The Easy Reasons – “Williamsburg” (2016)

the easy reasons williamsburg
The Easy Reasons

The Easy Reason’s latest is a slow-burn cousin to their first. “Williamsburg” has the same live-on-the-edge sense of abandon as “Piece,” their debut single from a couple of years ago. Both songs rip when they want to, but experience finds the group a little darker, a little dirtier, a little more content to take their time. They’re deep in it on this one. Drivin’ to fast with your brakes cut loose. I’ll keep The Easy Reasons.

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Dirty Bangs – “Your Sister’s Friend” (2016)

dirty bangs your sisters friend
Dirty Bangs
“Your Sister’s Friend”

Dirty Bangs were one of the coolest and most engaging bands of 2015. Their new single has me convinced they don’t plan on relinquishing those distinctions anytime soon. “Your Sister’s Friend” smolders with melodic hooks that will have you humming along on the first listen. There’s no big chorus here, just a string of slinky verses strung together with some woo-woos. It works. Just listen to the “take-take-take-take-take-take” part and tell me that’s not gold. You can’t, because it is.

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Drab – “Well, I Wanna Die” (2016)

drab well i wanna die
“Well, I Wanna Die”

The wonderfully, but inaccurately, named Drab have released a teaser single from their forthcoming EP. “Well, I Wanna Die” is stripped of the fuzz and buzz I’ve come to associated with the band. What’s left is a beautiful bummer of a tune. Drab comes rattling in the night like the Ghost of Relationships Past. It’s a journey through the things you thought were buried for good, inspired by the late-’90s indie rock that was probably playing as you dug the grave. It’s gonna feel worse before it feels better. In the end, it’s for the best.

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Eternals – “Raised By Wolves” (2016)

eternals raised by wolves
“Raised By Wolves”

I’m in love with what Eternals are doing right now. The band is delivering well written pop songs executed with meticulous attention to detail and a lush palette of tailored tones. Actually, when I describe it that way it sounds like something I wouldn’t like. I usually gravitate toward songs and production that are more visceral, but Eternals have a way of polishing up these numbers without losing heart or groove that is just so appealing. These guys are so locked in and in tune with each other that their music still connects on a gut level. That’s good enough for me.

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The Wrong Shapes – “Eating Better, Working Less” (2015)

The Wrong Shapes - Eating Better Working Less
The Wrong Shapes
“Eating Better, Working Less”

The Wrong Shapes got spaced-out and trippy on their December single of the month. “Eating Better, Working Less” starts with loops that sound stuck in time between The Soft Bulletin and Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots before the duo’s distinctive cello and vocals drift in. The Wrong Shapes float in and out of consciousness for 4:30 while their voices intermingle and a guitar picks out a repeating phrase. It’s a sound that exists in a plane below (above?) the buzz and static of everyday life.

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Abbie Barrett And The Last Date – “That Shame” (2015)

abbie barrett that shame
Abbie Barrett And The Last Date
“That Shame”

The latest single from Abbie Barrett And The Last Date is a dark and driving dynamo. “That Shame” is a layered with wailing guitars, haunting backing vocals and a locked-in rhythm section. All of this is in support of Abbie’s soulful, scathing, perfectly delivered lead vocal. Damn. This is fantastic.

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Ringtail – “Birdwatcher” (2016)

Ringtail - Birdwatcher

OK. Ringtail officially have my attention. Mid-tempo but never dull, their latest single mines vintage indie and classic rock territory. “Birdwatcher” feels like a long lost 120 Minutes gem from the mid-nineties dressed up with some Big Star sensibilities. Is that weird? Maybe, but it works. I’m eager to hear what these guys get up to next.

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Petty Morals – Marked Women (2016)

Petty Morals - Marked Women
Petty Morals
Marked Women

This EP may not be named after a sugary treat, but it’s the same synth-y, dance-y, punk-tinged power pop you’ve come to expect from Petty Morals. Marked Women comes out of the gate like Robert Palmer throwing back shots with Blondie at a hair metal show. That’s just “Get Down (And Live It Up).” “Over It” is the band’s best pure pop song since “Radio Action.” “Just A Game” is 1987 flashback city. “Into You” is their best pure pop song since “Over It.” Petty Morals channel their inner Rick James on “Telephone Erotic” before closing out the EP with a sweet Nick Z remix of “Go For Broke.” Looks like they’ve done it again.

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Space Cranes – Merrily On High (2014)

space cranes merrily on high
Space Cranes
Merrily On High

Let Space Cranes take you on an eclectic, electro-retro journey this holiday season. This dynamic duo and friends are back with another collection of mostly instrumental musical cheer. My favorite? I’ll take the samba-ized version of “Jingle Bell Rock” appropriately renamed, you guessed it, “Jingle Bell Samba.”

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Secret Lover – “Waffle House Christmas Baby” (2014)

Secret Lover Waffle House Christmas Baby
Secret Lover
“Waffle House Christmas Baby”

Secret Lover’s “Waffle House Christmas Baby” feels like a long-lost classic, with achingly, heart-breakingly perfect vocals shining bright through a blizzard of reverb, sleigh bells and rattling guitars. It’s essentially a depressing country tune played with the soul of early rock ‘n’ roll. Set at Christmastime. At a Waffle House. All holiday songs should be this good.

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