Edge of Town – Middle Kids

Hailing from Sydney Australia, Middle Kids hit my headphones at the recommendation of my brother, Jarrett.

Generally our music tastes overlap, but often we find excitement in very different audio experiences.

Middle Kids is one of those bands that happily brings us together.

Lead singer Hannah Joy’s vocals ground the song’s emotional lyrics and are paired beautifully with the instrumental work of guitarist Tim Fitz and drummer Harry Day.

Joy’s vocals and the hook-laden chorus make this a song that could easily be sung in stadiums or small bar venues. The beauty is in the depth of the message and the simultaneous fun listen.

“I got all muddled up and journeyed to the edge of town

And then the road cracked open, sucked me in and I went down

We’re standing face to face with the king of the underground

Some things just don’t add up, I’m upside down I’m inside out.”

Gaining traction on NPR and Rolling Stone and currently on-tour with Cold War Kids, I don’t see this band staying under-the-radar for long.

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Smooth Sailin’ – Leon Bridges

It’s no surprise that Leon Bridges draws comparisons of Otis Redding and Sam Cooke. Or that his largest listening-base is in London. (Those Brits are fairly soulful, after all.)

My craving for modern soul always leads me down interesting paths, and it caused me to knock on Leon Bridge’s door, seeking reprieve from the Twenty One Pilot’s of the world.

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Bridges is only 26, and his maturity both as an individual and a musician, greatly predates his current generation. Even in interviews, his demeanor is relaxed, respectful and open.

He’s taken an interesting stance on his sound, though. Bridges has been quoted as saying that he thinks he was born in the right generation. He understands that it’s his throwback sound that draws attention now, whereas in the 50s or 60s, he’d probably get swallowed up in the sea of soulful musicians.

“Smooth Sailin'” boogies the way an old Stax-produced track would. It’s a refreshing pick-me-up in the recent trend of moody, echoey, beat-laden tracks.

I can see Bridges forming himself as less of a breakout mainstream artist, and more of an under-the-radar artist that sticks around for awhile, like The Gaslight Anthem. Substance is the name of the game when it comes to this young, striking musician.

Don’t Mess With Me – Brody Dalle

One my my high school crushes was Brody Dalle. I started listening to The Distillers after I became heavily interested in Rancid and Hellcat Records. (I was obsessed with almost everything that label produced.) I loved everything about Brody. To me, she was the epitome of female badassery. She had an unmatched swagger and voice, all while still being completely and utterly stunning and unapologetic about being a woman. I thought that was amazing.

Recently, Brandon asked me if I had heard of Brody, and my interest piqued immediately. “Of course I have! Why?”

He loaded YouTube on our PS3 and played this video.

I had no clue that she’d released Diploid Love, but he and I have been listening to it on repeat since Friday. (We picked it up at Shake It on our date night.)

Especially now that she’s blonde, I’m sure the comparisons to Courtney Love are pouring in. But I prefer Brody by a landslide.

When I listened to her while she was in The Distillers, she had jet black hair and looked undead, except for her blood-red lips. As it turns out, when she and Tim Armstrong split (the lead singer of Rancid, and owner of Hellcat) her musical career took a major hit.

According to an article published by The Guardian in April 2014, “It took her three years to leave Armstrong, and when she did, the aftermath was brutal. His celebrity friends waged a public campaign against her, criticising Dalle in the press, and reportedly threatening the male Distillers and blacklisting anyone associated with the band. “We lost every fucking body. Me and my guys were left there standing alone, holding each other.””

In addition to that, Dalle was battling with a meth addiction, which as many know, is something that people rarely bounce back from. The Distillers last album, Coral Fang, produced some mainstream hits, but it wasn’t enough to save the crumbling band and lead singer.

Luckily, Dalle moved forward and married Queens of the Stone Age’s Josh Homme and had children Camille & Orrin, who she credits for her continued sobriety.

Diploid Love has a lot of gems that are worth a listen, but my favorite so far is Don’t Mess With Me.

While the beat and progressions Dalle uses are enough to draw in a casual listener, I can’t help but appreciate her lyrics, as well. Her entire album speaks to overcoming battles – both inward and outward – and Dalle has clearly won all of the ones she’s been faced with.

You’re the reason I can stay
And fight until the death