Aviation – Invisible Boy
In 1980, Queen delivered one of the great superhero themes of all time with “Flash.” If the Invisible Boy were a real superhero, Aviation gave him an equally bombastic theme song, a six-minute epic complete with piano crescendoes, scorching guitar solos, and canned applause. He’s not real, though. In fact, as you discover over the course of the song, he’s not exactly a superhero after all, just a lonely kid who sits by himself at lunch. Well, now he’s a lonely kid with an epic piano-prog theme song.
A2VT – Faas Waa
A2VT have only released five songs, and they already sound like seasoned pros. The dancehall duo are refugees from Africa (Somalia and Tanzania) who have found a new home in Vermont. Their most popular YouTube video, in fact (56k views!), is about their new hometown Winooski. Their latest “Faas Waa” (“beautiful” in singer Jilib’s native tongue Maay Maay) features one hell of a fun dance number.
Ballroom Sofa – Cool Kids
Who is this band?? They appear to have zero online presence other than this mysterious EP that popped up on Bandcamp. No website, no Facebook, no names, no nothing. And they didn’t respond to a message sent through that page (check your email, guys! girls! anyone!!). Until someone steps forward to enlighten me, we’ll have to focus on the music – which is fantastic. Their debut (I assume?) EP delivers four songs that blend indie-rock with dream pop, steel guitars, and beautiful harmonies. It sounds like the Smashing Pumpkins in Laurel Canyon, and I guess that’s all we need to know for now.
Clever Girls – Loom
I loved Clever Girls’s first EP (on both our Best Songs and Best EPs of 2017). And it wasn’t a fluke. In fact, their latest single might be their most fully-realized song to date. “I would die for you any way you want me to,” singer Diane Jean plaintively croons in the chorus over a chiming guitar racket. It’s off a new record that drops next week, and I can’t wait to hear the rest.
Dwight & Nicole – Feel the Same
On their new EP Electric Lights, Dwight Ritcher and Nicole Nelson (and new drummer Ezra Oklan – Dwight & Nicole is a trio despite the name) veer from funky soul to spunky pop-rock. Best of all might be “Feel the Same,” a slow-burn that rides a smoky Muscle Shoals groove.
The Giant Peach – Want
An art-rock band from a small New England college? It’s worked before. And like the Talking Heads, Middlebury’s The Giant Peach have ambition. The eight songs on their upcoming debut album Pulling Teeth feature 14 credited players, including a saxophonist, trumpeter, and five separate backing vocalists. And it pays off on lead single “Want,” a massive, triumphant blast.
Homeboy Aurelio – DWB
We last heard from Alex Vitzthum recording electronic versions of Gregorian chants. His new EP couldn’t be more different. As Homeboy Aurelio, he and and Gabe Allen deliver six crunchy indie rock jams, a little Parquet Courts and a little Pavement. “DWB” (“Dirty White Boy”) features the wonderfully ’90s-angst chorus “I gotta get up again / Every time it’s more tiring / I’m down on my knees / Then I’m up to my feet / Then repeat / Come and watch me try.”
The Pilgrims – AA After Party
Remember the music video for Kanye West’s “Power”? The slow zoom out with angels and demons and swords and columns? The Pilgrims’ new “AA After Party” starts kind of like that. Except instead of Kanye, at the center is a pantsless man polishing a gun. And instead of an epic sword battle between half-naked men, we zoom out to find a snowball fight between half-naked men (that part’s the same). And instead of a King Crimson-sampling hip-hop anthem about conquering haters, an AC/DC-channeling punk-garage nugget about “a guy named Dave.”
The Rear Defrosters – Mule Skinner Blues
My main gig is writing about cover songs. And this take on a classic country number by Jimmie Rodgers (“The Singing Breakman”) is a good’un. They give it a honky-tonk rhythm that doesn’t sound anything like the number’s 1930s origins. The singer Kate Lorenz, though, can pull off a pretty good facsimile of that Jimmie Rodgers yodel. And the guitarist is Michael Roberts, frontman of the great indie-country band Wooden Dinosaur (who I’ve written about a bunch).
Tsunamibots – C:Run
Tsunamibots describe Man Vs. Machine as “a rock n roll concept album capturing what happens when technology goes unchecked.” Side A is performed by the Brand New Luddites (different name, same band) representing the human side of an imminent robot uprising. Side two – which includes “C:Run” – is the robots’ turn. I’m sure it won’t end well for us, but it’s fun to go out moshing.
Xenia Dunford – Happy
“She will love you good, give you all I never could, and you will be happy,” goes the chorus to the love-gone-sour finale to Xenia Dunford’s Flesh EP. It’s a hell of a groovy soul song, like some epic deep cut you’d find dusting off an old 45. Dunford’s voice is the star, but props also to the incredibly tight band backing her.
If you missed it, here’s our Best Vermont Songs of 2017 post.