Must Hear: I Belong In Your Arms – Chairlift

Photo by Alex John Beck

Formed in Boulder, Colorado in 2005 and now based in Brooklyn, New York, Chairlift is an indie duo (formerly trio) that is slated to be the next big thing in synthpop/electronic music a la MGMT. They’re off to a good start, having been signed by Columbia Records, who released the band’s second full length album, Something, in January 2002.

I Belong Your Arms is the third track on Something, and while I’m not sure if it’s slated to be released as a single, it certainly should. Caroline Polachek and Patrick Wimberly, the duo that is Chairlift, have created a song that, despite it’s name, is not only far from cheesy it’s fun, catchy and, according to the guys at Pitchfork, one of the band’s big hits at SXSW. It certainly makes me want to see them perform live so that I can sing along.

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Must Hear: Normal Heights – Bluebell

There isn’t much information online about Bluebell, except that it appears to be a collaboration between a young lady named Annabel Jones and a young man known as Charlie. The said Annabel Jones happens to be the daughter of the late Davy Jones of The Monkees, and she is certainly talented.

Normal Heights seems to be the most (or maybe only) widely circulated Bluebell song online, complete with multiple remixes to boot. It starts off a bit Lily Allen-esque, but as the song progresses seems to have more heart than any Lily Allen song I’ve ever heard (and I’ve heard a lot). Jones has a strong, melodious voice that doesn’t assault your eardrums at the longer and higher-pitched notes. Her British accent also comes through very clearly and adds to the quirkiness of the song.

If this is Bluebell’s big debut, I can’t wait for what’s yet to come.

Must Hear: Sick and Twisted Affair – My Darkest Days

Few things make me happier than the sound of guitars, drums, and loud vocals, or, as one of my friends likes to call it, “shouty music”. But what sounds like noise to some is most definitely music to my ears.

Canadian band My Darkest Days were discovered by Nickelback’s Chad Kroeger and are signed to Kroeger’s label 604 Records. This might be an immediate reason for several of you to never listen to them (or perhaps never read this blog again), but I strongly urge you to just press play in the video below and give them a fair listen before deciding whether or not to transfer your hatred of Nickelback onto My Darkest Days as well.

When I made my sister (who is a musician and much choosier than me about what she listens to) listen to Sick and Twisted Affair, her first reaction was that it has a very ’80s vibe. In my book, that is definitely a good thing.

Must Hear: Young Blood – The Naked and Famous

If there was ever a song that evoked feelings of happiness it’s The Naked and Famous’s Young Blood. From its foot-tapping music to uplifting lyrics full of hope and the promise of falling back in love (eventually), it’s impossible not to dance, sing, or at the very least smile while listening to the song.

The video for Young Blood is absolutely perfect. Without a cell phone, laptop, iPad, or any other wire in sight, the band makes you long for those simpler days when being outdoors with your friends used to be enough to keep you happy.

Must Hear: The Magic – Joan As Police Woman

The Magic is one of those songs I knew I would like as soon as the first few riffs began. It starts off mellow without being dull, and Joan Wasser’s soft and raspy voice is a refreshing change from barrage of auto-tune we’re subject to these days. I won’t lie – she can get a little pitchy on the higher notes. But they’re so few and far between they’re easy to ignore.

I first heard the song several months ago, and one of my tests for whether it was a ‘song of the moment’ or a truly good song is whether or not I can listen to it and enjoy it just as much after, well, forgetting about it for a long time.

The answer is a definite yes. I happen to have the entire album The Deep Field in my iTunes playlist, but I haven’t heard any of the other songs because every time The Magic is over I just hit repeat. Maybe one day I’ll get around to it. Until then, I’m going to listen to it just a few more times.

Must Hear: Somebody That I Used To Know – Gotye feat. Kimbra

As if having a very unique given name wasn’t enough, Wouter “Wally” De Backer decided he would rather perform under the equally unique stage name Gotye (pronounced “Gauthier”, according to Wikipedia and his YouTube biography).

I’ve heard several songs from Gotye’s latest album Making Mirrors, and they’re all so good I considered featuring him under Artist Alert. But Somebody that I Used to Know, Gotye’s breakthrough song (featuring New Zealander Kimbra Johnson) is just so damn amazing that I didn’t want it to get lost with the others.

