The 23 best tracks I’ve heard so far this year. Nearly 100 minutes of new music and not an inch of fat. The first hour features indie rock, folk, dreampop, garage rock, art rock, psych pop and new wave, while those of you who love all things electronica, from euphoric techno to industrial dance should check out the last 40 minutes.
22-year-old Nashville singer songwriter uses distorted guitar and vocals to great effect, building to a point where it feels like it’s about to go over the edge, reigning it in and then taking it to over the edge, before pulling back again. Taking it to the brink rather than bridge.
Bloods ‘Farmer John’
Sydney three-piece take on The Premier’s classic as part of the Nuggets: Antipodean Interpolations of the First Psychedelic Era tribute album Antipodean Interpolations of the First Psychedelic Era
Ex Cops ‘James’
Bright indiepop in the Pains of Being Pure At Heart mould. Right up my street, although I cringed a little at them rhyming ‘tea’ with ‘quality’.
The Men ‘Electric’
Brooklyn punks The Men remind me of one of those pre-grunge alt rock bands like Green River – all punk energy but with a pop sensibility and a dose of the acceptable end of hard rock. This is from their forthcoming third album.
Merchandise ‘Anxiety’s Door
Although they are from Tampa, Florida this sounds very Australian 80s new wave to these ears. Someone should put them in the studio with Nick Launay.
Local Natives ‘Heavy Feet’
Back in October Local Natives put out ‘Breakers’, the first taste of their Aaron Dessner-produced forthcoming second album Hummingbird. Although it blended the sound of their excellent debut Gorilla Manor with elements of Dessner’s band The National (mainly in the way the drums and guitars were treated) it felt a little underwhelming; merely good when before they’d been vital. Like ‘Breakers’, ‘Heavy Feet’ is underpinned by handclaps and moves even more towards the sound of The National, but does this more successfully, maintaining the energy of the best tracks from their debut. This is a song driven along by the rhythm section and Kelcey Ayer’s yearning vocals, with guitars and keyboards mainly adding texture. It might not reach the heights of ‘Camera Talk’, ‘Wide Eyes’ and ‘Shapeshifter’, but it’s made my anticipation for Hummingbird greater.
Thao and The Get Down Stay Down ‘We the Common’
Best know her in Australia for providing the theme tune to post-modern rom-com family drama series Offspring, this finds San Franciscan based Thao Nguyen merging her more experimental side with her pop sensibilities. Features a great wordless refrain.
[Thao and The Get Down Stay Down]
Scratchy indiepop from New Orleans duo whose ‘Lucky Numbers’ was one of last year’s highlights.
Spectral Park ‘L’appel du Vide’
Southampton multi-instrumentalist Luke Donovan created the basics of the forthcoming Spectral Park debut album from samples of records he found dumped in the street, manipulating them and adding his own original instrunmnation and vocals to come up with furious 60s flavoured psych-pop concoctions like this.
Foxygen ‘No Destruction’
Last year (back on ITP #12) they were channelling Bowie and Jagger on ‘Waitin’ 4 U’, this time around it’s more Lou Reed circa-Loaded .
Rachel Zeffira ‘Here On In’
Canadian opera singer Rachel Zeffira is half of Cat’s Eye with The Horrors’ Farris Badawan. Here she sounds not unlike the late Trish Keenan on an intriguing slice of noir-ish dreampop.
Low ‘Plastic Cup’
Two songs have surfaced from Low’s Jeff Tweedy produced tenth album The Invisible Way. ‘Plastic Cup’ is the more familiar sounding of them, Alan Sparhawk takes lead vocal and provides what suspiciously sounds like acoustic guitar, while Mimi Parker’s harmonies and wordless backing vocals are essential to the magic.
Jim James ‘New Life’
‘Know ‘til Now’ was featured back in November on ITP #22, this is the second track to surface from Regions of Light and Sound the forthcoming solo album from the My Morning Jacket frontman. This one is all about the vocals.
Ólöf Arnalds ‘Treat Her Kindly’
A rare English language outing for the Icelandic solo artist (and erstwhile member of múm). A lovely folky number with strings and accordion (or possibly harmonium). She’s also currently running a campaign over on Pledge Music for her forthcoming album Sudden Elevation.
Angel Olsen ‘Sweet Dreams’
Half noir-pop / half rock n’ roll croon like a female Roy Orbison, this will leave you haunted. [Angel Olsen] https://www.facebook.com/angelolsenmusic Carmen Villain ‘Lifeisin’ Carmen Hillestad, half Norwegian-half Mexican, US born, London based former model sounds like a heavily-reverbed, lo-fi Cat Power.
Low ‘Just Make It Stop’
This finds Mimi Parker on lead vocals over brushed snare and some rhythmic piano chords, bass and guitar. Probably as close as Low will ever get to ‘I Wanna Be Your Dog’. [Low]
Mitzi ‘All I Heard’
Self proclaimed “garage-disco” from Brisbane four-piece, warm analog sounds and elastic basslines. Catchy as all hell.
The return of Brooklyn blog rockers now signed to David Byrne’s Luaka Bop label. Robotized vocals and squelchy stuttering electronica, this is less funky than previous releases, but no less engrossing.
Factory Floor ‘Fall Back’
Eight-and-a-half minutes of Industrial dance from London-based, DFA signed outfit fronted by Nik Colk Void (previously Nikki Colk of Kaito. What ‘I Feel Love’ might have sounded like if Giorgio Moroder had used Front 242 as Donna Summer’s backing band.
Blanck Mass ‘Hellion Earth’
Benjamin Power of Fuck Buttons drops the noise of that outfit in favour of a more straightforward piece of dancefloor electronica.
Ryan Hemsworth ‘BasedWorld’
Producer du jour from Halifax, Nova Scotia delivers electronica instrumental. Check out some of his mixes on the link below