Sound Board: The Week’s Best Tracks
Our picks for the best tracks out there for the week of August 24–28, 2015. Headphone-tested, FLOOD-approved.
Are temperatures reaching record highs in your city right now? Does it seem like the weather is taunting you, and trying to remind you what hell on earth really is? Well, we’ve got some cool, newly released tracks to keep you from melting in this last-chance heat wave. This week, the Internet presented us with enlightening demos (Paul McCartney), powerful live performances (Solange), and a whole lot of solid tracks from upcoming LPs (Alex G, Generifus, Ne-Hi, Julia Holter, The Libertines, The Mantles).
Check them all out below.
Solange, “Young Gifted and Black”
Solange’s set at FYF this weekend was raucous. She was twenty minutes late, but the crowd didn’t hold it against her; her high-energy performance set the crowd off and shrunk the Lawn stage’s massive field down to club size. But things got more intimate when she brought out Dev Hynes, R&B trio KING, and singer Moses Sumney to cover Nina Simone’s classic “To Be Young, Gifted, and Black.” It was an indelible moment that went beyond entertainment. Video of the track’s rehearsal surfaced online on Monday, courtesy of Solange herself, and after Janelle Monáe’s “Hell You Talmbout,” it gives us a second straight week of powerful resistance—this time in the form of determined affirmation.
Paul McCartney, “Take It Away”
In 1982, Paul McCartney released Tug of War, his follow-up album to McCartney II and the first Macca album after the dissolution of Wings. On this album was the funky jam “Take It Away,” which featured a reggae beat and inspired an incredible music video. Now, Macca is rereleasing Tug of War with loads of demos, bonus material, and alternate takes of album songs including “Take It Away.” McCartney’s walking bass line and angelic harmonies move to the front of the driving version of track, highlighting his inherent ability to craft an excellent pop-rock song. When the horns come in, mingling with the backup “oohs,” we dare you not to bop your head.
It appears that bedroom rock prodigy Alex G has been banging out albums left and right since before he was even out of the womb, but his upcoming release Beach Music is notable for being his debut on Domino Records. The video for “Bug” is a glimpse into the label’s influence this time around, with the track finding the Philadelphia local sounding fuller and more balanced than ever before, while at the same time retaining the careful acoustic backbone of his Elliott Smith-inspired sound.
Julia Holter is featured in the aquamarine wash of Matt Mondanile’s latest effort as Ducktails, but she has also been busy conjuring up some much clearer waters for her upcoming solo release Have You in My Wilderness. “Feel You” set the whimsical, calculated tone as the first single, and this week she released “Sea Calls Me Home”—a harpsichord-driven retro-folk journey centering around one of the most hypnotizing choruses of the year.
Seeming to exist within the same universe as Title Fight’s recent video for “Chlorine,” the journey depicted in the “Turncoat” video takes place on water, and follows an unlikely protagonist as he has a better day than yours. Musically, the song is more relaxed than “Drag,” and finds Ne-Hi embracing their jangle roots—think of it like a companion piece to “Harborcoat.”
While still anthemic as the title suggests, “Anthem for Doomed Youth” showcases The Libertines‘ notorious frontman’s warm crooning atop cinematic surf guitar. Pete Doherty channels his inner Jarvis Cocker for the sweeping ballad.
The Mantles, “Doorframe”
Last winter, The Mantles whetted our appetite for their signature slapdash jangly rock with the “Memory” 7″ single. And earlier this week, the San Francisco group announced their fourth full-length album All Odds End, and released the LP’s first single “Doorframe”—a well-produced piece of psych-rock that somehow makes crippling indecision sound desirable. With mellow, surfy guitar riffs and vocal stylings similar to White Fence‘s Tim Presley on For the Recently Found Innocent, the easy joy of “Doorframe” makes All Odds End one of our most anticipated albums of the fall.
“Avalanche”—the new single from Brazilian psychedelic four-piece Boogarins—was written in response to the nation’s unrest during last year’s World Cup, when new high-rise hotels and FIFA facilities changed the skyline of Rio de Janeiro’s Copacabana beach. Frontman Fernando “Dino” Almeida sings in Portuguese, “My cries have the strength to knock down all of the buildings, they will not let me see the sun,” along to the entrancing twang of tropical, psychedelic guitar lines.
Generifus, “Don’t Turn Away”
Extra Bad, Spencer Sult’s sixth LP as Generifus, was recorded at Dub Narcotic in Olympia, WA, ground zero for K Records, who released Generifus’s “In My Cave” single back in 2011. With its acoustic-driven power, Extra Bad’s hard-strummed lead single, “Don’t Turn Away,” sounds a bit like Ian MacKaye in full-on Evens mode. It’s a picture-perfect DIY gem, another in a long line of pristine pop songs that the Pacific Northwest scene has been turning out since Calvin Johnson bought his first reel of tape.