Sound Board: The Week’s Best Tracks
Our picks for the best tracks out there for the week of January 19–23, 2015. Headphone-tested, FLOOD-approved.
Even with the holiday on Monday, this week was stacked with unheard tracks left off of previous albums (St. Vincent, The Babies), lead singles from upcoming LPs (Spirit Club, All We Are, Ava Luna), new tunes from established bands (A Place To Bury Strangers, Modest Mouse), and a surprise release on daytime television (Sharon Van Etten).
Check them all out below.
“Stone,” is a gorgeous, exquisitely crafted introduction to All We Are—all three members contribute vocals, but here it’s bassist Gikling who leads listeners through a building undercurrent of ambient bass, resonating electric guitars, and echoing drums that swell into a drifting chorus that fades in and out from the scene. The diligent and purposeful intricacies of the band’s delicate sound are an impressive display of exceptional substance that supports its meticulous, precarious aims. Fittingly, the band notes of the accompanying visuals that “the loneliness inherent in the track is represented by footage taken by NASA of our solar system, reminding us that we are all alone and distant on this pale blue dot.”
Sharon Van Etten, “I Don’t Want To Let You Down”
After the immense success of Sharon Van Etten‘s fourth LP Are We There, viewers and fans were pleasantly surprised this week when the singer-songwriter performed a brand-new song on Ellen, as opposed to one of the fantastic tracks from her 2014 release. “I Don’t Want To Let You Down”—which will be available on an upcoming seven-inch—is a driving track that showcases Van Etten’s raw voiced accented by harder guitar fuzz. Sonically, the track is a bit stronger than her delicate sound on Are We There, but it stays true to the album’s underlying themes the fear and uncertainty of love.
A Place To Bury Strangers, “We’ve Come So Far”
In anticipation for the release of their fourth full-length Transfixiation, A Place To Bury Strangers recently dropped the album’s second single, the epic “We’ve Come So Far.” Underneath the rapid-fire drum hits, a steady bass line, and echoey vocals is the simple message that we should appreciate our accomplishments, and not focus on the negatives of our lives. About the deceptively brooding-sounding track, Oliver Ackermann (guitar, vocals) said, “Sometimes I just want to shake people for feeling useless. There is so much potential and amazing things going on all around. Help make something great for us all to enjoy.”
The Babies, “Got Old”
It’s been three years since The Babies released Our House on the Hill, but the New York band’s solid sophomore album is the gift that keeps giving with the impending release of a digital seven-inch via Woodsist. The seven-inch’s A-side is “Got Old”—a simple yet satisfying jangly ditty about the unstoppable process of aging. The track ends with Kevin Morby (currently twenty-six years old) singing wistfully about his youth, “When I was young / Man, I was younger / You should have seen me / I was on fire.” Head’s up, Kevin: You still are.
St. Vincent, “Bad Believer”
Annie Clark (aka St. Vincent) will not stop having fun, and we are more than 100% okay with that, if it means she will continue putting out excellent and intricate songs. “Bad Believer,” a previously unreleased track that will be available as part of the St. Vincent “digital deluxe version,” is three minutes of pure joy full of playful and angelic synths breakdowns, a classic dance-floor beat, and one unbelievably catchy chorus. The fanciful track ends so abruptly, you can’t help but press play again.
Spirit Club’s debut video is pretty much a druggy visual bingo chart for the members’ (Nathan Williams of Wavves, Joel Williams of TV Girl and Sweet Valley, and Andrew Caddick of Jeans Wilder) known passions: weed, skating, the beach, Tecates, Seinfeld, SoCal, the ’90s, VHS technology, In-N-Out, the occult, The Simpsons, to name just a few. The sound of the supergroup is a promising cross-fade of all three members’ individual projects—reverbed vocals and fuzzed-out guitars in all their laid-back glory.
Modest Mouse, “Coyotes”
Inspired by a real coyote that rode Portland’s light-rail in 2002, Modest Mouse‘s latest track from their upcoming release Strangers To Ourselves is an incredibly sweet ode to the public transportation loving animal with hushed vocals and delicate guitar work. Following the solid grooves of the impending album’s first single “Lampshades On Fire,” “Coyotes” reveals a different sound featured on Strangers To Ourselves, adding to our excitement for the group’s sixth LP.
Atmospheric blips, funky falsettos, hypnotic guitar riffs, and crashing percussion all come together for a little over three minutes within Ava Luna‘s brand-new track, “Bills.” The Brooklyn-based group’s third album Infinite House is out this spring and is sure to be full of untested, but highly seductive crashing, clashing, and melding of genres. Get ready to take the ride.