You know what the best thing about Valentine’s Day really is, dear Flavorites? It’s not the cut-rate chocolate or the construction-paper hearts taped up in every window. No, Valentine’s day marks exactly halfway through the bleary, seemingly endless month of February, too far away from the glow of Christmas or the first traces of spring to seem like there’s any hope of going outside again. Luckily, we’ve got some songs to warm your heart and jolt you out of those doldrums: new tracks from Low and J. Mascis for luxuriating in that delicious winter gloom and some dance numbers from Cold Cave and J786. Don’t forget — right click and “Save As” to download them individually or scroll to the bottom for the whole mix.
Another cut from the former Dinosaur Jr. principal’s mostly solo album, Several Shades of Why , “Is It Done” features back-up singing from Band of Horses’ Ben Bridwell. Look out for the album on February 15th for more acoustic Mascis deliciousness.
We’re not entirely sure what J786’s title as “America’s first virtual solo artist” means, nor why he only appears in robotic gear, nor what the rumors circulating him and Lady Gaga are all about, but we do know one thing — this is a track that will get you off your keister and make you dance.
Intentionally disjointed, gothic-yet-dancey, black metal-goes-club pop outfit Cold Cave is back with a second album, Cherish the Light Years , that’s been described as a love letter to New York City. From the sound of it, it’s an ode to a specific part of the city — Lower East Side basements filled with drum machines and broken disco balls.
Three years after Low’s last album, the group is gearing up to release C’mon in April and go on a full-court press of a national tour. “Try to Sleep” is the first glimpse of the new Low, and it’s promising — clean, well structured, and gorgeous.
Right on the heels of last year’s I Will Be , the Dum Dum Girls are releasing He Gets Me High , an EP heavy on Smiths covers and jangly-fuzzy girl group sounds. “He Gets Me High” is as swoony and lovely as you expect from the title — ripe for inclusion on that Valentine’s Day mixtape.
Weirdo folk band Akron/Family dropped their album S/T II: The Cosmic Birth and Journey of Shinju TNT this week, a crooning, raucous romp through all kinds of magical caverns, woods, and whatever else the group though of on the way. “Silly Bears,” released last year as a teaser for the album, remains one of the group’s best songs — just odd enough to keep things interesting but still one you want to sing along to.
Seattle-area Americana fetishists Campfire OK released their debut album Strange Like We Are last week, a rollicking LP full of handclaps, banjo strumming, and unassuming vocals. They sound a little like Fleet Foxes’ younger cousins, and the title track is the kind of tune that’s sure to warm you up.
Darwin Deez, apparently not busy enough with his debut album arriving later in the month, decided to channel his hip-hop sensibilities into a sort of rap mixtape, featuring the likes of Chiddy Bang, and Das Racist. It’s a surreal, Willy Wonka-inspired ode — check out the whole thing here.
February, lest you forget, is also the birthday month of the Man in Black. Alex Zhang Hungtai knows — and that’s perhaps why he released his Dirty Beaches cover of “The Singer” last week, a scratchy lo-fi, tongue-in-cheek homage to the original.
Noise-loving instrumentalists Psychic Paramount are gearing up to release their second album, No Quarter, later this month. “RW” is a pretty good indication of the kind of freewheeling, frenetic, gleeful dissonance you can expect on it –part Sun City Girls, part the Fucking Champs.
Cover image, from 1939, via George Eastman House on Flickr.