On his third album as Porches, Aaron Maine deconstructs the rich synth-pop of his 2016 gem Pool, and outfits brooding house compositions with glorious horns and pristine piano. This album is emotional, experimental, and extremely entertaining. Entitled The House, Maine tackles the seemly innocuous but sometimes overwhelming idea, “I just want to leave the house.” This idea of freeing yourself from the comforts of your dwelling to go out and do something productive in the world. The music illustrates the bare desaturated isolation and counters it with building, bright flourishes. Maine masterfully layers his vocals, harmonizes with himself, adds auto tune and manipulates his voice and instruments in too many interesting ways to name. Though he created these songs alone, this album features contributions from his friends and fellow musicians like Alex G, Dev Hynes of Blood Orange, and Cende’s Cameron Wisch. On this album, sounds that would be at home in a cheesy 90’s R&B ballad or an 80’s pop song create a mesmerizing atmosphere at add to emotional power the songs in surprising ways. Maine fearlessly plays with odd electronics and it just fucking works. He made a record about letting go of fear and taking new chances by doing just that.
I Can Feel You Creep Into My Private Life
Merril Garbus' fourth record as tUnE-yArDs is as wacky and wonderful as you would expect, with her most elaborate production to date. Her sound has evolved into a fuller more polished sound, yet the odd and innovative choices that has always set her music apart are still in full force. She brings a goofy sense of humor to her music that doesn't undercut there seriousness of the subject matter. On “Colonizer” she checks her privilege saying, “I use my white woman voice to tell stories about African men,” and comments on wealth inequality on Hammer saying, “Living in a dream while the whole world drowns.” I'm deeply sentimental about the early tUne-yArDs records so I'm still adjusting to the new sound, but anything that Merill Garbus does is worth paying attention to.
First Aid Kit
In 2014 Swedish sister folk duo First Aid Kit contributed to albums for indie-rock legends Conor Oberst and Jenny Lewis in addition to putting out Stay Gold, one of the best records of the year. I've been waiting four years for another album and the Söderberg sisters did not disappoint, In fact this album may have even surpassed it's predecessor. They tell grand stories and pen classic folk lyrics in the style of their musical ancestors like Cat Stevens and Emmylou Harris, with simple succinct wit and wisdom that captures relatable emotions. The girls put a modern pop sheen on the nostalgic folk style, equal parts Loretta Lynn and Lana Del Rey. They give rich vocal performances, harmonizing over acoustic guitars and rising strings with flawless, crisp production. All of it outfitted with everything from subtle synth flourishes and handclaps, to epic horn arrangements and gang vocals.
The Official Body
When I saw English trio Shopping described as post-punk I had a wildly different image of them in my mind. This album is a post-punk / funk hybrid with bouncy bass lines, punchy guitar riffs, and grooves you can't help but tap your toe to. For how catchy and danceable this album is, the lyrical content carries weight, tackling social and political issues with party punk, full with chants and handclaps reminiscent of Le Tigre. This is an album with an interesting sound that feels familiar yet fresh.
running to the sun
The debut EP from singers Alexe Belle and Isis Valentino feels like a full length. This duo is part of Janelle Monae's Wondaland collective, so it's no surprise that this album is full of gorgeous vocals and bright melodies over shimmering compositions built on hip hop beats. The ladies sing powerful songs about love, loss, and overcoming obstacles. They've had their music featured on HBO's Insecure, they have Janelle Monae on their side, and they just released one of the strongest debuts you could ask for. I think these two have a wonderful career ahead of them.
In My View
Unclassifiable Scottish trio Young Fathers made their mark in 2015 with White Men Are Black Men To. My cousin and co-host Brian played their song "Lord" on our podcast and it blew my mind. Now they've done it again with a song that examines perception. Alloysious Massaquoi delivers some powerful vocals that oddly but awesomely remind me of Tracy Chapman. Kayus Bankole and G. Hastings trade off rap verses stating, "I want to be king until I am." Establishing the theme of this song, that things are not always what they seem as Alloysious paints the cold and haunting perspective, "In my view love will never come my way, so when I leave you'll be dancing on my grave." This is one of the albums I'm looking forward to the most. These guys dip their toes into gospel, indie-rock, and hip hop without letting one style dominate, and it makes for a one of a kind brand of amazing music.
Cocoa Sugar is out March 9th on Ninja Tune
Hear "Lord" on Best Song Ever
My favorite song from singer/songwriter Lucy Dacus' 2016 debut is "Strange Torpedo" in which she perfectly describes the experience of caring about someone who deals with addiction. On her new song, she looks at a different sort of addiction and the dynamic is flipped as she clings to a former love. She adds epic horn arrangements to her crunchy guitar sound, add that extra punch to an song that's already quite potent. Her sophomore album is shaping up to be her best yet, and this song may be the best one she's ever written.
Historian is out February 16th on Matador
Rapper/singer Lando Chill debuted in 2016 with the fantastic For Mark, Your Son. Then, last year he released the philosophical and political album, The Boy Who Spoke To The Wind. Now he brings with philosophical wisdom, connection to the earth, and social consciousness to this smooth love song. Over gooey synths Lando croons, "I know you're never gonna need me but I'm addicted to your love." Not sure if this is a one off or part of an upcoming album but come on Lando may as well go the hattrick.
Indie-rock mainstay Dr. Dog have pushed their folk rock sound into many different iterations, sometimes on the same album. The band also has two lead singers so you never know what your going to get. This time it's an eerie, expansive bluesy jam, with a few rhythmic shifts. Scott McMicken captures the helpless anxiety of hearing so many people and things talking, but none of them "are talking to me." On this song we become an outsider and eavesdropper, listening in to try and hear something that speaks to them. This is an unexpected but welcomed stylistic shift for a band who always delivers solid tunes.
Critical Equation is out April 27th on Thirty Tigers Records
Yo La Tengo
Shades of Blue
Indie-rock veterans Yo La Tengo just announced their fifteenth album with the release of four singles that are all very different but each good in their own way. This is probably the best standalone track. This bouncy acoustic jangle pop tune is exactly what you would hope for with new Yo La Tengo. I've never really gotten into this band like I should've so I'm excited to spend some time with this new album and get to know the long-estranged indie-rock legend I've been sleeping on.
There's A Riot Going On is out March 16th on Matador
In My View
Dir: Jack Whiteley
Taken from Cocoa Sugar out March 9th on Ninja Tune
Dir: Lucy Dacus
Taken from Historian out February 16th on Matador
First Aid Kit
Rebel Heart (Live From The Rebel Heart's Club)
Dir: Mats Udd
Taken from Ruins out now on Columbia Records
Not Discussing It
Taken from Running To The Sun out now on The Wondaland Arts Society/EMPIRE
Get Out Of Your Own Way
Dir: Broken Fingaz Crew
Taken from Songs of Experience out now on your iPhone probably