Wild Belle - "It's Too Late"
When Chicago's Wild Belle
(a certified NYLONmag.com Band Crush
) made their TV debut playing "It's Too Late" on Conan
this past Monday, I immediately recognized the keys/sax player, Elliot Bergman, founding member of the Afrojazz collective Nomo (and friend and collaborator of countless excellent but under-the-radar Midwestern bands). But what really floored me were the vocals--provided, as it turns out, by Elliot's sister, Natalie--which were steeped in a quirky, sultry, steaming-hot stew of Buffy Saint-Marie, Victoria Williams, Millie Small, the old blues greats, as well as contemporary artists like Macy Gray and Joanna Newsom. Even if you hadn't read the background notes on Columbia Records' website (Wild Belle's debut full-length, Isles
, is due early next year on the label), you might guess the siblings grew up in a home bubbling over with "old-timey songs, hymns, and Dylan tunes," because this richly informed sensibility oozes from the instrumentation's tasteful eclecticism. Hints of jazz, soul, rock-steady, and even new wave combine to form something that sounds effortlessly fresh and breezy, which is a longwinded way of saying that "It's Too Late" is a really badass song.
Solange - "Losing You"
Speaking of sibling acts, Solange Knowles (Bey's baby sis) has been garnering attention for her fantastic True
EP, out this week on Terrible Records--yes, that's Chris Taylor of Grizzly Bear's label. The EP's single, "Losing You," is perfect for those rare but wonderful I'm-so-sad-I-must-dance moments. There's also something about the hand claps, faint calypso vibe, and Solange's airy but direct and upbeat vocals on the subject of loneliness--not to mention the video's slightly awkward dance-walking and Instagram-y, faded-highlighter hue--that calls to mind Bananarama's 1983 hit "Cruel Summer." And being reminded of Bananarama's existence is never a bad thing.
Wall - "Something on Your Mind"
I'm a sucker for a good Karen Dalton cover, and this delicate, eerie, softly pulsing cover of "Something on Your Mind" by U.K. producer/songwriter Wall--the first signee to the awesome Black Cab Sessions' new label--is a damn good one.
Low - "Plays Nice Places"
Every couple of years, I wonder whether Duluth, Minnesota's Low is capable of writing a song that is not an achingly beautiful slow-burner of pure gorgeousness. "Plays Nice Places," the first single off the band's Jeff Tweedy-produced new album, The Invisible Way
(out March 19 on Sub Pop) confirms that the answer to that eternal question is still undoubtedly, resoundingly, "no."
Metz - "Dirty Shirt"
On the other side of the Sub Pop spectrum (at least on the surface) is "Dirty Shirt," courtesy of Canadian three-piece Metz. Just try to get through this two-minute 29-second shredder without slamming a door or jumping up and down in a frantic-ecstatic explosion of pure-punk frenzy. Go ahead. Try it.