Hey, everyone! I’m Tarynn Law, and this is a weekly column I’ll be writing that spotlights some up and coming indie pop/alternative/hipster/hype/buzz bands/you-get-the-idea groups that you should be checking out before they become massive. I mean, we all want to be that person that says “I knew them way back when,” don’t we? I thought so. I’ve taken a bit of a global approach to things this week, featuring Australian “chameleons of pop” The Griswolds, Irish band Kodaline, St. Lucia (the vocalist hails from South Africa), and Manchester’s premier future-pop band Everything Everything.
Here we go!
Ah, Australia. You’ve given us quite a few great things including but certainly not limited to kangaroos, koalas, the popular indie rock duo that is Atlas Genius, and now The Griswolds. They describe themselves as “the chameleons of pop” and I’d say that fits them pretty well. Their debut EP Heart of a Lion is filled with quirky, charming, R&B influenced songs that will leave you smiling. Vocalist Chris Whitehall’s voice shines on “Mississippi,” which was the band’s first hit in Australia for a good reason – it’s singalong-ready choruses and upbeat melodies are perfect for those hot summer days. The energy from their EP translates to their live show as well, where they’ve shared a stage with the likes of fellow Aussies Strange Talk, J. Roddy Walston and the Business, Passion Pit, and many others around the world. Oh, and they’re all really cute (and most of them are on Tinder) – check them out on Facebook or Twitter to have a look for yourself (or, you know, find out what they’re up to).
One look at Kodaline’s Twitter account and you might think one of two things: 1) “who is this band with their 100k followers?” or 2) “why would you even cover a band with 100k followers? I thought these were supposed to be small bands!!!” To that, I’ll answer your second question with the answer to the first. Kodaline are an Irish band, from Dublin to be exact. While they play festival after festival across the pond to tons of people, they’re still incredibly unknown in the states. They had a short run of shows opening for The Airborne Toxic Event, and they went on their first US headliner ever earlier this fall playing venues with capacities of just a couple hundred people – quite the difference. Their latest album In a Perfect World hopes for the best with tracks like, well, “High Hopes” and ” “, but warns us of the worst parts of love in “All I Want” and “One Day.” When I first heard the record, I remember instantly connecting with the closer “Way Back When” – who hasn’t thought “man, I’d love go to back to the days of being a kid” at least once? Being an adult is pretty lame sometimes. “All Comes Down” is a stunner of a track that crescendos throughout almost the entire song before swelling into a beautiful arrangement of strings and unmatched vocal harmonies. Kodaline have managed to combine the best parts of early Coldplay and Augustana (and not to mention they’ve got “woah-oh” sections down to a ‘T’), but make the sound entirely their own with their folk-tinged guitars. They’ll be heading out on another run of US headlining dates this Spring on the “Love Like This” tour, and as someone who caught them live this fall, you won’t want to miss it. Find the dates over at their Facebook.
There are two distinct memories I have with St. Lucia. The first being when I saw them as HAIM’s opening act for their Lollapalooza after show in Chicago – I had never heard of them prior to that night, and after hearing lead single “Elevate” live, I had to own everything the band had ever done. Thankfully, at that point they only had one or two EPs so it wasn’t all that difficult of a task. The second memory comes a few weeks after their record When the Night dropped. I got a text from my mom asking “Tarynn, have you ever heard of this band St. Lucia?! I just heard their song “Elevate” and it’s soooo 80s, I LOVE IT!” Needless to say, my mom was pretty spot on in her description. St. Lucia have channeled all the best parts of the 80’s – the insanely catchy, sugar sweet synths and grooving rhythm section that just begs you to get up off your feet and dance. The synthpop masters have brilliantly combined electronic and tropical beats with Jean-Phillip Grobler’s vocals. After the final notes of the title track close out, the record begs to be repeated over and over again. There are almost no bad vibes on When the Night, the entire album shimmering with summertime sun; the album almost always takes me to a place where the water is at the perfect temperature, it’s 75 degrees, the drinks are cold, and the people are good looking (oh, and no one is ever hungover the next day). They’ve got a headlining tour coming up in 2014 that has been selling out at a pretty fast pace, and I know the date in my city (Minneapolis) has seen a venue upgrade, so you’ll want to get your tickets as soon as possible! Take a look at their dates over at Facebook, and follow the band on Twitter.
It seems there’s an overarching global theme for the week, because Everything Everything hail from Manchester, in the UK. The quartet just released their second album Arc earlier on in the year, and it quickly became a favorite of mine. The album focuses heavily on thoughts of the apocalypse in its own strange, zany way and while tracks like “Cough Cough” might have a slight sense of ridiculousness to them, others like “Armourland” wants to envelop you in its warmth and “hold you until we die.” Much like Kodaline, they’re a band that really took off across the pond, playing festival after festival, but haven’t done much of anything here in the states which is a damn shame. Everything Everything’s unique brand of future pop gets better with every release, and I’m looking forward to hearing what they’ve got up their sleeves (and a US tour, come on, lads!). As it’s coming towards the end of the year, they don’t have any tour dates currently planned, but you can keep up to date on everything, uh, Everything Everything, over at their Facebook and Twitter.
That’s all for this week! I’ll be back next Thursday, and until then you can follow me on Twitter and let me know who you’ve been listening to lately!