Friday, May 29, 2015

TGIF: Tanlines new album, Highlights

Despite the fact that they've been around for a handful of years, toured with Julian Casablancas and remixed lots of songs I adore, I'll admit I'm only really getting into Brooklyn indie-rock outfit Tanlines right now. Better late than never.

Made up of two guys - Jesse Cohen and Eric Emm - I have to wonder how they pulled off the multidimensional sounds heard on their second release, Highlights, with only Cohen on percussion and Emm on vocals and guitar. Yeah, it's "indie rock" in its most basic, easy description, but that feels lazy to say considering there's so much else going on here. Within this retro, starry landscape - which at different times resembles Modern English, Future Islands and The Smiths - all of Highlights' songs are chock full of instruments, effects and glitter that'll make you feel dance party bliss or late night thoughtfulness (both good things). 

Toss this on your weekend playlist and enjoy.

Thursday, May 28, 2015

New Willis Earl Beal: "Flying So Low" and "Midnight"

"People had all these ideas about what I was supposed to be," Willis Earl Beal states in a press release announcing his forthcoming album. "I had only ever wanted to make lullabies... I wanted to create this persona that could say everything perfectly with very little. The record, to me, is a perfect record. I listen to that thing a lot, and it helps me."

Most of Beal's sentiments are accurately echoed on his first singles in almost a year, titled "Flying So Low" and "Midnight." Ahead of Noctunes, out August 28 via Tender Loving Empire, the two minimalist tracks glide forward by way of Beal's slow, soulful croon and low-fi instrumentation - sounding so quiet, it's as if you're listening in on an intimate secret you weren't meant to hear. 

While I appreciate anything his golden voice touches, I know he's capable of more dimension than what's heard on these downtempo first listens - leading me to hope we get more dreamy, and less stillness, on the album's other ten tracks.

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Tuesday, May 26, 2015

"Jukebox Joints" - A$AP Rocky (feat. Kanye West + Joe Fox)

A week earlier than expected, Harlem rapper A$AP Rocky has dropped his second album, At.Long.Last.A$AP (or, ALLA), which includes a hot cameo by Kanye West.

"Jukebox Joints" is caked in a dusty soul sample - as all the best things are - and features slow, easy rhymes from A$AP and guitar from Joe Fox, who Rocky met on the streets of London, and invited along to the studio to play guitar on five new songs. Casual. 'Ye (or 'Ye Guevara, as he calls himself here) comes in at the last minute rhyming boldly about #FOMO and Kimye's active attemps at another "fo' mo'" kids. It's no "Excuse Me" or "L$D," but this big, commendable collab is proof the rest of the game knows Rocky is where it's at right now.

Have a listen below.

images via 1, 2

Monday, May 25, 2015

Summer Vibes: Goldroom's "California Rain"

Surely, summer is actually on its way any day now, so I gift you this - a brand new Goldroom track that's as beautifully beachy as you'd expect.

Featuring Goldroom's newest vocalist, Nikki Segal, the pretty "California Rain" sounds like an early-to-mid 2000s tropical house jam, fit for a downtempo night on the coast.

As is usually the case with Goldroom (AKA Josh Legg)'s sunny synth-pop tracks, there's no denying this glittery tune came straight out of Los Angeles - the land of bronzed bodies, palm trees and late nights.

Check out the rest of Goldroom's hyped-up EP, It's Like You Never Went Away, out now via Downtown Records.

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Friday, May 22, 2015

TGIF: Drake + Beyoncé Team Up on "Can I"

Following Drake and Beyoncé's brooding back-and-forth on 2013's "Mine," the two superstars are at it again on the Drake's latest leaked track, "Can I." 

Expected to appear on the rapper's forthcoming album (I know, I know - how can he keep pumping out music at this rate), "Can I" is sonically similar to "Mine," in that it's smooth and relatively vulnerable. But, in terms of sharing duet duties, this one is a little lopsided; Queen Bey plainly chants "Can I?" and "Baby" throughout the short, moody track, while OVO teammate Sal Houdini sings the hook and Drake hollers  things like, "Before I turn the lights out, tell me who the fuck you wanna be?" overtop the metronome beat.

Needless to say, although incredibly sexy, the track could use way more Beyoncé - in the form of, you know, singing or something.

Have a listen over at Rolling Stone.

