You'll Find A Way by Santigold
Santi White and John Hill originally recorded under the pseudonym Santogold but swapped an "O" for the "I" after the threat of a lawsuit from the makers of the 1985 movie Santo Gold's Blood Circus. Their eponymous debut album is awash with feel good anthems. Also see Lights Out, Unstoppable and Say Aha.
Lasso by Phoenix
This French outfit first assembled as cover band playing in bars and cafes. After adopting their current moniker, the band, led by Thomas Mars who is married to Sofia Coppola, got a gig as Air's backing band. Their album Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix beat out the likes of Yeah Yeah Yeahs and Depeche Mode to claim the 2010 Grammy for Best Alternative Music Album. I would say the album is more electronic than alternative; yet the optimistic offerings Phoenix delivers remain winners regardless of genre. Also see Girlfriend and 1901.
No Nostalgia by AgesandAges
This seven member band from Portland, Oregon released their debut album, Alright, You Restless, last month. Their jam band sound and sing-a-long style makes for songs that are as secure and warm as a group bear hug. While they maintain they are not a cult, they are hoping their rapidly increasing fan base will organize as one. I imagine they would be devotees of hand claps and harmonies.
Summertime Clothes by Animal Collective
The collaborative and experimental group known as Animal Collective has been kicking around for a decade. Yet it was their most recent album, The Merriweather Post Pavilion, that proved to be the roar heard around the world. The band's four members, Avey Tare (David Porter), Deakin (Josh Dibb), Geologist (Brian Weitz) and Panda Bear (Noah Lennox), are fluid with their contributions. All have side and/or solo projects but Animal Collective remains the most successful of all of their musical outfits.
Don't Give Up by Noisettes
Don't Give Up is a feel good track which can also act as motivational music. Noisettes fuse funk, punk, rock and soul into a truly original sound. Their 2007 debut What's the Time Mr. Wolf? made in on to my best of '07 list. Their follow up Wild Young Hearts while more soulful than rock is still strong enough to merit a listen.
Golden Phone by Micachu & the Shapes
Highly unorthodox Mica Levi has captivated audiences in her native UK by utilizing extraordinary instruments such as a vacuum cleaner and broken bottles. Superstar fans of hers include Bjork and Animal Collective. While Mica says she's "not totally behind" her debut album Jewellery, English music fans lapped up the album like kindergartners slurping spilled cola. When Jewellery wasn't nominated for the Mercury Prize an outpouring of criticism slammed the nomination process. Regardless of the controversy, no one can deny that Golden Phone is a song that will warm up the dampest of spirits.
Multiply & Divide by the Soviettes
The band's name came from a "tip" a customer gave singer/guitarist Annie Holoien as she waited tables in St. Paul, Minnesota. In lieu of payment he offered the name The Soviettes for her band. That was a decade ago and after three well received LPs, the band went on semi-permanent hiatus in 2006.
Their music is usually short and speedy and at the height of their popularity the foursome managed to perform in all fifty states in a span of three months. Their myspace page hints that they may reassemble for shows; as they did in 2010.
After the Soviettes' hiatus Holoien and Danny Henry formed Awesome Snakes. Holoien recently joined The God Dam Doo Wop Band and Maren "Sturgeon" Macosko plays in The Gateway District. Suzy Sharp is now the bass player for That's Incredible.
This Twist by Roxy Epoxy & the Rebound
Roxy Epoxy's Bandaids on Bullet Holes is made up of unusual, upbeat, new wave-inspired tracks guaranteed to put the listener in a good mood. For more about former Epoxies member Roxy Epoxy see my post on anti-social songs. Also check out Roxy's Ego Hour, her radio show on KPSU, Portland's college radio station.
Hardcore Girls by The Count & Sinden featuring Rye Rye
Perhaps best known as MIA's protege, the remarkably refreshing Rye Rye's career got a jump start when she left rap on DJ Blaqstarr's voicemail. Dubstep and grime producers The Count and Sinden tapped her for this single and also co-produced her forthcoming debut Go! Pop! Bang! along with Diplo, Blaqstarr and MIA.
I Feel Alive by 33Hz
The members of NYC's 33Hz love disco (and cheesy video effects, see below.) Their electro-heavy sound may have played better decades ago, yet this strobe-lit song still has the power to perk up sagging spirits.
Ba Ba BaBa Ba Ba Well Anyway by Oh No Ono
This Danish band's style is deviant and daring. Malthe Fischer's vocals definitely diverge from what would be considered the norm for North American music listening audiences. His frightening falsetto might turn some people off, but if you prefer uncommonly hyper arrangements, Oh No Ono's 2006 album Yes may be what you've been seeking. Their most recent album, Egg, was released last year.
My Rainbow Valley by Dolly Mixture
Formed in 1978 in Cambridge, Dolly Mixture was first conceived as a joke. Three teenage schoolmates, Debsy Wykes, Hester Smith and Rachel Bor, loved the dreamy sounds of the '60s and as a response to the popularity of post-punk decided to tell people they were in whimsical pop band. When they began receiving requests for live performances, the girls picked up instruments and began practicing in earnest. They found some success backing Captain Sensible yet they released just one full length album, 1983's Demonstration Tapes. My Rainbow Valley is typical of Dolly Mixture's gleeful sound. If you can overcome the cooing backing vocals the track will subtly slap you with a sweet smile.