The new Feist album, called Pleasure, is an exceptional listen all the way through — though I keep finding my way back to one track in particular. “Any Party” is a tender moment on a very raw record, with our heroine offering sweet reassurances to her lover over heavy, dirty guitar strums.
The gorgeous vocal blend of girlpool’s two members — Cleo Tucker and Harmony Tividad — is mesmerizing, particularly in the song “123.” It’s from the Los Angeles “folk punk” band’s 2017 album Powerplant, which marks a major evolution in their sound — adding percussion to the laid-back guitar/bass dynamic of girlpool’s 2015 debut Before the World Was Big, while keeping their lush harmonies front and center.
Missouri-born singer-songwriter Kevin Morby shows off his punk side in this not-so-subtle homage to the Ramones, which is from the artist’s 2017 album City Music.
I said I was done promoting my list of favorite 1H2017 albums, yet here we are, about to listen to “Shark Smile” from Big Thief’s Capacity. It’s a harrowing, delicate little folk song. Singer and songwriter Adrianne Lenker explained: “it’s about a car accident where one dies and one lives. She recalls her lover leading up to the moment of the wreck, wishing she’d been taken into the next realm, too.”
“A peace sign to America, a system of love.” Those are the opening lyrics to “Conduit,” which is from the album Memorial Ten Count by Canadian singer-songwriter/multi-instrumentalist Jon McKiel. But don’t expect Summer of Love-era sunshine — the song is intense yet haunting, with a hypnotic, siren-like guitar riff hovering over this thrashing rock sound. Shoutout to NPR’s excellent All Songs Considered podcast, which turned me on to it.
Another day, another song from my list of favorite 1H2017 albums (shameless plug, but this should be the last). Some of today’s best, most intimate music is coming from the “bedroom pop/rock” genre. If you’re unfamiliar, Los Angeles Police Department’s “Hard” is a great primer — with its lo-fi sound, dreamy aesthetic and the prevailing vulnerability in Ryan Pollie’s lyrics.
Brooklyn-based Rips are blowing up right now, with their buzzing guitar sound drawing favorable comparisons to punk pioneers (and fellow New York City band) Television. “Vs” is a stand-out track from Rips’ self-titled debut LP, which was produced by Parquet Courts’ Austin Brown.
“Proud” is a cut from one of my favorite albums so far in 2017, Rocket by Philadelphia-based (Sandy) Alex G — who you may have heard contributing guitar on Frank Ocean’s two latest records, Endless and Blonde. “Proud” is a rollicking, folksy guitar ballad punctuated by jangly piano. Check it out below.
Alvvays (pronounced “Always”) is a Toronto four-piece that topped U.S. college music charts with their 2014 self-titled debut album. The band is back with “In Undertow,” the first track shared from their forthcoming sophomore effort, titled Antisocialites.
Nothing says July 4 like some good old-fashioned guitar rock from America’s heartland. With their late-2016 LP Wordless Wonder, Minneapolis-based Real Numbers deliver a much fuller sound than their preceding EPs did, while keeping the glorious DIY garage aesthetic in tact. “Frank Infatuation” is Wordless Wonder‘s opening track.
It certainly seems like St. Vincent (real name Annie Clark) is gearing up to issue her next album, considering the recent announcement of a 22-date European/American tour (called “Fear the Future”) and last week’s release of a melancholy new single, “New York.” The song is a beautiful, straightforward piano ballad with none of the fiery guitar you’ve come to expect from the American singer-songwriter. Listen below.