Fresh Picks

Excerpts of conversations I’ve had with my roommate:

Me: “I’m doing really well this semester. I’m only going to two concerts and no one has released any new music.” (Context: I’ve been to thirty something concerts in the two years that I have been in college.)

Her: “That’s good. You’ll have a lot of money for when you’re in Florence this summer!”

The next week:

Me: “So I just pre-ordered three albums and just bought tickets to see The Cribs…”

Her: “Dammit, Caroline.”

In short, the music scene never lets my bank account rest. I can’t complain though. All of these bands sweat and toil over perfecting their album and in turn, I throw my money at them and I have a brand new album of songs that I will genuinely cherish forever (and ultimately force them upon my friends and family.)

Is there a better feeling than knowing that your favorite band is going to release a new record and go on tour? No, there’s not.

I have been listening to various radio stations and digging around in the bowels of Spotify (for you!) to create a playlist of the newest, coolest music as of late. This playlist is solely songs released in 2015, so you can say that “you knew them before they were cool”. I got your back.

“Handsome” by The Vaccines, to be released on their new album, English Graffiti (2015).

If you’re a raging narcissist like I am, “Handsome” is the song for you. The Vaccines are a band that is characterized by fast-paced songs, biting lyrics, and simply, songs that will make you jump to heights that you did not think possible. We’re in rough bit of the semester, filled with unnecessary exams and papers, but hey. Bad grade? Whatever. Throw on your black Wayfarers and remember this: “Thank God, I’m handsome! … / What a stroke of luck that I am charming!”

“To Die In L.A.” by Lower Dens, to be released on their new record, Escape From Evil (out March 31, 2015).

A track reminiscent of sitting on the shore in the sunshine. In the middle of this winter, that image is a blessing and a curse. What I like most about this song is that it isn’t your typical song about Los Angeles. It doesn’t scream Hollywood; it’s mellow and hits you in waves. Jana Hunter’s voice is full of melancholy, reminding you that the world isn’t all fun and games.

Sorry, but someone was going to have to bring you down from your “Handsome” ego-trip. What better song than “To Die In L.A.”?

“Perfect Couples” by Belle & Sebastian, off of their album, Girls In Peacetime Want To Dance.

While some of us continue to seethe in the bitter aftermath of Valentine’s Day, “Perfect Couples” puts into song what we’ve all thought about in our single rage. Namely: “Why is he dating her?” followed by an inhalation of hot wings, ice cream and free-flowing tears. Despite it all, this song is groovy. Personally, I’m a fan of the use of the bongos in this song. We need more songs with excessive bongo usage. For lack of a better word, Stevie Jackson’s vocals are airy, something that reminds me of spring. Oh, the irony of the perfect couples breaking up in spring.

“The Sunshine Of Your Youth” by Cheerleader.

This song disturbs me for one reason: the lyric, “a Hallmark family photo circa 1995”. Is 1995 old? Am I old now? What the f*ck? I was literally just lying on the floor in kindergarten, coloring outside of the lines. (Would it really be an article by me without some sort of existential crisis within these descriptions?)

So, yes, I am dreaming of the sunshine of my youth. Remember those carefree days with grass stains on your knees and dirt stains on your face? This song will bring those memories back. You’ll be sad, but like all good pop bands, Cheerleader will get you back on your feet and have you celebrating being alive in the present.

“Burning For No One” by The Cribs, to be released on their new album, For All My Sisters (out March 24, 2015).

As per the introduction, I really love The Cribs. I think they’re one of the coolest bands making music today. “Burning For No One” is a song that anyone can get into. It has an easy melody and an uncomplicated rhythm. Ryan and Gary Jarman have voices that, even if you were in Cannon’s, ears overloaded with screaming freshmen, you’d be able to distinguish their voices easy (Thank God it’s the Jarman brothers in your ear and not the creepy kid from your math class, Christ.) It’s that English accent, man. You want to shoegaze? Do it. You want to play air guitar? Go for it. I’m doing both.

“Get Closer” by Life In Film.

Oh, the frustration I felt when I looked these guys up and found nothing but this song! This song will leave you craving for more and potentially speaking with a heavy English accent. These guys are going to be big, I know it. Lo and behold, you’re ahead of the curve.

The guitar switch between your typical pop song melody to something that sounds like it could be played on the banjo. But, luckily for you, they’re not singing about pick-up trucks and whisky (that’s what country songs talk about, right?). What cuter lyrics could you get than, “Come ‘round /Well, I’d really like to see ya / We could watch the television / You could cook a pizza, love!”

“Back To You” by Twerps, off of their album, Range Anxiety.

If you’re still on your ego power-trip from “Handsome” by The Vaccines, let this opening lyric sober you up (“Somebody out there is doing better than me.”) March is right around the corner and that means that spring is almost here. Effin’ finally. The synth plays in the background, sounding like a whistling flute and, in my own opinion, nothing screams spring more than that.

Like “Perfect Couples”, this song’s happy nature is contrasted with some self-deprecation. More than what meets the…ear?

“Running In Circles” by POP ETC.

Guess what’s back guys! The god damn 80s! Listen to that opening synth and tell me you don’t feel an overwhelming desire to throw on every article of clothing covered in animal print. Whatever, I’m just the crazy 80s-loving author. The opening synth, while reminiscent of various cheesy 80s songs, easily becomes the coolest part of this track. You’ll be making the strangest noises trying to imitate it.  I guarantee it, this song will be your song for the summer. Like on constant repeat. Forever.

Endless summer, blah, blah, blah.

“Lifted Up (1985)” by Passion Pit, to be released on their new record, Kindred (out April 21, 2015).

I will forever be laughing maniacally because now the 80s are getting their recognition and respect that the decade so deserves. Passion Pit, with their signature high-pitched vocals and synth-pop, has returned with a single that will remain stuck in your head for the rest of your damn life. It’s that good. Forget “1985” by Bowling For Soup, this is the superior 1985 song.

Michael Angelakos sings, “I’ve been away for so many years / But I guess I’ll just wait a little bit longer” and I can only beg him to not. This world desperately needs a new album by Passion Pit.

“When It’s Done” by Milo Greene, off of their album, Control.

Milo Greene has its roots in folk, but placing this record next to their debut, you would swear that they’re two different bands. “When It’s Done” is sung with a passionate frustration, something very uncharacteristically Milo Greene. The mellow guitar betrays the vocals, revealing the speaker as a timid, emotionally-vulnerable man or woman. Thus highlighting the talents of this fantastic five-piece group.

The song cuts suddenly and you’ll be gasping for more.