Arthur Russell, "You Did It Yourself"


Arthur Russell"You Did It Yourself"Iowa Dream (out 11.15 on Audika)There's something very fitting about a new project of recordings by the late, great Arthur Russell dropping 6 weeks before the end of the decade. In many ways, the multi-instrumentalist's sound feels at home along the wildly experimental, genre-fluid music Read more

Images & Words: The 1975, "People"


The 1975"People"Notes on a Conditional Form (out 02.22.20 on Dirty Hit)The Used, Head Automatica/Glassjaw, Primal Scream, Marilyn Manson, Blur, The Refused. And that's only six of the roughly 600 random bands that the new 1975 track brings to mind. And somehow, just like mother-fucking always, they pull it off. Read more

Caroline Polachek, "Ocean of Tears" & "Parachute"


Caroline Polachek"Ocean of Tears" / "Parachute"Pang (out this fall on Columbia)Ok, now I'm getting really excited about the ex-Chairlift vocalist/composer's first album under her real name. Following up on her wonderful first single "Door," these two new tracks highlight Polachek's spellbinding voice and evocative, powerful songwriting. Though you can Read more

The Round-Up: The Best Albums of the 2nd Quarter


Ana Roxanne~~~Leaving RecordsThe Oakland bedroom artist’s debut project is a staggering slice of ambient music that pulls subtly from the R&B and pop vocalists that she grew up on. Her voice sounds far away but pulls you in close (think: Grouper’s “Ruin”) and is ready to tell you its Read more

The Round-Up: The Best Songs of 2019, So Far (Honorable Mention)


As promised, here is the rest of my favorite tracks of the year that didn't quite make the cut for my main list. Songs are in no particular order. Chromatics “Time Rider”bahahahahah (Italians Do It Better) “Dear Tommy” is obviously never coming out. But I did get to hear this Read more

Columns

Lucy Dacus, “Forever Half Mast”

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Lucy Dacus
“Forever Half Mast”
Digital Single (Matador)
The Virginia native is such a sharp songwriter, and her new 4th of July single beautifully considers what it’s like to live in a country that you kind of love but just won’t stop letting you down. “Yes you’re evil, but you’re not that bad,” Dacus muses over wistful pedal steel and strummed acoustic guitars. Unsurprisingly, the clear skies don’t last long, giving way to chunky layers of distorted guitars and pounding drums, which mirror the chaos and disorder that accompanies every element of modern American life.

Laura Stevenson, “Jesus Etc.”

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Laura Stevenson
“Jesus Etc.”
All God’s Money, A Tribute to Wilco’s Yankee Hotel Foxtrot (out 07.10 on Better Yet)

I’m not a huge Wilco guy and rarely write about covers, but Laura Stevenson’s stripped back take on one of Jeff Tweedy’s best ever songs is just too gorgeous not to write about. Over descending acoustic guitars, Stevenson lays down a wonderful pedal steel line which elevates the original’s simple, yet potent melody and touching lyrics. Fuck, this is pretty.

Caroline Polachek, “Door”

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Caroline Polachek
“Door”
Digital Single

The former Chairlift frontperson’s music just gets better and better. “Door,” the first track released under her name, is a expansive rumination on the way our reality shifts as we move into different spaces. Her voice is warm and confident, knitting together the swelling instrumentation and keeping things on track. Though we still don’t have any details, this is meant to be the first single from an upcoming solo project, and I cannot wait to hear it.

Julien Baker, “Red Door” & “Conversation Piece”

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Julien Baker
“Red Door” & “Conversation Piece”
Red Door / Conversation Piece (out now on Matador)

Julien Baker is back, and she’s here for your fucking soul. Few artists are capable of welding anything like the emotional heft that the 23 year-old so consistently delivers, and these two new tracks are as potent as they come. She has a wonderful way of crafting songs that begin stark and lonely before exploding into bold, life-affirming color.

Burial, “State Forest”

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Burial
“State Forest”
Claustro / State Forest ’12 (out now on Hyperdub)

Even by Burial’s standards, his new b-side single is a murky, foggy affair. A forlorn drone pops its head above dense layers of sonic mist and the distant crackle of fire. There’s no percussion and total darkness all around you, leaving the listener no choice but to hunker down and brace yourself for whatever comes next.

Jefre Cantu-Ledesma: “Joy”

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Jefre Cantu-Ledesma
“Joy”
Tracing Back The Radiance (out 07.12 on Kemado/Mexican Summer)

Rejoice, a new JCL project this way comes! Today, the Brooklyn-based iconoclast announced a new album and delivered its first single — the sparse, forlorn, probably sarcastically-titled, “Joy.” A wandering horn meanders through a softly undulating vast tide of synths that could easily soundtrack either slipping into a warm bath or getting lost at sea. Haunting and comforting all at once.

Jai Paul, “Do You Love Her Now” / “He”

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Jai Paul
“Do You Love Her Now” / “He”
Do You Love Her Now / Her (out now on XL)

Aside from the music, the best part about the ultra-illusive Londoner’s return this week is the collective reminder that he was just as far ahead of his time as he seemed back when he first surfaced in 2011. Neither of these songs are even really new — both are b-sides from the famously leaked debut that never came out — but they sound hyper-futuristic even seven years on from when they were originally conceived.

“Do You Love Her Now” is warm and luxurious with its velvety jazz chords and Paul’s sweet, swooning falsetto. “He,” on the other hand, is frigid — all sharp edges and clean lines — with rolling palm-muted guitars and a chunky industrial thump. That said, they’re connected by their auteur’s songwriting touch and his evocative voice. It’s hard not to feel that we’re listening to a genius at work. Hopefully, this isn’t all we get from him, but when the tunes are this good, I’ll take whatever I can get.

The National: “Hairpin Turns”

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The National
“Hairpin Turns”
I Am Easy to Find (out 05.18 on 4AD)
My god, the Brooklyn mainstays have been on a hot streak in the last few years. Just two years since their excellent return to form, “Sleep Well Beast,” the brooding brownstoners are back with what looks set to be another compelling project. “Hairpin Turns” poetically picks through the bones of a relationship on the brink, dissecting the fear and confusion that comes with a turbulent present and an uncertain future.

Images & Words: Cat Power, “Horizon”

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Cat Power
“Horizon”
Wanderer (out now on Domino)

One of the standouts from Chan Marshall’s 2018 return to form, “Wanderer,” gets deeply personal, stirring visuals. Beside the touching familial lyrics and the delicate, cyclical melody, the really magic of “Horizon” is in the way Marshall harmonizes with various forms of her own voice. The layers are subtle, yet majestic and build a sense of community, even in a solitary performance.

Big Thief, “Open Desert”

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Big Thief
Open Desert”
U.F.O.F. (out now on 4AD)

The subtly sublime centerpiece of the Brooklyn quartet’s wonderful third LP features some of the most beautiful guitar playing this side of prime Mark Kozelek. Over a carefully arpeggiated, open-stringed melody, vocalist Adrianne Lenker paints beautifully impressionistic lyrics. Though she’s often been known for her unflinching, emotionally direct lyrics, “Open Desert” finds her wandering across a vast open plane and uncovering a lot more questions than answers.