"Meeker Warm Energy" - Lone
Matt Cutler, the human being behind the sounds of Lone, doesn’t make science-fiction movies. At least, he hasn’t told us about any. If he did, the titles would be magnificent. Reality Testing is Cutler’s follow-up to 2012’s excellent Galaxy Garden, and the two both sound as though they’re begging for film adaptations on the level of 2001.
If you’ve spent some time away from Galaxy Garden, then Reality Testing might strike you as more of the (fantastic) material you heard two years ago. Don’t be fooled—Cutler is consistent, but not repetitious. Reality Testing fills out the holes and tinny corners of Garden and crafts robust, hip-hop bent beats that go for miles upon miles upon miles. “Meeker Warm Energy,” like much of Reality Testing, feels as though it goes on for much longer than it actually does. In Lone’s case, this is a positive sensation. The cosmic black of “Meeker” isn’t boring or threatening. There’s calm in the idea of drifting forever, and Cutler has a pretty good grasp on that.
Lone’s Reality Testing came out on June 16, 2014. Buy it here.
- Kyle Minton
"Afraid of Nothing" - Sharon Van Etten
Etten has a voice that never sits still, so her third LP, Are We There, makes a lot of sense as a travel record. It perfectly aligns with neighborhood strolls and the occasional night of highway speeding. You can lie down and enjoy Etten’s songwriting, but you can best relish her songs with a destination and journey in mind.
"Afraid of Nothing" isn’t the immediate pick from Are We There. It lacks the grandeur of “Your Love is Killing Me” and the complicated shadows of “Taking Chances.” Instead, Etten begins the record with a simple request on the song: “I need you to be afraid of nothing.” Music blogs (inadvertently) encourage a lot of indoor listening when we post, but Etten requests the courage of the listener to travel somewhere new, somewhere terrifying. We can talk up the song’s elegant build, or it being a prime example of Etten’s continued evolution as a powerful vocalist, but the core message is worth taking out into the world: get out, without fear or trepidation of what lies ahead.
Sharon Van Etten’s Are We There came out on May, 27, 2014. Purchase it here.
- Kyle Minton
"Don’t Make Me Over" [Dionne Warwick cover] - Julia Holter
A live version of “Don’t Make Me Over” appeared on Holter’s 2010 Engraved Glass release Celebration; this studio version sounds like it could have been recorded in the same sessions as Loud City Song. Nite Jewel sang backup vocals on the cover, and Cole M.G.N. produced it.
The final product is quite delightful, so much so that it even overshadows the eloquent “Hello Stranger” a little bit.
Domino will also be reissuing Tragedy once more on August 19, with this rerelease being a North American one.
- Tyler Hanan
"Hold Tight" - Sinkane
Presented without comment.
"Serious Business" - United Nations
United Nations is still a thing, which is amusing in itself. The fact that they’re reemerging the relative “biggest” they’ve ever been is beyond fascinating. I remember buying Never Mind the Bombings, Here’s Your Six Figures years ago and reading the brief diatribe about how the real UN made the new UN take down their website, or some such thing.
I never quite knew how seriously to take the band behind the presidential masks. They were another one of those bands always somewhere between thought-provoking and trolling, both more and less overt about it. That seems to hold to this day. You can’t call a song “Serious Business” without people seriously questioning just how serious you are. And really, I hope “Serious Business” as a title is a joke - otherwise it’d be way too… well, self-serious.
The band’s membership has always been something of an open secret, regadless of whether it was Glassjaw or Pianos Become the Teeth members who permeated it. They return now with the latter, along with an album called The Next Four Years that’s due July 15 from Temporary Residence Ltd. Judging by TRL’s description, the “Serious Business” title isn’t wholly in jest, what with phrases like ‘a furious homage to the pioneers of punk, and a scorching critique on the current state of “punk.”’ The mystique fades. The enigma emerges from its beloved shadows.
My own jesting aside, the song is fittingly ferocious and earns a fair amount of that smugness. That moment at 2:05 - mmhmm. I’ll certainly be listening, even as I make silent, smug asides of my own.
- Tyler Hanan
Pineapple Flex promo trailer - Devereaux
It’s a good clip. The specific color scheme, the height difference, the tension between nerves and seduction… the pineapple… it’s fun. The music, catchy and playful, quite ably pulls the trailer. I’m left intrigued as to whether all of Pineapple Flex will follow suit. If it does, I’m certainly down for another serving.
There’s even a good fashion pro-tip. It’s too bad about young Sims, though. He just wanted to enjoy his pineapple.
- Tyler Hanan
"Solo Dancing" - Indiana
There’s a vicious disconnect between US and UK music circles. Indiana, for instance, has already had two hits on the British and Irish charts, with no marketing campaign or even release date in America. I’d be interested to know the label’s promotion strategy considering how the internet is such a huge tool in pushing an artist into the spotlight.
So here’s “Solo Dancing,” an Ellie Goulding/Robyn/Gaga/Italo-Disco cut from a Nottingham based debut artist; hopefully, about to make a breakthrough.
No Romeo is out August 14th (UK) on Sony
Review: Kyle Minton
Change is frightening. Wye Oak’s latest record, Shriek, isn’t a snapshot of a metamorphosis—the album is well developed and well on the other side of Wye Oak’s changing shape. There’s a finality and crisp across each song that speaks to the gravity of the changes made to the duo’s sound. The guitars are gone, but in their place is a deluge of synth and a better showcase for Jenn Wasner’s improved vocal range.
"Rekindle" - Brave Bird
Brave Bird, hailing from my home state, is one of the most intriguing groups on Count Your Lucky Stars - a structurally elusive bunch that feel just a tad bit unpredictable. Basement emo bands aren’t often the place to look for differentiation, but Brave Bird have some of that head-cocking perplexity in just how they jangle.
We’ve now been given “Rekindle,” a song measured in its musings, to pair with the more rousing, A.V. Club-debuted “T-Minus Grand Gesture.” Both come of T-Minus Grand Gesture, a 10” following up 2013’s Maybe You, No One Else Worth It.
- Tyler Hanan
"Sun Glass" - Fucked Up
"Sun Glass" is, like just about every Fucked Up song, so very, very much a Fucked Up song. Even as the band has evolved from its hardcore roots, each new thing has delivered paired shots of thrilling adrenaline and a refreshing nostalgia. It cleanses even as it fills.
Soft guitar intro with just a hint of feedback open. Damian Abraham busts through like the Kool-Aid man (except more svelte!). An anticipatory bridge, a pause like a roller coaster car pausing atop a crest and kissed by sun, teases the horizon-chasing ending with its gang vocals. Really, the only twist that caught me was the calm, almost fade-out of an ending, which might be more a function of construction of album than that of song.
It’s all familiar, and it’s all fantastic. I’m not sure how the whole of Glass Boys, out June 3 on Matador, will follow-up the monumental David Comes To Life - could it possibly be bigger in any way? - but I’m eager to find out.
Also cool - I always, without fail and without shame, refer to Fucked Up’s anthemic rock as sun-kissed, sun-glazed, bathed in rays, and so forth. Andy Capper (and also Fucked Up’s own Mike Haliechuk) get it. There is so much sun and light and joy in this video, with a ferocious bearded man writhing in the sun-soaked (see?!) glory - it’s like they filmed the music itself, somehow getting past its actual waves.
- Tyler Hanan