In Notes From Left of the Dial this week, Nooga.com spends time with new music from The Winter Sounds, Trudy and the Romance, Rbecka, and Robin Jackson. What have you been listening to lately?
The Winter Sounds, “Heartbeats”
For Nashville-based pop rockers The Winter Sounds, music is communicative, a vehicle for experience and discussion. Their indie pop machinations are threaded with shivering guitar lines, complex bass rhythms and singer Patrick Keenan’s expressive vocal stylings. Easily switching between stadium-sized anthems and more introspective ruminations, the band is able to combine intimacy and grandeur in equal measure without sacrificing the weight of their approach. Confessional and earnest in its execution, the music doesn’t rely on simple emotional associations but digs deeper into their past to unearth dramatic pop revelations. The band is currently gearing up for the release of their sophomore record, “Maximum Reality,” due out Dec. 1.
With their new video for “Heartbeats,” the band teams up with Zbanski Kino to create a video that highlights the continual movements of the world around us and our attempts to find our places within it. Filmed in Estonia, the clip features Keenan lying in bed before stepping outside and interacting with various animals and gorgeous landscapes. Pairing these pastoral visions with the track’s indie pop balladry is particularly fitting, as each builds the emotional resonance of the other. As the song winds down and a wash of brass rhythms comes in to see us off, we’re left with a feeling of possibility and interconnected realities. Green fields and wooded areas provide a wondrous backdrop for the band’s immaculate pop construction, giving us a glimpse into their grand musical mechanics.
Trudy and the Romance, “Is There a Place I Can Go”
Some bands just seem to have an ear for combining unusual sounds and making them adhere in miraculous fashion—just look at Liverpool, England, natives Trudy and the Romance. Melding a mutant strain of early pop with cinematic aspirations, the band barrels through these limber rhythms with a perpetual grace and melodic ease. Filled with Technicolor patterns and vibrant textures, their work doesn’t suggest any direct influence so much as it points to a completely new musical outlook. And they’ll continue to examine and develop this radical perspective when they release their new EP, “Junkyard Jazz,” due out Nov. 17 via B3SCI.
On their recent single, “Is There a Place I Can Go,” the band blends a classic ’50s pop shuffle with doo-wop vocals and a charming rhythmic lilt. The nimble piano lines interact with the chiming guitars to create a gentle sway and shimmy before quickly moving into high gear and rumbling through a dense wash of pop influences. The song feels a bit timeless but definitely maintains a sense of modern production as it skims through decades of musical history. Impassioned voices are raised in unison as brief sax interruptions blend with motorik percussion. It possesses a romantic and persuasive pop iridescence, the kind of immaculate arrangement that you really don’t hear any more. And modern music is the poorer for it.
Hailing from Stockholm, 19-year-old singer-songwriter Rbecka (AKA Rebecka Rydgren) creates music that echoes with a dark pop resilience. Aided by her distinct vibrato, she also blends aspects of indie rock and soul, creating a mass of inspirations and experiences. Channeling the spirits of artists like Florence + The Machine and Imagine Dragons, her work occupies a wide-eyed pop landscape where dramatic emotional swings can occur at any time. She’s already released a couple of singles, which have garnered her a ferocious following in her home country and racked up hundreds of thousands of Spotify streams. On the strength of those songs, she’s played various festivals across Sweden, including Malmöfestivalen, where she performed for an audience of over 25,000 people.
On her latest single, “Raindrops,” Rbecka channels the cathedral emotionality of artists like Adele and Sia while wrapping her affecting vocals around delicate piano riffs and thudding percussive bursts. It’s all about resolution and empowerment, taking the idea of gaining freedom from a toxic relationship and examining those difficulties through an emphatic pop wonder. Written by Rbecka in collaboration with a group of producers and singer-songwriters known as Wild Ghosts, the track began life as a simple ambient loop with an accompanying piano line that mimicked the sound of falling rain. But it grew and evolved into “Raindrops,” a song that shakes with an intimate understanding of how hard it can be to stand up for yourself and to speak in your own voice.
Robin Jackson, “Drifting at Sea”
Portland, Oregon-based musician Robin Jackson takes the communal rhythms of folk and indie pop and rewrites their base code, turning these familiar sounds into something wholly original and still wonderfully theatrical. His music doesn’t lend itself to easy characterization, opting instead for deeper musical associations. There’s a vaudevillian spectacle lurking in the shadows of his songs, something almost carnival-like at times. According to Jackson, he approaches his work from the idea that art and music can function as redemptive catalysts, providing inspiration and healing when it may be needed most. He’s set to release his latest record, “Dark Stars,” Nov. 3.
On his new single, “Drifting at Sea,” Jackson rambles through a folk-tinted wonderland of tremulous guitar notes and ramshackle percussion. Reminiscent of a rainy day where the sun might occasionally crack through the clouds, the song seems to hang in midair, just waiting for someone to come by and lavish attention on its woven melodies and captivating narrative. He hangs a halo of stringed ornamentation in the background to add a touch of grandeur, but it doesn’t seem self-conscious in the way that he presents it. The indie pop influences are clear and present in each verse and chorus, giving the track a welcoming nature, even when the rhythms turn a shade darker and reveal a deeper emotional reverence than you might be expecting.
Joshua Pickard covers local and national music, film and other aspects of pop culture. You can contact him on Facebook, Twitter or by email. The opinions expressed in this column belong solely to the author, not Nooga.com or its employees.