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.
UK-based electronic music producer Hudson Mohawke has recently announced that he’s got a new EP on the way via Warp Records. He’s dropped a new track along with the announcement, and it’s the title track of that forthcoming EP, Chimes. It’s dropping officially on September 29th.
Needless to day, considering I’ve enjoyed Hudson’s previous projects so much, I’m excited for what’s coming up on Chimes. The title track itself takes an incredibly loud, rowdy approach to the trap banger. While there are some ethereal, glossy synth passages on this track, much of it’s runtime is taken over by loud, distorted sub-bass and slightly offbeat synth horns.
It’s unquestionably colorful, and even though it might share a little too much common ground with what Hudson’s already done in TNGHT, I’m still loving what’s going on here.
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.
Mass Appeal signee Bishop Nehru might be a fresh face in hip hop right now, but the ambitious 17-year-old MC has already been working on a full-length collaboration with MF DOOM, slated for release later this year. Above you can check out the project’s first single “Darkness (HBU)” and its video. Enjoy!
“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.
Magazine/label Mass Appeal recently announced a compilation album with the goal of highlighting a number of the hottest MCs at the moment, including Pusha T, YG, and Mac Miller; as well as showcasing the talents of some of the imprint’s up-and-comers. “Old English” is the first track off this forthcoming all-star effort, and it certainly has us looking looking forward to hearing the rest. Young Thug, A$AP Ferg, and Freddie Gibbs are freaking fire on this thing and producers Salva and Nick Hook turn out a top-notch, banging beat. Hear it above and enjoy!
Mass Appeal Compilation Vol. 1 is due out September 2 via Mass Appeal Records.
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.