Right out of the gate, 2017 has unleashed another batch of great tracks to light up our turntables. There are familiar sounds from new faces, unconventional blends, and fresh sonic avenues to explore. As always, Rawckus is here to help you navigate this deluge of excellence, starting with these five tracks we can’t stop listening to this February.
“Sunsetting” by Stereo Off
New York-based indie rock/electropop band Stereo Off are back with the first single off their upcoming third EP, set to be released in February. “Sunsetting” makes use of ever-popular ‘80s synths to create a “night-rider” feeling, but it’s the saxophone-led breaks that really complement the steamy, runaway-dream lyrics and color them with sun-tinged hues. While the indie rock elements are mostly subdued, there are grainy guitar melodies between the verses that act as a sort of call-and-response to the sax, like the highway-bound lovers in the song. There’re plenty of bands that simply ape the ‘80s, but Stereo Off is great at blending it with the present.
“Nothing Like Them” by Andre Ary feat. Alex Lando
Since releasing his debut single “Save Our Souls” in 2014, Swedish DJ/producer Andre Ary has been releasing a string of dance tracks, growing his night club reputation on an international basis. On “Nothing Like Them,” he teams with singer/songwriter Alex Lando, who handles the anthemic yet intimate verses about standing apart from the mundane. The titular hook is catchy, providing a steady melody for Ary’s eclectic production to swirl around. Pulsing backbeats, beads of melodic chirps, and strings of harmonious cooing, all build to festival-fodder crescendo/breakdowns that are sure to secure this song’s spot in any nightlife playlist.
“Sunbelt Emptiness” by Pollen Rx
Formed in 2014 in Austin, Texas, Pollen Rx have a self-aware, urban appeal that’s tough to pin down. Even their self-described genre of “dance punk” doesn’t do them justice. “Sunbelt Emptiness,” the titular single from their upcoming LP (due January 27) sees a complete tonal and instrumental shift between crunchy, garage rock verses and sunny, indie rock choruses. Lyrically, it shifts from showing an alarmed disgust at contemporary society and its relationship with technology, to admitting a questionably tongue-in-cheek involvement and reverence to it all. The way the song is stylistically spliced is jarring, but continually engaging—grimy and beachy, punky and dancey.
“Henchmen” by VISTA
Based in New York, VISTA is a relatively new band formed in early 2016, though its frontwoman Hope Vista has a solo career spanning over a decade. She’s joined, both in playing and songwriting, by guitarist Greg Almeida and drummer Matthew Vlossak, spawning a tight alt-rock/post-hardcore sound. With “Henchmen”, the anthemic and independent-yet-supportive nature of the lyrics is emphasized by the female-male echoing vocals, while the pounding drums and wiry guitar riffs keep things heavy without feeling the least bit dreary. VISTA is sure to get your blood boiling, though rather than do it by touching upon universal anger, they exert their own passion.
“Directional” by Miears
Miears began in 2016 as the solo project of Houston, Texas-based singer/songwriter Michelle Miears, whose traditionally beautiful voice weaves smoothly between sharp electronic pop beats. “Directional,” a single from her upcoming EP Who Will Save You? (coming March 3), sees Miear offering herself to the listener as an emotional guide. There’s something pained but clearly reliable in her somber, swooning voice—as if she’s been there herself. Set against a cold, electronic backdrop, her promise is like a soft-burning fire to warm yourself by. Miears brings R&B emotion and packs it into a dense, pop construction, making for an approachable yet rewarding experience.