Sound Board: The Week’s Best Tracks
Our picks for the best tracks out there for the week of July 13–17, 2015. Headphone-tested, FLOOD-approved.
We’re right in the middle of the dead of summer, but not to worry, there’s tons of good music that was released this week to soundtrack the heat waves hitting the country, including tracks from upcoming full-lengths (Media Jeweler, Youth Lagoon, Salad Boys, Tunde Olaniran, Mike Krol), stand-alone singles (Sharon Van Etten, Toro Y Moi), mini-LPs (Mac DeMarco), and one very exciting surprise release (Wilco).
Check them all out below.
Media Jeweler, “Passport Invalid”
Beginning with a clean, sharp bass line and escalating into guitar-shredding pandemonium, Media Jeweler’s newest track, “Passport Invalid,” is the definition of organized chaos. The Santa Ana-based group manages to be both anarchic and highly structured, bringing a contradictory edge that keeps the song—which will be featured on the upcoming album $99 R/T Hawaii—wonderfully intriguing.
Wilco, “Random Name Generator”
There’s nothing like a surprise release from one of the most accomplished and critically acclaimed alt-indie-rock outfits in the last twenty years to get a weekend started. Yesterday afternoon, Wilco dropped their ninth full-length album Star Wars with no warning, but with a whole lot of great music. One of the LP’s standout tracks is “Random Name Generator”—a four-minute jaunt with catchy guitar riffs, a driving beat, and confident (and dare we say fun-loving?) vocals from the one and only Jeff Tweedy.
Following 2013’s Wondrous Bughouse, Trevor Powers (a.k.a. Youth Lagoon) appears to have returned from the glitter dimension (according to his new press photo, anyway) with Savage Hills Ballroom, a record that was written while dealing with the death of a close friend. The first single, “The Knower,” was released as a free 45 last week at select record stores, but starting on Monday, the track—a captivating swirl of whimsy topped with a cherry of malaise—was available to stream.
With summertime in full swing, Salad Boys have shared a track that will fit nicely into any BBQ playlist you currently have in the works. “Dream Date”—the first single from the band’s upcoming debut album Metalmania—is an upbeat, sweetly nostalgic piece of surf rock with prominent, angular guitar lines and a driving garage rock beat.
Sharon Van Etten—a fan of Tig Notaro—wrote the new track specifically for the upcoming documentary, which follows the life of the comedian after the now-legendary set she performed in the wake of her breast cancer diagnosis and the death of her mother. As you can probably guess, “Words” is a fittingly soft, mournful ballad. In the song, which channels the subtle beauty of early Beach House, Van Etten sings along with a soft piano and a ticking drum machine.
Here’s an incomplete list of the kinds of musicians Tunde Olaniran manages to sound like in the four minutes of “KYBM,” the second single he’s released ahead of Transgressor:
— a big-budget, high-strings R&B diva with a glass-shattering falsetto
— a bobbing-and-weaving reggae toaster on a dark and tiny stage
— a radio-ready champagne rapper
— a sultry crooner stirring the ice in his night’s first drink
— any one of a number of Dirty South rappers who have not hidden their predilection for lean
Such range would make for an impressive enough stint on drive-time radio. That Olaniran, an activist and musician based in (of all places) Flint, Michigan, is able to synthesize these voices into something clean and seamless and if not particularly easy to listen to then at least deeply pleasurable, is something else entirely.
Got a minute? And a half? Good. That’s all the time you’ll need to jumpstart your afternoon with garage-rocker Mike Krol, who released “This is the News,” from his Merge debut Turkey, this morning. Krol calls the song “my Declaration of Independence, my Manifest Destiny, my Treaty of Versailles, and my answer to ‘Shout’ by the Isley Brothers.”
Toro Y Moi, “Pitch Black”
The spacey beats of Toro Y Moi and smooth flow of Rome Fortune in “Pitch Black” compel you to kick back, relax, and enjoy the grooves. It’s almost too easy to sink into this track and lose yourself in its artful layering and fresh lyrics. A perfect weekend treat.
Mac DeMarco, “I’ve Been Waiting For Her”
A couple of months ago, we got our first taste of Mac DeMarco‘s upcoming mini-LP Another One with “The Way You’d Love Her.” On Tuesday, the singer-songwriter with the silky smooth voice dropped a new track—the fast-paced “I’ve Been Waiting For Her.” With intertwining guitar lines and an upbeat message of love, DeMarco has successfully made all of us swoon. With lyrics like “Give up my life / For the rhythm / For the beat of a heart / Like hers” how could you not?