Song Picks of the Day 16.35

The Norwegian duo Elsa & Emilie like to drive out to pretty places, but it remains unclear how happy they are with the “Boys with the car keys” in the driver’s seat. “Au Volant” is a beautiful, dreamy pop song with a hint of melancholy. It is the first single off their upcoming second album, which is not expected before 2017.

Happiness comes in a lot of different forms and sizes and it is on us to recognize it as what it is, when it hits. When used well, hand claps in music make me instantly happy and so does a crisp and bright guitar melody. Throw in pronounced bass lines, providing melody as much as rhythm, and powerful, dynamic drums paired with charming male and female vocals and everything seems blissfully all right. That and so much more is what I get out of “Happiness”, the brand new single by Californian dream-pop band Trails and Ways. But what caused this gem of a song? Let’s hear it from Keith Brower Brown (guitar, synths) of Trails and Ways:

“This song is my answer to an argument with an old friend. She says, if you have to try to be happy, then it’s fake happiness. But I think that attitude can leave you stuck in pride for your hip, authentic depression. I think seeking real happiness means you have to be honest when you’re not, and that’s the scarier path. Happiness: you won’t find it easier for long. I was thinking about all that when Ian sent me a groovy new drumbeat, and in one hot afternoon I tracked these California-punky dreampop guitars and vocals on it. Madeline Kenney sings back & forth with me throughout.”

“Echo”, the new single by Foreign Air, is as mesmerizing and sparkling as a meteor shower to stay within the lyrical context of “we hear echoes from another galaxy”. Foreign Air is the nomadic alt-pop duo of Jacob Michael and Jesse Clasen. With “Echo”, they deliver an impossible to resist soaring dance floor sparkler, complete with pulsating beats, anthemic chorus and vocals that change from deep to starry, shiny bright in lightning speed. While “Echo” is highly upbeat, it stays grounded due to a touch of suspense and an overall splendid production. “Echo” is a surefire hit and our Song Pick of Wednesday.

Listening to “Five Miles” by alt-rock quintet Curse Of Lono, I instantly got this warm, fuzzy feeling that great music can cause. Nicely strumming acoustic guitar, some steel guitar thrown in, deep, soft and rich vocals with an overall laid-back and slightly groovy vibe. I felt reminded of some favorite Nashville bands (yes, that one as well as other really cool ones) but to my huge surprise Curse Of Lono call London their home, and were formed in 2015 by singer Felix Bechtolsheimer following the breakup of British roots pioneers Hey Negrita.

Minimalistic electronics, sparse beats and deadpan vocals are a irresistible combination in my books. It reminds me of times when electronic music was still new and weird, but it also is a refreshing contrast to much of the current pop music. Actrese is a new artist from London who just nails it with her debut single. An EP is on its way.

Brooklyn DIY singer/producer Mothica is on the pursuit of the perfect mix between pop and experimental electronic music and with her new single “Out of It” she shows how this elusive goal can be achieved. The song has a classic lyrics-equals-song-title sing-along chorus, but she also fills it with enough odd sounds — there is a piercing metal clang for example — to keep you on the edge until the last bar. Mothica is working on her second EP “Heavy Hearted”, but has not yet announced an release date.

The Sunday Song Pick of the Day is an ethereal, ghostly song by the Brooklyn via Philadelphia trio Sandy. Jeff Carter (synth, vocals), Steve Pathe (drums) and Samantha Pathe (bass, synth, guitar, vocals) have been making music for a while, but are now putting together their material on a new self-titled EP, out September 23 on the French label Monopsone.