WESTERN HAUNTS, Come Around (from Western Haunts, 2014)
Seattle band Western Haunts blends a variety of dreamy sounds - folk, shoegaze, and even a little Americana peppered in. Come Around is the perfect soundtrack for this morning, where I woke up facing a partially-frozen Lake Michigan and a very snowy Chicago. The track throws me into a sunny daze and warms my bones.
The band just released their first LP yesterday - I am looking forward to exploring their incredible range!
And for now - out into the cold!
VOLCANO CHOIR, Comrade (from Repave, 2013)
It took me a few months to listen to Volcano Choir’s sophomore album, which came out in September 2013. As you may have realized, the lead vocalist of this band is Justin Vernon (of Bon Iver), who collaborates on so many projects that sometimes I wonder if he ever takes a break from recording. His work with Volcano Choir on this second album emphasizes more of his signature falsetto voice, and differs from Bon Iver in that it is no longer the essence of the song, but rather an accompaniment to a soaring arrangement of instruments and electronic sounds that push us far, above, and beyond.
Find out more here.
ELBOW, New York Morning (from The Take Off and Landing of Everything, out March 10, 2014)
If I had to choose a male vocal that pierces through my heart, I would have to name Guy Garvey of Elbow. How does someone’s voice manage to encompass so much pain and so much strength all at once?
This British alt-rock band has been together since the late 90s and I haven’t really heard an album of theirs that I didn’t like—many of their songs express sorrow and gloom but the compositions are often soaring and therefore seem hopeful. They have been working on a new album for a couple years now and it is finally slated for release on March 10. New York Morning is quite the heartening song, as it touches upon the ambition and desires that rule this wild city. Listen up!
It looks like they are only touring Europe this summer, but hopefully that’ll be updated soon! Check it here.
LIARS, Mess on a Mission (from Mess, out on March 24, 2014)
This NY trio sounds like they are at least 10 people - they have a loud and expansive sound that will either give you a serious headache or energize you for the next 10 hours. After listening to their new single a few times in a row I’m feeling pretty pumped. New album Mess drops on March 24.
You can find more info here, if you can make sense of their website (!)
SUN KIL MOON, Richard Ramirez Died of Natural Causes (from Benji, 2014)
Sun Kil Moon is the well-known project of SF-based singer-songwriter Mark Kozelek, whose songs are often dark in lyrics and beautiful in vocals. His new album, Benji, which comes out tomorrow in the U.S. (February 4) couldn’t be more of a personification of this “rule.” All 11 tracks describe the life of a person who has died. They are by no means gruesome, but rather just tell stories that memorialize a few individuals—showing us that at the end of the day, every life is an interesting narrative that’s worth telling. The track here - as evident from its title - is about a man named Richard Ramirez who died of natural causes. Kozelek takes us on a tour through the Bay Area as we learn about Mr. Ramirez and the life he lived.
More information here.
MS MR, Hurricane (from Secondhand Rapture, 2013)
The meteoric rise of NY-based duo Ms Mr is pretty impressive, especially considering they are part of the chillwave genre, which doesn’t normally get signed to the likes of Columbia Records. Their beginnings were much less conventional, having released a tumblr-hosted EP that created much blog-hype (I seemed to have missed it at the time…). Hurricane is probably their most well-known track that has also been remixed by a-many current musicians. I enjoy Lizzy Plapinger’s (Ms) hearty vocals cutting through some electronic beats—it really reminds me of one of my faves, Zola Jesus. Hope you enjoy this too!
More on them here.
ARTHUR BEATRICE, Grand Union (from Working Out, out February 3, 2014)
British indie rock quartet Arthur Beatrice is about to release their debut album next week and from the sounds of this single and the previous one, Midland (listen here) it will be comprised of emotional but controlled songs led by the deep vocals of Orlando Leopard and singer Ella Girardot. It feels like getting back to basics with less fanfare and musical acrobatics (though those can be fun!) and more focus on songwriting and paired down composition. Listen up, listen in.
More info here.
NEUTRAL MILK HOTEL, The King of Carrot Flowers Part 2 & 3 (from In the Aeroplane Over the Sea, 1998)
For purely selfish reasons, I am posting this legendary track, because tonight I will finally fulfill a long-standing wish to see Neutral Milk Hotel live!
