Sound Board: The Week’s Best Tracks
Our picks for the best tracks out there for the week of January 26–30, 2015. Headphone-tested, FLOOD-approved.
As January comes to a close, the music world was treated to several excellent new tracks this week from upcoming spring releases (Mikal Cronin, Drenge, Will Butler, Shlohmo, Courtney Barnett) and stand-alone singles (Los Angeles Police Department), as well as fresh videos for songs we already love (Girlpool), and one very eclectic remix (ELEL).
Check them all out below.
To accompany the announcement of his third full-length MCIII (out May 5 via Merge), multi-instrumentalist Mikal Cronin released one hell of a lead single. “Made My Mind Up” is a bright and jangly number with Cronin’s melodic voice floating on top of a driving beat, a whole lot of fuzz, and the refreshing plink of a piano. Done in under four minutes, “Made My Mind Up” easily has listeners hooked and ready for more MC.
“Buried” is a seven-minute sonic experience—more melodic than the last track Shlohmo released track, but just as thought-provoking. Mix together the cold and calculated sound of deep synths and drum machines, a quickly building tempo, and an eerie crescendo to make Dark Red‘s lead single; throw in one part Twin Peaks score to truly understand the mesmerizing, and slightly terrifying quality of the track.
Girlpool‘s Cleo Tucker and Harmony Tividad go on a journey through LA’s Chinatown in the new video, sitting on kiddie rides and checking out gift shops along the way. It’s a charming offering for the relatively subdued song from the punk duo, featuring Tucker and Tividad’s delightfully imperfect harmonizing and sparse, lo-fi guitar strumming.
Drenge, “We Can Do What We Want”
If you’re not familiar with the English duo Drenge, you better get used to hearing the name. Brothers Rory and Eoin Loveless hail from the small village of Castleton, Derbyshire, make music that sounds like The Damned collided full-speed with The Strokes, have their sophomore album Undertow coming out April 6, and just rocked the hell out of Late Show with David Letterman with their single “We Can Do What We Want.” In the words of Dave himself, “That’s all you need, for God’s sake.”
Today, Will Butler premiered the charming, strange video for the track “Anna,” a song that finds him channeling a little less Keith Richards, and a little more Gary Numan into his act (not to mention how much he looks like a young Robyn Hitchcock these days). The part-lyric, part-animated video was directed by Will himself, who describes it as being “100% serious, 100% joking.” Basically, if “Take My Side” was a porch-lit, whiskey-drinking affair, “Anna” is the scene afterwards where Butler drunkenly wanders off and starts dancing in the woods. Have fun.
ELEL, “40 Watt (Carousel Remix)”
Remixes are tricky business, but don’t tell that to ELEL. In celebration of their debut single for Mom + Pop, the Nashville group has released a number of remixes of the song from the likes of Beaty Heart and Daytrip. Perhaps the most eclectic remix of the bunch is from electro-poppers Carousel, who make it especially hard to keep in mind that this song is actually just about a light bulb.
This week Ryan Pollie, a.k.a. Los Angeles Police Department, announced that he’s got a new label and released a new single to celebrate. “Insecurity” is an upbeat and floaty bedroom indie-rock track complete with satisfying harmonies and an infectious guitar riff. The subtle news behind the news this time around is that the single marks Pollie’s debut with Fat Possum, possibly hinting at a full-length to come. But for now, you’ll just have to enjoy the fuzzy goodness of the tune with no strings attached.
To mark the announcement, Courtney Barnett also dropped the video for Sometimes I Sit and Think‘s lead single, “Pedestrian at Best.” From the moment that the track starts, its clear that this is a Barnett composition: decisive and fuzzed-out guitar riffs, explosive percussion, and endearing signature sing-spoken vocals spouting intelligent and self-aware lyrics permeate through every second of the song. Even the semi-creepy video of a depressed clown (portrayed by Barnett herself) wandering through an amusement park follows her witty train of thought. Lyrics like, “Put me on a pedestal and I’ll only disappoint you / Tell me I’m exceptional I promise to exploit you,” gain an extra layer of humor as you watch the “2013 Clown of the Year” try and find meaning in life after success.