae / Acoustic / Indie
Aer is comprised of David von Mering and Carter Schultz, by way of Wayland, MA. Their music is rooted in reggae, acoustic pop, and indie rock. However, they seem to go for an even amalgamation of those genres, instead of leaning upon one heavily. This track, Feel I Bring, is a toe tapping mid tempo track that is just perfect for a sunny summer afternoon. There is a simpleness to the resulting sound that belies that nuanced combination of different genres. Do you even notice that they are rapping in this song? They are, but they do it in a way that so subtlety slides into the reggae undertone of the song, somehow, which isn’t an easy feat.
The Kingston Springs – Vacation Time
Rock / Tropical / Western Swing
A gregariously gritty bass line starts this song, and continues to anchor the feel of the track throughout. There is an uncomplicated way these guys groove together; it’s fun, engaging, and always “in the pocket”. That’s what can happen when you’ve been playing, and playing to large live audiences, since the band members were 17 years old. The vocals are something between classic rock and indie rock, while the music sounds something akin to polished-garage-reggae-rock. Their latest release, “The Vacation Time EP”, has been turning heads not only in Nashville but across the indie music scene. It’s not hard to understand why.
Jon Jonsson – Lately
Acoustic / Pop / Soul
Jon Jonsson has an interesting story. Born in a small town in Iceland, he eventually moved to Boston for college, but after graduating decided to pursue his long time dream of being a professional musicians. You would never know he is from the island of ice, not from his voice at least, which has a waxy smooth American sound to it. This song, Lately, showcases how much soul he can inject into a seemingly unadorned acoustic singer/songwriter number. One can pick up elements of blues, soul, and even a little organ-funk – all wrapped up with a pop undertone that makes it universally accessible. If you like Jack Johnson or John Mayer, this might be right up your alley.
The Royal Concept – Gimme Twice
Rock / Pop / Indie
Here is another band that hails from Europe and a non English speaking country, but that sings absolutely perfect in English. Gimme Twice is the first song off of The Royal Concept’s first release, which is a self-titled EP. They have a sound very reminiscent of their European peers Phoenix. Fast rhythmic dance-friendly drumming is the base, clean guitars are on the periphery, while the vocals are front and center and fluctuate very much but always in a sing-along manner. Then there are the expected synth lines that jump in and out. It’s fun loving music that is perfect to play at your next party, or for driving around your town with the windows down.
Coasts – Lions
Bristol, United Kingdom
Indie / Rock
Coasts are an English band that is quite young and can be found on the Intruder label. They play a brand of unadorned rock that really gets in your bones, it’s movement inspiring, but skillfully so. The drum line seems to strut along, while whimsical guitars and bass seem to follow in tandem with the emotion in the vocals. It’s one of those songs you can envision being played in a crowded bar with everyone gleefully singing along, at a loud volume. There is even a joyous little fist-pump-friendly breakdown near the end – but without ever getting away from the groovy sound they began with. This is cavorting rock music, played with class.
Looks to Kill – Night’s Long
Orilla, Ontario, Canada
Rock / Electro / Indie
Looks to Kill is a very young band, and this song can be found of their debut EP, honestly titled, “We Want Your Love”. This group is a duo, comprised of Sam Masih (guitar) and Katie Fagan (vocals), who aim to make catchy, 80’s inspired tracks, that also pack a rocky punch. Some of their influences are from eighties bands such as Depeche Mode, Billy Idol, Corey Hart, Möev but combined in a new indie minded manner. Night’s Long is a simple tune, but with a steady momentum growth, that is aimed at first getting your head nodding and then getting your blood pumping.
About the Artwork:
Matt graduated from the University of Dayton in 2011 with a degree in Visual Communication Design. He currently lives in Chicago where he works for a great little company called Oglivy. In addition to working at Oglivy, Matthew also practices free lance graphic design, music, and being wicked awesome. If you like what you see, get in touch with Matt on Facebook:
Written by Sean Brna
OurVinyl | Editor