Alternative Top 40
John Darr | Thursday, February 6, 2014
By JOHN DARR
The Naked and Famous
Hailing from good old New Zealand, The Naked and Famous is an indie rock band that’s as epic as the movies filmed in its homeland. Sporting massive guitar and synth hooks and a killer guy-girl vocalist duo, The Naked and Famous is the sort of band that would somehow save the world with music. Over the span of merely two albums, “Passive Me, Aggressive You” and “In Rolling Waves,” The Naked and Famous scored a series of indie-famous hits; perhaps the best known of the bunch are “Young Blood” and “Punching in a Dream.” If by chance you’ve only heard those two, don’t think you’ve heard it all; The Naked and Famous have one of the deepest singles catalogs of any modern indie rock band. “Hearts Like Ours” and “I Kill Giants” are easy highlights in the pool.
An electro-pop group from Scotland, CHVRCHES crafts unbelievably colorful music, the irresistibly crisp production of which is only topped by incredible songwriting. The synthesizers CHVRCHES layers in each song are incredibly vibrant, perfectly complementing lead singer Lauren Mayberry’s clear and powerful voice. Sporting lyrics of freedom and courage in regards to love, CHVRHCES manages to hit the feels hard while avoiding clichés. Although it’s not on the radio much, CHVRHCES’ music is undoubtedly pop music. It manages to sound new and exciting without sacrificing catchiness or aesthetic appeal. For starters, check out the explosive single “Recover” or the dance-floor-ready “We Sink.”
There are a lot of neighborhood rock bands that have that homey, local feel but lack catchy songwriting. There are also a lot of pop bands that have incredibly catchy songwriting but just seem overpolished and distant. The Drums is a perfect balance of both. Its music features loads of infectious guitar riffs and unforgettable choruses, but the production is relatively stripped down and electronics are almost completely absent. You’ve probably heard at least parts of “Let’s Go Surfing” — the whistling melody has been used in many a TV commercials. Although that song is great, don’t miss out on “Days,” “What You Were” or “Money,” which on a scale of one-to-catchy are at least an 11.
SINGLE HIGHLIGHT: HAERTS, “Wings”
So HAERTS is an up-and-coming group that has only released four songs so far. It’s kind of miraculous, however, that the single “Wings” hasn’t been used in a Red Bull ad. Not only is the track super appropriate slogan-wise, it’s also filled to the brim with epic ingredients — vocalist Nini Fabi’s vocals set the bar for the word “soar,” harmonies from heaven, a ridiculously groovy drumbeat, gorgeous guitar riff, and the lyrics “I’ll float away into your afterglow” which might look kind of silly on paper until you actually hear them. One thing’s for certain: “Wings” is a song that, if you let it in, will probably be very close to your heart.
Contact John Darr at [email protected]