Ski Lodge, Big Heart
It’s interesting that the lead singer and multi-instrumentalist from Ski Lodge is named Andrew Marr, just like Johnny Marr, from the late, great The Smiths. Though Johnny is old enough to be Andrew’s dad, they aren’t actually related. Except for the fact that there’s definitely some Smiths DNA going on here, sans the Morrissey mope. On their terrific debut, these Brooklynites offer a deeply personal record that overflows with lush melodies and insatiably catchy choruses. Marr’s songs occasionally deal with dark matters of the heart – infidelity, painful break-ups, loneliness, disjointed father-son dynamics — but he bathes them in a radiant light, making them ripe for repeated spins. Standouts include “Boy,” a sprite, jingle-jangle sing-along, which can also describe “Just To Be Like You” and “Anything To Hurt You” (both which actually remind me of The Housemartins, too – Google ‘em, kids). All told, if you dig shimmering, eclectic, indie rock a la The Shins or Vampire Weekend, go ahead and hit the slopes.
VV Brown, “The Apple”
It’s impossible to not think of another black R&B diva the moment you hear this funky single (and these high drama lyrics). From its marching-orders dance groove (produced by Pascal Gabriel) to Brown’s throaty, defiant vocal delivery, it’s a clear nod to Miss Grace Jones. Hell, she even recorded a version in French! Her new sounds are quite different from her more pop-minded debut, but I’m highly digging what I’ve heard so far. Watch for “Samson & Delilah” dropping on her own label on October 8th.
Lady Gaga, “Applause”
The jury is still out on Gaga’s new single, as it’s been met with everything from breathlessly blind praise to backlash dissing that is hell-bent on viciously knocking her off her pedestal. In all honesty, this undeniably fun video is making me appreciate the song in ways I hadn’t the first few times I heard it. Visually, directors Inez & Vinoodh put together a frenetic mix of Mummenschanz meets Warhol meets “Liddsville” (Google it, kids). Though Gaga’s looks morph with nods to Beyonce, Janet Jackson, Anne Heche, and The Little Mermaid, I am feeling her as a straight-up brunette. So where do you stand? Do you give the video some applause, a slow clap, a bitch-slap, or thumbs down?
Lorde, “Royals” (Magnifik remix)
The surprise hit of summer 2013 has been remixed to death, and hearing this delicate song basically destroyed by dubstep, trap, and circuit remixes – or with unnecessary rap vocals – is pretty painful. But this Magnifik re-work only ups the tempo slightly for the dance floor, adds some pleasant new production, and makes sure there’s “more cowbell” without less of the original song. Magnifique!
Marc Johnce, “Wake My Safe Sound Love Again”
This straight up club banger features some of the omnipresent radio and dancefloor hits of the past few months – Capital Cities, Avicii, Icona Pop, and Jessica Sutta – and seamlessly marries them in perfect harmony. Germany’s Marc Johnce never fails when it comes to crafting a wholly original sounding track from many different sources. Grab the free download on his website here.