"Go (Blank Sea)" - Zola Jesus
Nika Roza Danilova continues her foray into her poppiest work yet, with “Go (Blank Sea)” continuing on the path blazed by “Dangerous Days.” The progression is a natural one, but, as remarked on by numerous other blogs, never before has it been so evident.
Danilova clearly has the pipes for it. We’re just used to slapping a “goth pop queen”-type label on her. Clearly we should’ve read more into that Rihanna cover from a few years ago.
Scrapping the snark, this is magnificent. With the electronics scaled back so they’re no longer crashing down around us (perhaps like an, ahem, "avalanche”), Danilova’s rich, probably omnipotent voice booms out unimpeded. The ever-present operatic scope still marks it and has, if anything, been broadened, creating a brilliant space to explore.
Additionally, the music of Zola Jesus is so perfectly paired with the recent white spaces of her album and single covers. It’s white in the classic sense, an absence of color underlining what spots of color there are. It’s a gorgeous union.
"Go (Blank Sea)" is the second single off Taiga, which is due from Danilova’s new home Mute on October 7. Preorder it through Amazon. Would that her tour had more American dates - see all of them below.
"Tiger Tempo" - Arms and Sleepers
This new song, ”Tiger Tempo,” has a tinge of the exotic to it. Taking the tiger imagery much to far, it’s a sound of sauntering through lush underbrush, a few especially beautiful moments empty save for mind-expanding positivity.
In that way, it shares much with it’s predecessor. They’re all things bright and beautiful, a step outside of life to appreciate the good and joyous. Swim Team is out October 28 from Fake Chapter, and looks to be an array of brightness in what will be, for many, the onset of winter’s doldrums.
- Tyler Hanan
"Call Across Rooms" - Grouper
Bless the cosmos: there’s a new Grouper record arriving this Halloween. Vogue recently shared the above track from Ruins, the new record Liz Harris recorded entirely on a 4-track Sony microphone and an upright piano, according to Pitchfork. Last year Harris released another, eerily similar, bare-bones track titled “Living Room,” which echoes the pacing and mood of “Call Across Rooms.” The former is one of Grouper’s strongest songs, so an entire album’s worth of similar material is promising.
Pre-order Ruins via Kranky.
- Kyle Minton
Mark Kozelek is not an asshole. I wasn’t at King’s Barcade when Kozelek performed as Sun Kil Moon, called his crowd hillbillies and told them to shut the fuck up, but I didn’t need to be there to know the reality of the situation. There was plenty of chatting at the Contemporary Art Museum (CAM) of Raleigh, the venue I stuck around the entirety of the festival for. Even if you’ve never attended a music festival, there’s a great chance that you know how difficult it is to keep a crowd focused on the artist, or at least get them to not try to hold a conversation at a decibel level higher than the speakers. Any attempt to erase all distractions in the age of during a show is a herculean task, and Kozelek’s type of outburst certainly sounds severe, but going to great lengths to criticize or applaud Kozelek for his actions misses a better and more sensible talk about unhappy, distracted patrons at a show.
"Swim Team" - Arms and Sleepers
Lilting and cool, the peppy ambiance of Arms and Sleepers is one of the most relaxing sounds nestled in my overflowing inbox. The trip-hop track has an active serenity, washing in over our feet, our knees, our hips with the lightest, coolest touch.
"Swim Team" has all the aqueous amour that once lured me in to the work of Balam Acab years ago. There, I felt I was diving into a deeply submerged cavern, one empty save for water and dank stone. Here, I’m on the beach, taking in the sunset and surrounded by life. It is peace - perfect peace. This song is impeccably put together to bring out every bit of shimmering beauty and radiant positivity.
The album of the same name will be out October 28 from Fake Chapter Records.
- Tyler Hanan
"Hatchets" - Devereaux
Like seductive suspense given a retro strut, “Hatchets” is the sound of winding your way through a packed club at peak mania. It isn’t the sound of partying - its the sound of being surrounded by the party. There’s the tiniest bit of distance, of separation. I wouldn’t say its sinister, but there are seeds of unease strewn throughout.
Pineapple Flex will be out in two short weeks on September 23 from Post-Echo.
