Singer/songwriter Lia Ices last record was 2011′s criminally underrated Grown Unknown. Since then she’s kept an almost impressively low profile, which seemed pretty normal for the artist who once reveled in her own general anonymity. But now she’s releasing a follow up, Ices, and with it comes first single “Thousand Eyes.”
At first, it’s all a little shocking: Ices’ first two records were strewn with complex, mostly acoustic, slightly avant-garde chamber folk-pop (throw another signifier in there, Jeremy, really). So when “Thousand Eyes” crashes out of the speakers with electronic-based beats and pretty, high synths, I was caught off guard. But acoustic strums quickly become a backbone for all the feathery electronic textures, providing a beautiful backdrop for Ices’ fantastic singing. It’s all almost beatific, which makes sense: Ices has stated this album is all about the notions of flight and levity, and the song beams with a positive energy. “And we know that we go on / ‘Cause we go on, go on, go on” she sings, and that seems as good an explanation as any in her hands.
Ices is out September 16 via Jagjaguwar.
Stream: Orenda Fink – “You Can Be Loved”
Omaha-based songwriter Orenda Fink, one half of Azure Ray, is getting ready to release her third full-length solo album. She already showed us first single “Ace of Cups”, and now a new one has arrived: “You Can Be Loved,” a dreamy, soft piece of pop. With slightly twangy, stringy guitars, and Fink’s perfectly understated voice (which she also uses to harmonize nicely with herself), the song establishes itself to be very much in the same vein as “Ace of Cups,” while also deepening the sound and showing a different shade of what is one of my most anticipated records of the year.
Blue Dream is out August 18, via Saddle Creek.
Wisconsin native Zola Jesus (aka Nika Danilova) has released a new single from her forthcoming record, Taiga, and it points out all her strengths beautifully. On “Dangerous Days,” Danilova sends forth a surging beat and sweeping synths that grow to sound positively triumphant. Of course, the main draw is still the same: that voice. Danliova’s elemental, titanic voice has long been the centerpoint of her music, and for good reason: she finds surprising depth within what at first appears to be a sort of limited delivery. On this new track, she uses many of her tricks – going from low-key to wailing within seconds – and nails it. Her new record is said to be inspired by her Midwestern roots and Russian ancestry, and even though I can’t really imagine what that clash would sound like, I’m eager to find out.
Taiga is out October 7 via Mute.
London-based singer-songwriter/producer FKA twigs came out with a short, but pretty awesome, EP last year entitled EP 2, the follow up to her debut EP (whose name you can probably guess). And now she is finally gearing up to release her highly anticipated debut full-length, fittingly titled LP 1. And with this announcement comes a new video for first single “Two Weeks.”
Where FKA twigs has before seemed mystical and ethereal and vulnerable, here she takes all the reins. “Two Weeks” is one of the most explicitly lustful and sexually upfront songs to come out this year (think along the lines of Beyonce’s self-titled record, but more interesting to listen to). With lyrics like “My thighs are apart for when you’re ready to breathe in”, and “You say you want me / I say you’ll live without it / Unless you’re the only one who instigates / Got your mouth open”, twigs is taking no prisoners. Of course, this is all delivered in her increasingly-impressive production and gorgeous falsetto.
The video is a nice counterpart, featuring a single take that slowly reveals twigs as some kind of goddess, pouring water into the mouth of her dancing servant. This is a head-turning hooky single, hitting at all the right moments, and brazenly confident. It’s this kind of eye-widening track that really gets me pumped for this record.
Look for LP 1 on August 12 via Young Turks.
Courageous Endeavors is a modern jazz quartet from Minneapolis whose members fancy themselves “the Twin Cities’ answer to the relevance of jazz in the 21st century.” I’d say with this debut album of theirs, Prototype, they live up to that. If you’re looking for some powerful modern jazz (besides BBNG), absolutely give this thing a listen. The playing is tight throughout, and the group is capable of delivering some breathtaking climaxes, perhaps the highlight being “Legends,” whose music video you can watch here. Check it out above - you’re bound to get the feels!
Right around the start of this year, I wrote a little something about Crashing Diseases and Incurable Airplanes, the latest album from Montreal experimental rock outfit USA out of Vietnam. So, the project has been out there for a while now, but I’m bringing it up again because it is receiving a formal release just this week via New Damage Records. I still find the band’s combination of drone, doom, prog rock, and psych pop elements to be utterly enchanting, so take this as a gentle reminder to check this thing out. Above, the droning psychedelic doom-pop magic of closer “Tonight, the Dead Walk.” Enjoy!
I’m certain this debut EP of New York experimental rock trio Kiddy Pool contains the most batshit song title of the year: “I Guh Guh Got A$$bergers from a Toilet Seat.” Let that be some indication of what the band’s sound is like – unhinged, noisy (surf) punk laden with lasering electronics and skittering vocal samples. The threesome’s zany dial is turned to 11 most of the time, but they are capable of mellowing out quite a bit, like for the penultimate track “Voodoo or Dirty Mind no Let’s Stay Together,” or for the closing moments of “Mouth Bunker.” It’s a breezy albeit frenzied listen with its six tracks totaling about 12 minutes; give it a try above and happy listening!
Cakes Da Killa‘s Hunger Pangs mixtape has arrived! Described as sounding like a fighting game and as being the “ugly older sister” of last year’s phenomenal Eulogy, this new project finds Cakes at, well, his hungriest. His flow continues to be fast, fiery, and in-your-face and his beats are still bold and bangin. The only thing to have been toned down is the lyrical content, but only ever so slightly - there isn’t a “Fuck Ya Boyfriend” on here, at least. But regardless, Cakes is still consistently clever and remains one of hip hop’s most exciting voices. Enjoy!
New York-based folk singer-songwriter Matteah Baim is releasing her third full-length record, Falling Theater, this week, and with it comes this video for one of its songs, “Dude.” A series of screen-tests of various dudes – both men and women – inspired by the classic Andy Warhol series, the video has a minimalistic, rhythmic vibe to it. It’s interesting watching the different kinds of people that the video’s creators (Matthew Nelson-Love, Jack Schurman, and Baim herself) were able to squeeze into the single day of shooting. Everyone gives the camera a slightly different expression: whether it’s a tiny smirk, a dead-serious stare, or a rather blank gaze. Baim pops up toward the end as the only person who removes a piece of clothing, and that feels appropriate: this album of hers is her clearest yet, with rich production values and Baim’s voice really rising out of the occasional murk of her previous LPs. As reflected in the first line of the song, “He is a kind-hearted person,” the video is simple but full of a subtle joy.
Falling Theater is out this week via Dream Drive/Kobalt.
Previously mentioned hip hop duo #$ has just put out its first project on Smokers Cough Records, the eight-track-long mini-album Hash Money. It’s a breezy listen, clocking in a little short of the half hour mark, but it showcases everything that makes its two members so great. New Jersey MC GDP is a clever and charismatic wordsmith and Space Jesus‘ production style is definitely his own – I’ll go with the above Bandcamp page’s “electro hip-hop bass” description of his beats. The twosome ultimately pack a lot into Hash Money, resulting in a decidedly short-winded but substantial listen. Enjoy!