Sunday, May 24, 2020

New Music Friday - May 15, 2020

Be sure to view a list of upcoming releases here!

Essential Full-Length Releases

ALMA - Have U Seen Her?

This is the debut album from this Finnish singer who started her career on the country's version of Idol, where she finished fifth. She spent the past couple of years working with fellow Nords MØ and Tove Lo, as well as Charli XCX and Miley Cyrus.

Watch: "Have U Seen Her?"
Watch: "LA Money"

The Magnetic Fields - Quickies

This new album from The Magnetic Fields follows 2017's 50 Song Memoir. Their albums usually have some interesting concept to them, and this is no different. As the title suggests, the album is made up of super-short songs, none longer than two minutes 35 seconds.

Watch: "Kraftwerk in a Blackout"
Watch: "I’ve Got a Date with Jesus"

Moses Sumney - græ

This seems to be the year of releasing albums in pieces. Hayley Williams released half of her debut album several months before the full release, and Moses Sumney has done something similar for his follow up to 2017's Aromanticism. The first half of græ was released February. Now, we get the full release of the beautiful new record.

Watch: "and so I come to isolation"
Watch: "Bystanders"

Perfume Genius - Set My Heart on Fire Immediately

Perfume Genius has steadily released one incredible album after another. His latest may be his best, receiving the highest average ratings for his career. Inspiration for the album came out of Mike Hadreas' 2019 dance collaboration with Kate Wallich.

Watch: "Describe"
Watch: "On the Floor"

Thao & The Get Down Stay Down - Temple

To introduce their fifth album, Thao & The Get Down Stay Down set the standard for great quarantine music videos. I know that I've mentioned the "Phenom" video before, but it is just such a great show of creativity in our new reality. 

Watch: "Temple"
Watch: "Phenom"

Other Full-Length Releases

Charli XCX - How I’m Feeling Now

Watch: "Forever"
Watch: "anthems"

The Dears - Lovers Rock

Watch: "The Worst in Us"
Watch: "Heart of an Animal"

Future - High Off Life

Watch: "Hard to Choose One"
Listen: "Solitaires" (featuring Travis Scott)

Jess Williamson - Sorceress

Watch: "Wind on Tin"
Watch: "Infinite Scroll"

Kaitlyn Aurelia Smith - The Music of Transformation

Watch: "The Steady Heart"
Watch: "Expanding Electricity"

Memory Pearl - Music for 7 Paintings

Watch: "Number 28, 1950"
Watch: "Red and Brown Scene, 1961"

The Neverly Boys - Dark Side of Everything

Watch: "Never Come Down"
Listen: "Burn Hollywood"


Watch: "QADIR"
Listen: "WTMMG"

Peaking Lights - E S C A P  E

Listen: "EVP (DKMNTL081)"
Listen: "The Damned"

Porcelain Raft - Come Rain

Watch: "Come Rain"
Watch: "Out of Time"

Public Practice - Gentle Grip

Watch: "Compromised"
Watch: "Disposable"

Retirement Party - Runaway Dog

Watch: "Runaway Dog"
Watch: "Compensation"

Sparks - A Steady Drip, Drip, Drip

Watch: "Self-Effacing"
Watch: "Lawnmower"

Singles, EPs, Soundtracks, etc.

Becoming - Music from the Netflix Original Documentary

Brain - The World EP

Listen: "Boss"

Charlie Cunningham - Pieces

Listen: "All This"
Listen: "Pieces"

Henry Jamison - Tourism

Watch: "Still Life" (featuring Joseph)
Listen: "Tourism" (featuring Fenne Lily)

Parsnip - Adding Up

Watch: "Treacle Toffee World"
Listen: "Adding Up"

Sleaford Mods - All That Glue

Watch: "Second"
Listen: "Reef of Grief"

Saturday, May 16, 2020

New Music Friday - May 8, 2020

Be sure to view a list of upcoming releases here!

Essential Full-Length Releases

Buscabulla - Regresa

This duo of indie pop troublemakers (Buscabulla is Spanish slang for the term) hail from Puerto Rico. They were based in New York, but returned to Puerto Rico following the hurricanes of 2017. Regresa is their debut album.

