CRESTS OF WAVES (Volume 3) – The Best of Modern Pop, September / October 2017

As I had the chance to comment in a recent post, the last couple of months have been really great for indie pop and therefore I hadn’t any trouble in assembling a new mixtape for the CRESTS OF WAVES series. For the new readers of the blog, this is the series of periodical compilations which present the best songs released in the last few months. I’ve mixed here great successes within indie and electro pop but I also included some tracks from lesser known artists, who don’t look absolutely bad beside their most famous colleagues.

This issue of CRESTS OF WAVES features songs from the last albums released by Arcade Fire, Lana Del Ray, The Horrors, The National, The War On Drugs, Tori Amos, and Waxahatchee.

Enjoy this compilation, the third of the series, and as usual scroll down below the widget for some additional information on the songs and the artists.


 

The song which opens the mix is the nice and joyful Holding On by The War On Drugs, the American indie band which released on last August their fourth album, A Deeper Understanding. This is probably one of the most brilliant works from the band and shows an impressive care for the details on both lyrics and sounds – something that may be related to their passage to a major music label (Atlantic Records). Started as a rock band with a clear “Americana” style (“Springsteen plus reverb”, said many critics), the band has managed year after year to craft a unique blend of synth pop over rock constructions, and the result is great.

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Second song of the playlist comes from Out in The Storm, the second marvellous album produced by Waxahatchee, the indie music project formed in 2010 by the American singer and songwriter Katie Crutchfield. Hear You, the track selected for the mix, displays all the excellent songwrting skills achieved by the artist in her last work. This is definitely one of the most exciting album of the year for its genre, and it’s not by chance that this project was featured also on the previous issue of the mixtape.

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Next song in the playlist is Something To Remember Me By, which is one of the tracks included in the recent album released by The Horrors. “V”, the fifth from the English band, has been one of the most impressive releases of the last few weeks mostly because of the high number of good tracks that are collected in the LP. This band has an incredible capacity to sound “commercial” but keeping at the same time a style and creativity that are typical of the best groups. The album arrived a few days after I released the last update of the indie pop chart, but in the feature we’ll see that The Horrors will quickly scale positions and settle down onto the highest places of the rankings.

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Even if this shouldn’t ever happen, the consideration that I had initially of the last work from the Canadian indie rockers Arcade Fire was inevitably affected – negatively – because of the strange and controversial marketing campaign which has accompanied the launch of their new and fifth album, Everything Now. Anyway, leaving aside strange communications tactics and fake news, I must admit that their new LP features a number of good songs and therefore, even if the album doesn’t match the best peaks they have reached in the past, there are still some songs that are worth to be included in the playlist.

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Sleep Well Beast, the seventh album by American indie art rock The National, was one of the highly anticipated and most awaited albums of the year, and after its release it’s possible to say that the expectations where confirmed. Born as college rockers and post-punk revivalists, the guys from Cincinnati developed a unique musical style where delicate melodies and intimate atmospheres dominate over every other element. This characteristic is fully represented by The System Only Dreams in Total Darkness, the song selected for the playlist and which was also one of the singles used by the band for promoting the new album.

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The final part of the playlist indulges in more melancholy and delicate tones, and this change of atmosphere is announced by the fantastic voice of Tori Amos,  the legendary and world acclaimed American singer-songwriter who published on last September the 15th studio album of her career, named Native Invader. The LP is impregnated – as usual – with Amos’ fantastic voice and enriched by the delicate and heartbreaking melodies she play on the piano. Cloud Riders, the song selected for this mixtape, was also the first single shared from the album.

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One could really say this time that the compilation closes “in beauty”. Summer Bummer, the last song of the mix, was selected from Lust for Life, which is the fifth studio LP by the american pop singer (and model) Lana Del Rey. The album is a collection of superb songs, simple but emotional little poetic pieces, with atmospheres that are somehow a little less melancholic than in her previous productions. Lana Del Ray’s songs have been always enlighted by superb melodies, and this is definitely confirmed in her last production.

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These are the two previous editions of the mixtape series.

 

CRESTS OF WAVES – Volume 2 (July 2017)

 

CRESTS OF WAVES – Volume 1 (June 2017)


 

CRESTS OF WAVES (Volume 2) – The Best of Modern Pop

Among the new mixtape series that I launched in the last few months, CREST OF WAVES has been one of the most appreciated by the followers of the blog and also in terms of total number of listens.

Hoping to confirm the good debut for this new brand of mixtapes, here it is the second volume of the CREST OF WAVES series, which continues our journey through the latest and best releases within the elegant world of indie pop.

This second volume features three main new entries, i.e. Choir Vandals, Waxahatchee and The Charlatans. I’ve selected the best songs of their recent works and put them together with other beautiful albums of the last few months (some of these appearing also in the volume 1 of the series, but of course with different tracks).

As usual, you can find additional information on the mixtape just after the widget.

The special guests of this edition of CREST OF WAVES are Choir Vandals, a new band of indie pop & alternative rockers from Missouri. These guys have just released a very interesting debut album, named Dark Glow, which collects a good number of great songs which move in a suprisingly natural way between pop and punk. As a debut album, this work seems to anticipate great things for these musicians, which I will definitely start to track. I’ve taken two songs from their album: Lucifer Yellow which opens the mixtape after my short intro, and Hard to Hold, which is the concluding track of the playlist.

