Jessica Pratt – “Back, Baby”

With a voice like Janis Joplin minus the cigarettes and guitar playing like an angel with problems, Jessica Pratt seems to be a rising contender in the folk rock world. Pratt’s original and peculiar approach is simple, but allows her to enter a completely different category to modern folk rockers: a strummed or plucked guitar, and vocals that hold such unfamiliar nuances that their beauty really lies in the heart of the listener. “Back, Baby” is a single from her upcoming album titled On Your Own Love Again, which is being released on January the 27th.

Although the track is similar to her previous work, there seems to have been some emotional progression. Reminiscent of a pregnant Joan Baez at Woodstock, Pratt tells a tale of a lover from the past, a man she wishes she could revisit, but understands the consequences could be dire. As she “sometimes prays for the rain,” I pray her new album lives up to the standard that this single has set.

- Fin Worrall

Father John Misty – “Bored in the USA” (On Letterman)

Mainstream America got its first exposure to Father John Misty’s (Josh Tillman) haunting vocals and effortless stage presence on David Letterman. The word “angelic” is thrown around liberally when folks discuss the Fleet Foxes camp, and it’s always done deservedly so. Most often done in reference to Robin Pecknold, but now ex member of the band Josh Tillman is slowly claiming his place in the spotlight. Tillman’s unique mix of sincerity of satiric performance art is difficult to decode, but always remains incredibly entertaining to behold. “Bored in the USA” will be featured on Father John Misty’s upcoming album I Love You, Honeybear. While FJM’s last record Fun Times in Babylon displayed his talent for songwriting and lyricism, his vocals were unfortunately not featured prominently enough in the slightly muddy production. Here’s to hoping this next album is crisper than a 7 AM run through the Himalayans.

P.S. The piano is playing itself.

- Garrett Cottingham

My Brightest Diamond – This Is My Hand

My Brightest Diamond releases its most lively album yet.

Perfume Genius – Too Bright

On Perfume Genius’ third album, singer-songwriter Mike Hadreas uplifts his emotionally charged piano dirges with even more backing instrumentation.

Banks – Goddess

There are some great songs at the core of Banks’ Goddess, but the album’s potential gets lost in bland production and her underutilized vocal range.

Michael Cera – True That

Michael Cera drops an album that’s a musical hobbyist’s affair.

Jenny Lewis – The Voyager

Famed songstress Jenny Lewis drops her most commercial effort yet with The Voyager.

My Brightest Diamond – None More Than You

Singer-songwriter Shara Worden presents an appetizing teaser before the release of her new full-length album.

My Brightest Diamond – None More than You EP

Whimsical, delicate, and moving, these five new tracks from singer-songwriter Shara Worden–a.k.a. My Brightest Diamond–make for a pretty captivating lead-up to her next full-length album, which is dropping later this year. We actually shared a track from it a little while ago.

Seems like a pretty capable EP, and doesn’t really feel like any material that’s completely throw-away. If this is what didn’t make the album, I can only imagine how great this next release is going to be.

Perfume Genius – “Queen”

“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.