Extra Golden, Discovery, Grizzly Bear, John Vanderslice and Anjulie
Left to right: Extra Golden, Discovery, Grizzly Bear, John Vanderslice and Anjulie.

Summer Playlist: Uncovering Five Unique Musical Acts

June 15, 2009
by Liz Colville
These five musical acts—Extra Golden, Discovery, Grizzly Bear, John Vanderslice and Anjulie—may cater to five different moods, but they all have one thing in common: new albums tailored to a summer mood.

Extra Golden: American-Kenyan Rock-Benga Infusion

Ian Eagleson, an American, traveled to Kenya for doctoral thesis research and recorded lots of benga music in the country, eventually forming the band Extra Golden with the late Kenyan benga musician Otieno Jagwasi and another American, Alex Minoff. Jagwasi died after a long battle with liver disease, but the Americans continued on in his memory with help from two of his former bandmates.

Listen to two energetic, glittery, guitar-driven tracks from their new album “Thank You Very Quickly” via NPR Music. The band also explains where that album name came from.

Discovery: Brooklyn Electro-Pop Super Group

The Columbia University boys who comprise Vampire Weekend are immersed in the indie New York music scene, which has become increasingly rapt by dance music, specifically electronic pop. Vampire Weekend’s Rostam Batmanglij teamed up with Ra Ra Riot’s Wes Miles to create Discovery, whose first single, “Orange Shirt,” sounds like it was produced by R&B master The-Dream.

This pretty, youthful love song is paced just right for a summer house party. Stream the song on Discovery’s MySpace page or on the band’s official site. Their debut album comes out on July 7 and features contributions from Angel Deradoorian of Dirty Projectors and Vampire Weekend lead singer Ezra Koenig.

Grizzly Bear: Virtuosic Brooklyn Rock Quartet

Perhaps the most well-known of the bands on this list, Grizzly Bear, fronted by lead singer Edward Droste, has shot to stardom with their third album, “Veckatimest.” Raved about in indie circles for their second LP, “Yellow House,” the group has charted new territory with a more accessible yet still boundary-pushing and sophisticated album that has landed them in front of new audiences, like David Letterman’s.

First single “Two Weeks” has been called “a big fat ice-cream cone of a song” by The New Yorker’s Sasha Frere-Jones and a “gloriously ornate float in an Easter Parade” by Pitchfork’s Mark Richardson. In other words, it’s righteously warm-weather material. Listen to the track via Pitchfork’s “Track Reviews” section.

John Vanderslice: Prolific Indie Rock Innovator

Vanderslice has spent time in Florida, Georgia, Maryland and more frequently California, where he started the recording studio Tiny Telephone in San Francisco in 1997. He has released seven albums in the space of nine years and has consistently garnered attention and praise for his ornate and sometimes unabashedly weird compositions.

His intimate vocals and candid, conversation-like lyrics are perfect year-round, but his latest album, “Romanian Names,” features the stunning “Too Much Time,” which is literally set on the beach: The first lyrics are “Woke up on the sand.” The song is free to download via his Web site, where he also makes many songs from past albums available to download for free.

Anjulie: Soulful, Quirky Pop Singer From Toronto

Anjulie, of Guyanan roots, was raised in a suburb of Toronto and makes accessible, blues-inspired pop thanks to a voice that recalls Nelly Furtado. But there’s an honesty and quirkiness to Anjulie’s music that she showcases alongside vocal strength.

Her first single “Boom” features a cute, other-worldly video directed by Adria Petty, who’s also worked on videos for Regina Spektor and Kings of Leon. Watch the video on Vimeo and listen to “Boom” and other tracks on Anjulie’s MySpace page.

Most Recent Features