Wye Oak – “Running Up That Hill”

Watch: Wye Oak – “Running Up That Hill”

Baltimore duo Wye Oak just released their fourth album, the subdued Shriek, which dropped all the guitar and swapped it for bass, accompanied by the usual (but toned down) drums and keys. Now, the duo have done a live cover for The AV Club of Kate Bush’s “Running Up That Hill”. It’s been covered many times, but the pair make it a slow and slinky little jam, with just enough sensuality to sell it. Front woman Jenn Wasner bursts into a short, distorted bass bridge and sings it with that little twinge of soulfulness she’s always had lingering in the back of her throat, while Andy Stack keeps pace and lays out the chilly synths nicely. It may not quite reach the heights of Bush’s seminal single, but it works well as a companion to their recent shift in sound.

Shriek is out now via Merge.

Xenia Rubinos – “Let’s Go Out” (video)

Xenia Rubinos’ sleeper/stunner debut album, Magic Trix, came out last year, but she’s still churning out videos for it, including this new (and supposedly final) one for “Let’s Go Out.” On the album, the track works as a sort of deflated reprise of the great single “Hair Receding”, but taken alone, the song takes on a sadder, eerier, more eccentric tone. Accompanied only by a plinking synth and a slow, defeated-sounding drum, Rubinos delivers perhaps her most understated vocal take on the record. As such, it only makes sense that the video is similarly slow, minimal, and bracing. Featuring a single man half-dancing amidst bushes and grass, the clip is shot in stark, beautifully lit black and white. A couple closeups of a spider preparing his dinner are particularly stellar (if a little queasy). “Let’s Go Out” may be a weird song choice for a video – leaving people like me to wonder why she didn’t finally give a proper video to “Cherry Tree”, one of the best songs of last year – but the end result is sort of awesome.

Magic Trix is out now.

tUnE-yArDs – KEXP Session

Merrill Garbus’ tUnE-yArDs project just released one of the best records of the year so far in Nikki Nack. And now, to our glorious benefit, she has done a KEXP session. The video includes four of the best songs on the record, including “Water Fountain” and “Real Thing”, and finds Merrill and bassist Nate Brenner accompanied by passionate backup singers and percussionists. It’s a little different than the extremely loop-centric one- or two-person performances Garbus was once known for. But it’s nonetheless a gleaming delight to see the group perform these weird, catchy, sunny pop songs in the KEXP studio.

Watch it above, and if you haven’t listened to Nikki Nack yet, go do that, ya weirdo.

Usher – “Good Kisser”

Well, here’s an unforeseen development: Usher just earlier this month dropped one of the hottest songs of his career. Immediately distinguishing “Good Kisser” as such a killer track is its beat - underlying the verses is a simple yet funky bass and drum kit groove. Frankly, it’s a pretty organic-sounding instrumental for a piece of radio-pop. Moreover, Usher’s voice here is just incredibly commanding and soulful; his adept falsetto leading into a staggeringly grand refrain. It’s great to hear him achieving these new passionate heights, especially at this point in his career.

Funky, soulful, largely organic, and as tasteful as a song about oral sex ought to be, “Good Kisser” is a truly great pop tune. If Usher’s gonna be turning out earworms like this, maybe losing your SO to him wouldn’t be such an unbearably embarrassing thing … Nah, of course it still would be.

Open Mike Eagle – “A History of Modern Dance”

Hellfyre‘s Open Mike Eagle drops some visuals on a brand new single titled “A History of Modern Dance.” The track features an eerie-ass beat from Jeremiah Jae, and some understated bars from Mike himself. This track is off Mike’s upcoming MMG album Dark Comedy. Keep an ear out for more info!

Timber Timbre – “Curtains?!”

The sound of Timber Timbre’s latest and greatest LP Hot Dreams calls to mind the visuals of either a Lynchian Western or vintage film noir. This Tyler T. Williams-directed video for album highlight “Curtains?!” delivers on the latter, starring Williams collaborator Joel Kliebe as an apparent hitman just released from prison and getting back to business. The stark, shady atmosphere here is (in my opinion) a much better fit for Timber Timbre’s sonic direction than Chad VanGaalen‘s trippy animation for “Bang the Drum Slowly,” although give that one a chance too, if you’ve yet to.

Apathy – “The Curse of the Kennedys”

Off a dusty piano sample and a generous Jay-Z vocal cut, Connecticut’s Apathy spits a series of bars dealing with the Kennedy family. He muses on various follies and conspiracies that have been following the family for decades, and does it with his usual level of focus and vivid imagery.

Apathy’s got a new album on the way titled Connecticut Casual. Pre-order it here.

Sia – “Chandelier”

Aussie singer/songwriter Sia has been quiet lately, but only in the most obvious sense of the word: while she hasn’t put out a new record since 2010′s fun and colorful We Are Born, Sia has been writing or co-writing some of the biggest pop hits of the past few years, including Rihanna’s “Diamonds” and Ne-Yo’s “Let Me Love You”. She has stated publicly how much she hates the idea of being famous, which is one of the leading reasons she’s been happy to be more a writer and less a performer. But now, Sia is back with an all new album of original material, entitled 1,000 Forms of Fear.

Though no release date has yet been set, she has unleashed the enormous single, “Chandelier,” and an accompanying video featuring a vibrant dance display from 11-year old “Dance Moms” star Maddie Ziegler. The song starts off somewhat innocuously, sounding a bit too akin to Rihanna (even slightly aping that singer’s vocal style, albeit in a bit of a mumble). But then, the chorus hits. And it hits hard. Sia’s signature singing takes over and launches the song into the stratosphere, with a game-changing vocal. This titanic chorus leads to more than a little speculation that during all those years of writing for bigger pop stars, Sia was keeping some goodies to herself. And thank goodness she did, as no modern pop star comes to mind that could nail this song like Sia does. This is pop music done so, so right, and deserves to be every bit a hit as those other songs she’s penned.

Watch the video above and download the single via iTunes.

Pearls Negras – “Guerreira”/Biggie Apple Mixtape

via Tiny Mix Tapes

The ladies of Rio de Janeiro hip hop trio Pearls Negras have a new video out for Biggie Apple cut “Guerreira.”  From their fiery flows to their blaring, lasering beats, Alice, Jeni, and Mari are indeed up to some hot stuff right now. Even if you don’t speak Portuguese, you’re gonna pick up on some great vibes from this, especially from the wild ride the above video takes you on. Enjoy! And you can grab the mixtape here, as well.

Savages – “Fuckers”

UK post-punk outfit Savages drop a cinematic live video of their recently released single, “Fuckers.” The footage is stunning, and the performance is, well, anything but concise. I wouldn’t call it sloppy, but the band definitely seems “in the zone” on this one. The almost 10-minute rendition of this track shows the band getting lost in the moment between a lyrical mantra, tight drum beat, and a wall of wailing guitars. It’s hard for me not to get caught up in it as well. The atmosphere is so incredibly sinister, and the visuals only lend power to that sensation. Enjoy! Also, check out the band’s latest record, Silence Yourself, if you haven’t already.