The Muse January Sampler

Written by December 17th, 2013 at 10:15 am

MUSE_JAN In conjunction with our January/February  issue, American Songwriter proudly presents The Muse January Sampler, featuring must-hear tracks from some of our favorite artists. And the best thing about it? It’s free!

You can download the sampler by going to https://americansongwriter2013.bandcamp.com/

Wild Cub – “Thunder Clatter”

Wild Cub contain familiar elements of other high-profile indie bands: Vampire Weekend’s highlife inspired melodies; Passion Pit’s stadium-filling dance sound; Grizzly Bear’s intricate chamber-pop arrangements, et al. But these elements come together in a wholly original way on “Thunder Clatter,” a song both danceable and hypnotic.

Natural Child – “Saturday Night Blues”

It’s easy to get the impression that this song is a long-lost rarity from the mid-’70s. There’s a fun, rollicking country-rock sound to the tune, all wrapped up in earth tones and facial hair. But the group keeps their vintage sound contemporary through one fool-proof trick: great songwriting.

Mark Knopfler – “Redbud Tree”

There’s an eerie chill in the opening hum of “Redbud Tree,” but it’s not long before the singer-songwriter and Dire Straits frontman’s warm vocals and inimitable guitar-playing take over, imbuing a haunting folk ballad with a sense of comforting familiarity.

Adam Faucett – “Walking Home Late”

Starting with a faint whirr, “Walking Home Late” is a slow burner that shows its hand gradually over the course of its four minutes and 54 seconds. Faucett repeats the phrase “I’m walking home late, with you on my mind” like a mantra, as the music slowly grows and rises beneath him.

Diane Birch – “Speak A Little Louder”

The haze of synth on this tracks sounds as if it were pulled from a soundtrack to a lost John Hughes film. Suffice it to say, it’s a gorgeously lush track that mixes piano, electronic effects and Birch’s own powerful voice. It’s easy to see how Birch won over both Stevie Wonder and Prince.

Diego Garcia – “Sunnier Days”

Shaking off the new wave and post-punk influence of his former band, Elefant frontman Diego Garcia steps into breezy, Latin-inspired acoustic pop on new single “Sunnier Days.” True to its name, it’s an upbeat and fun three minutes of optimistic pop that will have listeners counting the days until next summer.

Tony Joe White – “The Gift”

Veteran swamp rocker Tony Joe White begins “The Gift” by crooning, “I was sittin’ in a graveyard late one night.” Now that’s how you start a song – painting a lyrical portrait of eerie atmosphere that only grows deeper with his bluesy, rich guitar licks and Rhodes chords deepen.

Great Peacock – “Tennessee”

Great Peacock pay homage to their home on “Tennessee,” a song that’s as much personal reflection as a state anthem. It’s gritty yet heartfelt, and made all the sweeter courtesy of Andrew Nelson and Blount Floyd’s vocal harmonization.

Damien Jurado – “Silver Timothy”

Damien Jurado has a long history of releasing beautiful, sometimes stark indie folk, and on “Silver Timothy,” he takes a detour through some psychedelic terrain. With a heavy dose of reverb, bass grooves and echoing vocal harmonies, it’s as if Jurado followed an acid trail back to the late ’60s. Groovy.

Doug Paisley – “To & Fro”

Most of Toronto singer-songwriter Doug Paisley’s alt-country tunes carry a little bit of raw grit, but “To And Fro” is one of the hardest rocking of the bunch. Paisley takes a cue from Crazy Horse and lets loose with a gloriously ragged rock song that follows a lonesome, open-road narrative.

Marissa Nadler – “Dead City Emily”

Singer-songwriter Marissa Nadler recently made the move to Sacred Bones, a label that specializes in the darker side of indie rock. Juxtaposing spectral steel drums against gentle plucks of guitar and Nadler’s own airy vocals, “Dead City Emily” is gothic folk of the highest order.

Cate Le Bon – “I Think I Knew”

The Welsh singer made a name for herself with a guest appearance on Neon Neon’s synth-heavy album Stainless Style. But if that’s the extent of your knowledge about the chanteuse, then you might be surprised by “I Think I Knew,” a gorgeous, autumnal duet with Perfume Genius vocalist Mike Hadreas that tugs at the heartstrings.

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