Future Islands – “A Dream of You and Me”

This passionate, smooth little piece of indie rock comes courtesy of Future Islands. Their new single “A Dream of You and Me” has a really appealing sensitivity to it, especially in the lead vocal’s just-on-the-brink-of-quavering sincerity. The bright guitar, bass, and keyboard tones add a playful element to the proceedings, everything combining to make an emotive, catchy track. It’s accompanied by some slightly abstract images that move along in what looks like stop-motion.

Future Islands’ new record Singles is out March 25 via 4AD.

Lykke Li – “Love Me Like I’m Not Made of Stone”

Lykke Li’s sophomore record might have been somewhat infamously spurned here at TND, but we are pretty stoked for her new one! Li has just announced her third LP, I Never Learn, and has released this gorgeous, heartbreaking video for album track “Love Me Like I’m Not Made of Stone”. The track features nothing but Li’s voice and a simple acoustic guitar, but that’s all she needs for this one. The melody slowly ebbs and flows into these painfully emotive peaks, culminating in the glorious climax around the 3 minute mark where she takes what seems like a natural, unplanned pause. The sadness in that rest is palpable. This song is all about Li’s passionate vocal. Simplicity has worked for her before (especially on tracks like “Silent My Song“) and it serves her very well here. Li claims this new record is comprised almost entirely of “power ballads”, and if they are all of this caliber, I think we are in for a (wrenching) treat.

I Never Learn is out May 6 via LL/Atlantic.

White Hinterland – “Baby”

Austere and cold and knotty. These are some words I would use to describe the second track to drop from the new White Hinterland record, Baby. This title track is dramatic, playing with multiple layers of Casey Dienel’s voice (some of which are under some sort of robotic effect), skittering beats, and synth stabs, while still retaining the lite-R&B vibe she has taken to as of late. The refrain of “Is this my weakness?” grows more and more insistent, until the glorious climax, where all of her voices come head to head in their beautiful, gruff imperfection. Ending with a short coda of completely unadorned, almost-screeching voice is a brave move on Dienel’s part, and it pays off immaculately.

Baby is out April 1, via Dead Oceans.

Owen Pallett – “The Riverbed”

A sharp, percussive, repetitive beat and a more-intense-than-usual string progression rule the proceedings on this new Owen Pallett track, taken from his upcoming record In Conflict. The whole thing has much more urgency than a song of his has had in years (“Many Lives -> 49 MP” or the ending of “This Lamb Sells Condos” come close). Nevertheless, “The Riverbed” is a pretty thrilling direction to hear Pallett taking his music, and it comes accompanied by a nice video showing an older man (played by Pallett’s uncle) going out on a date with a woman, being heckled by “jerks” (as they are listed in the credits – one played by Pallett himself) and then the older man going out the next day and presumably beating the crap out of them. Surprisingly fitting, actually, as this song’s constantly increasing force sounds like great fight music.

In Conflict is out May 13 via Domino. While you’re at it, check out the other new track of his to drop, “On a Path”, which is also quite good.

Ramona Lisa – “Arcadia”

Charlift’s Caroline Polachek is releasing her solo debut, Arcadia, this April, except she’s doing it under the alias Ramona Lisa. She has released the title track, and be warned: This is a weird song, with almost nothing to do with her main band’s bouncy electropop. Ice cold synth drones cyclically wash over the speakers for over two minutes before Polachek even begins to sing, and when she does, it brings with it nothing really resembling a hook. This is not “I Belong In Your Arms” Polachek. Hell, this isn’t even “Ceiling Wax” Polachek. This is something else. Polachek recorded the entire album without instruments, instead using MIDI sounds, and did not use external microphones for the voice. That all makes perfect sense after this song, which is intriguing, even while it leaves me a little colder than I was hoping.

Arcadia comes out April 15 via Terrible Records.

Nat Baldwin – “In the Hollows”

Nat Baldwin, bassist of Dirty Projectors, has been very quietly maintaining a solid solo output for a few years now. His songs usually center around his slightly warbled voice (often leaping up into a falsetto) and his twisty, deft bass playing. His new record is coming out soon, and the title track, “In the Hollows”, has been unmasked. It features some staccato string surges behind Baldwin’s trademark, David Longstreth-esque (coincidence?) voice, before more band members wriggle out of the woodwork. His work has always had a bit more grit and soul than a lot of DP’s, and this song is a nice tasting platter to warm us up for his record.

In the Hollows is out April 29 via Western Vinyl.

A Winged Victory for the Sullen – “Atomos VII”

A Winged Victory for the Sullen (aka the partnership of pianist/composer Dustin O’Halloran and Stars of the Lid’s Adam Wiltzie) released their debut self-titled record back in 2011, and it was full of beautiful, lush drones and striking piano. In other words, it was a good holdover for all of us SotL fans eagerly awaiting the band’s next record. But it seems we will have to wait a bit longer, as A Winged Victory for the Sullen are ready to release a follow-up. Entitled Atomos, it originated as a score for a dance performance by Wayne McGregor, and is now being released on its own. The first track from is the simply titled “Atomos VII”, and it features just what we’ve come to expect from this duo: it’s gorgeous, it’s weightless, it feels like it could stretch on for days. The string are a bit more aggressive than on their debut, but otherwise, this is a nice reminder of why this group wasn’t just a random offshoot.

Atomos is out later this year, but the teaser EP that “Atomos VII” is from is out April 28 via Kranky.

Joan As Policewoman – “Holy City”

Joan as Police Woman has released an energetic new video for her recent single “Holy City” from her forthcoming fourth LP, The Classic. The video features a series of different setups, each behind a freshly opened curtain, in which Joan Wasser is dressed in a different get up, surrounded by lots of happy people. In one she sports a 70s afro, and in one she is a buttoned up housewife, for example. It’s a lot of fun, so you should just go watch it now!

The Classic is out March 11 via PIAS.

Phantogram – “Bill Murray”

A synthy slow jam named after Bill Murray? Mmkay, you got me. Phantogram have unleashed this new track, and it’s pretty great. From Sarah Barthel’s honeyed, smooth voice, to the lithe slide guitar, to the buzzy keyboards. It almost sounds like a Beach House song if they were a little more reliant on electronics. I’ve always liked when Phantogram slowed things down a bit, and this is a prime example.

Their new record Voices is out February 18 via Republic.

Mirah – “Oxen Hope”

There’s a feeling I get when one of my favorite artists announces a new record after a long time without one. Four years may not be long in the grand scheme of things, but it has been way too long since Mirah’s excellent 2010 LP (a)spera, and I’m absolutely ecstatic about her announcement of Changing Light, her sixth solo album. The first taste of it comes in the form of “Oxen Hope”, a slowburning track resting mostly on a deep, bassy synth progression, a subtly intricate melody, and Mirah’s great-as-ever voice. Of course, this time around, her voice is doubled with some very cool robotic effects, but Mirah finds a way to maintain a human urgency behind the cold mechanical sound. Enter some beautiful strings and the whole thing takes on a melancholic, nearly soulful quality by the end of its four minutes. I don’t know about you, but I can’t wait for this record. Welcome back, Mirah.

Changing Light is out May 13 via Absolute Magnitude.