Let’s go back to 2002. Beck, who had established himself as the king of eclectic sounds (and videos) with Odelay and Midnite Vultures, released Sea Change. The album was squarely in the folk rock and sadcore genres with such classics as “The Golden Age” and “Lost Cause.” The types of songs that I’ll never forgive Zach Braff for not including on the Garden State soundtrack. It threw out all expectations, as did its subsequent tour which featured the Flaming Lips as his backing band.
Morning Phase can be seen as both change and return for Mr Hansen. Although this is his first release on new label Capitol (and first not with the Universal family in over 20 years), Morning Phase feels like a coming home to that 2002 sound that produced one of his best albums. Self-produced, the album is strong throughout, and may be Beck’s best album since Sea Change, which is saying something considering the strength of his output in the 00s (my favorite being the Nile Godrich-produced The Information). Beautiful strings glisten throughout, orchestrated by Beck’s father, David Campbell. The guitar work and rhythm section give a nice country/folk vibe. And Beck’s vocals are on point.
Normally I would give suggested tracks. Maybe the second track “Heart Is a Drum”? Oh, wait, no, the lead single “Blue Moon”! Oh, but I forgot the closer, “Waking Light”… This album has too many great tracks just to really choose a few that are above the rest. Morning Phase cannot be recommended more highly.
The latest track from Brooklyn duo Japanther is a great one. The sound of “Do It (Don’t Try)” is squarely in the recent post-punk/garage punk revival wave, and it’ll get you dancing along to the beat. Even sitting here at my desk I found myself swaying my head back and forth and barely being able to control the urge to sway my body. The overdrive bass is divine, as is whatever that strange xylophone-esque instrument that appears during the chorus. I have no idea what you are, but I love you, just like I love this track.
We were already under the impression that Ty Segall could do anything, and now he’s added turning your sweet innocent TV obsessed child into a monster. Parents, you have been warned.
Watch Ty’s project take off into heavy reverb, heavy fuzz, and loud garage melodies that we have all come to know and love him for. Fuzz isn’t a serious departure from any other Segall project, but is that really a bad thing? Ears, bleed on.
Coldplay decided to join the likes of David Bowie, Daft Punk, and Beyoncé in everybody’s favorite new game: “Surprise, here’s a new song!” The song, “Midnight,” is not only a surprise in its release but also in it sound.
Whereas the recent “Atlas,” attached to the latest Hunger Games movie, was very much so in line with the band’s classic canonical sound, “Midnight” has a lot in common with the more experimental tracks on Mylo Xyloto. Chris Martin’s filtered vocals and minimalist synthesized instruments are reminiscent of late 70s electronic rock like Peter Gabriel and Kraftwerk along with a splash of turn-of-the-millenium Radiohead. Is this their new direction or just a blip like the openers to their last two albums? Only time will tell.
A soulful indie pop song? Sign me the helllll up for that. Caroline Smith’s song “Magazine,” aka my current favorite song, has everything you would ever want in a song: a sexy voice that will melt your face off, a dancey vibe to get you moving to the beat, and a kickass video that will make you laugh and feel weird at the same time. The video is filled with every activity you probably assume happens at a girl’s night sleepover.. pillow fights, dancing in your underwear, men getting covered in slime, and face-stuffing snack eating. It’s totally bizzare, but I am so obsessed with it, and you will be too—with both the video and my girl Caroline. Her album Half About Being a Woman, is out now, and if your ears enjoy pure euphoria, you’ll want to listen to this pronto.
Conor Oberst is important. A lot of people grew up with his music. He served as the spirit guide through adolescence for teenagers in the 2000s. He understood angst; he understood depression; he understood heartbreak. He got it. Well, those teens have for the most part grown up now, and so has he. The last new material Oberst released was Bright Eyes’ 2011 release, The People’s Key. With this single, “Hundreds of Ways,” he announced his new solo album, Upsidedown the Mountain. As soon as the song begins, it becomes very evident that this album is an act of genre-jumping. It’s easy to pick out that Nashville sound – steel guitars and jaunty slap-back rhythm guitars. The album sounds more country than emo. Sure, Oberst could probably just make albums re-hashing the same concepts in Fevers and Mirrors over and over, and people would probably buy them. But he’s not doing that. He’s chosen do something else, explore something new, and that’s pretty cool.