Bright Light Bright Light
(Self Raising Records)
Brit-turned-New Yorker Rod Thomas has been something of a guilty pleasure among indie scene kids. His music—filled with grandiose lyrical sentiments backed by electro-pop bursts—sounds as if it was lifted from an 80s movie.
It was catchy enough to make a fan of Elton John, who appears on three tracks on Bright Light’s third album, Choreography, an apt description for a record influenced by Flashdance and Footloose. Songs like “Into the Night” and the Elton-backed single “All in the Name” seem custom crafted to get even the shyest club-goer moving. Yet it’s
the ballads that really show Thomas’ talents. “Kiss for Kiss” is a sexy, behind-closed-doors jam, while the highly memorable “Little Bit” is a love song that mixes “Careless Whisper”-type sax playing with a synth heavy chorus. Bring your Flashdance moves when Bright Light plays Rough Trade NYC in Brooklyn on Sept 9.
I’m Alone, No You’re Not
California has its “sunshine pop” and Seattle is the birthplace of grunge, but what about that forgotten land in between? If there ever were such a thing as the “Oregon sound,” the ladies in Joseph embody it. The Portland-based band is comprised of three sisters and named after the mountain town where their grandparents lived. On their 2014 debut, Native Dreamer Kin, they deftly mixed what they called their “genetically perfected harmonies” with pristine, acoustic folk-pop. The recently released I’m Alone, No You’re Not capitalizes on that promise with some added heft in songs like “Canyon” and the anthemic single “White Flag.” It’s more than worth it to see them open for the equally talented singer/ songwriter James Bay at Radio City Music Hall on Sept 30, but they’ll also be back for a headlining gig on Oct 21 at the Bowery Ballroom on Manhattan’s Lower East Side.
If Bjork and Sia have proven anything, it’s that an artist can follow their creative instincts and still find commercial success. Jenny Hval should be no exception. The Norwegian singer has already developed a loyal fan base that flocks to her experimental live shows for her operatic voice and avant-garde orchestration. This creative artistry is on full display on Apocalypse, girl, Hval’s third album under her real name (she released two others under an alias). The record is a cathartic statement from an artist at an existential crossroads. “That Battle is Over,” “Sabbath” and “Heaven” are poetic, highly-cerebral songs that reward listeners if given the proper time and attention. And that’s the point: Hval wants her music to burrow into a listener’s skin and stay with them forever. Expect the same kind of stark intimacy at her Sept 30 show at Le Poisson Rouge in the Greenwich Village.