Sound Board: The Week’s Best Tracks
Our picks for the best tracks out there for the week of October 12–October 16, 2015. Headphone-tested, FLOOD-approved.
Have you figured out what you’re going to be for Halloween yet? Yeah, it really is a bummer that your friends have already told you that Uma Thurman from Pulp Fiction and “Three Hole Punch” Jim are both too easy. While you try and figure out your next move, listen to new jams from some excellent supergroups (FFS), bands (Gold Class, Deerhunter, together PANGEA, Wet Leather), frontmen (Martin Courtney), and producers (Arca, Pharrell/A Tribe Called Quest).
Check them all out below.
together PANGEA, “Blue Mirror”
LA skate-punk trio together PANGEA don’t really drop in so much as they cruise past the park entirely in “Blue Mirror.” With its tightly picked acoustic guitar and hoarse-after-shouting vocals, the track grabs a bit from Let It Be-era Replacements (whose Tommy Stinson produced the band’s upcoming EP), but their particular brand of defiance is lacking in the Mats’ humor, which makes them come across more as an updated Hüsker Dü. Either way, you’re getting Minneapolis straight outta LA.
Despite what your outdoor thermometer might be telling you, it’s fall. And that means that indie-rock bands around the country are packing up their 16-passenger vans to make another circuit around the continent. It’s a cycle Martin Courtney knows all too well. His latest single from solo debut Many Moons—following “Northern Highway” and “Vestiges”—finds the Real Estate frontman lamenting having to head out once again. And while the history of rock and roll is littered with horrendously dull songs about Life On The Road, Courtney’s complaints aren’t about bad food, or sleeping in dingy motels, or having to soundcheck hungover. They’re about missing his family: “It’s half past two in the afternoon/And I want to see your faces,” he sings in the song’s opening line. “Please don’t go forgetting about me.” It’s enough to drop the temperature a few degrees.
FFS, “Call Girl”
Yesterday, FFS released the official video for “Call Girl,” one of the album highlights from their self-titled debut from earlier this year. “Call Girl” is one of the best examples of the intelligent and playful collaboration between Franz Ferdinand and Sparks. With its disco beat and damn catchy chorus, it’s easy to see where “Call Girl” follows in the fine tradition of songs about prostitutes, but then flips it on its head with hilariously specific lyrics like “I gave up blow and adderall for you / So I’d have dough and spend it all on you.” Aw, how sweet!
Wet Leather, “Shame”
“Shame it makes me nervous,” croons Wet Leather‘s frontman Matt Bernstein in the middle of the band’s newest single “Shame.” Hypnotic synth lines and bright guitar riffs open up the New York group’s self-aware track about the crippling or awesome power of anxiety and shame. Can it spur you on to do more? Or will you be left with doubt swirling around in your brain.
“Mutant is about sensuality and impulsiveness as escape routes out of rigidity. Softness as a weapon when the mind attacks itself,” avant-garde electronic musician Arca says of his new record in a statement. If lead single “EN” is indicative of Mutant as a whole, that line about softness being a weapon is about right. The Venezuelan producer, who has previously worked with Bjork and FKA twigs, sets up a rigid frame out of gashed synths, then shoots warm, pitched-down voices and billows of sound through it, unburdening the track of some of its rigor.
If Fading Frontier is the album that finally finds Bradford Cox and co. settling a calm, confident domestication, let “Living My Life” be the anthem for grocery runs and three-day weekends forevermore. This is clean, simple, excellently executed indie rock.
Charging in on a cloud of guitar and a baseline that sounds like it’s repeating an old argument, Gold Class‘s “Bite Down” feels familiar. There are antecedents to the Melbourne group’s sound—a hit from Jawbreaker’s dark and urgent root, a few drops from Joy Division’s perpetually gathered clouds—but it’s more in the mood of the song than in its distinct elements. Singer Adam Curley sings in a low, rich baritone that he gooses with a little vibrato, making him sound something like a pre-cynicism Morrissey, or maybe like The B-52s’ Fred Schneider had he chosen darkness. Curley’s voice fundamentally changes the view of the band behind him—all of those jagged edges and lashes seem more like the protective spikes on the outer walls of a self-patrolled fort.
A Tribe Called Quest, “Bonita Applebum” (Pharrell remix)
Tribe’s 1990 cut “Bonita Applebaum” is about as canonical as you can get, and that original beat—with its twining sitar line that would later tie the knot atop The Fugees’ “Killing Me Softly—is ineffable. So it’s to Pharrell’s infinite credit that he acquits himself with his remix. The bass is bumped up to 21st century levels, and he floats a few wordless voices behind Q-Tip’s smooth-like-butta flow, making it an updated take on the original’s easy jazz.