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Thursday, May 21, 2015

TBT: Wolf Alice's "Blush"

London quintet Wolf Alice have been making major waves with their most recent single, "Bros" (which I wrote about here), almost as if... they're a brand new band.

Don't get me wrong, in the grand scheme of things, these Brits are most definitely new(er) to the scene - but, they've been putting out solid indie-rock for over three years.

For instance, the self-titled track from their 2013 EP Blush always comes to mind whenever I hear someone rave about the breakout band, or see their faces recently plastered across a trendy publication.

As one of those songs that I like to think would have blown up had it nabbed a cameo during a dramatic scene on The OC, "Blush" might have been written a few years too late. The haunting alt-rock ballad is equally carried by Ellie Roswell's pure and tiny croon, and some echoey, Band of Horses-reminiscent guitar chords. It's less upbeat than what they're doing on their forthcoming release and wasn't even a single, but deserves a shout-out for being one of the gorgeous songs that started it all.

Look out for My Love is Cool on June 23 via RCA.

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Best New Album: Hot Chip's Why Make Sense?

Over fifteen years into their career, Hot Chip have released Why Make Sense? their most dynamic, energetic album yet - filled with more instruments and dance floor swagger than ever before.

Whether on the electric "Cry For You," late night anthem "Dark Night" (best track, in my opinion) or the thundering title track/album closer - Hot Chip has broken down quirky barriers and found a way into unequivocally likeable, funk-riddled dance territory. Sort of as if... LCD Soundsystem and Daft Punk had a lovechild. 

It could be towards dancing, it could be towards tripping, it could be towards romance - but, either way, there's no doubt that this album will move you.

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

A$AP Rocky Collabs with Miguel, Rod Stewart and Mark Ronson

After a wild weekend in the windy city, I think I need a bit of a banger to keep me awake. Cue the A$AP.

Although his album was recently delayed three weeks, Harlem rapper A$AP Rocky just dropped "Everyday" - a moodier effort that features red hot vocals from Miguel, production touches from all-powerful Mark Ronson, and of course (?), a Rod Stewart sample.

Rocky's rhymes are dark and banging on the gloomy new track, which is the second leaked from his sophomore album At.Long.Last.ASAP, out June 2 via RCA Records. Have a listen below.

Thursday, May 14, 2015

Best New Album: Tallest Man on Earth's "Dark Bird is Home"

After a very long week, this is exactly the kind of album I wanted/needed to listen to.

Stemming from previously twangy, unplugged releases, The Tallest Man on Earth's newest album, Dark Bird is Home, is everything and more; I think it's his personal awakening, recorded.

The Kristian Mattson (AKA Tallest Man on Earth)/Bob Dylan similarities are still here - fluttering and reminiscent - but with more brio and dimension than any of his other work I've heard.

While I'd hate to base this review off comparisons, I can't help but note that this album is reminiscent of everything (other than Dylan) I've grown up with and adored - so much so that Dark Bird feels like it's 20 or 30 years late. I hear Springsteen, Jackson Browne, Paul Simon, Dire Straits, Tom Petty and more of the timeless sounds that make every song inexplicably classic.

Thank goodness, there's no shortage of wistful, plucked ballads (the album opener "Field of Our Home" shook me from the get go) and Darkness on the Edge of Town-style piano odes like "Nowhere Towns." But beyond those, there's robust, multi-instrumental folk-rock anthems that deserve a car with open windows; namely, "Darkness of the Dream," Timothy" and "Slow Dance."

This is exactly what I needed, and I bet you'll feel the same once you take a listen.

Friday, May 8, 2015

Best New Track: Tame Impala's "Eventually"

OK, Tame Impala. We get it. Your new album is going to be one of the best of the year.

At this point, I feel like the Aussie psych-rock outfit have already released Currents, their ridiculously anticipated third album. They've been dropping single after single - read: addictive, trippy hits - for the past two months, painting a picture of how outstanding this potentially seminal album will sound.

Yesterday, we were gifted "Eventually," which, in my opinion, is the golden track of the four they've leaked. Decorated by waves of heavy reverb, "Eventually" hops between those growly, distorted moments and twinkling psychedelia - all obviously led by Kevin Parker's unmistakably woozy falsetto.

Judging from what my fellow critics have said, I'm the only one who believes this one stands alone as the best leak yet, but sue me - I think this hazy lullaby is so dreamy.

Look out for Currents, via Interscope Records, on July 17.