Watch: "NTE"
Watch: "Nydia"

Eve Owen - Don’t Let the Ink Dry

Don't Let the Ink Dry may be Eve Owen's debut album, but she's already had an impressive run in her career. She worked with The National, providing vocals on "Where Is Her Head." Aaron Dessner, a guitarist for the band, produced this debut in turn.

Watch: "So Still for You"
Watch: "Blue Moon"

Hayley Williams - PETALS FOR ARMOR

I wouldn't consider myself much of a fan of Paramore, so when frontwoman Hayley Williams initially announced her solo debut, I didn't really pay attention. Then, I heard some tracks from the album. They are quite a departure from her work in her band, and incredible. I think I may be a convert!

Watch: "Leave It Alone"
Watch: "Cinnamon"

Kehlani - It Was Good Until It Wasn’t

This is the second album from the California singer, following her 2017 debut, SweetSexySavage, though it also follows a mixtape released last year. The new record features Lucky Daye, Jhené Aiko, and hip hop's favorite indie artist, James Blake.

Watch: "Everybody Business"
Watch: "Toxic"

Melenas - Dias Raros

Melenas' sophomore album is a bit of a sonic departure from their 2017 eponymous debut, and also sees them moving to a new label. They started their careers with a punkier sound. They incorporate more of a pop aesthetic for their first album with Trouble in Mind Records.

Watch: "3 segundos"
Listen: "Despertar"
Other Full-Length Releases

Blake Mills - Mutable Set

Watch: "Vanishing Twin"
Watch: "Summer All Over"

I Break Horses - Warnings

Watch: "Death Engine"
Watch: "I’ll Be the Death of You"

Lamb of God - Lamb of God

Watch: "Checkmate"
Watch: "Memento Mori"

Mark Lanegan - Straight Songs of Sorrow

Listen: "Bleed All Over"
Listen: "Skeleton Key"

NAV - Good Intentions

Watch: "No Debate" (featuring Young Thug)
Watch: "Good Intentions (Intro)"

Singles, EPs, Soundtracks, etc.

The Eddy (From the Netflix Original Series)

Watch: St. Vincent - "The Eddy"
Watch: Jorja Smith - "Kiss Me in the Morning"

Everything but the Girl - Temperamental Reissue

Watch: "Temperamental"
Listen: "No Difference"

Ric Wilson & Terrace Martin - They Call Me Disco

Watch: "Move Like This"
Listen: "Chicago Bae" (featuring BJ the Chicago Kid)

Zola Jesus - Live at Roadburn 2018

Listen: "Soak"
Listen: "Veka"

Saturday, May 9, 2020

My Favorite Things of the Week

Oscar-winning director Damian Chazelle is making a move towards television glory with a new Netflix show, The Eddy. He is not, however, moving away from jazz. The show, like his most recent film, La La Land, centers on jazz musicians. The show came bundled with a new soundtrack with tracks by St. Vincent and Jorja Smith. Both the show and album are available to stream now.

If the show gets renewed for additional seasons, and those seasons get their own soundtracks, be sure to check them out on my Upcoming Releases page!

Kacey Musgraves is amazing, and Mountain Man is amazing. So it stands to reason that the two combined would be amazing. Mountain Man has been on a covers kick lately and their latest is a cover of a track from Musgraves' incredible Golden Hour. They put their own folk twist on "Slow Burn."

Folk-ish band Woods has long been a favorite band of mine, and recently announced a new album, Strange to Explain. They released a new song from the album last week, "Can't Get Out."

Dirty Projectors released an amazing one-two punch of new records in 2017 and 2018. They are embarking on another spate of new releases, this time in EP form. They released Windows Open earlier this year and announced another new EP, Flight Tower, this week. That EP is set for release on June 26.

