The Playlist: Songs You Need for February 2012
Find out which tunes Sarah Liss thinks you need to download today.
Swedish dynamo Robyn really does have a knack for creating unparalleled electro-pop anthems. Her 2010 release Body Talk is electrifying enough to inspire impromptu body-rocking, even when you’re at your pyjama-clad laziest.
Anna Calvi, the lush debut album by the British singer/guitar virtuoso of the same name, is spectacularly moody. The fitful siren song “Desire” is the sound of a swoon, complete with Roy Orbison-style chords.
If you’re partial to the Doobie Brothers, but fear you’ll be mocked for your AM-radio preferences, the undeniably mellow sax on Wisconsin musician Justin Vernon’s Bon Iver is just what the doctor ordered.
The hazy arrangements, murmured vocals and familiar samples (yes, that is the riff from New Order’s “Age of Consent”) on The XX’s debut album, XX, add a pinch of magic and style to even the most workaday experiences. Perfect for a long commute.
Toronto-raised singer Amy Millan wrote a number of the tunes on Honey from the Tombs while toing and froing on tour with her Montreal-based band, Stars. But even without the literal inspiration there’s something in her citified country tunes that feels note-perfect for the rolling fields just beyond the highway barrier.
Balladeer – Mark Hamilton
Mark Hamilton, the central figure in Calgary’s Woodpigeon, followed his heart to Vienna last November. While Balladeer was written before the singer fell for his current beau, it still beautifully articulates the exquisite ache of interminable longing.
Diamond Rings main man John O’Regan is the prince of DIY glamour-over-the-top makeup (think rainbow-striped eyeshadow and glitter) and animal-print leggings are key elements in his performance persona. Unsurprisingly, the bubbly, beat-driven pop tunes on his debut Special Affections are perfect for getting amped before you go out.
Maybe it’s just that the members of Grizzly Bear wrote Veckatimest at a house on Cape Cod and named it after an uninhabited island in the area, but the wistful, breezy harmonies never fail to conjure images of a brisk, salty mist off the Atlantic.
Spirits and memories haunt most of Jolie Holland’s songs, but the serpentine-voiced singer-songwriter somehow manages to infuse even her grimmest elegies with a curious brightness. A salute to the ghosts of 1960s bohemia off The Living and the Dead, “Mexico City” is a lilting balm for grief that won’t bum you out.
In the most infamous song on her self-titled album, Martha Wainwright, the Montreal-born singer tells off her famous father, Loudon Wainwright III-and other overentitled guys with guitars-with a string of foul-mouthed epithets. But even when she doesn’t curse, Wainwright’s quietly in-your-face attitude is incredibly satisfying when you’re forced to contain your rage.