Night Beds, Country Sleep
Winston Yellen's outfit Night Beds has already been featured in all sorts of places, and his debut record, Country Sleep, isn't even out yet. Sleep will be out on Feb. 5 via Bloomington indie Dead Oceans, but you can already hear the whole damn thing over at Pitchfork. It's a lush record that at times resembles the output of fellow introspective, folk- and country-rooted indie crooners like, say, Fleet Foxes, Bon Iver and Phosphorescent. But Yellen has his own thing going on, and his voice — perhaps his greatest strength — rings clear and pure throughout Country Sleep, occasionally ensconced in reverb or bolstered by subtle backing vocals. Give it a listen. Oh, also, Night Beds will be on Fallon Feb. 8. Dude puts out his debut record and plays Late Night three days later? Somebody in Yellen's camp is doing his or her job.
Neil O'Neil, "Awkward Friends"
Former Cheer Up Charlie Daniels member and current Protoman and Welcome to 1979 dude Neil O'Neil has a new track from his forthcoming solo effort, an EP by the name of Almost Good Enough. The tune is called "Awkward Friends," and it features a big, '60s-pop arrangement — from a string section that sounds like it was nicked from Ben E. King or Roy Orbison to a bridge with some pretty handy flamenco-esque guitaring, it's ambitious and well executed. Have a listen to that above or over at O'Neil's Soundcloud page, where you can also hear a very cute and rad duet with Cream fave Natalie Prass by the name of "Boa Constrictor."
Kat Smo, Tonight EP
Alt-pop songstress Kat Smo and her band have a brand-new EP by the name of Tonight, and it's just the sort of slightly quirky, mildly aggressive but generally slick and accessible rock music that you could probably call "radio rock," if you wanted to. Influences? Dunno ... maybe Garbage, U2 and Franz Ferdinand? Whatever you do, don't compare them to Paramore. Because, as their Facebook page says, "No, we are not like Paramore." Stream Tonight above or purchase it for any price you like over at Kat Smo's Bandcamp page.
Dax, The End of the World
I'm not sure if local dude Dax is literally related to late country songstress Skeeter Davis or not, but the description beneath his cover of Davis' "The End of the World" calls her his "late cousin Skeeter Davis." Personally, I vastly prefer the original over Dax's somewhat Motley Crue'd out rendition, but he certainly aimed high with it. Anyway, you can download Dax's "The End of the World" single along with a pair of alt-rocking originals above or via Noisetrade.
Photo Ops, "Someplace"
Nearly overlooked this one, but it most certainly deserves inclusion! Remember Photo Ops? That's the project of former Oblio frontman Terry Price, whose video for "It Makes Me Cry" we recently shared. Well, Rolling Stone recently featured Ops' "Someplace" as their Daily Download, and it's a sweetly tuneful, deeply personal little pop number. Anybody remember '90s-born Swedish alt-rock outfit Kent? Maybe it's Price's voice, or his knack for pretty pop songs that are about heavy stuff but don't feel heavy, but something about "Someplace" reminds me of the phase I had with Kent's Isola back in college. Get it above or at RS.