Story by Adam Steel
The xx “Angels”
With a Mercury Music Prize under their belts, the pressure is on for London’s The xx to replicate that all-too familiar indie pop sound that was virtually inescapable in 2009. With the recent Facebook-debut of “Angels,” a stark and compelling composition with trademark minimalist vocals, the days of waiting grow shorter and shorter. The long-awaited sophomore LP Coexist is out September 10 on Young Turks.
Sweet Valley “Total Carnage”
Grimy guitar strings churn out sweet retro sounds on Sweet Valley’s new record Stay Calm, an interesting debut from Nathan Williams of Wavves and his brother Kynan. A far cry from (“King of the Beach” or “Beach Demon”), the still undeniable summer feel of “Total Carnage” was not lost on the duo who merely wanted to make a proper soundtrack to getting drunk. Isn’t that nice? Stay Calm is out August 7 on Fool’s Gold.
Holy Other “Held”
This killer track opens with a menacing underscore, one that threatens to erupt at every fourth bar, and releases a torrential downpour that drowns out any and all bargain-basement competition. Just before slipping into the murky waters, an abrupt segue into the light—gentle piano keys and lilting vocals—plucks you from the deep and sets you back on solid ground. The schizophrenic sound of Holy Other proves to be ideal listening for all weathers, with its blend of R&B, UK garage and house. Opening for Amon Tobin on their upcoming North American tour. Holy Other debut LP is out August 28 on Tri Angle Records.
Ariel Pink’s Haunted Graffiti “Only In My Dreams”
Why can’t people just let Ariel Pink be great? Whether he is standing onstage at Coachella with his hands on his hips, stubbornly refusing to sing his own song or getting laughed at for rocking fabulous off-the-shoulder floral prints, the psychedelic spaceman just can’t catch a break. We’re not quite sure why. After all, nobody can craft a love song quite like him. The ebullient “Only In My Dreams,” sounds like a long-lost Cat Stevens/’Harold and Maude’ hybrid—almost nauseatingly perfect. Mature Themes is out on August 20 via 4AD.
Wild Nothing “Shadow”
Breathy vocals and a cacophony of melodious strings make for a seamless transition for Wild Nothing, who have obviously adhered to the old ‘if it ain’t broke…’ adage, resting comfortably in familiar territory. “Shadow” is lush and melodic in a way that only Jack Tatum can interpret. The dreamy follow up to 2010’s stellar Gemini, sophomore Nocturne will be released August 28 on Captured Tracks.
John Maus “Bennington”
Kraftwerk-ian synths meander through a cool background of Gregorian chants, enveloping the strict, staccato vocal delivery of a lovelorn male character in search of some girl from Bennington. One gets the impression that this hero is trolling the bleak terrain, goose-stepping in tandem with the sleek electro beats, crying out in vain for his unrequited love. FYI: Bennington, like Springfield, is the name of a town in just about every single U.S. state. So, you know metaphorically speaking, the ‘girl from Bennington’ could be just about anybody. From anywhere. Personally, for all that this guy has been put through, she sounds like she’s a real b****.
Find this gem on A Collection of Rarities and Previously Unleased Material out now on Ribbon Music. Or stream the whole LP here.