The Lumineers — “Ho Hey” (from The Lumineers) —
Imagine Dragons — “It’s Time” (from Night Visions) —
I’ve seen it happen time and again over the course of my lifetime, but I still never fail to be amused whenever the geniuses who program Top 40 radio in this country suddenly wake the hell up and remember that crowd-pleasing, foot-stomping pop music — which is to say, not homogenized hip-hop and not sound-alike alt-rock — is exactly and exclusively what they do best. That Grammy grubber Adele picked the lock last year with her instant classic kiss-off jam “Rolling in the Deep,” and then those box-busting punks fun. and Gotye tore the gate plumb off its hinges with their infectiously brilliant breakthrough smashes’ year-long assault on the airwaves. Upon whom, now, should we look to carry this torch of momentum into the fall? Bet on these two buzzworthy bands, both making some serious noise and itching for a breakout.
Building on the crossover success laid down by Mumford & Sons, The Lumineers’ warm debut record is a rustic, rollicking force, aided mightily by lead singer Wesley Schultz’s raspy ringer of a voice. (Visualize a more refined take on The Avett Brothers, if whichever Avett brother who does the singing in that ramshackle outfit actually had the ability to stay on pitch.) Meanwhile, mainstream radio has thus far been inexplicably slow to hop aboard the Dragons bandwagon, but seeing as how their pounding, frisky lead single (love that mandolin!) just got the Glee treatment (via a wobbly rendition from the usually impeccable Darren Criss in last week’s season premiere), one would think it’s only a matter of, uh, time. (Isn’t it?)