Also announced this week:

Bibio - Sleep on the Wing (June 12)
Blitzen Trapper - Holy Smokes Future Jokes (September 11)
Bob Dylan - Rough and Rowdy Ways (June 19)
Fontaines D.C. - A Hero’s Death (July 31)
Lady Gaga - Chromatica (May 29)
Lianne La Havas - Lianne La Havas (July 17)
No Joy - Motherhood (August 21)

My Favorite Things of the Week

SXSW 2020 was, unsurprisingly, canceled, but many of the films that would have been screened are making their way online. For a few more days, some features, pilots, documentaries, and shorts will be available to stream for free on Amazon. Another documentary, Have a Good Trp: Adventures in Psychedelics, will arrive on Netflix next week. The documentary features interviews with a number of celebrities, including A$AP Rocky, Kathleen Hanna, and Ad-Rock, about their experiences with psychedelic drugs.

Such an eclectic group of musicians is involved in the documentary that it could lead to a great soundtrack. If that happens, check it out on my Upcoming Releases page!

Before he passed earlier this year, producer Hal Willner curated AngelHeaded Hipster, a tribute album to the late Marc Bolan of T. Rex. The album includes covers from Elton John, Devendra Banhart, and Father John Misty, among many others. A spectacular cover of T. Rex's "Cosmic Dancer" from Nick Cave was released this past week!

Faye Webster is an artist I've slept on to my own detriment. She released an album last year, Atlanta Millionaire's Club. It made numerous year-end lists and also was recommended to me by some good friends with the same music obsession that I have. She recently released another amazing song and video, "In a Good Way."

HAIM initially announced their third album, Women in Music Pt. III, back in March, but the release of the record was put on indefinite hold after COVID hit. They recently announced a new release date of June 26 for the album. They have previously released "Summer Girl," "Now I'm In It," "Hallelujah," and "The Steps." Along with the new date announcement, they released another single from the album, "I Know Alone."

Also announced this week:

AngelHeaded Hipster (September 4)
Brian Wilson and Van Dyke Parks - Orange Crate Art Reissue (June 19)
Brigid Dawson & Mothers Network - Battle of Apes (May 22)
Darkstar - Civic Jams (June 19)
Deerhoof - Surprise Symphonies (out now)
Drake - The Dark Lane Demo Tapes (out now)
Flying Lotus - Flamagra (Instrumentals) (May 29)
Gia Margaret - Mia Gargaret (June 12)
Jessy Lanza - All the Time (July 24)
Khruangbin - Mordechai (June 26)
NAV - Good Intentions (May 8)
Sylvan Esso - WITH (out now)
Yo La Tengo - Electr-o-pura Deluxe Reissue (September 4)
Zola Jesus - Live at Roadburn 2018 (May 8)

Saturday, May 2, 2020

My Favorite Things of the Week

The future of live music seems uncertain right now. While numerous tours and festivals are being canceled or postponed and we're dealing with massive companies refusing to refund tickets already purchased, a new type of live concert seems to be emerging, the video game concert. Travis Scott recently performed on Fortnite, and Massive Attack, HEALTH, and Pussy Riot are set for the Block by Blockwest virtual concert sponsored by Minecraft in May.

There are a lot of artists still planning album releases for this year, we'll have to keep an eye out whether any more of them opt for the virtual model for promoting the records.

Self-isolation has continued to be a boon for new covers performed from the comfort of the artists' homes, including more home shows from Ben Gibbard, an entire Nirvana tribute concert from Post Malone, and a variety of karaoke-style covers from Rosalía. My favorite recently came from Bedouine, who covered an artist that I was previously unfamiliar with. The folk artist posted a cover of "The Hum," from Margo Guryan.

Self-isolation has also meant that a lot of new music videos are being filmed and produced by artists at home. There have been quite a few duds, including the video for a John Legend and Kane Brown collaboration, but one recent really stood out for its creative use of web-conferencing software. Thao & The Get Down Stay Down's "Phenom" takes advantage of the grid-view of Zoom to present a cohesive choreographed product.

It's not a brand new song, but Deerhoof's latest single has stuck around in my head since it was released a couple of weeks ago. I've listened to Deerhoof for a number of years, but can sometimes find their music hard to really get into. Occasionally, they make a song that finds the perfect balance of their experimental music and a pop groove. "Future Teenage Cave Artists," from their upcoming album of the same name (out May 29), is just that song!

