Raury isn’t quite there yet. The Atlanta singer-songwriter just turned 18, and he’s still figuring out what to do with a fascinating stew of influences that’s as much psych-rock as it is neo-soul. He’s got a distinct style that’s clearly just taking shape, and he wrestles with big questions all over Indigo Child, his first mixtape. But he hasn’t quite put all the pieces together yet. I almost didn’t give him this spot this week, since he’s up against a few artists who already know exactly what they’re doing. As Swet Shop Boys, the duo of Heems and Riz Ahmed put together a sharp and incisive and fun debut, and if their Swet Shop EP was longer than four songs, it probably would’ve won this week. Ty Dolla $ign, on his $ign Language tape, combines over-the-top hornball assholism with music even slicker and lusher than what he’s recorded in the past. And on his Days Before Rodeo tape, Travi$ Scot continues to melt his various influences into one big apocalyptic gurgle. Any of those could’ve won this week, and maybe they still will in a future week, especially if not much comes out before next Wednesday. Honestly, I feel a bit bad not awarding the spot to any of those tapes, since I like to pick tapes for this column on merit rather than potential. But there’s so much potential on Indigo Child that I felt like I had to pick it.
Mark Lanegan recently released the new EP No Bells On Sunday, but that was really just an appetizer for the upcoming full-length, Phantom Radio. Crazily enough, Lanegan says most of the album’s drum parts were made using an app on his smartphone called Funk Box. You’d expect something that costs a couple bucks from an app store to be a little simplistic, but that only works to Lanegan’s advantage on the hypnotic new single “Floor To The Ocean.” Aided by the drum machine’s insistent chug, a little synth twinkle, and some atmospheric guitar, Lanegan croons his way through the song’s late-night groove. Listen below.
Danish producer Trentemøller worked with some exciting guest musicians on his last album, Lost, including Lower Dens singer Jana Hunter (“Gravity“), the Drums’ Jonny Pierce (“Never Stop Running“), and Kazu Makino of Blonde Redhead (“Come Undone“). Next week will see the release of Lost Reworks, a remix album that features reinterpretations of the songs from Jenny Wilson (best known for her work with the Knife), Unkwon, Trentemøller himself, and more. Now you can stream the entire record below.
When Mineral announced back in April that they were playing their first shows in 17 years, it was welcome news for people who were still yearning to revisit the golden era of emo. Mineral frontman Chris Simpson never stopped making music though, first with the Gloria Record and more recently under the name Zookeeper. “Pink Chalk” is the title track from Zookeeper’s new album and, like some of the best songs, it’s a little hard to grasp the precise emotion behind the song, but it certainly knows how to make you feel something. It starts with a contemplative piano placed over some heavy breathing, both of which carry through the whole song, providing texture and a hint of weary exasperation. But there’s also hope that peeks through, a sense of comfort and warmth. It’s a song that you can project all of your worries into and feel a little better, even if only for a few minutes. Simpson’s vocals are clear and passionate — the way his voice stretches out the last syllable of every line is affecting, as if he’s crying out for help and reassuring you at the same time. It’s a gorgeous piece of music, and you can listen to it below.
In the single greatest book ever written about rock music, 1991′s Rock And The Pop Narcotic, Joe Carducci described AC/DC thusly: “They kind of took the lumpen stomp of Slade and sort of added the blues croak of early Savoy Brown (Chris Youlden) and came up with a raw, narrowly focused, grittily compacted hard rock sound somewhere in the vicinity of the intersection of blues and metal at boogie … They became so popular by 1980, that today, if you cut open young execs, young housewives, rappers, house mixers, salsa fans, hip hopsters you’ll likely as not find that about fourteen rings back there’s a layer of molten rock sediment spewed by this Australian eruption.”
Annie Clark has always been open to talking about her musical influences, from Miles Davis to Steely Dan. She even got to collaborate and release an album with one of her favorite musicians, David Byrne. During some downtime at last weekend’s Rock En Seine festival where St. Vincent was playing a set, French site Sourdoreille decided to play a little game with Clark to see if she could identify songs from her biggest influences and collaborators. “This is a very cruel game you’re playing,” she said at one point. Clark is mostly on-point, though she does mess up when the interviewer plays two Christmas songs from Sufjan Stevens and her old band Polyphonic Spree. Watch below.
The Austin trio Spray Paint make punk rock that’s appropriately noxious, but also filled with humor and fun. “Threesomes Can Wait” is brimming with oddly tuned guitars and shouted vocals, but there’s a sweetness to balance out the sour flavors. That comes through on the forceful and dynamic percussion layered all around those guitars, and those vocals? It’s hard not to bounce around to the gleefully strange lyrics that cram cat allergies and dead parents into the same line. The song will appear on the band’s upcoming third album, Clean Blood, Regular Acid, which is due next month.
In an era when many formerly blog-hyped indie rock bands with terrible names have descended into obscurity, Scottish wailers We Were Promised Jetpacks are still going strong, and their third album Unraveling is set to arrive this fall. After sharing the epic, sincere, math-rocking first single “Safety In Numbers,” they’ve hit us with “I Keep It Composed,” which uses elephantine riffage in something resembling a krautrock context and which sounds huge. This thing is absolutely going to kill when they play it live, and it sounds pretty awesome coming from my speakers this morning, too. Check it out below.