Singles Going Steady – A Quartet of Quirkiness

While there are more than enough albums and EPs keeping me busy these days, I have to say that this is shaping up to be a Summer of singles. This hasn’t happened in a couple of years where the bands go single crazy and its easy to assemble your soundtrack to Summer, but I guess it’s one of those years and I have no complaints in any capacity about that. Here are four new singles that cover a wide spectrum of sound and I’m digging all of them. Here’s to more singles all Summer long!

Jane Joyce – “Kill This Beat”

I have to admit that this is not what I was expecting from Jane Joyce as her first solo single. I am a big fan of her work with Scrupulous, so I was not ready for a super accessible club ready dance hit. This literally threw me into a genre that I don’t spend much time with anymore and I stayed for repeated listens because it’s a great catchy as hell dance number. It reminds me of something I can’t pin down, but it as indebted to hip hop as it is to Top 40 dance music, or maybe Top 40 dance music as I imagine it. This is ready for a slew of remixes that could burn the house down from coast to coast and honestly, if this is marketed right, this could explode from the Phoenix scene in a whole new way. Honestly, it doesn’t seem like anyone is making music like this in any capacity around this town and its somewhat refreshing. This is an entire dance party compressed into a three minute and thirty second hit. It still stuns me that this is the same Jane Joyce from Scrupulous, but I can’t wait to hear what she releases next. This may also be the most unusual recording that I’ve ever heard Gardner Cole produce and I’m completely impressed with the results, but then again, he wrote songs for Madonna and Jody Watley. A surprise move from an always surprising artist.

Luna Aura – “Radio”

Well, I’m pretty sure that newcomer Luna Aura has wrapped up the award for  the category of “Sexiest Song For Audiophiles” with her newly released single “Radio.” This is the second song of hers to see the light of day from her forthcoming debut EP that is set for release on August 26th and it’s even more chart ready than it’s predecessor “Too Young To Die”.  “Radio” once more showcases her special brand of dream pop that is infused with hip hop beats and triptastic synths, creating a hypnogogic atmosphere well within the realm of blissed out pop. The lyrical hook of “You got me hooked like a song on the radio / beat so good boy, I can’t let you go” is infectious as all hell and the lyrics in the verses are a pure delight for anyone that enjoys musical metaphors. According to Aura, “Radio,” is about falling in love too quickly, but refusing to slow down the process. “It’s that feeling you get when you hear a hit song on the radio for the first time,” Aura states about the track. “It’s not always considered ‘cool’ to admit you like a song on the radio, but if a hook has you enamored, you can’t help but replay it over and over. This song is about falling in love the same way: instantly struck and hopelessly obsessed.” And this song feels like that exactly. Luna Aura delivers this gem dripping with musical metaphors in a sultry voice that seduces you into an all together different dream world where music is love and love is music, and you may fall fast for something whether you want to or not, but the ears, like the heart, knows what they like and whether its cool or not, your soul has already determined the attraction for you. Brilliant.

Emby Alexander – “Sleeping In The Library”

Now when it comes to quirky, Emby Alexander has got the definition down pat–and its why they are one of my favorite groups in town. Their new single from their first full length album Frontispiece is pure madness and I love ever 134 seconds of it. First of all, and I’ve made this comparison before, Michael Alexander’s voice reminds me of David Byrne and Talking Heads is one of my top ten bands of all time, so I have a natural affinity for everything he does. Secondly, Emby Alexanders brand of full speed chamber pop and ecstatic arrangements just gets my mind into gear with its multi-instrumental layers, incandescent percussion and a swirling sense of gentle psychosis. Honestly, you’re not sure what to expect with the brief intro bit that is simply echoed vocals and heavy toms, but when the rest of the band explodes and the toms disappear it is a swift transportational moment that blows your mind, with guitars crashing and layers upon layers of vocals. The lyrics “Left up to me, I’d have my way, you won’t say no, no no no” will be ringing in my head all season, nay, all year long and this song is but one of twelve brilliant numbers found on their new album. This is but a startling, enjoyable romp of an introduction to one of the best musical release of the year and when they return from their tour be sure to catch this action live, they will not disappoint. This will definitely be on my Summer pool side mix and I know that every time it comes on, I will smile at the sun and thank the universe for the presence of Emby Alexander in my life.

Samuel L Cool J – “Killing Me”

Okay. So, I know that Samuel L Cool J was in my last Singles Going Steady review, but what can I say? I love the hell out of these guys and if they keep serving up the catchy shit that makes my Summer right I am not going to complain in any way. “Killing Me” comes fresh on the heels of the utterly infectious “Slip And Slide” and while it may not be as hook heavy, it is more musically accomplished on many levels. Also, I don’t need any excuse to continually love a band that includes Joel Marquard, Mitch Freedom and Austin Owen who are three of my favorite multi-band musical jugglers–I’ve pretty much loved anything they’ve ever touched or looked at, plus you have Bob Hoag on board. Done deal. Once more your ears will be retro-fitted to a time just before the British Invasion, when America was concerned with cars, beaches, girls and the Cold War–they’ve got the details down pat right down to the backing girl vocals. The arrangement is amazing, from the reverbed vocals to the early 60s drum sound, to the Orbisonesque/Spector mix on the whole affair. This is THE most refreshing act in Phoenix right now, because this is just fun music–beautiful, enchanting and reminding me of an innocence lost in the world. Sure it’s nostalgic as hell, but I love these guys and gals for the same reason I listen to 1440 AM, it’s four minutes to just get away from life and smile. Maybe the world would be a little better if there was more original music released like this. One thing is for sure, I hope to hell that Samuel L Cool J keeps pumping out the singles all Summer long and I hope it culminates in a full length album, because I just can’t get enough of this sweet stuff they get behind.