BlackBook Tracks #56

It’s been a great week for staying inside. Here’s some of the best of what happened.

Klaxons – “There Is No Other Time”

It’s been a minute since we heard from Klaxons, who put out their last LP in 2010. The British electro-rockers are back in fine form with the bass-heavy single “There Is No Other Time,” which makes the titular sentiment seem fresh even when “YOLO” is in a morgue somewhere. The trio’s untitled third album is set to be released this summer, and it’ll see Klaxons beefing up their dance bona fides with collaborations with James Murphy and Erol Alkan.

Annie – “Russian Kiss”

The games have already begun at the winter Olympics in Sochi, and with it, a continued uproar over homophobic laws in Russia. Norwegian pop veteran Annie has spoken up with the sexy new song “Russian Kiss,” for which a portion of the proceeds will be donated to the gay rights activist organization All Out. She also teamed up with the provocative director Richard Kern for this semi-NSFW video, which features some sweet 90s-inspired fashion and makeout sessions galore.

Years & Years – “Real”

You’ll want to hit the dance floor after checking out Years & Years’ lovestruck new single “Real.” The London synth-rock trio enlisted Ben Whishaw to star in the video, where the acclaimed actor’s night at the club takes a turn for the surreal after a chance encounter with singer Olly Alexander. (You might also recognize his eerie smile from the reboot of Skins.) Whishaw sheds his timid, vulnerable side as he’s entranced by the super-catchy track, released February 17 on Kitsuné.

Villagers – “Occupy Your Mind”

Irish folk outfit Villagers has also called for more attention to be drawn to human rights in Russia. Main man Conor O’Brien’s protest song is called “Occupy Your Mind,” and it follows last year’s album {Awayland}. Righteous anger reveals a more menacing side of the singer/songwriter than we’re used to hearing, and it sounds like producer James Ford (Arctic Monkeys, Simian Mobile Disco) is pushing O’Brien in a bold new direction. The track’s accompanied by a psychedelic video directed by Alden Volney.

Ellie Goulding ft. Angel Haze – “Life Round Here” (James Blake cover)

British crooner James Blake might be known for his covers of Feist and Joni Mitchell, but now it’s time for the ladies to take on his songs. Not only has Lorde shared her version of “Retrograde,” but Ellie Goulding’s done this soulful cover of “Life Round Here.” Tough-talking rapper Angel Haze takes the place of Chance the Rapper, showing off her sensitive side.

Main image with The Pie Shops

BlackBook Tracks #31: It’s Too Cold to Exist

Word on the street is that we’re in the dead of winter right now. (Another compelling reason to be at Sundance right now is that it’s actually warmer in Park City than it is in New York.) Summer music may be more fun, but this is the time to curl up with a mug of cider and songs that come from cold places.

Torres – “When Winter’s Over”

My current favorite pastime is listening to Nashville singer-songwriter Torres and emoting deeply. Her music sounds perfect when everything is numb except for your feelings, and “When Winter’s Over” hits the spot. Unfortunately, winter is not actually over yet.

Beach House – “I Do Not Care For The Winter Sun”

The temperatures keep dropping, but at least Victoria LeGrand’s voice will keep you warm. Let’s pretend that is physically possible.

Niki & The Dove – “Winterheart”

My heart is frozen. So is my soul.

JEFF the Brotherhood – “Hypnotic Winter”

Nashville rockers JEFF the Brotherhood manage to sound pretty optimistic about the season, which we could probably all do with.

The Dodos – “Winter”

If you’re already starting to get angry about Valentine’s Day coming up, this is for you. The bittersweet jangle works wonders.

Belle & Sebastian – “Winter Wooskie”

“Who’s that girl? She must be nearly freezing” is a semi-iconic Belle & Sebastian line that’s apt for this week. In classic fashion, “Winter Wooskie” paints a wistful portrait with just the right amount of detail.

Nico – “Winter Song”

John Cale recently paid tribute to Nico with a host of other artists, including Sharon Van Etten and Alison Mosshart. Since you’re not going outside anyways, now seems like the perfect time to revisit Chelsea Girl.

Fleet Foxes – “White Winter Hymnal”

Because with those harmonies, it’s easier to pretend that this is just “crisp” and “refreshing.”

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BlackBook Tracks #30: Catfish Is A Verb

I guess that these songs are for you to listen to while you think about sports and use “Catfish” as a verb, but I have approximately zero comprehension of what’s going on with that.

