Your still-reeling-from-the-passing-of David Bowie New Music Monday picks for January 11 are all about living, loving, and legends.
We can’t help it. More often than not, every time the legendary and earth-shattering Mavis Staples opens her mouth to sing, our eyes get spongy and our hearts explode into a million happy pieces. She’s an American treasure, with a career spanning six decades, a superhero-like ability to take her audiences from tears to spiritual ecstasy in 60 seconds, and a hand in contributing to the soundtrack for the fight for civil rights.
Her mind-blowing body of work continues to amaze: her family’s band The Staple Singers, her dozen-plus solo albums, and her heady collaborations with some of the most notable names in the current musical pantheon (The Band, Jeff Tweedy.) Lucky for us, there’s loads of Mavis on the horizon for early 2016.
There’s HBO’s forthcoming documentary, Mavis! (February 29), and two sure-to-sell-out nights at The Kessler with Nick Lowe on March 4 & 5. And come February 19, she’s back with the Anti-release, Livin’ On A High Note, a collection of songs written specifically for her from a bevy of heavyweights including Nick Cave, Neko Case, the album’s producer M. Ward and blues artist extraordinaire and Barefoot at The Belmont alum Valerie June, whose standout track “High Note” stars as the album’s lead single.
To riff a little on the greatness of Jackie DeShannon, what the world needs now is love, love, love — and more sonic serotonin boosters. Toronto’s Strumbellas have come charging to the rescue with “Spirits,” poised to be one of your favorite sing-alongs of 2016, guaranteed to alleviate the uglies, and set your psyche right in no time. It’s commanding, ebullient, and emotionally naked as all get-out. The song’s already blown up in their native Canada, and rest assured, 2016 will be the year the track takes hold Stateside and makes itself at home in your head when their album Hope hits stores this spring (Glassnote Records).
With all of their band members still under the age of 21, Brooklyn trio Sunflower Beam may not be able to legally toss one back just yet, but with “Easier Said,” they’ve concocted the most perfect 3 minute and 29 second cocktail of confectionery psychedelia, with sophisticated harmonies and jangly hooks working as the two main components. If you and your ears are in need of something delectably warm and fuzzy on this unforgiving Monday, slip this one on for size — and keep your eyes, fingers and toes crossed that their SXSW stint translates into a possible North Texas date. Human Ceremony arrives February 5 via Fat Possum.
And finally, when you happen to find yourself in air guitar nirvana with White Denim‘s fierce new single, “Holda You (I’m A Psycho),” rest assured you’ll be in good company, seeing how the song’s video features the flawless phantom shredding of World Air Guitar Championship competitor Michael Lovely. It’s almost as if the Austin quartet divined it that “Holda You (I’m A Psycho)” would be destined for your future air guitar moments and repeat plays. It’s way too easy to get lost in this gloriously incendiary slice of rock and roll heaven, with its knockout riffs and addictive Southern boogie rock-infused jams. We’re stoked for Stiff, landing March 25 on Downtown Records.