Yesterday, Dan Vidmar’s Shy Girls announced that his new mixtape 4WZ will drop any day now, but while we wait, here’s another cut from the project. My colleague Chris DeVille dubbed “Xhampagne” the “exact midpoint between How To Dress Well and the Weeknd,” and that nails the vibe perfectly. Over a slow, lulling set of synths, Vidmar describes a heartless, calculated vixen who is “only in it for the champagne” — but he doesn’t seem particularly bitter about the arrangement. Antwon also swings through near the end of the track, and his quick flow adds some punch to the track’s pace. Listen below.
Steely Dan are playing this year’s Coachella, they’ve been sampled by everyone from Kanye to Cities Aviv, and you can hear hints of their sardonic lyrical brilliance in indie rockers ranging from the Dismemberment Plan to Destroyer to Father John Misty. But for a band that made its name puncturing the remnants of the flower-child ’60s with a New York bohemianism that recalibrated the trappings of “cool,” the Dan are still widely considered anything but. Judd Apatow’s an admitted fan, but he still got a laugh line out of Knocked Up’s Seth Rogen at their expense (“Steely Dan gargles my balls… if I ever listen to Steely Dan I want you to slice my head off with an Al Jarreau LP”). One of the funniest running-gag tirades on The Best Show is Tom Scharpling’s fuming contempt for them (“If you like rock music, you can’t like Steely Dan,” and vice versa), even if his comedy partner Jon Wurster loves them. When the Minutemen covered “Doctor Wu” on 1984′s Double Nickels On The Dime, most punks must’ve figured it was a goof.
If we’re to believe R&B lothario The-Dream’s new video for his T.I. collab “That’s My Shit,” the man known to his parents as Terius Nash goes to parties in mansions full of lingerie models and wolves. He also wears steampunk sunglasses and golden fangs and gigantic Amish-goth hats. All of this completely squares with my image of how The-Dream rolls. The video is a wonderfully absurd piece of R&B glitz, and you can watch it below.
We first heard EULA’s enormous single “Noose” a few weeks ago, and James wrote about the way in which the Brooklyn-based band manages to formulate a sound so dark and fearsome that it somehow becomes inviting. It’s true that EULA’s music is incredibly evocative, but it’s not catchy. It’s hard to point to what exactly makes me want to listen to this track repeatedly, but I suspect that it has something to do with Alyse Lamb’s enchanting vocal performance, which guides you into EULA’s intense and intimidating universe. The video for “Noose,” directed by Jason Shelton, is just as appealing. Saturated Kodachrome footage fragmented into an incoherent experiment in magical realism, it’s as multi-layered as the explanation behind EULA’s appeal. Watch below.
A surging, horizon-groping tune like Rocky Votolato’s latest single, “The Hereafter,” could only have come from a world-weary songwriting vet. Luckily, Votolato’s 15 years of productive recording and tireless performing make him exactly the scribe for the job. “The Hereafter” — which, like the rest of Votolato’s upcoming album Hospital Handshakes, was produced by former Death Cab guitarist/producer Chris Walla and recorded at his Seattle studio — evokes images of broken teeth and burned hands, suggesting the arduous career highway Votolato has traveled. Over poppy power chords and unflappable heartbeat drumming, Votolato aims for one gigantic singalong statement and, in the rushing chorus, nails it: “I”m not so sure/What matters so much here/Will matter at all in the hereafter.” Listen.
Mourn are a teenage band from Barcelona who make stark, intense postpunk with a severe PJ Harvey influence. “Your Brain Is Made Of Candy” is the opening track from the band’s self-titled debut, and it’s an awesomely spidery basher. The song’s new video, from director Roger Guàrdia, is a portrait of the sort of young man who pukes up blue paint. It looks a whole lot like a European art movie from the ’70s, which is to say that it looks great. Check it out below.
Following the success of 2011′s The SMiLE Sessions, Beach Boys frontman Brian Wilson is releasing a brand new album in April. The artwork above is for No Pier Pressure, which is Wilson’s 11th solo album and features a huge cast of collaborators, including both members of She & Him (M. Ward and Zooey Deschanel), country music darling Kacey Musgraves, fun. singer Nate Ruess, and former Beach Boys members Al Jardine, David Marks, and Blondie Chaplin. Sebu Simonian of Capital Cities is also featured along with plenty of others.
Der Weg Einer Freiheit (translated: “The Way of Freedom”) are a German black metal band that formed in 2008. In a blind taste test, though, I’d have guessed that they formed in Sweden circa 1994. That particular time and place gave rise to a lot of metal niches, but the one I’m thinking of here is a frigid, propulsive brand of black metal that eschews minimalism in favor of clarity, death metal-ish force, and the kind of absurdly majestic melodies that might get you psyched up for an intense cross-country skiing session. Popularized by the likes of Dissection, Dawn, Sacramentum, and many other bands that were fond of blue-and-purple album covers, this style occasionally gets called “melodic black metal” — which is confusing, since virtually all black metal is at least somewhat melodic. That’s metal subgenre terminology for you, though.