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Thursday, May 7, 2015

New Future Islands EP: The Chase

Following Future Islands' (long overdue) commercial success after releasing their fourth album, Singles, the quirky Maryland synth-pop band have quietly released a new EP, titled The Chase.

While only two songs, the EP sounds perfectly Future Islands. Samuel T. Herring saves the thundering croon and instead opts for more subdued vocals - leaving something to be imagined for their fifth album. On "Haunted By You" (my favourite of the two), there's that melancholic sweetness heard on On The Water's ballads, but, with "The Chase" we get the upbeat retro-pop that made them (namely, Herring's Letterman dance moves) finally go viral. In fact, the guys stopped by Letterman recently to do it all again. (See below.)

When it comes to Future Islands, I like everything, but this pace agrees with me. It'll make a great soundtrack for laid back summer nights. The Chase is out now, via 4AD.

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Best New Track: Miguel featuring Wale: "Coffee (F-cking)"

This Miguel-style cup of joe should wake you right up.

You might read this and think that I'm six months late to the game. But, after releasing this song as part of the Girls soundtrack and a 3-song EP this past December, Miguel's Wale-updated version of "Coffee (F-cking)" is what will officially appear on his highly anticipated sophomore album.

The follow-up to 2012's critically acclaimed Kaleidoscope Dream could very well feature the other two EP tracks, but in my opinion, this steamy single is all that matters. Never one to mince words, Miguel changed choice lyrics from the original ("coffee in the morning" to... some more R-rated morning activities) and added a clever verse from always-budding rapper, Wale. Instrumentally still as atmospheric as before, it's safe to say this R&B ode sounds even more intimate this time around.

Have a listen below, and look out for Wild Heart this summer.

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

New Mumford & Sons: Wilder Mind

With the release of their third studio album, Wilder Mind, the Mumford & Sons boys have shed the banjos, but not the anthems.

Citing production assistance from The National's Aaron Dessner - which you can hear off the bat in the strong album opener, "Tompkins Square Park" - the famed Brits have constructed big, emotive odes that, in essence, aren't dissimilar from their first two albums. They're gorgeous. But, this time, it's arena-rock; it's harmonic, swelling and often times heartbreaking, but without the twang that skyrocketed them to mainstream folk success. While the soft points and little bits of Mumford formula remain, Wilder Mind has some pretty electric moments.

One thing is for sure, Marcus Mumford has never sounded better. Booming with conviction, he sounds revitalized after turning this new leaf - one that could carry him out of those career-defining folky confines ("it just sounds so Mumford-y") and into the same boat as Bono, Chris Martin, Adam Granduciel and other captivating, stadium-savvy frontmen. And, not to worry, his vest may be gone - but he's still the same poetic lyricist we came to love six years ago.

Monday, May 4, 2015

Best New Track: Leon Bridges' "River"

I haven't felt this strongly about a song in quite some time.

When I first wrote about Leon Bridges in December, I knew we were in for something pretty special. "Coming Home," "Better Man" and "Lisa Sawyer" were the blossoming soul star's first singles, all leading us to "River" - the single Bridges chose to announce his upcoming debut album, slated for release in June.

Unlike the swaying, Sam Cooke-reminiscent soul ballads he's released prior - which are all astounding - "River" is completely different. Stripped down to only acoustic guitar and sparse tambourine, Bridges' soulful croon tells story of a man travelling miles to give himself to someone, but not before he gets redemption; not before she takes him to her river. With help from a gospel choir on the refrain, this modern hymnal is time-stopping. Lines like "I want to come here and give you every part of me" are sure to give you butterflies.

Have a listen below, and look out for Coming Home on June 23, via Columbia.

Friday, May 1, 2015

Artist to Watch: Listen to Wales' Beautiful Debut Single "Lose My Mind"

Well, I can guarantee this new single will help start your weekend.

Especially as the warm weather continues to roll in, these kinds of breezy, downtempo electronic tracks are essential to guide us through city patios, porches, beaches and everything in between.

Wales is the solo project of Brooklyn filmmaker and musician Sam Bennett, who absolutely nailed his first official entry into the sometimes overcrowded genre of chillwave electronic. You'll hear bits of Goldroom, Washed Out, Tei Shi (her producer worked on this track) and a few others who have mastered that smooth sound - yet, Bennett's take is entirely his own brand of blissed out and emotive.

"Lose My Mind" is a gorgeous trip from start to finish, and I hope it isn't too long before we get to experience another.