Song roundup – March’s best songs (so far)

Here are 4 new tracks from singer-songwriters currently brightening up 2014.

The first song is by Sharon Van Etten, a New York-based singer-songwriter who is releasing her fourth album  ‘Are We There?’ in May. I first heard of van Etten when she was asked to support Nick Cave on his tour of North America.  I’m pretty fickle and if Nick Cave thinks her music is cool then I will at least give it a go.  This new single is excellent – I like the lo-fi drum machine/bass groove that the song is based around.

[soundcloud url=”https://api.soundcloud.com/tracks/137098034″ params=”auto_play=false&hide_related=false&visual=true” width=”100%” height=”450″ iframe=”true” /]

The more I hear from Christopher Owens, the more I think that this guy is a serious songwriting force.  Owens looks a bit like Kurt Cobain and used to front the band Girls.  He’s going a bit nuts these days – last year’s debut solo album ‘Lysandre‘ featured lots of flutes and a recurring ‘riff’ theme that was splashed across most of the album’s folky songs, all of which were written in the key of ‘A’ (except the final track).  This sort of behavior should be encouraged – we need more strange career moves and general weirdness in music.  This new song comes his second album, which will be released soon.

[soundcloud url=”https://api.soundcloud.com/tracks/138019942″ params=”auto_play=false&hide_related=false&visual=true” width=”100%” height=”450″ iframe=”true” /]

Speaking of weird career moves, the kind of behavior Gruff Rhys is currently exhibiting is classic nuts pop star stuff.  He’s the front-man of Welsh pop band Super Furry Animals and spends his free time writing concept albums about obscure Italian publishers and the like.  His new album (which comes complete with an app, book, film and line of bath soaps) is called ‘American Interior‘ and is based around the life of Welshman John Evans, an 18th century explorer who occupied himself hunting for a Welsh-speaking Native American tribe.  Great stuff – thankfully Rhys’ albums always feature strong songs and by the sounds of things this new album isn’t any different.  I look forward to delving into this multimedia art project.  By the way, the bit about the bath soap was a lie.

[soundcloud url=”https://api.soundcloud.com/tracks/136821496″ params=”auto_play=false&hide_related=false&visual=true” width=”100%” height=”450″ iframe=”true” /]

The last of the songs that I’m featuring (all of which have been released this month), is from the new album by Luke Haines, a genius songwriter who has made my life all the more bearable by deciding to form the rock band The Auteurs in the early 90s.  Since ditching the band he’s made albums covering a number of odd subjects related to life in the 1970s.  His last opus ‘Rock and Roll Animals‘ was a kind of  Animals of Farthing Wood-style portrait of several low-league pop stars.  He’s just announced a new album entitled ‘New York In The 70s‘, a sort of tribute to the music scene at the time.   In case you’re wondering who Alan is in ‘Alan Vega Says’, he was one half of the group Suicide, one of the (amazing) bands involved in that scene.

[soundcloud url=”https://api.soundcloud.com/tracks/138855340″ params=”auto_play=false&hide_related=false&visual=true” width=”100%” height=”450″ iframe=”true” /]

Let’s hope the second half of March is as fruitful as the first…

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