This is Music Mondays, a weekly list of music recommendations. I’ll run down the albums, artists, or songs that I’ve been listening to and enjoying. Sometimes the recommendations will be dated, sometimes they will be new. Either way, music is great!
Whitney, “Light Upon the Lake”
With the Grammy Awards airing last night, I have been reflecting on my favorite albums of 2016. One of the most overlooked, and generally unknown, albums was Whitney’s “Light Upon the Lake.” Whitney, made up of former members of Smith Westerns and Unknown Mortal Orchestra, is an easy listen. The album is filled with relaxed guitar leads, confident, but light horn sections, and smooth drums. While the voice of lead singer Julien Ehrlich can be an acquired taste, his vocals are emotional and add to the album’s bittersweet sound. “Light Upon the Lake” is inspired by 1960’s-era Beatles guitar pop (with a hint of Bon Iver), and is a nostalgic and heartbreaking breakup album. The ten tracks tell a complete tale, from the protagonist thinking “No Woman” can replace his last love, to looking back fondly on their relationship in “No Matter Where We Go.” Ultimately, by the album’s end, he realizes everything will work out in the end. Overall, to get into Whitney, I would recommend starting with the tracks, “Golden Days,” “No Matter Where We Go,” and “Polly.”
Jon Bellion, “The Separation”
With his breakout studio album “The Human Condition” and his radio hit “All Time Low,” 2016 was a very good year for Jon Bellion. Fans of his current music may be unaware of his four previous mixtapes that can be found online, specifically on SoundCloud. Considering that “The Human Condition” is called his “debut” studio album, it’s understandable that listeners may be unfamiliar with his pre-Capitol Records music. “The Definition” is his last mixtape before the release of “The Human Condition.” I would undoubtedly recommend “The Definition” (2014) before “The Separation” (2013), but I have recently gotten into the music on “The Separation.” Songs like “Eyes to the Sky,” “Jim Morrison,” and “Kingdom Come” stand toe-to-toe with his most recent music. While there are a few duds on the album, it is still incredibly impressive how good “The Separation” is, when thinking of it as the free music release that it was. “A beautiful mind,” indeed.
Sundara Karma, “Youth Is Only Ever Fun in Retrospective”
Sundara Karma is an English alternative rock band that recently released their first LP on January 6 of this year. “Youth Is Only Ever Fun in Retrospective” (great title, but a little too long to write) is a confident debut album, and I look forward to seeing where the band goes from here. In my opinion, the closest parallel to Sundara Karma would be Young the Giant. Some songs like “Happy Family” have vibes of folk-rock bands like Kaleo. The album lacks some emotional weight, but I was incredibly impressed by the band’s big indie rock sound. “A Young Understanding” and “She Said” are catchy rock tunes. I can’t explain why, but “Olympia” sounds like the type of song that gets played in a 80’s movie prom scene. I love the song’s chorus. I definitely recommend giving Sundara Karma a try.