"Feels Real" - R.L. Kelly
In these last few months, a difficult few months, the Angeltown tape has been plugged into the tape player of my beat-to-hell ‘92 Buick Centruy more often than not. This song is the primary reason for that. “Feels Real” has the same melodious lo-fi aesthetic and heartworm (that’s a thing, right?) quality of older indie recordings that I love. There’s something in the guitar, in its friendly pluckiness.
The main difference, of course, is this song is on the other end of the happiness spectrum. It’s simple melody and lyrics, relatable on a most basic human level, are absolutely captivating. Also, unlike many other songs in this underground pop community, it’s a little longer. The extra minute or two functions spectacularly in digging the song’s hook in even deeper.
The best songs are often the simplest ones. "Feels Real" never fails to make the listener feel better. Everything’s going to be okay. Everything feels real.
- Tyler Hanan // NSB Songs of 2013
"Pale Shelter" - Matthew Dear ft. Tegan and Sara (Tears for Fears cover)
When I think of Tears for Fears, I think of Pete Holmes’ “Pierce" bit. There’s no good reason for that, it’s merely a part of my being on this planet.
Lately, though, artists have been forcing me to consider Tears for Fears as a band again. This is probably a good thing for my standing in any music community, but it’s also a little sad.
You see, Tears for Fears covers seem to keep popping up. Today, co-founder Matthew Dear and newly superfamous sister duo Tegan and Sara. Chris Deville also makes mention of a Tears for Fears cover by Animal Collective, and I’ve seen a few others recently by somewhat notable names.
Anyways, the idea of Tegan and Sara covering 80’s pop songs is an instantly attractive one. It certainly worked out here. There should be albums full of these things, with the two collaborating with different producers and beat makers. Can they cover some Madonna? Is some Prince too much to ask?
This idea is flawless. I’m off to brainstorm my favorite pairings; in the meantime, check out Dear and the duos’ quotes regarding the collab on Stereogum.
- Tyler Hanan
"Satellites" - EMA
Erika M. Anderson, she of 2011’s surprise tastemaker favorite Past Life Martyred Saints and its fantastic album cover, released “Satellites” in the middle of last week.
Unveiled right in the middle of all this end of the year coverage, the imposing gothic tour de force is a giant flag planted in Mount 2014, a banner foretelling the coming of The Future’s Void in spring.
This song is sonically vicious and unrelenting, full of ominous, overarching choruses, screeching feedback, and desensitizing percussion, among other wonderful, less-than-cheery elements. Would that the entirety of The Future’s Void holds to these unsettling, sub-dimensional standards.
- Tyler Hanan
Rival Dealer - Burial
The new Burial EP, Rival Dealer, is streaming. It’s gone up after just about every website has posted its end of the year music lists, thus invalidating all of them.
Rival Dealer immediately drops you into a dank, throbbing, fast lane wormhole with the title track. Dive in. Let it take you wherever it leads.
The three-track, 28-minute EP is out December 16 on Hyperdub. Merry Christmas.
- Tyler Hanan
"Spiral" - Todd Terje
The delightful Scandinavian producer Todd Terje continues to excel at producing blissful, pulsating disco that shines as brilliantly as this never-ending Michigan snowfall. This track is of relatively similar length, sashaying along for ten-and-a-half minutes. My toes aren’t even that cold anymore. They may also be numb.
The other half of this Olsen Records release is “Q,” a track that doesn’t seem quite as grin-inducing but is nevertheless worthy of spending 12 minutes on, probably. Enjoy while I step away to find my slippers, and contemplate the unknown wonder that may inhabit Terje’s upcoming March 2014 full-length.
- Tyler Hanan
"Advanced Falconry" - Mutual Benefit
Shortly before noon this morning, the New York Times’ T Magazine premiered BANGS’ video for Mutual Benefit’s “Advanced Falconry,” the big single off new (and, I suppose, breakout) album Love’s Crushing Diamond.
It is magnificent.
The slow-motion video is also in constant motion, with every cut taking us to an uncomfortable father grimacing, a carefree grandmother flipping her hair, or a child brushing off her face. Faces in constant motion, hands never at ease, the video is the most tranquil success in suspense one is apt to see.
