Bryce Rudow likes music. You can send all hatemail to [email protected] and tweet vitriol at him @brycetrudow (or follow him to make him feel more popular while getting access to random new music he doesn’t have the time to write about).
Overloaded by all the “new music” options you keep hearing about? We’re here to help. Here are four songs we think you should fucking know (this week).
Ok! So the government may be shut down, but that means more time to listen to music and skim over musings about it. We’ve got an overstuffed article and a few housekeeping things:
- Big News: THE BYT FALL/WINTER MUSIC GUIDE IS OUT! Read about your fast-approaching musical future from some great writers (and me).
- Chvrches’ lead singer Lauren Mayberry tore into the misogyny that she as a female artist encounters online, and you can check it out here. Fun Fact: Lauren did a dissertation on the portrayal of women in the media, so she knows what she’s talking about. Less-Fun Fact: They never answered an email interview I did for BYT that brought up the mixed blessing of being a good-looking singer for an up-and-coming band. BYT: Asking the tough questions and not getting any answers…
- …And since that made everyone uncomfortable, and because apparently a lot of people loved that Louis CK video from last week, here’s Louis CK making unhealthy gender relationships hilarious.
- The Naked and Famous – “In Rolling Waves”
Best Tracks: “A Stillness,” “I Kill Giants,” “Hearts Like Ours,” “The Mess”
For better or worse, most people who like “real music” (give me this catchall, we’ll argue about it another day), cringe a bit at the term “pop.” We need qualifiers like “synth-pop” and “alt-pop,” just to swallow the pill when describing a group we like that might happen to, in essence, just be pop. It might be because we believe in a simple dichotomy between what is pop and what is supposedly cool, and it might be because we associate pop with the saccharin garbage that encapsulates most Top 40 and is just as famous for its celebrity sources as its sound.
But pop can be more than that, and The Naked and Famous are helping to prove that.
This week, Emily Yoshida at Grantland was describing the fantastic new Lorde album (who, cough, I wrote about last May, cough cough), and she revealed that she believed pop was usually more about science than soul, “as if we don’t deserve to have music that can speak to both our heads and our hearts.” Well, with their new album “In Rolling Waves,” The Naked and Famous do just that, and with such blinding beauty that it is almost an overwhelming experience to try and take on fully.
I don’t know if I’ve ever gone on record saying this, but just in case, many years removed, I’d like it to be known that their debut album, “Passive Me, Aggressive You,” is one of the most under-appreciated of 2010-2011, even though it reached the Billboard Top 100 and received oodles of critical acclaim. I could write another 5,000 words on the topic, but to think that “All of This,” “The Sun,” “Young Blood,” “Spank,” and “Girls Like You” all came from the same band, let alone were on the same album, is pretty mind-blowing. Needless to say, I had pretty high expectations for their sophomore release.
Especially since their previous album’s success brought with it a great marketing team for this album’s release, and they torturously teased out behind-the-scene footage and previews over the past few months. But now it’s here, it’s real, and it’s spectacular.
From the opening track, “A Stillness,” I could tell their sound has matured. It’s apparent from the first few seconds of the record. There is a confidence in their technique and assurance in their mixing. But, with that intense control, they allow themselves to sprawl out into looser sonic landscapes during mid-song jams and crackling, dissolving endings.
What I’m most impressed with, and it’s something carried over from their first record and refined now, is their ability to make static sound poppy. And it’s not in an over-the-top way like Sleigh Bells, but in a way that makes it shimmer. “Hearts Like Ours,” the second track on the album and one that guest-writer Justin McCarthy crushed a few months ago, is able to phoenix itself from the ashes of a chaotic ending of “A Stillness” and immediately glisten as a nostalgia pop anthem over puffy-cloud fuzz. That same talent is displayed during songs like “The Mess,” which slowly incinerates as it plays before exploding into synthed fire. However, the best sonic explosions on the album are the moments before every chorus on in “I Kill Giants,” the high-water mark of the album and the song I am most looking forward to hearing when they play 9:30 Club this Sunday (AND MONDAY!).
The band is at their best when they let their emotive synth-pop decay, harden, and burn with uninhibited amounts of passion and gusto, and thankfully those moments are frequent throughout the 12-track album.
So buy it/download it/Spotify it, and try and get the last remaining tickets to see them Monday at 9:30 (Sunday’s already sold out).
