Thursday, July 17, 2014

Cruel Summer Music Mix 2014 - Vol. 4

As a southerner, I've been listening to these seven words all my life: "It's not the heat, it's the humidity." I call that southern science. And it's not particularly comforting when the sweat is rolling down my back into my underwear. Anyway, it's going to take more than sunscreen, shade, AC or lots of citrus-kissed blonde ales to get me through the season. Summer needs a soundtrack! In part four of this 7-part series, I'm featuring earworms from The Heartbreaks, Ingrid Michaelson and Prides.

The Heartbreaks. They're a British alternative pop/rock quartet from Lancashire. At first glance it's tempting to dismiss them as just another boy band, but that would be a mistake -- these are serious musicians. Matthew Whitehouse handles lead vocals, accompanied by drummer (and songwriter) Joseph Kondras, guitarist Ryan Wallace and bassist Christopher "Deaks" Deakin." NME, the weekly British music journalism publication, has called them one of the "most exciting bands in the UK today." Their sophomore release, We May Yet Stand a Chance, dropped in June of 2014.

The Heartbreaks, left to right:
Christopher Deakin, Joseph Kondras, Matthew Whitehouse & Ryan Wallace 

Song & Video: "Absolved" -- The song is unapologetic, uplifting, bombastic pop (and a pretty brilliant little single). The video is a goofball homage to those nattily suited, all-male groups of the 1960s (think The Four Seasons), complete with admirably cheesy choreography. Also, Sideburns Guy (Ryan Wallace) is my musician crush of the summer.

The chorus, for those interested...

Absolved, I am
From the guilt of all the feelings
that you don't understand

Absolved, I cry
From the guilt of all the feelings
that hit me when I catch your eye

Ingrid Michaelson. This indie-pop singer-songwriter has been around for about a dozen years now, crafting songs of impressive emotional range. Somehow, she's managed to be successful by being charming instead of controversial. Her latest album, Lights Out, proves she not afraid to dabble with a more mainstream pop sound, complete with catchy hooks and a little more lushness in the production than usual. Her website is here.

Ingrid Michaelson (from her Facebook page)

Song & Video: "Girls Chase Boys" -- Its a disarmingly sweet breakup song complete with hand claps and... wait, is that a harpsichord I hear? Whatever, it's damn seductive pop. Even better, the video is a terrific homage to Robert Palmer's clip for his 1988 smash, "Simply Irresistible." Yeah, the one where he's surrounded by a bevy of gorgeous, enigmatic supermodel types. Michaelson's video is a gender-remixed take on things. In other words, she queered it up. Very successfully.

Prides. This Scottish synthpop trio will surprise you with their big, earnest, passionate sound. They aren't holding back, making the kind of music that will probably get crowds to chant their anthemic lyrics. As of this writing, their first EP is already available in Europe; coming soon to U.S. iTunes. You can also find them on Spotify. Their website is here.

Prides, left to right: Lewis Gardner, Stewart Brock & Callum Wiseman

Song & Video: "Messiah" -- It's exuberant, soulful power pop. The kind of stuff you can imagine your slightly drunk self singing too loud at a party with friends who love you anyway. The video features two very hot, joyriding priests that have apparently gotten themselves involved in a disturbing (and perplexing) scheme. There's a sentence no one could ever anticipate writing. (I think celibacy will drive men to do some pretty awful things.) Anyway, the trio of bandmates appear only briefly as hitchhikers -- a cool enough way cameo in your own video.

To check out volume one in this series, click here; volume two is here; volume three is here.

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