Indie rock — whatever that even means anymore — takes the cake this week, with the important caveat being Solange’s new song in honor of the travesties in Ferguson and Baltimore.
Solange — “Rise”
Solange wrote a song “for Ferguson, for Baltimore,” which she premiered last night at an event for new HBO doc Bessie and noted will probably be on her new album. Though some of the lyrics are obscured in this live version, what is clear makes an emotional wallop, with Solange pleading, “He is only a man with flesh and bones/ He bleeds just like you do.” “Be weary about your place in the world,” she continues over a start-stop, percussion-and-piano-driven R&B track. I can’t wait to hear the studio version of this, which I imagine will accentuate the synth and highlight an intoxicating groove, but the message is what we need right now, so good on Solange for getting this to the people.
Mac DeMarco — “The Way You’d Love Her”
Mac DeMarco’s new mini-LP, Another One, out this August, and it’s full of “Jealous Guy“-style songs that push the sour limits of Mac’s downright lemony guitar tone. “The Way You’d Love Her,” Another One‘s first single, epitomizes both of these elements — the heartbreak and the sonic tang — in a way that somehow manages to still be thoroughly upbeat and catchy. Such is Mac’s greatest talent.
La Luz — “You Disappear”
The first single off Seattle surf-rockers La Luz’s Ty Segall-produced new album is a mid-afternoon car chase up the Pacific Coast Highway, in hot pursuit of the man who walked out of “You Disappear.” La Luz’s Weirdo Shrine is out August 7 via Hardly Art.
PHASES — “I’m In Love With My Life”
It would have been hard for me to imagine roughly 11 years ago, when I saw Phantom Plant and a band called The Like play an old movie theater in Pittsburgh, that the lead singers of these bands would end up not in one band together, but now a second. It’s not that they — Alex Greenwald and Z Berg — played music that was terribly dissimilar, but when you’re 15 or 16, a decade seems like an unthinkable amount of time to be kicking around creatively with anyone. Anyway. PHASES is a new band featuring these two, along with their two other bandmates from JJAMZ, Rilo Kiley and Bright Eyes member Jason Boesel and The Elected’s Michael Runion. They have only a handful of songs out so far, but based on what I heard at an album listening party held earlier this year in an L.A. roller rink (really), the rebirth of JJAMZ as PHASES was a smart move. Their newest track, “I’m In Love With My Life,” is a mix between Rilo Kiley’s disco-fied Under the Black Light era and The Knocks’ “Classic,” which I personally bumped all last summer. All this is to say, “I’m In Love With My Life” has pop hit potential this summer, if not car commercial viability.
Patrick Watson — “Good Morning Mr. Wolf”
Patrick Watson, who over the course of five albums has blended quiet indie rock and piano-led chamber-pop, has a new album out this week, Love Songs for Robots, that perfects his formula. Watson layers beautiful sounds on top of beautiful sounds until these songs are busting at the seams with exuberance. With expansive percussion and Harrison-esque guitar tones, the sprawling “Good Morning Mr. Wolf” is among the album’s best. Listen to it on Spotify.