- Ben Khan – “Eden”
Yesterday, I posted Ben Kahn’s “Eden” in one of the “new music” Facebook groups I dabble with, and immediately, a flurry of friends Liked it/commented on it/told me they really enjoyed it. But just as quickly, I got a funny GChat from my friend Chris:
Christopher: also, so I saw you posted that Ben Khan track
i think i’ve read at least 10 blogs who posted it and they are all saying the exact same thing
its like they read from the same Clifton’s
me: Haha really?
They’re probably going off the PR email sent in with it or all poaching off one source.
I was thinking about writing on it though, but this will be a good angle. What are they saying?
Christopher: basically “oh this is awesome because it sounds like Jai Paul, we wonder who this guy is and whats coming next”
not a single article has resisted mentioning jai paul
And he’s right. Pitchfork, Hilly Dilly and Earmilk all mention Jai Paul, and almost every blog I saw consulted their thesaurus to find out a word that was like mysterious, or elusive, or vague, or anonymous.
I get it though. When an artist is new and relatively unknown, sometimes every blog just ends up saying the same thing over and over. It happens. We all need to cover our bases and check the box that says we knew about X when.
And here’s what they can all seem to agree on: Ben Khan is British. He already released another song called “Drive (Part 1),” which is also quite good, and, while he sounds like Jai Paul, that is okay and we should be fine having both of them in our lives.
So enjoy the sexy, wobbling, “Eden” and remember that ignorance is bliss.
Between the BYT Fall Music Guide and my normal obscenely-long rantings, I figured I would cut down on the wordy analyzations and just throw some great new music at you. Put them on while you try to read a Fall Music Guide longer than some Harry Potter books.
- Sunboy – “Highway Screamin'”
I know I just wrote about Coloardo duo Sunboy and the splendidly sublime two songs they previously released, but I can’t in good conscience let “Highly Screamin'” go by without sharing it with you all. It accomplishes the rare feat of making accessible psychedelic rock, and the lyric video for it is hands down the most creative I have ever seen. They’re essentially a rookie who just hit three home runs in their first three at-bats. I want more Sunboy all the time.
- Parquet Courts – Tally All The Things That You Broke
Parquet Courts new album is currently streaming on their website. Here’s an interview we did with them last February to give you a glimpse into their psyche.
- Mansions On The Moon – “It’s Not Too Late”
Article alums Mansions On The Moon released another single off their upcoming “Full Moon EP” (out 10/15), and it is a polished, soulful bit of dream pop. The instrumentation flirts with nostalgia and the harmonied vocals are absolutely compelling.
But now it’s time for a very special edition of…
THE GUEST WRITER YOU SHOULD FUCKING KNOW: Josh Phelps Edition
Editor’s Note: Josh Phelps is best known on this site for his contributions to Rec Room Therapy, but I know him best for the look of appalled shame he once gave me when he realized how much I was sweating during the Hudson Mohawke show at U Street Music Hall.
- The Everymen (feat. A.C. Newman) – “A Girl Named Lou Pt. 2”
New Jersey’s The Everymen have premiered a track from their forthcoming 2014 LP and luckily for us, it doubles down on the distorted, punk-rock doo-wop sound of 2012’s excellent “New Jersey Hardcore.” Between hurricane Sandy tributes, a Jonathan Richman tribute EP, hitting the road hard, and shutting down the legendary Hoboken, NJ club Maxwell’s, they somehow found time to get in the studio with John Agnello (Kurt Vile, Dinosaur Jr., Sonic Youth) to record their latest record.
“A Girl Named Lou Pt. 2” is paired with intro “Bl’ast Off,” a 47-second Sabbath-prog breakdown that reintroduces the band as a formidable 7-piece with their guitars and saxophone turned the fuck up. The noise gives way to a driving, classic rock shuffle and a chorus anchored by intertwined vocals from Catherine Herrick and The New Pornographer’s AC Newman. While the verses mine familiar territory with the story of a lonely girl firing laser-beams of jealousy and hurt towards a former lover, Herrick flips a dour subject into a three-alarm celebratory exorcism of her pain. Her Ronnie Spector passion lifts the song to celestial heights while AC Newman’s shouts, Scott Zillito’s sax, and Mike V’s shredding guitars swell the Everymen sound to the seams. This translates perfectly to their raucous live show where you can let go of your own demons at the altar of fist-pumping, ear-bursting rock and roll.
If you/someone you know is up for the task of writing non-sequitered musical ramblings, feel free to shoot me an email at [email protected], tell me I look pretty, and convince me why you should be a Guest Writer We Should Fucking Know.