Sigur Rós — Valtari
It’s strange to anticipate an album so much, and yet know exactly what it will sound like. Sigur Rós’ sound is one of the most instantly recognizable in music, and Valtari is classic Sigur Rós — it’s ethereal, otherworldly, and every other adjective that music writers have thrown at the band over the years. It’s just like they’ve never been away, really. Listen via here.
Regina Spektor — What We Saw from the Cheap Seats
Where you stand on Regina Spektor’s “quirky” style will pretty much define whether you love or hate this — if you think Spektor’s a genius and have no objection at all to her adopting silly Italian accents and/or borrowing lines from Jacques Brel, you may well adore What We Saw from the Cheap Seats. To our ears, it’s something of a mixed bag — for every genuinely fresh track (or fresh arrangement of an old track, at least), there’s a kinda mawkish ballad like “Firewood” or an annoyingly mannered piece like “Oh Marcello” (with its aforementioned accent). Either way, you can click here to listen.
Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros — Here
The Polyphonic Spree 2.0 return with album 2.0, which is due next week and is streaming in full at NPR. As with Sigur Rós, you rather know what you’re going to get from Alex Ebert et al — i.e., a bunch of jaunty TV commercial-ready songs that will lodge themselves in your ear for the rest of summer. If such things are relevant to your interests, listen right here.
The Cult — Choice of Weapon
We must admit to having something of a soft spot for The Cult, the endearingly absurd Native American-obsessed Manchester goth-rock band who were briefly huge in the mid-’80s and were responsible for some of the most simultaneously glorious and ridiculous rock lyrics ever. (Now defunct UK mag Select once published a straight-faced compendium of Cult lyrics, the best of which was from “Love Removal Machine”: “Baby, baby, baby, baby, I fell from the sky/ Yesterday you blew my mind/ Oh yeah.”) Anyway, with the band’s 24-carat classic “She Sells Sanctuary” recently sampled for a Bud Light commercial, it’s probably a good time for them to return with a new record, and you can hear Choice of Weapon — their ninth studio album, and the first since 2007’s Born into This — right here.
Chet Faker — Thinking in Textures
The latest in a long and proud lineage of artists with amusingly puntastic celebrity-inspired band names, Melbourne producer Chet Faker makes pleasantly down-tempo bedroom electronic music. He also does a killer cover of Blackstreet’s “No Diggity,” which you can hear — along with the rest of his excellent debut album Thinking in Textures — right here.