This Many Boyfriends – “Tina Weymouth”

It’s been a while since I came across a solid song about music itself, and this track named after the Talking Heads legend fits the bill perfectly. Opening with the line “You love pop songs about love more than being in love in the first place,” it captures the enduring spirit of High Fidelity.

Jamaican Queens – “Kids Get Away”

Unlike what their name suggests, the self-described “trap pop” group actually hails from Detroit. They specialize in pairing accessible hooks with unexpected textures that are worth taking a few listens to unravel.

Shout Out Louds – “Walking In Your Footsteps”

The latest from the Swedish indie poppers might just be warm enough to melt their record made out of ice.

Dutch Uncles – “Flexxin”

The Manchester, UK band has started the year off right by releasing a uniquely intriguing, exquisitely arranged album, Out Of Touch In The Wild. “Flexxin” is no exception.

Foals – “My Number” (Totally Enormous Extinct Dinosaurs remix)

The moody British rockers turned to electro-pop wiz kid Totally Enormous Extinct Dinosaurs to create a haunting, bass-heavy take on “My Number,” a cut from their forthcoming album Holy Fire.

Brandt Brauer Frick – “Broken Pieces” (ft Jamie Lidell)

Alongside preparing the release of his upcoming self-titled album, Jamie Lidell found time to lend his voice to the German electro outfit Brandt Brauer Frick. On “Broken Pieces,” he punches up their raw, pulsing production.

Flume – “Left Alone” (ft. Chet Faker)

Already a hit in his native Australia, electronic artist Flume has his eye on taking over the world. On “Left Alone,” his production serves as a steady foundation for Chet Faker’s soulful, urgent vocals.

Darlings – “Sit On It!”

Brooklyn favorites Darlings serve up crunchy guitar pop that’s perfectly pleasant. This is the best song about waterslides I’ve heard in recent memory.

Woodkid – “Brooklyn”

This one goes out to the endless parade of French people on Bedford Avenue.

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BlackBook Tracks #29: Sucks to be Anyone in Music Who’s Not Justin Timberlake or Destiny’s Child

I know you’ve probably been in a Justin Timberlake and Destiny’s Child K-hole for the past day, but if you feel like crawling out, here are some other songs for you to listen to.

We Were Evergreen – “Leeway”

There are plenty of things that can go wrong in life, but We Were Evergreen get twee-pop right. Alongside launching a Kickstarter for their debut album, the London-via-Paris trio has released charming new single “Leeway.”

Drop The Lime – “No Sleep For The Wicked”

The retro/electro wizard’s new video boasts more zombie cheerleaders than an episode of Misfits. His penchant for horror and killer beats serves as a reminder that there are all kinds of things that go bump in the night.

Anna Calvi – “The Devil”

If that last track wasn’t evil enough, remember that Anna Calvi must have made a deal with “the Devil” to become such a skilled guitarist.

Housse de Racket – “Aquarium”

Clocking in at close to seven minutes, Housse de Racket’s latest single is a slow burner that’s worth every second. Those who have seen the Parisian electro-rock duo live know this as the striking closer to their show.

Sharon Van Etten – “People Ain’t No Good”

I’m jealous of people in Australia, because it’s summer there. Also, Brooklyn singer-songwriter Sharon Van Etten is on a sojourn down under, where she made a stop at Triple J radio to cover future tourmate Nick Cave.

Caitlin Rose – “I Was Cruel”

Singer-songwriter Caitlin Rose tells a familiar story of love gone sour on this cut from her forthcoming album The Stand-In. Her voice manages to be both vulnerable and matter-of-fact, and there’s the hint of steel guitar that you might expect from a Nashville artist.

Palma Violets – “Step Up For The Cool Cats”

London rockers Palma Violets are on track to be 2013’s It Brits, and this 60s-inflected track hints at what’s to come when they release their debut album in February.

Gold Fields – “Dark Again” (Diamond Rings remix)

Australian up-and-comers Gold Fields are plenty charismatic on their own, but Diamond Rings punches up the original to make it a little more dancefloor-friendly.

Carly Rae Jepsen – “Call Me Maybe” (Dan Deacon remix)

By “remix,” I mean that this is the a capella version layered 147 times. It’s strangely compelling, hearing “Hey, I just met you” repeated ad infinitum.

BlackBook Tracks #28: I Resolve To Come Up With Better Titles For These

Local Natives – “Heavy Feet”

After getting back in the game with “Breakers,” the LA band has released “Heavy Feet.” It’s an understatedly lovely cut from their forthcoming second album Hummingbird.

AlunaGeorge – “Diver”

In “people who are doing pop music their own way” news, AlunaGeorge are still on track to be this year’s darlings. “Diver” piles glitchy layers and crystalline vocals over a bass-heavy foundation.

