Sound Board: The Week’s Best Tracks
Our picks for the best tracks out there for the week of February 22–26, 2015. Headphone-tested, FLOOD-approved.
As we inch closer and closer to the musical madness of March, let’s take a step back and recognize some of the amazing singles (Marissa Nadler, White Lung, Woods, Parquet Courts), remixes (Miguel/Tame Impala), and unearthed demos (Sufjan Stevens) that we heard in this last week of February.
Check them all out below.
Sufjan Stevens’ label Asthmatic Kitty has announced that the Illinois vinyl reissue will come with a bonus single of a demo version of the album’s centerpiece, “Chicago.” It’s actually the fourth version of the song Stevens has released: in addition to the original, there’s also The Avalanche‘s “Chicago (Acoustic Version)” and “Chicago (Adult Contemporary Easy Listening Version).” Incredibly, all four versions of the song are radically different from one another, which demonstrates the breadth of ideas Stevens was working with at the time. (Which isn’t to say that he’s exactly going stale these days.)
Woods have never put out a bad album. Some have been better than others, sure—At Echo Lake and Bend Beyond immediately come to mind—but through eight releases over nine years, nothing has been anything less than solid. Right on schedule, City Sun in the River of Light, the band’s ninth LP, is due in less than two months—on April 8. We’ve already heard the Mulatu Astatke–influenced lead single “Sun City Creeps,” and today comes the second track, which continues the trend of funkiness, and indicates that this will likely be the most worldly sounding Woods album yet (the LP cover’s color scheme seems to validate that suspicion).
After a quick strum of an acoustic guitar, Marissa Nadler‘s dreamy voice washes over everything in “Janie in Love”—the lead single from her upcoming album Strangers. Wispy and atmospheric falsetto backup vocals add to the track’s lush soundscape, which boasts dramatic and damning lyrics like “You’re a natural disaster and I’m watching you blow up everything.” In true Nadler fashion, there’s a hint of sadness within each line of “Janie in Love.”
Miguel, “Waves” (Tame Impala remix)
“Waves” off of Miguel’s 2015 album Wildheart is a massive hit. It’s got a hypnotic ’70s beat, clap breakdown and the perfect falsetto call-and-response chorus—a nearly flawless dance-pop song. Leave it to Tame Impala’s Kevin Parker to turn the mainstream banger into a psychedelic jam that could have easily been left off of Currents. The song keeps its playful energy, while amping up the echoes and fuzzed-out guitar. Most importantly, it’s still sexy.
With its soft vocal harmonies and clear guitars, “Hungry” represents something of a shift away from the grime of White Lung‘s Deep Fantasy. “There’s this really stupid attitude that only punks have where it’s somehow uncool to become a better songwriter. In no other musical genre are your fans going to drop you when you start progressing. That would be like parents being disappointed in their child for graduating from kindergarten to the first grade.” Barber-Way tells Annie Clark in an interview on White Lung’s website. “I have no interest in staying in kindergarten.”
Disassociation: as anyone who’s filled a journal in a city or country not their own can tell you, it’s good for art, bad for the psyche. It’s a feeling Parquet Courts’ Andrew Savage has explored in the past (most notably on the Sunbathing Animal standout “Duckin and Dodgin”), but on “Berlin Got Blurry,” the second single from the band’s forthcoming Human Performance, he sets it to a loping western beat, with a gargle of a guitar line decorating the chorus.