Friday Music Focus: 6/3/16

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Here are five excellent new (or new-ish) tunes that I have been listening to this week. I don’t think that there is any particular theme tying these songs together; they have just been a constant part of my playlists and I hope that you too will find them worth your time. Sharing is caring!

The Kills, “Heart of a Dog” (performed live for BBC Radio 6 Music, 2016; studio version appears on the album Ash & Ice, released 6/3/2016). Florida-born vocalist Alison Mosshart and English guitarist Jamie Hince have been churning out quality rock music with a somewhat electronic influence (they use a programmed drum machine rather than a human drummer) since the early 2000s. Some critics have denounced the duo’s new album as being too similar to their previous songs – repetition can be boring – but since I’m familiar with only a handful of Kills songs, “Heart of a Dog” sounds pretty good as far as I can tell. It’s even more impressive when you learn that Jamie Hince had to learn a new way to play guitar after losing the use of one of fingers a few years ago.

Declan McKenna, “Bethlehem” (appears on the EP Liar, 2016). McKenna is a young – seriously; get ready to feel old when I say that he was born on Christmas Eve in 1998 – British singer-songwriter with a nice guitar tone on this song and a rather accomplished sound overall for a teenager. If he keeps this up, he could eventually find himself at the forefront of the indie pop-rock scene.

Primal Scream, “(Feeling Like a) Demon Again” (appears on the album Chaosmosis, 2016). I hear the influences of Soft Cell’s 1981 classic “Tainted Love” and some of Depeche Mode’s styles throughout the 80s (“Everything Counts,” “Shake the Disease,” “Enjoy the Silence”) in the infectiously catchy second track off of Primal Scream’s most recent album.

Psychic Ills featuring Hope Sandoval, “I Don’t Mind” (appears on the album Inner Journey Out, 2016). Hope Sandoval, perhaps best known as lead singer of the seminal 90s dream-pop band Mazzy Star, contributes beautifully feather-light vocals to this seemingly folk/blues/country-inspired song from New York City-based band Psychic Ills. I don’t know much about the group, but I like the atmosphere of the song and how pleasantly the two singers tell us of a destructive relationship that they can’t, and on some levels don’t, want to leave.

The Struts, “Kiss This” (performed live on “The Late Show with Stephen Colbert,” 2016; studio version appears on the album Everybody Wants, 2014/re-released in 2016). The band’s sound is not original, and neither is frontman Luke Spiller’s look; he reminds me simultaneously of Marc Bolan (the clothes), Freddie Mercury (the voice, the overbite) and actor/screenwriter/director John Francis Daley (the rest of Spiller’s face – albeit covered with a lot of makeup). OK, so the Struts read the How to Be a Rock Star handbook a few too many times. But they do put on a good show. They’re fun to watch, even if their album isn’t much to write home about. I would probably enjoy them in concert.

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