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Quick Hits: Chloë Sunshine / Akron Engine / Matt Ryd / Wakeup Starlight


Chloë Sunshine‘s new album is called Indian Summer, and the sound matches both names perfectly: perky, bright indie-pop with influences from surf-rock (“I Try,” “Modern House”) and chill beach-pop (“Love Love Love”). Sunshine’s earnest, unaffected voice sells the whole production with a cute-but-not-smarmy air. It’s the perfect soundtrack to a summer road trip, as you’ll be bobbing your head, singing along, and smiling with your hair flowing in the wind. It’s just a lovely album.


Folk, country, and rock have been chillin’ together since ever, and yet it’s still always a delight to me when someone comes along with a new take on the idea. Akron Engine is latest contender, taking (or at least sharing) the honor from SXSW darling Dawes. Where Dawes traffics in smooth rhythms and tones, Akron Engine’s Silhouettes keeps things endearingly scruffy. Strummy guitars, up-front rhythms and swooping pedal steel contrast against Davis Jones’ sweet tenor voice, allowing for tunes like ominous “Silhouettes” and the weary “Hold On to It” to succeed. The band can lay down a beautiful tune, as the shuffling waltz “Believe in You” and solitary closer “All We Ever Had” show. Those into country-rock/folk should check this out this fine collection of tunes.


Matt Ryd combines country with pop, but not in the schmaltzy, Rascal Flatts sort of way. Imagine if a power-pop band also had a pedal steel in it, and there you are. At least, there you are as far as “Nobody But Me” is concerned, the infectious, energetic opening to track to Ryd’s 3-song EP Ryd ‘Em Cowboy. The follow-up “Long, Long Time” is a ballad that does head in that direction, but Ryd’s earnest vocals make sure that the love song stays firmly in realm of “pleasantly familiar” instead of “cloyingly obvious.” Closer “Marianne [Country Remix]” leans even more toward ballad-style country, with the inclusion of a female back-up vocalist. It’s not what I usually cover, but Ryd’s earnest voice and spot-on production make this a fun listen.


Wakeup Starlight‘s awesomely-titled The White Flags of Alderaan rounds out this collection of bands that are easy to listen to. The acoustic-heavy band sounds like Jack Johnson jamming on “Hey There Delilah” with a dash of Dispatch thrown in. If that sounds like the most cheery thing ever, you wouldn’t be wrong in your assessment. It’s hilarious, then, that they have songs titled “The Earth is Dying,” “Loco Train (A Canadian Tragedy)” and “The Ghost of Myself Facing You.” To be fair, that last one tries to be ominous until it breaks into a “hey-o” section. For real. They’re smart to put that one last, because the happier this band is, the more entertaining their songs are. So if you want a few rays of sunshine in your life, you should go for “The Earth is Dying” and “Loco Train (A Canadian Tragedy).” Trust me, they’re actually smile-inducing.