As Fall approached and the days continue to get shorter in the Northern Hemisphere the musical landscape is beginning to follow suit with calmer, more introspective themes and even drifting into downright darkness at times. This week’s playlist is stocked with a few cuts and previews from Fall releases and a decent helping of chill hip-hop. Put it on to ease yourself into the new season.
Angel Olsen – Never Be Mine
Angel Olsen’s highly anticipated follow up to 2014’s Burn Your Fire For No Witness was released this week. MY WOMAN is a collection of expertly written, dreamy guitar pop and only serves to solidify Olsen as one of the most impressive voices in the genre. “Never Be Mine” recalls early ’60s girl-group hits like “Be My Baby” as her voice floats with ease atop the swelling wall of sound.
Action Bronson – Descendants of the Stars
New York rapper Action Bronson has recently veered away from making music to hosting and co-creating TV shows on Viceland, but apparently he at least still has some free time to make theme songs for his shows. With a simple, piano-anchored beat, “Descendants of the Stars” is a gritty track that really spotlights Bronson’s nasal tone and variety of weird non sequitur bars.
Everything Everything – I Believe It Now
The UK power pop group have a wonderfully unique sound. They’re more artsy about a lot of things than their contemporaries. They don’t shy away from singer Jonathan Higgs’ shrieking falsetto. They stay poppy and danceable while sounding unlike anything that’s made to be poppy and danceable. “I Believe It Now” is no exception. The new single pulls from bass-driven ’80s pop before exploding into the fist pumping chorus and throwing in a gravelly electronic bridge for good measure.
Sampha – Blood On Me
Sampha proved himself during his years of work with SBTRKT, but up until this year he hardly had any solo material. But now he has been setting himself up to release a new project all his own and the cuts he has released sound awesome. “Blood On Me” shows expert use of harmonies and structure and presents the artist as a singular force that can easily stand on his own.
Sylvan Esso – Radio
Before Sylvan Esso’s debut album, the suggestion that a cappella folk singer Amelia Meath and electronic musician Nick Sanborn would come together to make one of the most creative sounds of the past few years might read like the musings of a crazy person. But it more than works, it excels and “Radio” only serves to continue the success of the fusion. Meath’s intense alto vocals are perfectly matched Sandborn’s layered production and rumbling bass to create a thick and rich sound.
Joey Bada$$ – Brooklyn’s Own
Joey Bada$$ is all about the old school. He’s demonstrated time and time again that he’s done his homework and want nothing more than to carry on the legacy of classic East Coast hip-hop. “Brooklyn’s Own” nods to Biggie with fluid rhyme schemes and a golden era tinged beat while still retaining Joey’s point of view. His punchy consonants and loose flow bring the old into the new quite effectively.
Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds – Jesus Alone
With the upcoming Skeleton Tree, Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds hopefully are prepping a tremendous return to form. Perhaps not a return sonically as much as a return emotionally. The band and it’s leader thrive in the darkest subjects and in setting an ominous mood. “Jesus Alone” is a droning, 6-minute long expedition into the mind that flips between unsettling and uplifting piano accents. It’s vagueness leaves everything open and gets under the skin. It’s what Nick Cave is best at.
Isaiah Rashad – Free Lunch
Top Dawg Entertainment has produced some of the most impressive and highly-regarded artists in hip-hop and Isaiah Rashad is a big up-and-comer from the label. His new album The Sun’s Tirade is out now and features some modern bangers and a few chill R&B flavored cuts like “Free Lunch”. The beat with it’s bright guitars and smooth keyboards drives this track and let’s Rashad drop some well written verses. He’s going places for sure and the album is definitely worth a listen.
Bon Iver – 33 “GOD”
Bon Iver already dropped a few alternate versions of upcoming tracks from 22, A Million but “33 ‘GOD'” is the first fully formed, final version of a single we’ve heard and it finds the group veering pretty hard from their roots. They are introducing a lot of electronic production and samples and pulling equal influence from experimental art-pop and mainstream ’80s rock. It’s clear that Justin Vernon and company are doing some heavy experimentation. Let’s just hope it isn’t so heavy that it buries the songwriting that originally drew people to the band.
Shakey Graves – Tomorrow
“Tomorrow” comes off of an upcoming compilation from Dualtone Records who have housed Americana giants like Shovels & Rope, Brett Dennen, and the Lumineers. It’s a stripped down recording where Austin singer-songwriter Shakey Graves gets to play with his tempo and rhythm. It’s not a happy song exactly, but you can hear him having a good time. This track’s aggressive, loose guitar work and emotive vocal performance honestly might be the high point of the compilation, but if it is, it’s a really solid high point.
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