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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Cirice – Ghost B.C.

Wednesday’s are a group workout for my department. We all head downstairs at lunchtime, make our way to a private room, and blare music of our own selection, while a trainer sends us through various exercise stations for an hour.

One of the (many) benefits of this is that we get to choose our own music.

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Last week, my wonderful co-worker Lexi’s selection came on, and immediately, my ears perked up.

“Who is this,” I panted in between sloppy yoga-ball leg curls. “GHOST,” she panted back.

And that was that.

The next day, I searched Spotify and listened to all of Meliora, blasting through “Spirit” and “From the Pinnacle to the Pit.” By Friday, I braved the record store, only to have to wait for hipster shit-bags to get out of the “G” section, so I could grab Meliora and scramble out of the store.

I have a thing for bands who’s sound doesn’t match their appearance, and the minute I looked up Ghost B.C., I almost laughed out loud. Their lead singer’s dressed up as an Antichrist pope, with full skull makeup and mismatched contacts. He goes by Papa Emeritus.

Each of the band members dresses as a different Nameless Ghoul. In interviews, typically one of the Ghouls represents the entire band, or Papa Emeritus appears in (rather obvious) prosthetics and makeup to appear as an old Italian man, who is a “ladies man.” According to this faux-leader, there have been three Emeritus’, and the band intends to continue cycling them out. If you pay attention, (and don’t buy their schtick) you’ll realize it’s all been the same singer, just with different appearances. Odd, but intriguing. I think that sums up the band…

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The death look doesn’t match their smooth sound. Vocals are intelligible, unlike many other metal artists. Riffs are clean. There’s nothing unintentional about their aesthetic. Even Dave Grohl (rock’s resident nice guy) dressed in Nameless Ghoul garb and took the stage with them secretly. The music community gets it.

It’s funny, the fear they’ve managed to shake up for their Satanic lyrics and sound. They’ve admitted that their appearance and display is an act. They’re a “horror band” (much like Alice Cooper) but the public does not see it that way. U.S. companies refused to print their album artwork or create copies of Infestissumam because of the sexually explicit artwork.

During recording of Infestissumam, the band apparently had to record their choir sections in Los Angeles, because Nashville choirs were so offended by their Satanic lyrics that they wouldn’t take part.

ANYWAY. Despite all of this odd background, “Cirice” has been nominated for Best Metal Performance for the 2016 Grammy’s. In typical Ghost style, they campaigned in Billboard magazine for attention leading up to the awards.

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“Cirice” is haunting and melodic, and Ghost is entirely aware of that. They’ve openly admitted in interviews that they realized that it was an appealing song, and one that could really sum up the sound of Meliora.

The video is a fantastic representation of the Ghost dynamic and appearance. In it, a child takes to the stage during a school talent show, and apparently, calls upon Satan to liven things up a bit. The school staff, panicking, unplug the sound system, leaving the children on stage, bowing for their performance. It’s a wonderful pairing with the song, and perfectly sums up the public reaction to this intimidating (and fascinating) band.

Pedestrian at Best – Courtney Barnett

No lie, I heard about Courtney Barnett through a post a friend put on Facebook. She was referencing the clowns in the video, but when I heard the song, it wouldn’t stop spinning in my head.

Then, this morning as we were pulling up to work, Brandon had put on WNKU, and they mentioned Barnett. It put her back into my consciousness, so I figured it was only appropriate to post about her.

Barnett’s album, Sometimes I Sit and Think, and Sometimes I Just Sit is WNKU’s album of the month for July and she’s received multiple accolades, including rave reviews in Rolling Stone, Paste, Pitchfork and The Guardian. Barnett has also been featured on shows like the Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon, further cementing her encroach into the mainstream.

The Aussie musician is being hailed as a rising star, and no one seems to know quite how to define her. Some say she fits in a category called “slacker rock,” while others say that her lyrics defy that, and shine a light on the mundane parts of life, echoing Bob Dylan’s approach.

Regardless of her place in music, Barnett has a knack for making her presence feel natural to the listener. The slight twinge of her Australian accent gives her away in most songs, and her choices are always on-point and deliberate.

If you find yourself hopping from one song to the next on Sometimes I Sit don’t be alarmed. While “Pedestrian at Best” is her leading cry, the rest of the tracks provide a casual sound that will drag you in.

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Bills – Lunchmoney Lewis

I’m always looking for something new. As I said in an earlier post, I tend to exhaust myself on certain songs and artists (I’ve had a hard time listening to Mumford & Sons for about three years now).

So when this popped up in my Spotify, I immediately decided to save it.

Lunchmoney Lewis isn’t an easy artist to find out about. He collabed with Nicki Minaj on “Trini Dem Girls,” but other than “Bills,” there’s no singles from him yet.

But “Bills” is a great debut. It has a shit-ton of heart, and (don’t shoot me for this) reminds me of “Uptown Funk,” in that it’s bringing back soul but with a modern flair. Lewis’ voice is smooth and approachable, in addition to a fun piano line and trumpet solo. It feels way more homegrown than a lot of the autotune, EDM and intricate beats that are playing on the radio now. It’s super-upbeat and humanizes the idea of not being rich.

I got Bills I gotta pay
So I’ma gonn’ work work work every day
I got mouths I gotta feed,
So I’ma gonn’ make sure everybody eats
I got Bills!!

I can guarantee that this one is going to be a big summer hit. It’s already Number 1 in Australia, and it’s working its way up here in USA, too. Plus, Lewis received a shout-out from Rolling Stone, which (love them, or hate them) is only going to further his exposure.

I’m really hoping that when his album drops it is as fun and engaging as this song, because I’ll be kicking it on repeat if that’s the case.

Here’s to summer (which is on its way) and unfortunately, here’s to being broke.

XO