The Two, "I Wanna Be With You Again"
You know that awkward feeling you get when you show up to a party and it seems like everyone is already having way too much fun without you? That's a little bit how we felt when we happened upon The Two a couple of weeks ago. This indie rock twosome (get it?) is already huge in their native France, garnering more than 100 thousand hits on YouTube for their 2010 single "I Wanna Be With You Again." The song is melancholic, moody, and so intimate that it feels like you're the only person they're singing to. The only consolation? At least we're not the only ones late on The Two bandwagon; after years of playing overseas, Ara and David finally make their official U.S. debut this month with a stateside release. In other words, better start making up for lost time. LIZA DARWIN
The Maccabees, "Pelican"
A couple of weeks ago NME put the Maccabees on their cover and deemed them "one of our most important bands." Unfortunately that statement doesn't apply to U.S. audiences; for some strange, sad reason the band hasn't crossed over here. I first saw them at CMJ back in 2007 (on an awesome bill that also included Foals) and was immediately smitten by their smart, catchy pop. "Pelican," the lead single off their new album, Given to the Wild (out in the U.K. this week), bursts through the stereo with a dual drum/guitar crash and a harmonized vocal line that immediately grabs a hold of your eardrums. Their songs are so ambitiously arranged, with bridges and twists, never falling into the A-B-A-B pop cliches that plague so many other bands right now. Why they're not huge here, I don't know. Let's try to change that. ELLEN CARPENTERAmadou and Mariam "Dougou Badia ft. Santigold and Nick Zinner"
For years, jazz or bluegrass was my go-to concentration music. When I was studying for a big test or writing a big cover story, I'd pop in a Bill Evans solo piano record or a Chris Thile instrumental album and get to work. Lyrics were always too distracting. But when I discovered the Mali duo Amadou and Mariam a few years back (they've been around since the 80s), I quickly changed my tune: Lyrics weren't too distracting;English ones were! Now I pretty much always listen to them when I'm working. Their music is upbeat and soulful, filled with sunny melodies and infectious rhythms -- just the thing to keep me focused and happy. Their upcoming new album, Folila, has a slew of cool guests, including TV on the Radio and Theophilus London; for their first single "Dougou Badia" they enlisted Santigold, whose edgy voice perfectly complements Mariam's throaty alto, and Nick Zinner, whose rocking electric guitar careens over top the folky melody and Malian percussion. It's an inspired collaboration and I'm certain the rest of the album will be just as good. ECNew Build "Do You Not Feel Loved?"
There’s a new Hot Chip side project in town, and frankly, we couldn’t be more excited about it. This time, Al Doyle and Felix Martin teamed with sound engineer pal Tom Hopkins for New Build. Their new single “Do You Not Feel Loved?” chimes with dreamy dancefloor beats replete with the synth and spongy vocals that we love (and miss) from Hot Chip. New Build’s debut album, Yesterday Was Loved and Lost, comes out March 5th—but if you’re like us and can’t swallow the wait, check out their website for a four-track album sampler. MADELINE GILESBrick+Mortar, “Move to the Ocean”
There’s an undeniable energy that charges through New Jersey-based duo Brick+Mortar, and this is especially obvious in the dark and seductive “Move to the Ocean,” which I’ve had on repeat all week. Lead singer Brandon Asraf’s voice has a ferocious punch to it and effortlessly moves from solemn croon to savage cry without losing an ounce of passion along the way. Tensions build and tribal beats boom under biting lyrics. These guys will hit you like a delightful ton of bricks (pun intended). CAITLIN SMITH