West Side Story

 

Line Spectra

Line Spectra may have burst onto the Canadian pop scene from the west side of Montreal, but just listen to City Stars and you’ll see that the entire metropolis is their muse. Languid and dreamy, the track has a sparkle and drawl similar to a Rilo Kiley tune. I’ll never leave the city I call home, sings Vanessa Morelli. And then she repeats it in French, like a true Quebecer. Summer, Oh Wait! is more upbeat fare, a percussive jumble of guitars, keys, drums and handclaps. It’s the kind of catchy, wistful, and kinetic song that’s meant for driving with the windows down and the volume up. Line Spectra’s jangly indie pop continues with Choosing Sides, a coursing melody where guitars growl, keys hammer out an insistent line and drums keep it all moving forward. These three femmes are doing their city proud. Bravo, mademoiselles.

Rabble Rousin'

Jules Larson

Jules Larson used to be front-woman for the LA band Overnight Lows before striking it out on her own a few years ago. And so far, singledom’s been good to Larson. Her songs have made their way onto Kellogg’s commercials, shows like Army Wives, One Tree Hill and Grey’s Anatomy. There’s something about her soulful pop that works just as well on the army base as it does in the emergency room. My Little Drum is an easy and lithe melody reminiscent of the music of Brett Dennan or Jack Johnson. But don’t let the sunshine fool you, Larson is a bit of a hellcat. In the slinky, soulful Raise A Little Hell, she purrs, You’ve gotta raise a little hell to get to heaven. And on I Want It All she does just that, conjuring up a ˜60s rock-soul revival with reverb drenched guitars, tambourines and bleating sax. Raising hell never sounded so heavenly.

 

 

Found Gems

Bella Ruse

Take Carol Channing, Joanna Newsom and some old wire recordings from the 1940s and you’ll be able to somewhat approximate the antique indie pop of Bella Ruse. Led by the whimsical warble of singer Kay Gillette, the Minneapolis band makes strange bedfellows out of their instrumentation, mixing glockenspiel with piano, guitar, kazoo and typewriter. The music that emerges is jaunty, teasing and a little magical. Gumption & Guts bounces along with kazoo chasing piano, as Gillette declares, This hell I’m living is no worse than knowing / That I just never had the gumption or the guts to try. Romantic satisfaction continues to evade the songstress on Complicated Rhythm, a quirky hodgepodge of tambourine, guitar, piano, trumpet and (again) typewriter that punctuates each lovelorn sentiment with a cheerful ding. There’s a lot to love about Bella Ruse, if you’ve got the gumption and the guts to try them out.

 

 

Chasing Fireflies

Marie Hines

Marie Hines is a purveyor of rosy piano melodies, a feminine counterpoint to songwriter Adam Young of Owl City. Both write songs steeped in hope and whimsy, viewing the world around them with a mix of wide-eyed wonder and sensitivity. Hines, however, steers her songs into chamber pop territory, mixing piano with violin, cello, guitar and drums. Worth The Fight is an orchestra of optimism, where Hines promises the listener that there are Bigger pictures to paint / More horizons to chase. In Wrapped Up In Love she switches gears for a sweet shuffle somewhere between Sara Bareilles and Natasha Bedingfield. Like Young, Hines also has a song called Fireflies. Hers blends the high twinkle of piano with the low croon of cello for a swooning, moonlit melody. Hines has plenty of horizons left to chase, and they’re sure to be just as lovely. Stick around for the joy ride.

 

Full Swoon

When big Britpop bands like Coldplay or Elbow play”even in huge arenas”you can often hear a pin drop. That’s how rapt their audiences are. Somehow the combination of tenderness and melody casts a spell that no one dares to break. Jets Under Fire knows how to enthrall the Britpop way. Their dynamic, emotive music is nothing if not moving. Start with The End of the Western World, where bright blasts of guitar, rattling tambourines and the falsetto croon of singer Jason Poe put your heart on tenterhooks. On the upbeat Voices guitars race for the summit while Poe questions his grip on reality. But it’s Your Own Hands that will really break your heart. The band creates a spacious, dark and still dreamscape where the singer can conjure up a lost summer romance in sharp relief. It’s like Grease for grownups.

“Your Own Hands” – Jets Under Fire

Drama Queen

Britt Daley

Percussive, soaring, and melodic, the music of Britt Daley is an elixir that’s almost instantly intoxicating. The Florida artist crafts enchanting synth-pop gems that are full of longing and wonder. Never Done This begins with the seductive thump of bass and new-wave synths. It’s a ballad with a beat and a singer who pierces the upper register with clear, bell-like vocals that are a mix of Tori Amos and Kate Bush. Lilly is impossibly romantic, an airborne catharsis of vocals and piano. But our favorite track may have to be the swooning, rhythmic Closer To You. With a chorus that’s more like an incantation, Daley summons you into her dreamy headspace. Bring me closer to you, she pleads. Trust us, after hearing her music, you’ll be echoing the sentiment.