A look at acts breaking at radio and retail and entering Billboard charts. This week: The Postal Service, Lumidee, Dierks Bentley, and RA.
A look at the latest acts that are breaking at radio and retail and entering the Billboard charts.
GOING POSTAL: Indie-rock duo the Postal Service illustrates the effect of video games on musicians.
Debut album "Give Up" is loaded with blistering beats that skitter along like some updated version of Pong. Like indie hipsters such as Out Hud or I Am the World Trade Center, the Postal Service provide computer-crafted music for those who were exposed to electronic music via a mixture of Kraftwerk and Super Mario Brothers.
While the group is the side project of Death Cab for Cutie's Benjamin Gibbard and Dntel's Jimmy Tamborello, the two don't intend the Postal Service to be some lighthearted diversion. The pair's 10-track first effort, released earlier this year on Sup Pop Records, is a lyric-heavy album with enough heartfelt sentiments to appeal to a Dashboard Confessional fan. "Will someone please call a surgeon who can crack my ribs and repair this broken heart?" Gibbard sings on "Nothing Better."
The marriage of electronic orchestrations and earnest lyrics has helped the Postal Service find an audience more accustomed to a rock-oriented sound. "Give Up" features guest shots from Rilo Kiley's Jenny Lewis and Tattle Tale's Jen Wood, both of whom provide backing vocals that serve as an inviting entry into the digitized landscapes. Additionally, Gibbard accentuates Tamborello's programming with acoustic guitars and live drumming, which keeps the Postal Service embedded in indie rock territory even when the blips and beeps start to drift into Bjork-like atmospherics.
With little mainstream press, and airplay confined to college stations and public radio, "Give Up" has managed to sell nearly 35,000 copies in the U.S. since its release in early February, according to Nielsen SoundScan. "Give Up" continues to perform well on Billboard's charts. The album reached a new peak position of No. 7 last week on the Top Electronic Albums tally, and was up six slots to No. 42 on the Top Independent Albums chart.
The Postal Service will begin a brief European tour next week.
LUMI TUNE: Reggae-influenced cuts have been making their mark on Billboard's singles charts of late, thanks to hits like Sean Paul's "Get Busy" and Wayne Wonder's "No Letting Go." Now 21-year-old New Yorker Lumidee (pronounced: Loomey-Dee) is entering the fray with her "Never Leave You - Uh Ooh, Uh Oooh!"
The song is the first single from Lumidee's Straight Face/Universal Records debut, "Almost Famous," due June 24. "Never Leave You" utilizes a sample of the Indian/reggae Diwali rhythm which features a smattering of percussive handclaps. It adds a sort of sparseness that allows the focus of the song to rest on Lumidee's coolly nonchalant delivery, and a deep bassline adds a contemporary hip-hop feel.
Lumidee's vocals recall Missy Elliott, which isn't surprising as the singer got her start as a rapper. There are hip-hop influences throughout, including rapping on the single's remix by Busta Rhymes and Fabolous, and an appearance by NORE on one of the tracks on "Almost Famous."
Fueled by heavy radio play in New York and the East Coast, "Never Leave You" has climbed to No. 20 on Billboard's Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Airplay tally in just seven weeks. The single is also starting to make an impact on more mainstream leaning stations as well. "Never Leave You" is up 54-41 this week on Billboard's Hot 100.
THINKING ABOUT A HIT: Dierks Bentley's "What Was I Thinkin'" is an uptempo country rocker with some fast-paced finger picking and a melody that recalls Tom Petty's "Runnin' Down a Dream." The single, which has a slight bluegrass slant, has already shot its way to the top-30 of Billboard's Hot Country Singles & Tracks roundup.
Bentley's first major label album on Capitol Nashville still two months away, but fans have been eagerly snatching up copies of "What Was I Thinkin'." The song is No. 4 in its second week on Billboard's Top Country Singles Sales tally, and is up 30-27 on the Hot Country Singles & Tracks chart.
Hailing from Arizona, Bentley moved to Nashville when he was 19. A self-released album helped Bentley land a publishing deal with Sony/Tree Publishing, where he met songwriter Brett Beavers (Tim McGraw, Lee Ann Womack). A demo the two recorded resulted in the deal with Capitol Nashville, which will release his highly anticipated self-titled effort on Aug. 19.
SLOW BUILD: Universal Records hard rock act RA released its debut album, "From One," last October. The Boston-area act has built a large following on the East Coast for its melodic metal with spacey undertones. Sales in the Northeast propelled "From One" onto the lower half of The Billboard 200 for three weeks earlier this year, but the album has yet to break on a wider scale.
That may be starting to change. Current single "Rectifier" has given the act its second single on Billboard's Mainstream Rock Tracks tally. In four weeks, the song has reached a new high of No. 30. While first single "Do You Call My Name?" went slightly higher on the tally, "Rectifier" is impacting radio just as the band is about to head out on the road with Powerman 5000.
Additionally, RA has a high-profile outdoor gig at Milwaukee's Summerfest on June 27. With hard rock acts such as Metallica, Staind, the Deftones, and Cold near the top of a number of Billboard's charts, RA's "Rectifier is gaining spins at a time when mainstream radio is happily embracing a more traditional metal, as opposed to the rap-influenced rock that dominated in recent years.