At this point, it would almost seem like a surprise if the Decemberists decided not to turn their new music video into a fake ’70s talk show with a popular comedy actor cast as the host. The whole thing seems very on-brand, both for this band and for big-name indie rock in general. In any case, the Decemberists will release What A Terrible World, What A Beautiful World, their first album in a long minute, early next year. And their video for first single “Make You Better” has Nick Offerman playing an intense German talk show host. Nick Offerman is good at being funny, and you can see him at work in the two preview videos below.
On January 8, IFC’s Portlandia will return for a fifth season. The show is no stranger to musical guests — we’ve seen appearances by Jeff Tweedy, Colin Meloy, and St. Vincent, among many others — and this season Paul Simon will be added to that long list. Vanessa Bayer, Ed Begley Jr., Steve Buscemi, Shepard Fairey, Greta Gerwig, Peter Giles, Jeff Goldblum, Matt Groening, Anna Gunn, Justin Long, Jane Lynch, Natasha Lyonne, Kyle MacLachlan, Seth Meyers, Kumail Nanjiani, Brigitte Nielsen, Parker Posey, Paul Reubens, Olivia Wilde, and Oscar The Grouch will appear as well. Watch a trailer below.
Jack Garratt is one of those musicians who sounds both singular and familiar. The London singer’s aesthetic bears the marks of so many previous reference points — everything from the futurist electronic pop of James Blake and Son Lux to the downcast folk-rock balladry of Frightened Rabbit and Damien Rice — yet songs like the spooky R&B jam “The Love You’re Given,” which just debuted on Zane Lowe’s BBC radio show, don’t fit into any box. The song starts out with haunting operatic vocal akin to Coldplay’s “Another’s Arms” and ends up clobbering you with massive bass contortions; meanwhile, Garratt’s weary vocals deftly navigate the tumult. Hear it below online for the first time.
The Flaming Lips joined Yoko Ono for a studio version of John & Yoko’s now-classic Christmas song “Happy Xmas (War Is Over),” which was originally recorded in 1971 with the Harlem Community Choir. The Flaming Lips and Ono have performed the track live together in the past, with Wayne Coyne adopting John Lennon’s lyrical parts. The song is a part of a Christmas compilation titled All Is Bright, which also features Liz Phair, Beth Orton, Lucinda Williams, and Escort, among others. Listen and check the tracklist below.
Nicole Atkins will release a deluxe edition of this year’s Slow Phaser accompanied by an eight-song live recording of a performance at Detroit’s Masonic Temple when Atkins was the special guest of Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds. The live sound of “Red Ropes” doesn’t differ much from the version found on Slow Phaser, but the scaled-back instrumentation makes the song noticeably heavier. Check out “Red Ropes” and the Live CD’s tracklist below.
For a little while, we’ve known that Arcade Fire member Will Butler was at work on his first-ever solo album. Last week, we posted video of him playing a few promising solo songs at a secret show in Brooklyn. And now, we know a few details about the album. As Pitchfork points out, it’s called Policy and it’s coming out 3/10 on Merge. As of right now, that is all we know. But those songs he played live were good, so let’s get excited anyway!
Ghostface Killah is a couple of weeks away from releasing his superhero-revenge concept album 36 Seasons, and we’ve already heard the R&B-flavored “Love Don’t Live Here No More” and the AZ/Kool G Rap collab “The Battlefield.” The verbose, hardnosed Queensbridge rap veteran AZ actually shows up on a handful of album tracks, which hopefully means he plays an actual character in the album’s narrative. One of those songs is “Double Cross,” probably the best thing we’ve heard from 36 Seasons thus far. It’s a strutting boom-bap track with a crime-life narrative to it, and you can hear it below.
The adventurous producer Kevin Martin, who records as the Bug, has teamed up with Dylan Carlson’s long-running drone-metal project Earth to record The Bug Vs. Earth, a two-song collaborative EP that’ll be out as part of Record Store Day’s Black Friday festivities. We’ve already posted “Boa,” their first track together. “Cold” is their second, and it does a nice job displaying how these wildly different entities make sense together. Earth supplies one of its classic windblown spaghetti-western riffs, while the Bug chops it up a bit and adds a huge, thundering beat. This is epic head-nod music, and you can hear it below.