Tracy Irve – Strip EP

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Tracy Irve, a brother-sister duo out of Sweden, has released their debut EP and it’s a fantastic collection of downtempo alt-rock songs that are perfect for the upcoming winter months. Linnea and Alexander have been featured on The Economix once before for their single “Town”, a slow burner that combines echoing guitar riffs and heavy ambient production to create a calm, yet longing, vibe. The other songs off the Strip EP project have the same feel to them, but variations in each song’s composition take them in different artistic directions.

My favorite off the EP is its title track, “Strip”. The lyrics focus on a total devotion to one’s lover, and a willingness to show them your true self. The production slowly builds in the background, at first only featuring a simple beat but eventually incorporating a soothing guitar riff and subtly booming bass chords. A track that begins with a tone of vulnerability ends on a note of passionate confidence.

“Adored” is fast-paced from the start. A crisp snare roll drives the track forward into a chorus that takes Linnea’s vocals to a new level. This song feels like a lover’s plea – a vibe cultivated by lyrical reflections on the power dynamic in a relationship. Occasional piano chords accentuate the track, adding depth to its most powerful moments.

Check out Tracy Irve’s debut EP below and give them a follow over on Soundcloud!

Traverse Town – Kilimanjaro EP

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Traverse Town popped up in my inbox the other day to share their new EP called Kilimanjaro and I’m very happy they reached out. This three-piece band from southern Massachusetts has a fantastic indie-pop sound. Better yet, each of the songs on this five-track EP has a distinct vibe, displaying Traverse Town’s diverse musical ability and all-around production talent. “Just Kids” is an anthem about the joys and uncertainties of youth, “Kyoto” is an ode to adventure, “Wrapped Up” has a funky, urban vibe, “Runners” is a downtempo love song, and “The Wild” sends you off into the world with a very happy feeling. If you’re looking to compare these guys to other bands, they kinda sound somewhere in between Phoenix and Great Good Fine Ok. Either way, give these guys your support on Soundcloud (smash that repost button!), Spotify, and social media. Enjoy below.

Stephen – Sincerely

Stephen - Sincerely

Stephen’s rise from obscurity began in October of 2015 with the release of his (not quite debut) single “Remembering Myself”. It blew me away. I’d never heard such a seamless, unique, and successful combination of sounds from two genres: alt-rock and indie electronica. Heavily distorted riffs flowed into harsh oscillations and back again, all while Stephen’s voice cried out lyrics laden with self-reflective emotion. In many ways this track was a signal of what was to come from Stephen, through his hit singles released before the album, through his blog posts, and most of all through the period of self-reflection that brought him to send a message out in to the world with the tagline “Sincerely”.

In a letter that accompanied this album release, Stephen gives us insight into the personal conditions that resulted in the creation of this album. He cites a search for meaning in life that nearly drove him mad because he simply couldn’t figure out who he was, why he was here, and what he was supposed to do. In the end, the only thing that freed him from this search was listening to his heart, which told him that he “didn’t need answers,” and that there is more than one “right” way of doing something. This artistic process of pain and self re-discovery isn’t necessarily unique, but the way that it plays out in Stephen’s album is. In the first song “Start A Fire”, baritone-voiced In-Q begins your musical experience by assuring the listener that “You’re not going through it / it’s going through you / And once it’s all gone you’ll become the new you.” This idea of rebirth after a period of struggle is then enshrined in “Remembering Myself”, which also emphasizes how one should return to one’s roots in order to find guidance for the future.

Stephen doesn’t only focus on self-improvement, however. The last couple of songs on the album explicitly encourage political action to improve the way that we all treat each other. “Crossfire” focuses on the pain that humankind causes itself through needless conflict and greed. “Sincerely” expresses a call to revolution in the name of love. “Can you hear that, darling / a revolution’s calling … this is it / this invitation is / for the ones who love Sincerely.” A blog post from February (aptly titled “Sincerely”) abandons this lyrical symbolism to plainly address what Stephen perceives the main problems with society. He decries massive student debt, the pressure on young people to “prematurely pick a career,” the power held by Wall Street, and the empty promises made my politicians. He even goes so far as to say that “we live in the illusion of democracy”.

I’m not here to offer a political critique of Stephen’s views. After all, he admits that he’s “no expert in politics.” Rather, I am here to show how the artist, his personal experience, his political views and musical talent all come together to create a moving, passionate, and above all musically fantastic album. Don’t forget about how damn good this music is. Stephen has crafted a unique alt-electronica style and explores that style throughout the album, venturing in the directions of pop (Mr. Man), blues (Line It Up), and of course alt-rock (the whole album). It’s up to you to press play and let his ideas speak for themselves. Enjoy below, and support Stephen on Soundcloud, Spotify, and social media.

