Sound Board: The Week’s Best Tracks
Our picks for the best tracks out there for the week of January 12–16, 2015. Headphone tested, FLOOD approved.
This was a big week for excellent tracks from innovative solo artists (Matthew E. White, Waxahatchee, Nedelle Torrisi, Ryley Walker) and energetic newcomers (California X), as well as the return of some of today’s buzziest bands (Purity Ring) and certified rock stars (Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds).
Check them all out below.
Completely flipping the vibe to the other side of the spectrum from Fresh Blood‘s teaser trailer, Matthew E. White has now shared “Rock & Roll Is Cold,” a seethingly catchy three-chord romp that tastefully takes from the playbook of his idol Randy Newman, a man who also knows a thing or two about using the twelve-bar blues to his satirical advantage.
“Air” suggests that Katie Crutchfield has fleshed out her sound as Waxahatchee with her latest album Ivy Tripp, and is going after the same raw emotional power she displayed on 2013’s Cerulean Salt, with added fervor. In her own words, a running theme throughout Ivy Tripp is “steadying yourself on shaky ground and reminding yourself that you have control in situations that seem overwhelming, or just being cognizant in moments of deep confusion or sadness, and learning to really feel emotions and to grow from that.”
Ryley Walker, “Primrose Green”
There’s something inherently whimsical about the first single, and title track, off of indie-folk, guitar virtuoso Ryley Walker‘s sophomore album. Beyond his exceptional guitar playing, “Primrose Green” features a light and airy quality about it, thanks to the wonderful use of improvisational jangly piano atop a bouncy beat, and surrounded by intricate picking. The track transports you not only to Walker’s lush chosen setting, but his inspired state of mind as well.
California X, “Hadley, MA”
Massachusetts’s confusingly named alt-noise-rock quartet California X released their (also, slightly confusingly named) sophomore album Nights In The Dark this week via Don Giovanni Records. “Hadley, MA”—the LP’s fourth track—is a satisfyingly dense song about their New England home dripping in ’90s alt and grunge influences. Droning, body-swaying beat? Check. Dark and fuzzy guitar power chords? Check. Angsty, melancholic tone? Double check.
Before the holidays, Purity Ring had released “Push Pull” as a stand-alone track, but now Corin Roddick and Megan James have detailed an upcoming full LP along with the song “Begin Again,” a booming epic that could soundtrack Christopher Nolan’s dreams (if he had eaten a lot of sugar before going to bed). Another Eternity, the follow-up their much-acclaimed debut with a new album drops on March 3 via 4AD.
Nedelle Torrisi, “Don’t Play Dumb”
The latest single from singer-songwriter/multi-instrumentalist Nedelle Torrisi—from her upcoming sophomore album, Advice From Paradise—is a quick jaunt into the world of charming electro-indie-pop. Featuring vocals fromRamona Gonzalez (Nite Jewel) and Julia Holter, “Don’t Play Dumb” oozes the confidence and musical qualities of a ’90s diva jam including a deep bass line, a wide array of synths, and sweet, easy-to-repeat chorus. It’s remix-ready, and a playlist essential.
Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds, “Ballad Of The Mighty I”
What’s this? A very dance-friendly disco beat and echoing back-up vocals from Oasis‘s own Noel Gallagher? We wouldn’t have believed it either. “Ballad Of The Mighty I,” a brand-new track off of Chasing Yesterday, offers a new sound that doesn’t seem totally out of place for the guitarist-turned-frontman. When asked about producing his latest High Flying Birds album, Gallagher spoke from the heart: “It was a major pain in the arse… I had all these people looking at me and saying: ‘Right, what are we doing today?’ I was making the whole thing up as I went along.” He’s nothing if not honest.