And finally, here are some albums announced over the past week that I'm looking forward to!

Absolutely Free - Two Cares Due None (April 29)
Brain - The World EP (May 15)
Esther Rose - My Favorite Mistakes (May 29)
GUM - Go Out in the World (June 12)
Kali Uchis - To Feel Alive (out now)
Kehlani - It Was Good Until It Wasn’t (May 8)
Sam Prekop - Comma (July 10)
Thomas Wesley Pentz - Diplo Presents Thomas Wesley Pentz Chapter 1: Snake Oil (May 29)

Sunday, April 5, 2020

My Favorite Things of the Week (Ending April 4, 2020)

I know it has been quite a while since I've really posted anything. I will admit that I find it difficult to focus on this, work, and leisure activities. I don't know if I'll ever be able to get back to the pace of posting from my early blogging days, but I will try to check in and post something new every once in a while.

I am maintaining my Upcoming Releases page, check it out here!

Self-isolation seems to have become a creativity boom for many artists, and has led to a large number of new covers. Ben Gibbard of Death Cab for Cutie has been posting frequent home concerts with dedicated covers sessions, and Ty Segall recorded an EP of Harry Nilsson covers. The stand-out for the past week, however, is a genre-bending cover of Nirvana's "Heart-Shaped Box" from Amber Mark.

Mavis Staples and Jeff Tweedy continued their musical partnership this week with a new song, "All in It Together." While available on streaming services, the track is also available for purchase. Proceeds of any purchases will go to My Block, My Hood, My City, which is a non-profit dedicated to helping seniors in Chicago deal with the current coronavirus pandemic. The track can be purchased here.

Fiona Apple has about a six-year album cycle. She released her last record, The Idler Wheel..., in 2012, so we have been a bit overdue for a follow-up. That record is easily one of my favorites from the past decade, and I was overjoyed when she announced Fetch the Bolt Cutters. We don't have to wait long either, the album will be released on April 17!

Also announced this week:

Art Feynman - Half Price at 3:30 (June 26)
Disheveled Cuss - Disheveled Cuss (June 12)
Field Report - Brake Light Red Tide (April 28)
Guided By Voices - Alien Lanes Reissue (August 21)
Headie One and Fred again.. - GANG (out now)
John Carroll Kirby - Conflict (out now)
July Talk - Pray for It (July 10)
Kilo - Maybe We Could (July 17)
King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard - Chunky Shrapnel (April 17)
The Memories - Pickles & Pies (May 29)
Mountain Time - Music for Looking Animals (June 26)
The National - High Violet: 10th Anniversary Expanded Edition (June 19)
Rolling Blackouts Coastal Fever - Sideways to New Italy (June 5)
serpentwithfeet - Apparition (April 24)
Trickfinger - She Smiles Because She Presses the Button (June 3)

Saturday, February 15, 2020

My Favorite Albums of 2019

20. Anna Meredith - FIBS

Watch: "Sawbones"
Watch: "Inhale Exhale"
Watch: "Paramour"

19. James Blake - Assume Form

Watch: "I'll Come Too"
Watch: "Can’t Believe the Way We Flow"
Watch: "Barefoot in the Park" (featuring ROSALÍA)

18. Wand - Laughing Matter

Watch: "Scarecrow"
Watch: "Rio Grande"
Watch: "Walkie Talkie"

17. Lizzo - Cuz I Love You

Watch: "Cuz I Love You"
Watch: "Good as Hell"
Watch: "Tempo" (featuring Missy Elliott)

16. Sharon Van Etten - Remind Me Tomorrow

Watch: "Jupiter 4"
Watch: "No One’s Easy to Love"
Watch: "Seventeen"

15. The New Pornographers - In the Morse Code of Brake Lights

Watch: "Falling Down the Stairs of Your Smile"
Watch: "The Surprise Knock"

14. Priests - The Seduction of Kansas

Watch: "Good Time Charlie"
Watch: "Jesus’ Son"