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The following track of the playlist comes from the suprising last album by Waxahatchee, the indie music project formed in 2010 by the American singer-songwriter Katie Crutchfield. That’s a marvellous album which sees the American artist conveying an uninterrupted flow of emotions throughout all the 10 tracks of the album. Musically speaking, the LP shows which remarkable level of maturity in songwrting Katie Crutchfield has reached today, and it’s not difficult to say that the album is the best result she has reached so far since the start of this project. The song I’ve chosen for the playlist is the beautiful Silver, which will make you think of The Cranberries but with a low-fi production.

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Next song in the playlist is Plastic Machinery by The Charlatans, the English indie rock band which published this year the 13th album of their long career, named Different Days. The band has never shocked its fanbase for any dramatical evolution of their sound and in fact, even in this work, we find just a few variations of their consolidated blend of britpop and alternative rock.

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The remaining tracks of the playlist explore the repertoire of the songs that have been released this year by other bands that I had already the opportunity to introduce in the previous posts of the blog. Specifically, the mixtpale features Elbow (which were awarded as best indie pop album of last February), Cigarettes after Sex (which opened the first volume of CREST OF WAVES), and Thunder Dreamer (the dreamy rock from Indiana which gained a very good rank in the mid-year chart with the best of pop).


 

I hope you enjoyed the playlist. Belowe you can access the previous edition of the CREST OF WAVES mixtape series.

CRESTS OF WAVES (Volume 01) – The Best of Modern Pop

I inaugurate with this post a new series of mixtapes with the best pop songs that have been published in the last few months. The series is called “Crests of Waves” and I expect it will soon become a regular appointments of this blog. Similar initiatives will be launched shortly for all the other musical genres that we typically talk about on this site.

This first entry of the series features recent songs by The Mountain Goats, The Cranberries, Goldfrapp, Depeche Mode, Thunder Dreamer, Clock Opera, and Cigarettes After Sex. Additional details about the songs and the artists are provided after the widget. You’ll notice that Volume 1 of Crests of Waves is also built around a beautiful poem by Pablo Neruda (“Puedo Escribir”), which tells us of a desperate man who has lost the love of a woman he once loved.

 

The first song of the mixtape has been picked up from the incredible first full lenght album released by the American ambient pop band Cigarettes After Sex.  The album (self-titled) was released on last June 9, 2017, and contains 10 delicate and elegant tracks based on simple but beautiful melodies. The song selected for the mixtape is the track which opens the album, named K. (which stands for Kristen, as we may understand from the lyrics of the song)

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The second track of the compilation is Changeling, a song contained in the last album released by Clock Opera, which is a British quartet based in London and formed in 2009. Their most recent work, named Venn, was published in February 10, 2017, and is characterized by an interesting blend of electronic and indie pop. Changeling was the first single taken from the album, and an early versions of the song circulates since 2015.

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Third track of the playlists comes from Ghots, the last album from The Mountain Goats. The album was awarded here on last May with the title of best indie pop release of the month. The Mountain Goats are one of the most prolific bands of the American indie scene. Their leader, the singer-songwriter John Darnielle, has written more than 600 songs now, and the band, with their latest album has reached the impressive number of sixteen studio LPs in 23 years of career. The song selected for the mix is Shelved, which is not only one of the most beautiful moments in the album but also one of the greatest pieces that Darnielle ever wrote.

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Just in the middle of the playlist sits St-Malo, a song extracted from Capture, the last album by Thunder Dreamer, a dreamy rock band from Indiana, in the U.S. The album was published on last May 26, 2017, and follows their debut work released two years ago. The songs of Capture seem to reflect all the main elements from the Midwestern heartland from where these guys come from, and their work stands out actually as one of the best indie songbooks released in the last few months.

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In the last part of the mixtapes we go definitely beyond the boundaries of the indie scene, since I selected a few tracks from three mainstream albums that have been recently arriving on the shelves. The first entry of this group of songs comes from Something Else, the last album by The Cranberries which collects the acoustic versions of their classic hits (with three new songs), all featuring a string quartet from the Irish Chamber Orchestra. Differently from their previous Greatest Hits album (Stars, dated 2002), the new work indulges on the most poetic and delicate side of the band, as represented here by the song Ridiculous Thoughts which shines in its acoustic rendition.

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Next track is one of my favourite songs of the year, across all genres. This song is Ocean from Silver Eye, which is the seventh studio album by English electronic music duo Goldfrapp, released on 31 March 2017. The album signs a nice comeback of the duo to synth-pop, after the recent of excursions in the areas of electro folk and glam pop. This is also one of the albums whose value improves with repeated listens and it will stay for long among the best pop releases of the year. Ocean is the closing track of the album, and according to an interview that the band made some time ago, this little gem was created by the duo during a morning session and built from a very small and basic improvisation. Simply fantastic.

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The mixtape is closed by a band which this blog has definitely overlooked with respect to their fame. I’m talking about the Depeche Mode, the best-selling English electronic synth-pop giants from Bristol that released on last February their fourteenth album, Spirit. Unfortunately every recent work from the band has to deal with their glorious past and this makes it difficult to fully appreciate their latest releases. Even their latest album, in fact, didn’t receive any particular appreciation and I somehow share this opinion. Nevertheless, there are certainly some interesting pieces even in their latest album and I decided to end my mixtape with the opening track of their work, the nice but polemic Going Backwards.

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If you didn’t play the widget at the beginning of my post, here you have another opportunity to enjoy the full playlist, together with the beautiful words from Pablo Neruda.