OP-EX: LIGHTS – Midnight Machines

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The Economix welcomes Christian Suasi, longtime friend and music fan, for the first installment of the OP-EX series. This is a segment where Economix readers can get outside perspectives on some of the best music out in the world today. Enjoy Suasi’s take on LIGHTS’ new album:

We know LIGHTS as the electro-synth pop artist who unsheathes her “key-tar” to smite all the emotional terrors in your life with her upbeat tunes. She recently released her latest album, called Midnight Machines, where the she lays the electronic synths to rest and now wields an acoustic guitar to enchant the songs from her last release, Little Machines.

I say “enchant” because each song becomes magical. LIGHTS wanted a different vibe from her previous acoustic albums and she accomplished this by integrating a full string quartet (two violins, a viola and a cello) into her studio. She and her band know the songs intimately, so they stripped down the production, isolated the melodies using each respective instrument, and finally fused it all together into a spellbinding experience.

Midnight Machines is neither sweet nor jubilant. Instead it transforms songs from Little Machines into graceful, unplugged nodes of power that’ll calm your trembling life. If you need to focus, get ahead in life in a peaceful manner, this is your album. Break yourself from the world and listen to “Meteorites,” a single off the album, below.

Major Lazer – Peace is the Mission

Major Lazer blessed us all today with the drop of his newest EP, Peace is the Mission. The moombahton-spouting Jamaican cyborg (or, rather, the composite of Diplo, Jillionaire, Walshy Fire, and Boaz van de Beatz) starts off hot with a chill-trap song called “Be Together.” A quick snare, simple beats, and fitting vocals by Wild Belle make it a head-bobbing track that demonstrate’s the Major’s depth. The next two tracks are some real heavy moombahton and show that the Major still holds roots that go back as far as “Pon de Floor.” You all already know “Lean On,” but the next track, “Powerful,” features Ellie Goulding and has the potential to break into the mainstream much like “Lean On.” Next, Major Lazer slips back into the moombahton vibe with “Light it Up” and “Roll the Bass,” the latter of which is definitely the most intense on the EP. “Night Riders” is next (check out my previous post about it here), and the Major finishes up strong with a remix of  his own song “All My Love” feat Ariana Grande. It takes the original and spins it with a stronger reggae influence. I like the whole EP a lot. Major Lazer will soon be on tour participating in the Mad Decent Block Party across the nation. Check out the locations here and join in on your local celebration. Listen to the EP below. my personal favorites are “Be Together,” “Powerful,” and “All My Love.”

P.S. – Check out the album artwork for each individual track, they’re all pretty cool!

Priest – Priest LP

Priest has become of my favorite new bands this year and tomorrow, May 5th, they release their debut album, the Priest LP. They’ve released four songs off the album so far, (check them out below) and they’re all hits in my mind. Featuring ethereal vocals and soft synth melodies, this Orlando-based duo takes on indie-pop from a different angle than most. While their music is soft on the ears, it doesn’t lack any energy and can get your head bobbing easily. My favorite song of theirs is definitely “Broken,” followed by “Strong Hearts,” but I enjoy listening to all four of their singles. Stream their album for free on Spotify, buy it here, and check out their website here. I can’t imagine a better way to spend my Cinco de Mayo than listening to a truly talented new artist.

May 5th Update: The album is really good, and they explore some new, funkier kinds of sounds than they have before. My favorite new songs include “White Nights” (featuring some electric guitar) and “Day Drinking.” Really check it out!

Passion Pit – Kindred

Passion Pit Kindred

Passion Pit’s Michael Angelakos released his third studio album yesterday and it stays very true to his signature indie-pop sound. It’s called Kindred and it immediately catches your ear with the happy guitar chords, clear voice, and swinging beats of “Lifted Up (1985).” That song is dedicated to his wife, and in the track he celebrates how much she means to him. However, as Angelakos mentions in an interview with NPR, these happy songs can be his way of confronting deeper issues. Angelakos has bipolar disorder, a severe mental illness that causes uncontrollable emotional highs and lows, both of which can be debilitating. He mentions that his wife came to him at a time in his life where he was “pretty lost,” and largely credits the fact that he “feels better” to her efforts.

Angelakos sees Passion Pit as an upbeat way to examine dark subjects, and this is evidenced by songs like his hit “Take A Walk,” which depicts a family going broke in an impossibly optimistic way. In an interview with Pitchfork, he emphasizes that in this album “Everything is autobiographical,” and we can see that in the way he addresses many of the people that are closest to him in his life. A prime example of this is the track “My Brother Taught Me How To Swim,” in which he describes his brother’s role in his life and how he wishes he could love the way his brother does.

The album is a journey filled with twisting synths and high-pitched vocals. My two favorite tracks were “Lifted Up (1985)” and “My Brother Taught Me How To Swim,” but I recommend you check the whole album out on Spotify. Check out his tour schedule, too, he might be stopping by your city this summer.