New music releases continue at a dizzying pace, so much so that it often feels overwhelming. I should be featuring at least some of it on this blog, but alas, I just haven’t much felt like writing of late. But when I hear new songs that pique my interest, I want to share them with the world. That means it’s time for another Fresh New Tracks post, and today I’m featuring three terrific tracks from artists with totally different sounds. They are, in alphabetical order, British alt-rock band Oli Barton & the Movement, British synthpop band Magnetic Skies, and American singer-songwriter & musician Marc Schuster. I’ve previously written about Oli Barton & the Movement and Marc Schuster, while Magnetic Skies is new to me.
OLI BARTON & THE MOVEMENT – “Paid Off”
London-based Oli Barton & the Movement are a long-time favorite of mine. As indicated by their name, the band is headed by the wildly creative and charismatic singer-songwriter Oli Barton, with the Movement comprised of exceptionally talented musicians Jamal Lagoon on guitar, Marco Paone on bass, and Josh Needham on drums. Together, their eccentric yet sophisticated style of alternative rock is a colorful mix of post-punk and psychedelia, fortified with touches of funk, grunge and pop. I’ve featured them many times on this blog over the past six years, and have loved every one of their releases. Four of their songs have appeared on my Weekly Top 30 lists – their provocative 2017 single “Kinky” went all the way to #1, while “44”, “Martyr” and “Just Like Always” all reached the top 5.
On February 17th, they dropped their latest single “Paid Off“, and it’s a certifiable banger! Produced by the band’s longtime collaborator Jules Gulon, and featuring beguiling backing vocals by Portugal-born and now London-based singer-songwriter Carlota Rocchi, the song is an exhilarating, infectiously catchy romp. Opening with Needham’s galloping drum beats and Paone’s throbbing bass, which are soon joined by Barton’s distinctive croon, the song explodes into a chugging rocker, fueled by Lagoon’s scorching riffs, Barton’s vocals rising to an impassioned wail. The lyrics seem to speak of people who use others for their own gain, bleeding them until they’re dry: “I’m just a fraction of the fragment of what I was. The moment they penetrated me./ They just want to be paid off by you, by you, by you!” I love it, and the guys have another future top 5 hit on their hands!
Follow Oli Barton and the Movement: Facebook / Twitter / Instagram
MAGNETIC SKIES – “You Shine On”
Also based in London, Magnetic Skies was originally formed as a duo in early 2019 by singer-songwriters and keyboardists Simon Kent and Jo Womar. With a shared love of 80s synth-driven post-punk and vintage analogue synths, they quickly got busy writing and recording an impressive amount of material they released in a succession of singles and three EPs – Dreams And Memories, Hold On and Into Paradise. They became a four-piece in 2021 with the addition of guitarist Carlos Aguilar and drummer Lenin Alegria, and since then have released six more singles. In preparation for writing about them, I listen to quite a bit of their back music catalogue, and it’s really outstanding. Their latest single, “You Shine On“, which dropped February 17th, will be included on their forthcoming debut album Empire Falling, set for release later this year.
Released via independent label ReprinT Records, “You Shine On” features a dreamy melody set to hypnotic driving beats and lush, atmospheric soundscapes reminiscent of such defining 80s acts as The Human League, Pet Shop Boys and Depeche Mode. There are so many fabulous touches, like the dominant pulsating bassline, gorgeous jangly guitars, swirling synths, crashing percussion and soaring vocal harmonies. About the song, the band explains: “This is a love song, a story about two people finding each other despite divisions from outside, and about being true to yourself even when that doesn’t fit with expectations from society or other people. It’s celebrating a really positive self-belief.” The track is accompanied by a stylish video featuring kaleidoscopic images of a beautiful woman dressed in a flowing, butterfly-like golden garment, interspersed with similarly-kaleidoscopic images of the band performing the song.
Follow Magnetic Skies: Facebook / Twitter / Instagram
MARC SCHUSTER – “George Around the Corner”
Marc Schuster is an insanely creative, multi-talented guy from the Philadelphia area who I first got to know several years ago through blogging (he has a terrific WordPress blog called Abominations, where he writes about music and interviews lots of indie artists). Not only is he an educator, author, literary critic and visual artist, he’s also a prolific songwriter and musician, recording both as a solo artist and as part of numerous music projects and collaborations with an ever-expanding roster of musicians, including his latest project The Star Crumbles with fellow musician Brian Lambert (their song “Shadows in the Dark” recently spent two weeks at #1 on my Top 30 chart). As if all that weren’t enough, he also started doing a weekly hour-long music podcast a few months ago he calls “Tweetcore”, where he features songs by talented indie artists he’s met through Twitter. I honestly don’t know how he finds the time and energy to accomplish all that he does!
Though Marc likes to experiment with different sounds, styles and textures, most of the songs he records as a solo artist have a delightful, indie bedroom-pop sensibility. Not only are they infectiously catchy, he has a wonderful knack for putting a youthful, often tongue-in-cheek perspective on everyday situations and problems many of us have faced at one time or another. He doesn’t have a powerful singing voice, but he more than makes up for it with a quirky, endearing vocal delivery that never fails to put a huge smile on my face. I seriously adore this man, who’s also been incredibly supportive of both me and my blog.
Almost a year ago to the day, I reviewed his delightful EP There Is No Down. In addition to his work with The Star Crumbles, Marc has continued putting out solo singles, his latest of which is “George Around the Corner“, a sweet song he released on February 16th. He cleverly name-drops his neighbor George, as well as a few of his fellow artist collaborators like Tim Simmons and Brian Lambert. He elaborated about the song on his blog: “‘George Around the Corner’ is more or less about real people I know. George does, in fact, live around the corner, and he did, in fact, fly a fighter jet in 1969 (and the years on either side of it). The line about him not remembering my name was true when I started working on the song, but more recently he has begun to remember my name when I see him. Tim stops by for coffee fairly regularly if not actually once a week, and sometimes I stop by his house. The line about us not speaking, however, is entirely false. We talk a lot. But ‘speak’ rhymes with ‘week.’ And Brian did visit Philadelphia once. He was actually visiting family in Delaware when he made the additional trek out to see me. His son came with him and did take a picture of us waiting for the train. However, that was not the only picture he took. Also, I stand by my claim that sometimes the best of times move kind of slow.” If you click on the Bandcamp link below, you’ll see the lyrics to the song.