10 new songs that you should know about & hear

Top songs - Weezer, Hozier, Foals & Bad SunsWritten by Wes Severson //

I’ve combed through the list of recent songs that have been released by record labels big and small. These 10 fresh, new efforts certainly made a mark on me, and I’m pretty sure they will strike some kind of emotion in you.

10. Peter Bjorn and John – “Bones”


“Bones” is the first offering from Peter Bjorn and John’s new three-track EPBJ EP. It’s a super soft and mellow song, but the chorus delivers and also makes you think.

9. MØ – “Theme Song (I’m Far Away)”


The Danish singer-songwriter continues to use her amazing voice to dazzle our ears. But this time, MØ’s latest release goes beyond that and serves as the theme song for “Moominvalley,” a Finnish cartoon that she was fond of as a child.

8. John Mayer – “I Guess I Just Feel Like”


No surprise here … John Mayer goes soft and sentimental but also adds some country-western flare to his new tune “I Guess I Just Feel Like” he just released. The sad lyrical content is what we have come to know and love from Mayer. It’s definitely a solid release from the pop veteran who seems to never quit.

7. Weezer – “High as a Kite”


I haven’t been a huge fan of anything Weezer has put out in the last four years until this song dropped. But the new Weezer, which often includes meaningless lyrical content, has taken a back seat to the old Weezer, which was centered mostly around sensitive material. “High as a Kite” reminded me of what we heard on their debut album almost 25 years ago.

6. DREAMERS – “Die Happy”


This is the same tried-and-true script for the pop-rock trio as they’ve followed in the past. “Die Happy” is packed full of fun, and the groove is very accessible. It’s sure to make fans who will be attending DREAMERS’ upcoming shows, which includes four dates in California, excited.

5. Hozier – “Dinner & Diatribes”


Andrew Hozier-Byrne is known for having an incredible vocal range, and this third single on the Irish musician’s new sophomore LP Wasteland, Baby! conveys that to the absolute fullest. In classic Hozier fashion, the complicated lyrical matter comes in a tight, catchy package, yet it makes us want to know what was going through his head as he wrote it.

4. Foals – “On the Luna”


Foals haven’t been in the mainstream scene for too long, but this diverse track surely shows why they deserve major recognition. “On The Luna” explores new ground with its retro vibe and interesting quirks, making it an easy one to dance to as we await Everything Not Saved Will Be Lost – Part 1 next month.

3. Circa Waves – “Times Won’t Change Me”


Get ready to stomp your feet because this song’s groove is great and makes for a spooky, cool vibe. One of the melodies in it reminds me of Fleetwood Mac, and the rhythm’s driving nature as well as the constant repetition of the lyrics will have you singing along with it in no time.

2. Dennis Lloyd – “Never Go Back”


Israeli musician Dennis Lloyd made a huge splash with his 2016 single “Nevermind”, and his newest hit has the potential to take him to even greater heights. To me, “Never Go Back” is an even better effort more than three years later.

1. Bad Suns – “One Magic Moment”


“One Magic Moment” is the third single from Bad Suns’ new album Mystic Truth, which drops in March and explores a sea of uncharted water for the LA alt-rock quartet. There are so many new sounds to enjoy from these guys. They finish their tour this May with three straight dates in California, including one at The Fillmore in SF and a tour finale at The Wiltern in LA.

Which of these new songs do you like most? Tell us in the comments section below!

Fitz and the Tantrums creep closer to headline status at Fox

Fitz-and-the-Tantrums_postPhotos by Steve Roby // Written by Mark E. Ortega //

Fitz And The Tantrums with Bad Suns, Nightmare and the Cat //
Fox Theater Oakland — Oakland CA
Thursday April 3rd, 2014 //

Los Angeles-band Fitz & The Tantrums proved Thursday night at the Fox Theater that they’ve moved into headliner territory — and probably for good. The venue was packed a full hour before they’d go on stage, and their charisma and energy left a major impression on all who attended.

The band played most of their 2013 album More Than Just a Dream while also reaching back for the choice nugs from their 2010 debut Pickin’ Up the Pieces. What made Fitz stand out initially was their original sound, as their debut album featured not a single song with guitar. Their recent release featured guitar, so the concern heading into the show was that their sound wouldn’t be as unique as it sounded when I first heard them at Outside Lands in 2012. Thankfully, the set applied guitar to just one or two tracks and relied on the vocals of Michael Fitzpatrick and Noelle Scaggs, as well as the unbelievable saxophone and flute work from James King and, as one fan yelled out, the “funky bass lines” of Joseph Karnes.

The chemistry between Fitzpatrick and Scaggs is part of what makes their show so enjoyable. They feed off each other and the crowd feeds off of them. During one of the ballads from the new album, the two share an “Endless Love” type moment as they serenaded each other to the crowd’s delight. The flute solo from King during “Tell Me What Ya Here For” had the crowd euphoric, as did “Moneygrabber” in the encore.

