Among next week’s most exciting new music releases is the debut LP from Flaming Lips side-project, Electric Würms. The amusingly titled Musik, die Schwer zu Twerk finds the Steven Drozd-led outfit delivering a set of vibrant and surprisingly condensed prog/kosmische tunes that balance whimsy and weightiness. The project’s virtues were put fully on display earlier this summer with lead single and album closer “Heart of the Sunrise” (a boldly truncated Yes cover). If that track left you intrigued or perhaps unconvinced, take one more glimpse via “The Bat” above. Enjoy!
Musik, die Schwer zu Twerk is due out August 19 on Warner Bros. But that’s not all! The Flaming Lips are doing yet another one of their full-length cover albums, this time for The Beatles’ Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band, and that is expected for October 28. Set to feature a wide array of guests including Miley Cyrus, Maynard James Keynan, Julianna Barwick, and Chuck Inglish; that sounds like it’s gonna be freaking nuts! You can stream their take on “Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds” here:
“Hunger of the Pine,” the lead single off alt-J’s forthcoming LP This is All Yours, was already a plenty fierce song - from its progressive, horn-adorned composition, to its prominent Miley Cyrus vocal sample, to its Hunger Games-esque music video. However, the song just got even fiercer thanks to our bold friends over at clipping., who have re-worked the song into the fourth installment of their “Story” song series (I take it the third chapter was skippable). They did a number on the track, let me tell ya – the only recognizable elements of the original are the “sleeplessly embracing” vocal cut and the horns. Damn, does Daveed sound bad-ass over that brass! But not only is “Story 4″ a glorious testament to these guys’ remixing skills, but it features what might just be their most intricate (and macabre) storytelling to date. After pieces like the first two stories and “Dominoes,” that’s saying something. Here’s hoping this gets put out on a 7″ or something!
But don’t let this overshadow alt-J’s original work, which is still a stellar tune. This Is All Yours drops September 22 via Infectious Records. Find our review of the band’s stunning 2012 debut An Awesome Wave here.
Last month, Houston-based avant-garde rapper and musician B L A C K I E announced a new studio full-length titled IMAGINE YOURSELF IN A FREE AND NATURAL WORLD. No release date yet, but this lead single “None Above” has me properly excited. The track is a crashing, kaleidoscopic wall of sound, with wailing from B L A C K I E forced to the background and just barely audible. It’s beautifully brutal. Or brutally beautiful? Whatever; it’s awesome! Check it out!
Yeah Yeah Yeahs front woman Karen O recently announced her first solo album, Crush Songs, and everyone was wondering what it would sound like. Would it just be another YYYs album? Well, here comes the first taste, a song called “Rapt,” and for those who have been paying attention to O’s career, it isn’t much of a shock. While it sounds a little like a lo-fi track that wouldn’t have felt out of place on PJ Harvey’s Uh Huh Her, it is also very much a Karen O song.
The song actually originates from her brief stint under the moniker Native Korean Rock from a few years back. It centers on a patient, simple acoustic strum, and a very direct vocal. “Do I really need / Another habit like you?” O sings in the chorus, deciding that yes she thinks she might. The song clocks in under two minutes, which is enough. Yeah Yeah Yeahs have done acoustic renditions of their songs before, and they sound a bit like this. The minimalistic video, directed by her husband and production designed by K.K. Barrett (Oscar-nominated for Her), depicts O floating around underwater in a bright red dress, her blonde shock of hair gone brown again. None of this is too complicated, which is why it works. O has always sounded quite comfortable in a more intimate setting, and this little ditty has me looking forward to the album.
Crush Songs is out September 9 via Cult.
Ethiopian-born Finnish singer-songwriter Mirel Wagner very quietly released her debut of creaky, stark folk music with a self-titled record in 2012. The whole thing was very minimal and dark and somber, so it isn’t too much of a surprise that it didn’t catch too much buzz (which is unfortunate, really). But now, Wagner has signed to Sub Pop for her sophomore record, When the Cellar Children See the Light of Day, and has released a new song.
