Famous friends is the running theme this week, whether it be in the background (Sufjan Stevens/The National), in the foreground (Kate Nash/Chiddy Bang), or by association (I Am Arrows/Razorlight). These friends with “instrumental” benefits end up joining forces — like unofficial supergroups — and deliver track after track of pure harmonies. So if you’re in the feel-good, name-dropping mood, take a listen to the next ten after the cut, and let us know what you think!
1. The National – “Afraid of Everyone” In “Afraid of Everyone,” Matt Berninger keeps it hauntingly baritoned down, as expected. Interestingly enough, Sufjan Stevens’ backing harmonies never come off as overambitious.
2. Fol Chen – “In Ruins” Tourmates/friends of Liars, native Californians Fol Chen channel the Knife with their tribalistic vibe, which is billed as a post-apocalyptic dance number.
3. Rooney – “I Don’t Wanna Lose You” The new Rooney sometimes sounds even more like a blood relative of Coconut Records. Aside from their self-released EP last year, it’s quite the departure from their foray into children’s television.
4. Chiddy Bang – “Breakfast (ft. Kate Nash)” Following the instantaneous breakout of The Swelly Express (where he incidentally rapped over Sufjan), Chiddy Bang continues their love affair with indie pop on Air Swell, this time rapping over Kate Nash’s skeleton of keys and vocal curlicues.
6. Power und Beauty – “Lavender” Four girls beautifully harmonizing over four-and-half minutes of a Yann Tiersen fairytale that would make even Amélie glow in the heart. Fittingly, the EP is named The Gnome.
7. Secret Cities – “Boyfriends” Listing Brian Wilson as a major influence, it’s no surprise that the three-piece from North Dakota deliver one of the longest, most rewarding whistle-driven melodies ever.
9. Sensual Harassment – “Fever” Like their almost provocative name suggests, Brooklyn’s Sensual Harassment tries so subtly (and successfully) to win you over with MGMT-like echoes and psychadelicate synths.
10. Deerhoof – “Hitch Hike”
For the soundtrack to Rules to Rock By, Deerhoof gladly picks up where Sweden’s LiLiPUT left off. There’s no better feeling than listening to good music for a cause.