It’s a masterpiece, and if you don’t know why you should head here and buy this.
WARPAINT, Biggy (from Warpaint, 2014)
It’s been a long four years since we last heard LA-band Warpaint’s ethereal music, but they’re back with a new album that certainly sounds like it was worth the wait. Biggy is the second single off the record - a meditative and quiet explosion that surrounds and infiltrates your every nerve. The band is currently touring in support of the new record, so check out their website to see when they’ll be rolling into a town near you.
BILLIE JOE + NORAH, Roving Gambler (from Foreverly, 2013)
I am mostly impatient when it comes to country music, though given a certain mood and environment - I can tolerate it. This statement is to set the stage to explaining why I’m offering this song on the blog today - I just really get a kick out of hearing Billie Joe Armstrong (of Green Day fame. Yes, yes indeed) channel his inner country star in this collaboration with Norah Jones. And they recorded a whole album like this! Foreverly is a a cover album of songs by The Everly Brothers and from a first cursory listen - it doesn’t come across as incredibly groundbreaking past the novelty of this collaboration. But I can see how these songs can be a soothing accompaniment, so I’m going to give it a try!
Here is the original version of this song by The Everly Brothers.
REAL ESTATE, Talking Backwards (from Atlas, out on March 4, 2014)
Talking Backwards is the new track off Real Estate’s forthcoming album Atlas, and it displays the band’s timeless sound in all its glory. If I were to describe this song in one word, “Effortless” would come to mind. Its characteristic sunny melody is structured by the band’s usual intricate guitar and bass maneuvering, resulting in a very comforting and addictive tune.
Real Estate is a consistent band that has shown us solid and interesting albums since they came on the scene in 2009, so I’m looking forward to hearing what Atlas holds.
They’re on tour for the foreseeable future. Check it here.
WASHED OUT, It All Feels Right (from Paracosm, 2013)
On day one of Polar Vortex part deux, I decided to dig into Washed Out's sophomore album that came out over the summer (2013). Washed Out is the stage name of Ernest Greene of Georgia. This album introduces a host of new songs with Greene's signature medley of electronic beats and airy vocals that make you feel like you're floating in a sea of warmth. So pile on your winter gear and press play on this one as you head out the door today!
Follow Washed Out here.
THE NOTWIST, Close to the Glass (from Close to the Glass, out on February 25, 2014)
The Notwist is arguably one of the most diverse indie bands active today. The band hails from Germany, has been around since the late 80s, and has touched upon a real broad spectrum of genres from heavy metal to indie rock and electronica. This diverse sound makes every album they release quite exciting, since you don’t really know what to expect. So that opportunity has come around again, with a new album (their ninth!) slated to drop in late February (2014).
Quite different from their albums of the last decade, which were fairly melodic, the title track of Close to the Glass indicates that this new album is heavy on electronica with tense and often jarring notes. Yet the soft vocals of lead singer Markus Acher are still consistently quiet and soothing. This combination makes me (predictably) curious to hear more of it!
Touring Europe through late spring. Info here.
YOUNG FATHERS, Get Up (from Dead, out of February 4, 2014)
Young Fathers combines pop and hip hop so well. I am pretty sure these guys are going to become famous when their album Dead is released on February 4…Their music is fun, cheerful and makes you want to dance - what else do you need?
Young Fathers is made up of three guys - Alloysious Massaquoi and Kayus Bankole and ‘G’ Hastings - hailing from Edinburgh. They released two EPs to date (Tape One and Tape Two), with the February release being their first LP. I, for one, will be most excited to hear the whole album.
They will be touring Europe this winter. Find tour information and some more songs off of their upcoming album here.
BENJAMIN VERDOES, Unknown Fears (from The Evil Eye, 2014)
Singer/songwriter Benjamin Verdoes pens raw and vulnerable songs with an inescapable straightforwardness. Unknown Fears is relatable and catchy - pretty much all I need to get hooked after one or two listens.
Today (1/14/14) marks the release date for his new solo album. There are some utterly beautiful tracks on this album, like So Bari - a stripped down, acoustic love song - I highly recommend delving deeper, if you’re into the Pac-NW singer/songwriter sound!
Purchase the album from Benjamin and get updates on his tour over here.