1. Jon and Roy, Headstrong
Recommended If You Like: Spirit of the West with a horn section
Now on their eighth album, Victoria BC’s Jon and Roy (Jon Middleton and Roy Vizer) blend modern folk with old-timey voices that have earned them 30 million streams worldwide. Put on songs like this and you’re instantly transported to a campfire somewhere on the west coast.
2. Dead Soft, Porch
New Emotion EP (Arts & Crafts)
RIYL: Dream pop with a touch of shoegaze
Slightly to the east of Jon and Roy is Vancouver’s Dead Porch with this dreamy single that eventually sinks into a semi-shoegazey/grungey chorus of big guitars. I haven’t got a release date on the EP yet, but I definitely need to hear more.
3. K. Flay, Bad Vibes
Single (for now) (Universal)
RIYL: “Blood in the Cut,” part 2.
No one really sounds like K.Flay today. No wonder Tom Morello wanted to work with her. This one will need a radio edit—there are a couple of bad words here—but that shouldn’t stop this from being another hit. Love the melodic hook in the chorus. It will lodge itself in your amygdala.
4. King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard, Cyboogie
Fishing for Fishes (Universal)
RIYL: Flaming Lips, MGMT, Tame Impala
Proving again that things evolve differently in Australia, King Gizz continues to forge a psych-/garage-rock path from a secret base in Melbourne. Who else is using a vocoder these days? Change up the production a little and this could be a Daft Punk song. And yes, it does sound a little like Norman Greenbaum’s 1970 hit, “Spirit in the Sky” and ZZ Top’s “La Grange.”
5. The Black Keys, Low/High
RIYL: Er, The Black Keys?
Wait—what? Is the hiatus over? We haven’t heard anything from the band since they wrapped up their world tour in 2014. Wasn’t it just last month that Patrick Carney unveiled a new band called Sad Planets? And isn’t Dan Auerbach too busy producing material for other people and running his recording studio in Nashville? Does this mean a new album is coming this year? So many questions…
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