4 Song Surprises: Stu Larsen, Tennis Courts, Valenzuela, and Advocaat


I love when artists do something that surprises me. There are all kinds of surprises. This month the song surprises have to do with new sounds, old stories, and the willingness to put yourself out there and ask someone to listen to your music.


Stu Larsen – Part Time Lover

Talk about new sound! This poppy production is from the ultimate singer-songwriter dude with an acoustic guitar, Australian Stu Larsen. This is such a delightful tune. I’m feeling Jack Johnson or Jason Mraz here. I usually listen to Larson for melodic emotional laid-back songs packed with great lyrics (check out the striped down version of “Wide Awake & Dreaming”). This song just shows off more of Larsen’s undeniable talent.


Tennis Courts – To Feel Young

I really love the Tennis Courts. The Charleston based band released an EP in 2021, Best Regards, with great post-punk tunes like “OK” and “Red Wine.” The EP had other tunes that were more main stream rock, but it was these post-punk songs that stuck with and remain on my playlists. So, when the band recently released the single “To Feel Young,” a brilliant pop/commercial rock song, it was quite a surprise. I didn’t think I could like the band anymore. But I do. The production value, the vocals, and the buildup of sound works so well. People need to hear this band. Share their music with someone.


Valenzuela – What I Know Now

Texas based indie artist Stephen Valenzuela is the type of artist that writes his life. I’ve been fortunate enough to be in the room as he shared stories of his personal journey. He’s the type of person that can smile as he looks back on life’s challenges. He’s not shy about sharing these stories with younger artist who may face some of the same obstacles in their future. To hear elements of those stories reified in his new song “What I Know Now” was a beautiful surprise. I’m a bit partial to the father of daughters element as well. His new album, The Lucky One, is a country album through and through. This seems to be a direction he has been moving towards for quite a while. There are several gems on this album. Check it out.


Advocaat – Caffeine

Southeastern Pennsylvania band Advocaat has positioned themselves as a punk band. The truth is the band’s EP Dark Patterns has a few rock sub-genres working. My favorite tune, “Caffeine,” is too complex to be punk. The song also has the charm of a 2nd Wave British Invasion tune. So, what is the surprise? The surprise is this is another band that sent its music to me through social media. As I’ve said in the past, I will listen to everything sent my way. I try to send back a quick note to the band as well. But honestly most of the music just doesn’t click. This song clicked! Great tune, great vibe. Go give “Caffeine” a listen.

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