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Saturday, May 19, 2018

Great new music by Samantha Clemons, Dawes, Middle Kids, Hannah Gill and Traitrs

This week we're especially pleased to be able to introduce our listeners to Samantha Clemons. This Texas singer-songwriter set out to make acoustic pop music, but according to her bio, shifted her style as she "began channeling her frustration and disappointment at the dramatic social and political shifts of recent years." The title track of her upcoming EP Burn, Clemons says, "reflects the idea that we’ve just been talking past one another and have lost sight of the fact that we occupy a lot of common ground." It's a gripping song with lyrics that can be heard two ways: as angry, aggressive refusal to listen, or a courageous, adamant refusal to submit. "Mine fit me just fine / No need to walk in your shoes." Clemons sings with a soulful power reminiscent of Tracy Chapman and Rhiannon Giddens. We're looking forward to hearing much more.

Concern about the state of society has become a common theme in music lately, for obvious reasons. "Living In The Future," the new single from Dawes, is frank in its paranoia. "I'm always looking over shoulders / Not knowing what I'm looking for / Now that the feeling someone's watching / Isn't just a feeling anymore." Frontman Taylor Goldsmith says that on the band's upcoming album, Passwords, "many of the songs are an attempt to come to terms with the modern world, while always trying to consider both sides of the story." The album is due June 22.

Australia's Middle Kids had their breakout moment in the Western hemisphere last year with the release of an EP that spawned the hit "Edge Of Town." Earlier this year came the single "Mistake," and now we have their first full-length collection, Lost Friends. Pitchfork describes it as "a record that’s all about fumbling your way through insecurities, indecision, and embarrassments. In singer/guitarist Hannah Joy, the band has a captivating mouthpiece who deftly navigates these emotional minefields with equal parts panic and poise, thanks to a naturally trembling voice that can harden into tough-love sentiment." Our pick for the New Music bin is "Bought It," which Joy says is based on "walking around trying to feel like we’re OK but actually we’re not sure if we are."

Twenty-year-old Hannah Gill has a voice that erupts from your speakers like a force of nature. On 2016's The Water, she and her band The Hours created a sweeping Florence-and-the-Machine-like sound. Her new release, Lost in Words, encompasses a variety of styles, starting with the sultry torch song "Lose" and including a sharp-tongued rebuke of a drug abuser, "Medicine." We're featuring a swinging, brassy number called "Here To Stay."

Check out a great batch of videos of the band performing live at Paste Studios.
The fine folks at The Revue introduced us to Traitrs, a Toronto duo that defines itself as post-punk and would fit right in with bands of that 80s genre. On "The Suffering of Spiders," from their just-released debut album Butcher's Coin, the resemblance to The Cure is uncanny. The dark, moody sound. The plaintive wail of the singer, Sean-Patrick Nolan. Even a lyric about spiders! But this is no tribute band: Nolan and Shawn Tucker are building on their influences to create a sound that Tucker says strives to "give you goosebumps, chills, a feeling inside that can’t be explained."

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