Great New Music in the Middle of 2014

Graffiti on brick wall that says Trains Across the See

A few weeks ago I got a text message from Melanie Ness, an old friend from my competitive swimming days in Worthington, Ohio. She said:

So… random question: What’s your most-played song this week? (…I need new music)

Although I responded to her with some specific suggestions, I figured others might benefit from some new songs for their old playlists, too.

Bleachers is a one-album band created as a side project by Fun. guitarist Jack Antonoff. Songs off their first album, Strange Desire, are equal parts 80s synth and anthemic drum beats. I especially like Wild Heart, Wake Me, and Like a River Runs, although most people will love the optimistic tone of I Wanna Get Better the most.

In a reference to an Indian restaurant chain, Bombay Bicycle Club is a moody, melodic, guitar-driven indie rock band. Three University College School students—all of which 15 years old or younger— formed the Canals in North London in 2005, but then later adopted a fourth member and changed the name of their band. My favorite album is 2011’s A Different Kind of Fix, with highlights How Can You Swallow So Much Sleep, Lights Out, Words Gone, and Shuffle, the latter being my favorite. If you’re in the mood for bouncy, Brit rock, check out this awesome band with a deep catalog.

Slow, contemplative, and stunning, S. Carey is a percussive genius whose main gig is the drummer and pianist for Bon Iver but who also releases solo albums during tour breaks. His songs would play nicely with roadtrips across Iceland or boating during sunset. Try his newest album, Range of Light, for truly beautiful songs Glass/Film and Alpenglow.

With a little twang, reverb, and Bob Dylan-esque vocals, Philadelphia’s The War on Drugs is a great end-of-summer band that makes you feel as if the work day is over. I’m not a huge classic rock fan, but their newest album, Lost in the Dream, is decidedly modern and really good. Try out my favorite songs on the album: Under the Pressure, Red Eyes, and Disappearing.

So what do you think? Any other great new artists or songs that I should hear? Send ’em my way on Twitter, Facebook, or Google+.

Of Monsters, Limes, and Great New Music

Lately, I’ve been finding some terrific new music through friends, Twitter, radio, and retreats. If you’ve been pining for new workout tunes or road trip jams, then look no further.

  • Mind Games” by Leagues — My good friend, Daniel Deitrich, recently introduced me to Leagues, and I’m sure glad he did! They sound like a mashup up of Kings of Leon, Under the Influence of Giants, and MuteMath. But really, they’re a sound that I just can’t quite pinpoint. Yay for originality!
  • Tessellate” by Alt-J — This band is already getting a lot of attention from music critics, and for good reason. They’re a cross between Radiohead and Massive Attack with just a little bit of British flair thrown in. Filled with bizarre melodies and instrumentals, you should probably just listen to this entire album.
  • Praise Him” by The Royal Royal — For my Christian worship friends, you might check out this band. They’re pretty interesting musically, but I wish the lyrics were a little more advanced. Promising.
  • State Trooper” by Drop the Lime — Kinda reminds me of the Eurythmics crossed with some kind of movie soundtrack. This is a good song for working out. I originally heard it in the October trailer for Jack Reacher starring Tom Cruise.
  • Sloom” by Of Monsters and Men — A friend asked me last weekend whether this was “hipster music,” and I said, “Yes.” He said that hipster music wasn’t all that bad. And he was right.

As always, feel free to suggest more by tweeting me @RyanRicketts.

Songs for Summer Driving

Over the past few years I’ve developed a taste for summer driving during sunset with the windows down. Sometimes I’ll just take off into the countryside without a destination. Rolling hills, fireflies, and nebulous clouds receive bonus points.

The best nights are those where my music accents my mood. I’ve found these recently-released songs bring me the greatest amount of sunset-summer-driving joy.