Every month, NPR Music asks our friends from public radio stations across the country for the songs they simply can't get enough of — new tracks by local artists, upbeat remixes of slower songs, recent discoveries from international bands and beyond.
This month's list includes a danceable song by Latin alternative group LADAMA, a remixed jazz number from Braxton Cook, and a new tune by Modern Baseball frontman Jake Ewald.
Haley Heynderickx, 'Oom Sha La La'
From I Need To Start A Garden
When the Tiny Desk Contest Concert series rolled through Portland earlier this year, NPR Music asked the opbmusic staff if we had recommendations for the opening act. We didn't hesitate. Haley Heynderickx was our first choice with a bullet. The Oregon native made a stunning debut in the Portland music scene last year with the release of her Fish Eyes EP. That collection of sparsely arranged electric folk songs hinted at tons of promise. Now, she's poised to cash in on that potential with the release of her full-length debut, out in early 2018. And the album's first single, "Oom Sha La La," finds her taking some welcomed risks with a fuller sound, quirky lyrics that include a gardening-related freakout and, as the name suggests, a healthy dose of doo-wop-inspired backing vocals.
—Jerad Walker, opbmusic
Slaughter Beach, Dog, 'Gold and Green'
Even though Jake Ewald has spent the past five years headlining vast clubs and theaters with his anthemic pop-punk band Modern Baseball, he's always seemed more at home in the humble bars and basements of the world. This month MoBo plays its farewell concerts, and Ewald begins anew, letting longtime side project Slaughter Beach, Dog take center stage on Birdie. Breezy acoustic strums and tender bottleneck slide guide "Gold and Green," as his Weakerthans-esque deadpan provides snapshots of the introvert at home. The couplet "empty milk gallon graveyard, recycling rockstar," captures the emotional clutter, but the song's hook is full of hope for what comes after the big gig: "Gonna make this garden grow, inch by inch and row by row."
—John Vettese, WXPN's The Key
LADAMA, 'Porro Maracatu'
The four musicians, educators and collaborators who comprise LADAMA prove that our native cultures are best enjoyed at intersections where traditions merge, rhythms meld and something fresh materializes. In the case of "Porro Maracutu," from the group's self-titled album released in September, the cultural blend is energizing and undeniably danceable. You don't have to understand the lyrics to feel the inclusiveness of the rhythms that propel the song, but it won't surprise you that crude translations boast "a different sound for your body and your mind" and reference a "Carnival of the whole world."
Intricate and complex, yet unadorned and unwavering, "Porro Maracutu" begins bombastically, the energy heightened even further by percussion breaks before the last chorus and in the outro. Your ears will keep the beat going long after the song concludes, but this tune rewards multiple listens. That explains why it's inspired more than one spontaneous dance outbreak in the Mountain Stage offices.
—Vasilia Scouras and Adam Harris, WVPB's Mountain Stage
Braxton Cook, 'Somewhere in Between (Swarvy Remix)'
From Somewhere in Between (Swarvy Remix)
It took all summer for a two-step jazz-dance track to cross my feed — it came in the form of a remix of a track Braxton Cook put out in April on Fresh Selects, an independent, Portland-based label catering to alternative R&B. Cook, 26, is a recent Juilliard grad based in New York City who's worked with trumpeter Christian Scott and Solange. What makes this remix bump and slap is the treatment by Swarvy, an L.A.-based producer also on the Fresh Selects roster associated with Mndsgn and Kiefer. Swarvy's touch on this is subtle G-Funk with synths and sprinkles. His first pass on the track used Cook's original vocal line delivered at a slower tempo, but after it sounded too chopped-up, Cook re-recorded it with the uptempo groove in mind and added some horns in the intro. The result is a dance, a reaction to the more somber original "Somewhere in Between," more of an epilogue than a remix. Dance is where Cook arrives after he's "cracked the code."
—Alex Ariff, WBGO's Jazz Night in America
Mount Kimbie, 'Blue Train Lines (feat. King Krule)'
From Love What Survives
We're running to meet him. It takes us about 20 seconds and when we do find him, he's pacing and mid-monologue.
"...here's another thing / that flew up in my mind / like the razor blade in her wrist / locked in the closet of Deep. Space. 9."
It's hard to track in his thick, frantic Cockney accent, but he's just witnessed the heroin overdose of someone important. Tortured, he begins to scream. This has been a bad day for Archie.
The lyrics on "Blue Train Lines" make Mount Kimbie's music more urgent than usual. That's largely due to the out-of-character delivery by King Krule (Archie Ivan Marshall). His usual, contemplatively paced poetry is nowhere to be found. The intensity of the track never falters as he aggressively cries each detail about this woman, lying unresponsive. We're listening to someone confront guilt and grief all at once in real time. It's difficult and I can't stop.
—Nick Brunner, Capital Public Radio's Hey, Listen!