RADAR: Bruno Merz

Singer/songwriter Bruno Merz -- not to be confused with one Mr. B. Mars, thank you very much -- is a New Zealand native currently living and working in Leeds UK where in addition to his songcrafting he also works as an illustrator of graphic novels and children's books. In 2009 after a stint of travel around Europe, Merz (pronounced Mertz) settled for a while in Amsterdam where he began writing. recording demos and performing. After some positive response, he released his debut EP Departing From Crowds and the track "Nine Sixteen" was pick for inclusion in a Starbucks sampler. The good word continued to spread.

This year, Merz headed back to New Zealand, moved in with his parents and began work with an old friend who also happened to be a sound engineer with a home studio. "Every morning, I’d get up and bike through these woods and along the river and it was just a lovely process and pretty stress free," he says. That relaxed mindset in apparent in the understated, gorgeously melodic folk/pop tracks that make up his newly released full length Highways. The exquisite "Emmeline" is easily one of our favorite songs of the year. Head to the Currents page to stream "Into the Air" and watch a video for "This Time."

Well, we can happily admit it -- we just can't get enough of the sweet, effortless harmonies of Lily and Madeleine, the indie Indy sisters who released their sophomore album Fumes at the end of October. The "Can't Admit It" video, directed by Luke Tate, includes scenes of the siblings' Hoosier home town. More on Fumes at DC here...

Johanna & Klara Söderberg, the Swedish sisters known as First Aid Kit, celebrate the end of their U.S. tour on Saturday with this "travelogue" video set to their version of Paul Simon's modern standard "America." The song, a FAK concert favorite for a few years, was recorded at ARC Studios in Omaha with Mike Mogis, the producer who also handled the Söderberg's latest album Stay Gold. "The structure of the song and the melody just make for an epic journey, the siblings say. "The lyrics are like a poem, without a single rhyme. It contains some of our favorite lines, like, ‘Toss me a cigarette I think there’s one in my raincoat.’” The song will be included in a special 10" vinyl Record Store Day exclusive on November 28.

Natalie Prass

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