It took a bit of digging, but I found ten cool brand new songs released in 2021 worthy of your attention. The weather may be cool, but not as cool as these songs.
I begin the list with a joyful tune that Ellen Once Again dropped on New Year’s Day. After all the chaos we endured last year, “Survivor” is the song that 2021 needed. While the world is still in a tumultuous state, the sincerity in Ellen’s positivity leads the listener to believe that yes, we can survive this mess too. If you’re needing a feel good song, or even a keep from feeling bad song, this is what the doctor ordered.
Do not let the name of Marcus Striplin’s new project fool you. NEWWAVER is not drowning in synthesizers a la Depeche Mode, nor does it have the infectious quirky dance beats of an Oingo Boingo or B-52’s. In many ways, NEWWAVER does not depart too far from the melodic terrains of his other projects, Pleasant Grove and Margaret Chavez. This is not to say that NEWWAVER doesn’t find Mr. Striplin exploring new musical grounds. There’s a greater sense of uneasiness in the mood of “C’Mon” than even the darkest of PG songs, and the excessive reverberation in both Striplin’s vocals and instrumentation gives the track an interesting, experimental feel.
Dallas is a rock and roll town. Don’t get me wrong; The Ghost loves The Roomsounds, Sub-Sahara, and Duell as much as the next guy (and probably even more). Still, it feels as if the metroplex sometimes needs to turn the volume down and just listen. Glenda is more interested in diving into a good melody than a good riff, coming far closer in style to the more twee side of Belle and Sebastian than any other local band does at the moment. Their latest song, “Talking Walls”, is another gorgeous single from a band that isn’t afraid to favor emotional intimacy in its music over the need for being “indie hip”. And that, in The Ghost’s book, makes them as hip as you can get.
Fact: no one does a better job combining lyrics about heartbreak and alcohol than Old 97’s. Fact: The 40 Acre Mule are sure trying to give the 97’s a run for their money with “Dear Jen”, with lead singer J. Isaiah Evans serving up a fiery rebuttal to an ex, along with plenty of drinking references, because of course.
Hardened and Tempered are an Austin band that I have a feeling will be known by many more people this time next year right now. Why do I think this? Perhaps it’s because their latest album, Hold the Fire, was produced by none other than Lloyd Maines. Then again, it’s probably the fact that Hard and Tempered’s album is filled to the brim with lots of great songs. While it’s hard to choose just one track as a standout, there’s something about “Breaker, Breaker” that I find particularly compelling.
Last year, I connected online with Joseph Fisher Schramm for the first time. I found out that in addition to his own music, Joseph had has own indie label/publishing house featuring music ranging in style from folk to metal. The two styles seemed so incongruous that it blew my mind a little. What’s really mind blowing, however, is his new track “Orchid”. While it’s clearly intended to be singer-songwriter fare with classical leanings, I swear I hear a metal songs lurking under there. Is it just my imagination, or there something darker to this song that I’m right to pick up on?
Chancy call themselves “the most local band in the world”. I’m sure there are plenty of other bands around here that might debate that they are localer than Chancy. The level of fun that is to be had listening to their new track, “Solomiya”, is not to be debated. It is fun to the nth degree, case closed.
Technically, Beth Lee‘s song “Waiting on You Tonight” was released last year, but the album of the same name comes out this February, so it’s kind of a new release, right? Ms. Lee is a new discovery for me this year; perhaps I’m out of the loop living in Dallas and that’s why I’ve never heard of this talented Austin lady. All I know is that I am seriously impressed. Her voice. Her songs. The album production. This is, as the kids would say, fire.
On the new Rosegarden Funeral Party track, “Gates of Heaven”, the band takes a drastic turn in their sound, focusing on light fluffy dance pop hooks, lyrics about sunshine and puppies and… nah, I’m just messing with you. It’s all the goth goodness you would expect from the RFP folks.
Finally, I bring you Top Hat Ted. If you’re needing a serious song that will examine the woes of the world, you will be sorely disappointed. If you’re wanting a fun, rocking, humorous song about religion and sex, well, you’re in luck. Enjoy!