This week brings a handful of new releases, scaling from already-established bands (The Magnetic Fields, Beach House), to fledgling bands ( jj, First Rate People, Let’s Wrestle), to already-established musicians’ fledgling bands (James Mercer + Danger Mouse = Broken Bells, Josiah Wolf of WHY?). The connecting thread? They’re all tasty cuts, and free for the taking! So grab your fork, knife, and bib (precautionary measure), and prepare to go to town.
1. The Magnetic Fields – “From A Sinking Boat”
With a melody akin to Holiday, Stephin Merritt’s iconic monotone flows amidst melancholy strings. “Know that I love you, know that I wrote my last words to you from a sinking boat.” Hopelessly romantic and inexplicably beautiful, this is but a glimpse into what their newest effort, Realism, will bring. Look out for it next week on the 29th.
2. Josiah Wolf – “The Trailer and the Truck”
As WHY?’s drummer, Josiah Wolf knows how to detonate a psychedelic explosion of pop. While the vocal cues are clearly influenced by and reminiscent of WHY?, Josiah works his own spin with the xylophonic arpeggio and muffled trumpets and heavy drum lines. His foray into the solo air, Jet Lag , is out March 2.
3. Beach House – “Walk in the Park”
The “dream-pop” duo’s junior full-length is due next week, and we have marveled at the feat that is the encapsulation of a Teen Dream . With a build-up of repeated “More, you want more you tell me/More, only time can run me,” you will want more. Unfortunately, this album’s tracks are almost all teetering at the five minute mark; each can only temporarily satisfy. Plan ahead for the 29th or stream here.
4. Broken Bells – “Your Head is On Fire”
Though the beginning sounds like a jingle, it quickly reverts to James Mercer’s signature voice and you’ll hearken back to the feeling that Oh, Inverted World gave you, but now with Danger Mouse and his experimental space ship at work in the background. You might hear Mouse’s whirring and airy production as just a gloss over a lost Shins B-side, but he deserves credit where credit is due — for giving Mercer a way out. The new duo’s self-titled is out March 9.
5. Magic Wands – “Kiss Me Dead”
Another lovechild of a cute couple (a la Mates of State). “High on your eyes/Sleeping so far/Millions of stars melt in your tongue,” is like a lullaby to your ears. The trippy lyrics are nothing, though, compared to the soaring guitar licks, faded mumblings, and the impressive solo. As soon as Dexy Valentine (amazing, we know) enters halfway, the deed is done.
6. Let’s Wrestle – “We Are the Men You’ll Grow to Love Soon”
With an all-encompassing ’60s surf-y riff, this song from London-based Let’s Wrestle is such a feel-good anthem. There’s a great sense of urgency in its execution and lyrics that really emphasize the end result over the process. See, you won’t love them yet. But you’ll love them soon. Make it yours and get ready to start wrastling!
7. First Rate People – “Girls’ Night”
Almost like a’ 90s pop song, “Girls’ Night” involves a boy and girl with contrasting vocals and relatively simple instrumentation. What’s genius is that the childhood rite of passage is literally “crashed” by the introduction of the boy singing “You’re so fine/I wanna make a postcard telling you/That I’m crashin’ girls’ night” to the girl, who keeps singing, oblivious. Already having received praise from Henrik Markstedt of Air France, First Rate People’s first rate single is bound to perk ears outside of their native Ontario.
8. jj – “Let Go”
Fresh off the success of their last album featuring a cover of Lil Wayne’s “Lollipop ,” one would think the Swedish indie-poppers moved on to more familiar territory, maybe Frou Frou? But no, this track is actually a more pleasantly beautiful surprise. “Let Go” is the first single from their upcoming second album, jj nº 3 out March 9 on Secret Canadian.
9. Memoryhouse – “To the Light House (Millionyoung Remix)”
South Floridian, Millionyoung takes Memoryhouse’s song and gives it a danceable beat and head-bop-worthy blips that will make everyone around you wonder what the eff was in their morning coffee. With beautifully atmospheric vocals, the mellow song was jonesing for a reworking; we can’t even imagine how anyone could improve it any further.
10. Chew Lips – “Karen”
This song, an homage to the brilliant Karen O, features Tig mirroring her vocal hooks in “Cheated Hearts” but outside of a garage, into the future, and with a bass line that deservedly drives it ahead of the Original. This south London-based trio’s debut, Unicorn, is out on February 1.
11. Childish Gambino – “Turd in the Oven (Diplomat’s Son)”
Don’t worry, Donald Glover is really just talking about “hot shit.” A face of Community and the Derrick Comedy troupe, Glover is also a rapper, producing cleverly-strung lyrics under the moniker of Childish Gambino. Utilizing one of the highlights off of Contra, he raps “I do not talk/I am just a rapper/He’s rapping over indie songs/This is a disaster!”