Category: Song of the Week


tvotr-happy-idiot

After Nine Types Of Light, it felt like TV On The Radio was moving in a gentler, low-key direction. Then came their one-off single, “Mercy,” showing that the band could still write a top-notch rocker. “Happy Idiot,” the first single off Seeds, continues that upbeat vibe. Like the best TV On The Radio songs, “Happy Idiot” builds and builds, adding synths and effects over a slick guitar groove. “I’m gonna bang my head to the wall/Till I feel like nothing at all/I’m a happy idiot/To keep my mind off you,” Tunde Adebimpe sings in an understated performance. These guys have no plans to mellow out. Instead, the song serves as a nice introduction to one of this fall’s most anticipated albums.

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NewP

 

“Champions Of Red Wine” is not just a title but a feeling that we’ve all had at one point or another. It’s the feeling of being invincible and happy, with nothing holding you back. That vibe is found throughout all of Brill Bruisers, the New Pornographers’ first new album in four years, but especially in this song. Sparkling synth lines shoot across the sky, over driving acoustic chords, with a secondary, slower background effect sounds like female Gregorian chant. Neko Case sounds reflective and nostalgic, a dreamy look back at some good memories. While the band’s last couple of efforts haven’t raised the roof, this one blows it clean into the stratosphere. Welcome back, gang.

BlondeRedhead

Blonde Redhead’s latest song seems fragile at first, with a gently-plucked acoustic pattern, complete with guitar squeaks, and Kazu Makino’s whispered vocals. The chorus’ drums come crashing in, like a shockwave through the whole environment, but the guitar and vocals keep steady. As it ends, the whole structure collapses upon itself in a cacophony. It’s a beautiful, spellbinding song that stitches disparate sounds together.

“The One I Love” bodes well for the band’s ninth studio album, Barragán, out on Sept. 2.

Pickles

Courtney Barnett has a problem in “Pickles From A Jar.” Her significant other seems to be her polar opposite. Over a catchy, jittery guitar riff, she sings, “I am careful, you like scars” and “You like mornings, I like nights.” The thing they both have common? A love for Christopher Walken. Not exactly a foundation you can build a whole relationship on. But you can tell by the way Barnett sings that their differences aren’t problems. Rather, she sings about them like they are playful quirks that both sides find the humor in. In the chorus, she happily sings, “we couldn’t be more contrary.” With a cool lyrical theme that never gets too twee, Barnett has crafted a song that everyone can enjoy, even her contrary significant other.

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The first taste of Grimes’ follow-up to 2012’s fantastic Visions was not originally meant to be a Grimes song at all. Claire Boucher wrote it with Canadian producer Blood Diamonds for Rihanna, who turned it down. Her loss, our gain. “Go” is an incredible piece of electro-pop that is the most direct song Grimes has ever written. However, it doesn’t lose any of her best qualities. Ringing synths that sound like a steampunk clock ticking along, a groovy and slightly off-kilter beat and Boucher’s ethereal vocals meld together to create a track that easily ranks up there with “Genesis” or “Oblivion.” It brings in a few new tricks too, with a dubby, skittering breakdown that’s more imaginative and catchy than anything in Skrillex’s wildest dreams. Boucher is still in the process of wrapping up her next album, but if it’s as good as “Go,” it will be worth the wait.

SVE

 

The closing track from Sharon Van Etten’s upcoming third album, Are We There?, is a powerful bit of music. Pounding drums and guitar arpeggios dominate the musical landscape, but there are fragments of keyboards in the background that add a nice touch. Of course, the main attraction has always been Van Etten herself. “Every time the sun comes up, I see trouble,” she sings. Where in the past, her voice would be cautious or afraid, she’s confident enough to know how to get through any problems in her way. The songs ends with Van Etten laughing as she accidentally drops her headphones. It’s these human touches that drew crowds to her music in the first place. While it has usually been on the darker side of life, it’s just as enjoyable to happily laugh alongside her.

Mastodon-high-road-art

When it comes to heavy metal in the 21st century, Mastodon is near the top of the pack. From the sprawling epics of their early work to the tight, melodic riffs of recent years, the band keeps moving forward without a misstep. “High Road” continues that trend. A chugging, snarling riff that brings to mind Diamond Head is the centerpiece of this head-banging anthem. The chorus is one of the band’s catchiest, with Troy Sanders cleanly belting out the lyrics. It’s a further step away from the progressive metal of Crack the Skye, fitting more in line with The Hunter. That’s not a bad thing though. There is no sense of compromise or hit-baiting. Instead, “High Road” is a blistering metal song that will further whet the appetite for their upcoming album, Once More Around The Sun, due out later this year.

Flyte

B-sides are a rare occurrence nowadays. With deluxe editions, bonus tracks and one-off singles ready to launch at the drop of a hat, the need for b-sides seems almost antiquated, from a pre-Internet era. Yet, sometimes there are songs that sound like mini-experiments, not fitting with the band’s general sound, at least for that album cycle. “Where Nobody Knows Your Name” by Flyte is one such number. This song uses shining, almost classical piano patterns with a looping guitar pattern to create a relaxing journey. The band said they wanted the song to represent a city commute and that certainly holds true. It’s easy to picture yourself lying back on a boat going down a river, watching the hustle and bustle of others from afar.

“We Are The Rain” and “Where Nobody Knows Your Name” is now available on iTunes.

Lykke

Lykke Li’s third album, I Never Learn, has been described as a series of torch songs. On “No Rest For The Wicked,” those flames are tempered by the song’s winterly feel. The gentle piano melody and Li’s voice can sound both cool and passionately warm at the same time. The drums sweep in like a gust of wind, lifting the chorus up. “There’s no song for the choir/There’s no hope for the weary/If you let them win without a fight” she sings regretfully. Caught between surrender and defiance, Li is in the middle of a storm. It may be a rough one, but she has the voice to overcome it.

brodydalle

Brody Dalle’s first single from her debut album keeps the intensity and high-energy of her work with punk band The Distillers. With a fuzzed-out bass and guitar running in a tight circle and simple but strong percussion, the focus is placed on Dalle’s raw vocals. “I got the feeling I could break,” she screams, the words ripping out of her throat. You get the feeling that the break could happen any second. It’s the type of track that makes you want to jump around your room and break something. Given Dalle’s history, that’s exactly how she wants it.

Dalle’s debut album, Diploid Love, is due out on April 28.