Sissy Wish -
Siri Ålberg is Sissy Wish, a Swedish Singer/songwriter with a knack for danceable melodies and engagingly experimental music. I hadn't heard a thing about her until recently when I came across her new album, Beauties Never Die, and now I can't stop listening. The record is infectious and fun, hopping genres and combining them over the course of ten tracks, with Ålberg's uniquely high voice (almost whiny at times, really, but it works for her) confidently and eagerly spouting everything from pop ditties to dance anthems to lovely ballads. She fills her music with all sorts of instrumentation including unique percussion, layers of synth, and sweeping strings among the more standard guitar, bass, and keys. Each track is great, but the last three are particularly amazing: the punchy, funky "Dependence," the sparsely beautiful "Music On the Radio" and the fantastic, retro-pop-imbued "Book" for the grand finale. Beauties Never Die is among the best pop records I've heard this year - listen up.
Rose Melberg -
Folk songstress Rose Melberg has been a part of several bands I've not yet had the pleasure of hearing, including Tiger Trap, Go Sailor, and The Softies. If you're a fan of any of those groups, I suppose a new solo album from Melberg is great news, but even for those of us who haven't been introduced, Homemade Ship is very much worth a listen. Melberg's gentle, warm voice and intimate songwriting style over sparse, acoustic instrumentation makes for plenty of genuinely gorgeous moments on her new record and for folk junkies like myself, her charm is impossible to resist. Opener "Things That We Do" is a perfect example of her style, with only her acoustic guitar beneath her voice, occasionally double tracked for an ethereal effect, and a melody that's simply captivating. In fact, vocals and guitar are (with very few exceptions) the only noticeable instruments throughout the album's brief 32 minutes, but Melberg manages to keep things interesting for the record's duration by conveying a convincing array of emotion and depth. Other highlights are "Old Days," "Moon Singer," and "The Whistle Calling You," but each tune is worth your time.
A Hawk and a Hacksaw -
For many, A Hawk and a Hacksaw is not a new name, especially as it's been the main project of former Neutral Milk Hotel drummer Jeremy Barnes, but I imagine there are plenty of others who haven't yet actually heard the group's work and still need an introduction. Barnes and his collaborators make mostly instrumental music with a decidedly Eastern European feel, using accordion, violin and trumpet among other instruments I probably wouldn't be able to accurately identify. Their new record, Délivrance, may be the best I've heard from the band, a thoroughly entertaining display of virtuoso musicianship and progressive musical ideas combined with traditional European influences. The few vocal tracks on Délivrance are less interesting than when the group just let their instruments do the talking; the fiery, twisting "The Man Who Sold His Beard" and the quick stomp of "Turkiye" are particularly excellent. If you haven't before, now's the time to hear A Hawk and a Hacksaw.