13. Denzel Curry - ZUU

Watch: "RICKY"

12. Aldous Harding - Designer

Watch: "Zoo Eyes"
Watch: "The Barrel"

Watch: "Fixture Picture"

11. Deerhunter - Why Hasn’t Everything Already Disappeared?

Watch: "Timebends"
Watch: "Death in Midsummer"

10. Charly Bliss - Young Enough

The pop-punk of the 90s is probably one of my least favorite styles of music. I would not have thought that a throwback to that sound would become one of my favorites for the year, but Charly Bliss found a way to elevate the sound above what preceded it over two decades ago.

Watch: "Young Enough"
Watch: "Hard to Believe"
Watch: "Chatroom"

9. Angel Olsen - All Mirrors

I accidentally pre-ordered two copies of this album when it was announced last year. The strength of her music convinced a friend who had never heard her before to take the second copy. Angel Olsen's music has always had a cinematic quality to it, but she takes it to a new level with her fourth album.

Watch: "Lark"
Watch: "All Mirrors"

8. Vagabon - Vagabon

There's a gorgeous synth melody underscoring "Water Me Down." The earworm was the major element that drew me into Vagabon's second album. Of course, every moment of every track is great!

Watch: "Every Woman"
Watch: "Water Me Down"
Watch: "Flood"

7. FKA twigs - MAGDALENE

FKA twigs videos are just as important an element as the lyrics or music in telling the stories her songs convey. It's one way that she's able to express pain, both physical and emotional, in a way that seems almost sensual. Like with her debut, her sound is a mix of just about everything style out there, but this time through is a much more emotional journey.

Watch: "home with you"
Watch: "holy terrain" (featuring Future)
Watch: "cellophane"

6. Vampire Weekend - Father of the Bride

I was skeptical about the future of this band when it was announced that founding member Rostam Batmanglij would be leaving. The release of their fourth album removed those concerns. It the largest shift in their sound, certainly, but a number of well-used collaborations with the likes of HAIM and Steve Lacy, as well as Rostam's continued involvement (just not as a band member), make it an amazing listen.

Watch: "This Life"
Watch: "Sunflower" (featuring Steve Lacy)
Watch: "Harmony Hall"

5. Solange - When I Get Home

It still amazes me to think of the cultural forces that both of the Knowles sisters have become. Certainly, Beyoncé has the ear of the masses, but Solange has stood out with a more low-key sound. She produces a sound that evokes jazz while being rooted in old-school R&B, and has followed up one amazing record with another.

Watch: "Almeda"
Watch: "Binz"

4. Fontaines D.C. - Dogrel

There is little I love more than rock sung in a heavy accent, and this Dublin-based band definitely delivers on that. The stand-out track on their debut is its opener, "Big," a short-burst of a punk track with an aspirational feel.

Watch: "Sha Sha Sha"
Watch: "Roy’s Tune"
Watch: "Big"

3. Lana Del Rey - Norman Fucking Rockwell!

Over her past few albums, Lana Del Rey has easily disproven much of the skepticism that seemed to surround her early in her career. Her cover of Sublime's "Doin' Time" alone could be enough to position this album as one of my favorites, but excellent writing and an underscoring sense of California cool seal its position.

Watch: "Doin’ Time"
Watch: "Fuck It I Love You"/"The Greatest"
Watch: "Venice Bitch"

2. Brutus - Nest

An incredible live video for album track "War" initially drew me into this Belgium band. They have a kick-ass lead singer, who also serves as the band's drummer. While I don't use my car very often, this album was my go-to driving record through the first few months of the year.

Watch: "Cemetery"
Listen: "War"

1. Jamila Woods - LEGACY! LEGACY!

Jamila Woods came onto my radar as a guest vocalist on Chance The Rapper's "Sunday Candy." It wasn't long after that I began to notice her solo work, starting with her debut album, Heavn. With her sophomore record, she moves into a new level among my favorite artists, with a work that honors generations of black creators that came before.

Watch: "BALDWIN"
Watch: "ZORA"