Four writers, four songs you need to know.
Julia Holter “Sea Calls Me Home”
Julia Holter’s last few albums have been intriguing, eclectic collections of soundscape-y studio creations, reminiscent of sonic weirdos like Kate Bush and Scott Walker. Her last album, Loud City Song is really excellent but definitely a grower, rewarding repeat listens as you immerse yourself in her richly textured sonic world. Her new LP, Have You In My Wilderness is just as dense and interesting, but way more immediate than any of her other albums. I was totally hooked after the first listen, with the album’s second single, “Sea Calls Me Home” jumping out as possibly the catchiest, most accessible song she’s ever written. This is definitely one of my favorite tracks of the year. So cool and good! -Matt Byrne
Little Simz “Dead Body”
Little Simz is like Lady Sovereign (what’s she up to?) meets Kate Tempest. I know that sounds like it should be bad, but I also may just be making that connection because they’re all ladies with British accents who rap. Little Simz is not bad. She’s actually a very good rapper! Her latest, “Dead Body” features some impressive bars that teeter between a threat to her competition and a genuine fear of death as it relates to herself. The emotional ping-pong reminds me a little of Angel Haze. Her pacing is rapid-fire throughout, choosing to emphasize through some experiments with pitch instead of pauses. This over a kind of industrial track that ends on dogs barking makes it sound like this song was written and performed in a dark alley (in a good way). -Tam Sackman
Palace Winter “Menton”
There’s nothing winter-y about this perfectly composed track from Danish-Australian duo Palace Winter. Easily one of my favorites of 2015, it’s an erratic, yet soothing mix of slacker-rock and ambient psychedelia with plenty if reverb and an enticing vocal line that shouldn’t work as well as it does. More often than not, I’m irked by songs that last longer than four minutes–regardless of how great the song is, I just can’t help but think about how much better it would be if it was a bit shorter. But to remove any of Menton’s six-and-a-bit minutes would be a goddamn travesty. I’m looking forward to hearing more from these guys. -Norm Quarrinton
Trance Farmers “Meet Our Man”
New Orleans is a hot, weird and wonderful hell. And if I thought the city seemed like a hazy time capsule, then I wasn’t ready for its musical talent. In hopes that they travel up to D.C. some day, I’m sharing Trance Farmers and their uniquely-swampy brand of dirty, southern psyched-out rockabilly. I caught two of their shows on a recent fever-dream/trip through Louisiana and that was enough to get me hooked on the old-school psych-rock sound.
Trance Farmer is primarily the project of Dayve Samek, who’s guitar crunches along with some of the wildest vocal delivery I’ve heard in a long time. They’ve got a few more laid back tunes in their deck, but “Meet Our Man” gives you the full filthy, stomping experience. It lulls you back to simpler age of twangy, Americana doo-wop but does so without a trace of normality. Last I heard, Trance Farmers were headed west with a swagger. Maybe if we’re lucky, they’ll find their way over to the East Coast. Until then, you’ll just have to check out their new split 7″. -Bryce Rudow