Somebody that I Used to Know, Gotye’s beautiful yet indignant song about former lovers, is fairly mellow to begin with. It’s easy to imagine him singing about being fairly hurt. Then comes the chorus that just blew me away. His voice is raised, the lyrics are incensed and simultaneously dismissive, the music is contemporary yet the tune very reminiscent of mellow ’80s rock. I’ve been tempted to sing this song as loudly as I possibly can, but it’s been on repeat all night and it might just drive my family crazy. Or have them thinking I’m heartbroken. Neither of which would be good for me.

Props to the sister for introducing me to this song! The roles seem to be reversing.

Must Hear: Bottom of the River – Delta Rae

It’s not often you find a music video that looks as good as Delta Rae’s Bottom of the River. Directed by Lawrence Chen, the video for Bottom of the River is dark, beautiful, eerie, enchanting, creepy, elaborate, bewitching, stunning and disturbing all rolled in one. And the song? Dark, beautiful, eerie, enchanting…you get the picture.

Delta Rae is a six-member band from Durham that combines soul, country, rock, and gospel and describes its sound as “Alt Pop Americana Rock”. Bottom of the River actually sounds nothing like any other Delta Rae song I’ve heard, and it might just be the best so far.

You can download an extended cut of the song for free from Delta Rae’s website.

Must Hear: Brutal Hearts – Bedouin Soundclash feat. Coeur de Pirate

Bedouin Soundclash performed at the Hard Rock Café in Mumbai some time last year, but I didn’t go for the gig because I hadn’t heard of them at the time. Then, as if the universe were either giving me a sign or taunting me, I started reading about them everywhere I looked online. It’s not an an easily forgettable name, so I listened to whatever I could find to figure out whether or not I had been an idiot by not going to the gig.

I had not. While their sound is pleasing, if you would, I am not really a reggae fan and quickly tired of their songs, with one notable exception – Brutal Hearts. They paired up with fellow Canadian musician Béatrice Martin – who goes by the stage name Coeur de Pirate – for their 2010 album Light the Horizon’s fourth track Brutal Hearts, in what could be described as a love song for people who aren’t looking for love. From it’s incredibly catchy opening notes to Jay Malinowski’s very sexy voice, Brutal Hearts is a winner from the word go. And if you like the sound of Malinowski/Martin together, I can guarantee you’ll like another song I’ll be posting before the year’s end.

Must Hear: Video Games – Lana Del Rey

Photo by Nicole Nodland

I have no idea what on earth “Gangster Nancy Sinatra” would sound like, but apparently Lana Del Rey does. Lizzy Grant aka Lana Del Rey describes her sound as gangster Nancy Sinatra, and while I’m not sure about the “gangster” bit I most certainly see the 1960s influences. Styled like ’60s icons such as Sophia Loren and Ursula Andress, she looks so dainty it’s difficult to reconcile her voice with her image. Lana has a gorgeous, deep voice that works wonderfully with the haunting Video Games and stays in your mind long after the song is over.

I strongly disagree with the lyrics (Life is worth living only if someone is loving you? Really, Lana?), but I absolutely love the song. It’s definitely worth more than one listen if you’re looking for music that’s plain and simple – a beautiful song and lovely melody without the need for auto-tune and badly produced nonsense. That’s another example of the 1960s influence I could get used to.

Must Hear: No One Believes Me – Kid Cudi

I might not be able to sleep tonight.

Kid Cudi’s newest song No One Believes Me has one seriously disturbing video. Seriously. I watched it only once and just listening to the song is now giving me the shivers. I suppose it’s appropriate – it’s from the very-soon-to-be-released remake of Fright Night, and the music video is directed by the film’s director, Craig Gillespie. Good job, Craig, I will DEFINITELY not be watching Fright Night if I want to sleep again any time soon.

Right from its chilling opening chords, No One Believes Me definitely sounds perfect as a frighten-you-out-of-your-wits anthem for a scary movie. It’s also a great example of what I’ve known for a long time now – Kid Cudi is fantastic. There is no way you can argue with that.