- Tyler Hanan
"sebastopol." - The Mineral Girls
Look, Mineral Girls, I’ve been hurt before. Sure, “sebastopol” reeks of the lo-fi, embarrassingly honest emo Bandcamp material I’ve heard of and loved before, but how genuine are they? Two boys from Charlotte, North Carolina singing about the insecurities of present in adolescent romance doesn’t seem like it’d sound triumphant, but “sebastopol.” pushes The Mineral Girls to sound almost hopeful in their romantic pleading.
Sure, they’re appropriately sloppy and frank with their declarations, but there’s no denying they can be cheeky, too. “im sorry it has to be this way, but we have to put an end to all of this mindless spending,” their first song on their 2014 record something forever, suggests that Jesus forewent saving lives to rob banks, so there’s always the possibility they’re poking fun at people who get off on these sad songs. The people singing along may not be in on the joke, but at least The Mineral Girls sound great while they play us all.
- Kyle Minton
"Psykick Espionage" - Joanna Gruesome
A sensible split between Joanna Gruesome and Perfect Pussy has been announced, due out in the fall from Captured Tracks, Slumberland, and Fortuna Pop (Joanna Gruesome also has a split with Trustfund available). Though I’m not sure how many new fans the release will bring to either band - both are lo-fi punk bands that became buzzy in similar circles around the same time - this will definitely delight those who are already fans. I’m delighted, so I can’t rightly do anything but endorse it.
Even more fun is the 24-page comic book to be released with the split. It is written by both band’s and illustrated by MAD contributor Phil McAndrew, and the comic will, according to McAndrew, lampoon “classic super hero comics” while still being “weird and silly.” We get a piece of that with the cover, in which a woman is beset by
Rush Limbaughs mutant Republicans. It definitely looks fun and silly, and will doubtlessly delight the demo (which, again, includes us). If bands releasing comic books becomes more and more of a thing, I’ll gladly continue throwing money at it.
Back to the split, it will feature an original and a cover from both bands. Above is Joanna Gruesome’s throwback original track, all forward momentum and flailing limbs, and you can hear Perfect Pussy’s Sugarcubes cover here. Find this all at a show (after the jump with the tracklist) or in stores in the fall.
- Tyler Hanan
"Knees On The Ground" - clipping.
Clipping. has released a new track, a timely track, and gone into great depth introducing it. William Hutson hits on a number of topics: what clipping. is, what the group’s aims are, how Ferguson affected this work, and how this track fits into the greater narrative.
The paragraphs are packed with interesting and relevant bits of information, and it seems a disservice to pluck out quotes. Again, go read it. The generally apolitical clipping. went to the studio to make a “club” track. Upon finding they were too down and distracted by the news coming out of Ferguson, they made the jarring “Knees On The Ground” instead.
The two quotes I will include, pulled from important context, are an introduction to the track and a conclusion to Hutson’s write-up. If you don’t click the link, you’ll at least have these:
“Knees On The Ground” is a paradigmatic white-cop-kills-an-unarmed-black-kid-and-gets-away-with-it tale — a story that happens all the fucking time in the US.
See: “Ferguson.” Again, timely - though not gladly so.
This is the least obtuse Diggs’s lyrics will ever get. We’re embarrassed by the timeliness of this track. We do not intend to capitalize on what is, undoubtedly, a terrible tragedy. But journalists make think-pieces and we make songs. Writers write what they know, and this is what we know right fucking now.
In that sense, this song itself isn’t “important.” It’s perspective is, though, as it is explicitly fueled by a real life experience (“in Oakland in 2009”). That’s a far more vital bit of context than the fact that clipping. already released one of the best albums of the years with CLPPNG, but that latter fact helped get my attention. This isn’t the place for addressing the monstrous reality addressed by “Knees On The Ground” - I’ve done so in another space - but it is one where we can nod to it. Writers write what they know. I know the words of clipping. on this subject are more worthy of note than those of many.
- Tyler Hanan
"U-Huh" - Tkay Maidza
Charli XCX, M.I.A., Santigold, & maybe early Neneh Cherry. Comparisons are tossed around these days but it’s a top 40 hit SOMEWHERE. Screams in background on ecstasy, synth in the foreground exploding, and an Australian rapper with actual charisma? Give it up.