The family photo shoot’s sudden evolution-by-devolution into something much more honest is a subtly profound and heartwarming event. A child eating dirt has never been more beautiful. BANGS’ video syncs up with the song in every way, both in the technical and conceptual motifs.
- Tyler Hanan
"Freely" - Linda Perhacs
Good god, the things you can miss when in a finance-induced coma. On March 4, Asthmatic Kitty will be releasing Linda Perhacs’ The Soul of All Natural Things, Perhac’s first album since Parallelograms in 1970.
1970! That’s a 44 year gap between albums. That’s longer than I’m likely to be alive.
Julia Holter and Nite Jewel contributed to the ten-track, Inside Björk and Milton Nascimento record, a bit of news a certain writer for this website finds exceedingly delightful. This news was all first posted over on Pitchfork, where Jenn Pelly also reported that those two "helped revive Perhacs’ musical activity."
I don’t want to simply cop all the information - this is why we cite things - but I’d like to at least include this quote from Perhacs.
We get too far out of balance and we must find a way to get back to our polestar. I felt that people needed to be reminded of that. My music isn’t just recreational, it’s not just entertainment. I have a deeper purpose. My soul is giving itself to the people; I want them to be helped, I want them to be lifted.
- The Soul of All Natural Things
- River of God
- Prisms of Glass
- When Things Are True Again
- Song of the Planets
- Tyler Hanan
"Swan Dive" - Waxahatchee
It’s that time of year. No, not turkeys and consumerism, but when several of my email addresses get “end-of-year list reminders” in one last ditch effort by record labels to grab press for their releases. But I’m not telling any of you to consider Waxahatchee, Katie Crutchfield’s brilliant solo project, for any list. Sure, lists are dandy, but I only recently dove into this year’s Cerulean Salt and was so swept away I was shocked NSB had passed over the opportunity to gush. Shame, Tyler. Shame.
"Swan Dive" isn’t my favorite cut off Cerulean Salt, but it’s a hymn for those of us in our childhood homes this weekend, mourning the past and forgetting to be thankful for the present: “I’m ruled by seasons and sadness that’s inexplicable / and we will find a way to be lonely any chance we get.” Just a sad reminder to kiss your families and make sad mixtapes for those you care about, folks.
- Kyle Minton
Album of the Week:Tyler Hanan [12/3/13]
Mutual Benefit is a project excelling at carefully and precisely dusting intimate spaces with fragile beauty. It strings these small, open spaces with gossamer threads, shimmering prettily in the light and bringing a spectral beauty to the moment. Disarmingly pretty, it worms gently into the mind.It nestles into one’s brain, echoing bliss and tranquility.
As I’ve told before, I first fell in love with Mutual Benefit ages ago, when good friend and NSB co-originator Malcom sent me Spider Heaven in 2010 (and I’m I’ve been unable to disassociate the descriptor “gossamer” or the idea of dusty, luminescent webs ever since). Spider Heaven served up a massive paradigm shift on a ghostly platter for me, yanking me into the world of lo-fi pop and home recordings.
That gobstopped wonder at the work of Jordan Lee hasn’t faded in the intervening years, nor have Lee’s own abilities. Love’s Crushing Diamond is his most rapturous release yet, and it’s one of the best I’ve heard come out of this specific music underground.
"Everything All The Way Up" - Totally Slow
Introducing anyone to Totally Slow through “Everything All The Way Up” is sort of cheap. That’s not just because it’s the song off the pop-punk trio’s debut Wasted Days, but because it’s a hell of a lot darker than the rest of the record. “Everything All The Way Up” steals a few lines from Cheap Trick’s “Surrender” and funnels it through Scott Hick’s angsty wails. The rest of the record isn’t nearly as cynical, but “Everything” is the only one with a vital lesson pop punk never bothers to teach its audience: “Nothing ever sucks, but you’re gonna fuck it up.”
Stream Wasted Daysthrough Self Award Records.
- Kyle Minton