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Saturday, August 10, 2019

Now in our New Music bin: Haim, The Get Ahead, SOAK, Catfish and the Bottlemen, Pete Yorn

The sister trio Haim brings a jazzy feel and a cool saxophone to its new single, "Summer Girl." Danielle Haim says she wrote the lyrics to express her support for her partner when he was diagnosed with cancer ("He's in the clear now"). She then worked with Rostam Batmanglij, formerly of Vampire Weekend, to expand on what began as a "garage band demo ...with just a bass line, drums, some gibberish and a doot doot doot little melody." They ended up with a sound that reminded them of Lou Reed's "Walk on the Wild Side" - and gave him a co-writing credit. (The doot-doots also remind us of Suzanne Vega's "Tom's Diner.") Batmanglij wrote the sax part, played by Henry Solomon. The result: a shiny summer pop song on the surface, with surprising depth beneath.

By way of Nashville public radio station WMOT we came upon Portland, Ore.-based The Get Ahead. This five-piece band (including two married couples) draws on eclectic influences to create what it calls "Americana soul." Roots-music site No Depression says The Get Ahead "blurs the lines between folk, old-time, gospel, old-school R&B, and soul." We're all about eclectic blends, and we're glad to catch up with "Deepest Light," the title track from the band's recent LP.

From Derry in Northern Ireland comes indie-folk singer-songwriter Bridie Monds-Watson, who performs and records as SOAK. At just 22, she released her second album, Grim Town, this year. It's sort of a concept album, describing a town that represents "a dystopia that I’ve created in my brain," Monds-Watson says. We're picking up the single, "Knock Me Off My Feet," which has an upbeat, far-from-grim sound. The artist describes it as "a love letter to the lawlessness and freedoms of small-town culture, as well as its more claustrophobic, cut-you-down-to-size qualities."

As British indie-rockers Catfish and the Bottlemen prepare to launch a U.S. tour, another track from their recent album The Balance has found its way into our New Music bin. Called "2All," it's described by frontman Van McCann as a song about lies, loyalty and love.

New Jersey's Pete Yorn is back with a new album, Caretakers, that brings together Yorn's guitar-based music and the gauzy production of Day Wave's Jackson Phillips. AllMusic says the album at times "feels like a throwback to an early '90s unspoiled by grunge ... a time suspended between the underground and the mainstream." We're picking up on "Calm Down," which evokes revisiting a home town and bittersweet memories: "All the tears I cried / all the times we tried / but I wouldn't change a thing."

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