Monday is a day for ennui and spiritual fatigue, so let us ease the existential pain a little with a selection of this week’s most noteworthy streaming albums. Judging by the largely downtempo nature of what’s surfaced on the web for this week, everyone is feeling pretty much the same we are – there’s wistful synthpop and mournful alt-country aplenty. These should get you through the day, and then you can go home and watch the copy of True Blood that you DVRed last night.
Memory Tapes — Player Piano
We’re starting with a couple of the artists lumped under the “chillwave” banner (and that’s the last time you’ll see the “c” word in this post, we promise). The new Memory Tapes album Player Piano is out in early July, and is streaming in full at The Quietus. It has the same pensive, nostalgic atmosphere that has characterized all of Dayve Hawk’s releases under his various monikers, so in one respect it’s essentially more of the same — but that’s no bad thing as far as we’re concerned.
Washed Out — Within and Without
Ploughing a similar reverb-and-yearning furrow is Ernest “Washed Out” Greene, whose first full-length Within and Without comes out July 12 and is streaming at NPR. The album will no doubt be labeled with the “c” word as soon as critics hear its woozy synths and echoing beats, but whatever you call it, Within and Without makes for excellent listening, suggesting that Greene is a songwriter with the ability to outlast both genre and fashion (even if he may come to regret the kinda lame and mildly NSFW album cover).
Gillian Welch — The Harrow and the Harvest
Also at NPR is perhaps the week’s most exciting release — the new album from the ever-wonderful Gillian Welch and David Rawlings. The Harrow and the Harvest is an album that’s truly deserving of the oft-abused music industry epithet “long-awaited” — it’s been eight years since her last album, an eternity in today’s novelty-obsessed music industry. Welch has explained at length that the delay was because she simply didn’t like the material that she and Rawlings were writing together, but happily, the album is well worth the wait, just as full of melancholy grandeur as fans have been hoping for all this time. Listen here.
Jolie Holland — Pint of Blood
If you like Welch’s work, you’re probably also partial to a bit of Jolie Holland, which means that you’ll be happy to know that Holland’s new album is also streaming this week. It’s called Pint of Blood, and it’s up for your listening pleasure via Paste magazine. Holland’s voice is as rich and distinctive as ever — indeed, her phrasing and intonation only seems to get more unusual as the years go by. Here it’s largely set over minimal arrangements of acoustic guitar and the occasional piano, making for an album that’s starkly beautiful. Paste cites Lucinda Williams as a reference point, which seems like a pretty fair comparison to us — but see what you think here.
Handsome Furs — Sound Kapital
And finally, there’s a new Handsome Furs record out tomorrow — the album’s called Sound Kapital, and apparently catalogues two years spent rambling around Eastern Europe and the backblocks of Asia. As you’ll no doubt have noticed, it also seems to be a week for NSFW album covers, although anyone who’s seen Handsome Furs’ press shots over the years won’t be entirely surprised that they’ve extended the raunch to their artwork. In any case, Sound Kapital is a cracking listen — it’s streaming at Spin‘s website, and is accompanied by a fairly entertaining interview with Dan Boeckner. Check it out here.