Bad Suns

Bad Suns

Bad Suns brought an 80s sound to modern rock, helping fire people up for the headliner with a solid set. Playing to “the biggest show on the biggest stage hands down” in their career according to singer Christo Bowman. Bowman has a memorable vocal style that compares well to early-U2 Bono. Bowman could probably do a killer cover of “New Years Day” if he wanted to. At times his vocals were hard to make out but their songs are catchy and had people moving. They’re definitely a band on the rise and a recommended show.

Nightmare and the Cat (also of Los Angeles) opened things up and had a surprising number of followers out in support who were very up on their music. Singer Django Stewart displayed a memorable stage presence, as he seemed to be a graduate of the George Michael school of hip gyration, which meshed perfectly with their sound, which felt like if INXS had been brought into the 21st century with Michael Hutchence still at the forefront. “Blackbird Smile” was the high point, showcasing how well Django and brother/guitarist Samuel Stewart are at writing hooks. Interestingly, Django’s British accent is only apparent when he talks between songs and not very much so when he sings. For a band that’s been together just four years, they have things well together in a live setting, a promising sign.

Nightmare and the Cat

Nightmare and the Cat

The only downside of the evening was some of the crowd themselves. One guy was severely intoxicated at the outset of the first opener and had to be that guy who seeks attention by yelling at the most inopportune times. Then there was the older couple that shot scowls to everyone in their vicinity, with the man putting his hands on a nearby lady for dancing too close to him and his wife. This was in the early part of Fitz’s set but luckily the wife decided to say it was time to leave, to the high-fives of everyone around who had suffered their intolerable behavior.

The Fox Theater is an excellent venue and served as a perfect stage for a fast-rising band in Fitz & The Tantrums, helping to announce the fact they can sell out well-sized venues away from their home base in SoCal.

Bad Suns shed light on debut LP

Bad-Suns3By Steve Roby //

Bad Suns, an indie four-piece from Los Angeles’ San Fernando Valley, opened for Fitz and the Tantrums on April 3rd at the Fox Theater Oakland, describing the performance as “the biggest theater we’ve ever played.”

Showbams spoke with Christo Bowman (vocals), Gavin Bennett (bass), Ray Libby (guitar) and Miles Morris (drums) before the show about how the band formed, its musical influences, songwriting and touring on the strength of its debut, four-song EP Transpose.

Showbams: How did you guys meet, and how did the band form?

Bowman: It’s a terribly long and boring story, but essentially we met the way bands meet in Southern California, in the San Fernando Valley. We went to school together and eventually got together after a couple of years of doing our own thing. We’ve been doing Bad Suns since January of 2012, and it’s been great.

Showbams: Christo, can you tell me about your father’s record collection and the influence it had on you?

Bowman: I grew up with my parents playing world music, it wasn’t rock ‘n’ roll at all, but at a certain age, when I developed an interest in the guitar, my dad started to pull out records that he was listening to when he was a little bit younger. Elvis Costello, The Clash, The Police — that’s when I started to get excited about music and began playing it.

Showbams: Any particular Elvis Costello album?

Bowman: I’d have to say This Year’s Model.


Showbams: Describe the band’s songwriting process.

Bowman: It’s fun because it varies. Some of the songs that will be on the album we’re working on right now can be a bunch of pieces of songs that came together and ended up as one song. An example of that would be “Cardiac Arrest”. We constantly change it up and are excited about it. I feel like the quality never changes. We always work on a song until it feels like it’s a Bad Suns song that we’re proud of.

Showbams: Why did you chose to release an EP, comprised of only four songs, and what is like touring behind such a limited amount of material?

Bowman: It’s the business these days. EPs are good way to get yourselves heard first. It’s better then releasing a 15-track album for a group that no one has heard of. It’s a good way for people to start talking about the band and get ready for the full-length album.

Libby: I think an EP is a good way to get some type of interest in the group, and that’s how it works now.

Showbams: How did your EP Transpose come together?

Bennett: We originally recorded five songs in the summer of 2012 and then went back again and did five more the next summer, then picked the four we liked the best to represent the band. It’s a long process. We’ve been working with the same producer since this band started and came up with the Transpose EP.

Bowman: We did this all without a manager, record company or any of that sort of stuff. So between the four of us and our producer, we developed those four songs and then did the second half. I think you’d have a hard time figuring out what was written first. I like that aspect of it.

Showbams: What’s next for the band as far as a release?

Bowman: We’re working on the album right now. We were in the studio yesterday and then drove up here to The Fox. We’re driving back tomorrow, and it’s another day in the studio. Hopefully it will be out in the summer.

Showbams: Can you tell us the title?

Bowman: I feel like if I did, I might get in trouble (laughs).

Showbams: How is the tour going?

Morris: We just got back from South by Southwest a few weeks ago, and this is our first one-off show since then. We have another show at the Hollywood Palladium on Saturday with Fitz and the Tantrums. On April 16th, we leave to go out on the road with The 1975 for two months.

Bowman: This is our warm-up show. It’s the biggest theater we’ve ever played.

Hear the full interview with Bad Suns here and catch them perform live April 8th on “Conan”.