Now Hear This is a daily dive into the standout songs of the day. Today, Vancouver's Jay Arner is back, and songs from The Hotelier and The Range that make us drool for their upcoming albums.
Jay Arner, "Crystal Ball"
For Jay Arner's debut solo album from 2013, many critics took a look at his blank stare and tussled hair, dusted off their old '90s music writing thesauruses, and filed reviews dense with as many "slacker" synonyms as they could fit. But the Vancouver songwriter and his partner Jessica Delisle seemed to channel whatever "whatever" impulses they have into Energy Slime, their enticingly relaxed (and apparently drunken) synth-pop micro-project.
And so his new single, the first from his upcoming second Jay album, is impressively polished, like a kid who saw "apply yourself" on his report card and took it to heart before university applications are due. Synths dust a shimmering, buttoned-up glam tune about finding your future. It busts with hooks and harmonies, just begging for the repeat button. - Richard Trapunski
Jay Arner's Jay II is out June 17 on Mint Records.
The Hotelier, "Piano Player"
2014’s Home, Like Noplace Is There was a blast of energy and emotion shaking the foundation around you, which cemented Worcester, Massachusetts' The Hotelier as the defining band of the revitalized pop-punk and emo scene. Two years later and the four-piece are ready to push past any former grounding connections and open the gates to the next stage. Christian Holden, singer and bassist, describes Goodness as a “Taoist love record,” which makes the anticipation that much harder.
“Piano Player" is a cathartic anthem, a conduit for a mega-haul of pathos. The roots of their songcraft run far beyond just The Devil and God Are Raging Inside Me. I also hear more than hints of golden-era college pop like R.E.M., The Lemonheads, and The Posies. - Ryan Parker and Chris Hampton
The Hotelier’s Goodness is out May 27 on Tiny Engines.
The Range, "Copper Wire"
On Potential, The Range builds deep YouTube sampling into one of the best electronic releases of the year. “Copper Wire” is midnight in a cave, with bats flapping around you and the moonlight silhouetting your vision. The track swarms your ears with intricately layered electronics chimes and brooding synths. It’s one of the best songs on the record, which you should pick up immediately. - Ryan Parker