“The Dirt” follows a similar pattern to her debut songs, but it has a richer production and songwriting value, with Wagner’s voice really shining throughout, with just the right dab of reverb. It has a bluesy strut (blues has always been a clear influence on her brand of folk), and the electric guitar that comes sliding in has a rustic, rickety feel that fits the song perfectly. It’s nice to hear Wagner’s songs get a couple more musical elements embedded into them; she does a nice job with these small but important assists. And when she closes the song with the chilling, “You’ll be in the dirt / You’ll be the dirt,” it just gets me all scared and excited.
When the Cellar Children See the Light of Day is out August 12 via Sub Pop.
Jenny Hval and Susanna are both well-respected Norwegian singer-songwriters with striking voices who favor unique, complex, and often quite minimal compositions. Last year, Hval released a pretty good experimental pop LP called Innocence is Kinky, and Susanna released her fourth solo full length (she has an additional three under the name Susanna & the Magical Orchestra), The Forester. Together on this new collaborative project, they form a very clear bond between their favorite styles.
“I Have Walked This Body” opens on a dark, somber drone, with Hval delivering a keening but mostly placid vocal. Soon though, things get weird. An eerie vocal affect and some well-placed static later, it almost leaks into Shaking the Habitual territory. Both singers’ voices get nicely showcased here, as the song slowly morphs and slides through a few different phases, before growing quite cacophonous and intoxicating, and then finally collapsing back into the void from whence it came. The two women clearly know what they’re doing here. Their collaborative album is a whopping 15 tracks long, so I am very interested to see what they do across such a huge canvas.
Meshes of Voice comes out Aug 19 via SusannaSonata.
“Holy Holy,” Orenda Fink’s third song to drop from her forthcoming record Blue Dream, opens with a very classic-sounding guitar progression. Then you realize the almost spiderweb quality it has–spindly, dewy, and delicate. Fink’s vocals come in shortly and it’s all just pretty, blissful, and mournful. Fink wrote the song while grappling with the struggle of how we can love someone so deeply if the relationship ends in death. “Where does the love go?” she asks. The album was written after the death of her beloved dog. It all sounds very dour, but in this track (and the two others she’s dropped) there is also a sense of hopefulness, of yearning. Fink is looking for answers.
The song progresses quite nicely, with a beautiful chorus replete with a luminous harmony (which has always been one of Fink’s strong suits). In the first verse Fink sings, “We come into this world all alone/And we leave with not much more,” but by the chorus she seems to exalt her deceased love into the clouds above. A shimmering chime sounds out for emphasis, and then a keyboard gently glows, like the embers of a sinking fire. Fink has always been an astounding talent – her group Azure Ray’s debut remains one of my all-time favorite records – and her forthcoming record is bound to be one of aching loss, but also of a tender beauty, the kind that comes from having hope in times of darkness.
Blue Dream is out August 19 via Saddle Creek.
“Queen,” the lead single off Perfume Genius‘ forthcoming third LP Too Bright, is without a doubt singer-songwriter Mike Hadreas’ most extravagant song to date. This time around, he is forgoing the spartan piano arrangements we’ve found powerful in his prior releases in favor of bright synths, punchy drums, and comparatively pristine production. But the emotion that came with his sparse, reverb-y work of the past has not dissipated with this more ornate compositional palette. Hadreas’ vocals are assured, forceful; giving “Queen” the last of the makings for a great pop anthem. While I’ll admittedly miss the forlorn piano melodies should the album entirely go in this glitzier direction, this is a pretty interesting change of pace for Hadreas and a plenty evocative piece in its own right.
Too Bright is due out September 23 via Matador.
So much hype surrounding Half Japanese’s upcoming record Overjoyed – it’s their first full-length thing in 13 freaking years! It’s not so hard to see why all the excitement: the band’s DIY sound was groundbreaking throughout the 70s, 80s, and 90s and was influential to countless notable alt/indie rock artists, including Kurt Cobain and Daniel Johnston.
Now it’s 2014, and with lo-fi music so readily accessible with the web, I can’t really imagine this new single “In Its Pull” being mind-blowing for most listeners. That being said, Jad Fair still knows how to write the hell out of a song, so this is a pretty killer track all the same. It sounds in-the-moment like the group’s best work and I dig the raw production Deerhoof’s John Dieterich brings to the table. Thankfully, it looks as though Overjoyed will be a plenty enjoyable comeback that will be just offbeat enough. We know too well that sometimes even that is too much to ask for…
Overjoyed is due out September 2 via Joyful Noise Recordings.