Vampire Weekend – “Unbelievers”

The press cycle for Vampire Weekend’s third album is just beginning, so enjoy it before it turns into people getting angry about sweaters for no reason. Here’s the only song the band has publicly unveiled so far, hopefully with more to come soon.

Miles Kane – “Give Up”

British rocker Miles Kane knows how to pack a punch, and he nails it on the short and snarling “Give Up.” As a bonus, this song appears to center around the same basic principle as the classic 30 Rock episode “The Bubble.”

Free Energy – “Girls Want Rock”

It’s usually a bad idea to make assumptions about half of the earth’s population, but I’m pretty sure girls actually do want rock, so Philadelphia’s Free Energy are in the clear.

Total Warr – “Where Is My Mind”

For the forthcoming Loisy EP, this electro-pop duo has remade the Pixies classic with a French accent.

HAIM – “Don’t Save Me”

The LA band just won the BBC Sound of 2013 poll, so get ready to hear more of them if you haven’t already. Guitar pop’s new golden girls are set to make 2013 their year.

NZCA/Lines – “Airlock”

Electro/R&B crooner Michael Lovett opens this track with the line, “Baby, you look so cold.” I’m going to pretend he’s singing about me when I trudge down 14th Street wearing a neon green puffer coat and a displeased expression.

Peter Bjorn and John – “Eyes”

I’m going to keep reminding myself that there are places where it’s even colder, like Sweden.

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BlackBook Tracks #26: Apocalypse Now

Hey, what’s up? At the time I’m writing this, I have been sitting at the airport for nine hours because my flight back to California for Christmas was overbooked, so I’m kind of at the point of hoping the Mayans were right. Here’s your apocalypse playlist.

Beyoncé – "End Of Time"

Admit it, if the world was actually ending, you’d want to go out listening to Beyoncé.

Tame Impala – "Apocalypse Dreams"

The Australian psych-rock outfit doesn’t mess around with the end of the world. Imagine the earth bursting into flames in slow motion!

Andrew Bird – “Yawny At The Apocalypse”

You’re bored of this apocalypse talk, aren’t you? Andrew Bird apparently already was back in 2007, with this track that closes out Armchair Apocrypha.

Jens Lekman – "The End Of The World Is Bigger Than Love"

The apocalypse really puts things into perspective, or at least it does for Swedish raconteur Jens Lekman. This song also shouts out the Flatbush Ave Target, which sounds like a decent place to stock up on doomsday supplies.

Guillemots – “If The World Ends”

This seems like a pretty chill way to end things. It’s either that or watching Melancholia, which I still haven’t seen all the way through because I fell asleep.

Mew – "Apocalypso"

The Danish band made their breakout back in 2005 with "Apocalypso." It’s still a driving anthem for a fiery crash.

Housse De Racket – "Apocalypso"

You get two songs with the same title, because apparently the apocalypse is a more favored theme in indie rock than I previously realized. I’m glad I’m finding this out before our premature demise.

Julian Casablancas – “Four Chords Of The Apocalypse”

Apocalypse confession: I still haven’t listened to the most recent Strokes album all the way through. Maybe I can still fit that in before Cthulu rises or whatever.

The Doors – "The End"

Shit, I’m still only in Saigon.

BlackBook Tracks #25: It’s Technically Not Even Winter Yet

This week, I am saving all of us the embarrassment of what could have been a list of “Eight Hottest Hanukkah Songs By Jewish Musicians.”

Concrete Knives – “Wallpaper”

Go on, get carried away by the sweet melodies of Concrete Knives. “Wallpaper” is the first single from the French band’s forthcoming album Be Your Own King.

Ra Ra Riot – “When I Dream”

Ra Ra Riot are preparing for the release of third album Beta Love, and “When I Dream” is the second track we’ve heard from it so far. Frontman Wes Miles’ voice sounds more heartbreaking than ever, fragile in all the right ways.

Heems x Sufjan Stevens – “The Child With the Star On His Head”

In addition to having recorded a Christmas EP for every state of the union (or something like that), Sufjan Stevens has continued to prove himself as the most festive person in America by releasing a hip-hop mixtape entitled Chopped & Scrooged. “The Child With the Star On His Head” was produced by John Dieterich of Deerhoof and features the vocal talents of Heems (ex-Das Racist).

Darwin Deez – “Free (The Editorial Me)”

Lovable weirdo Darwin Deez is back with his blend of jangly guitars and programmed beats. “Free (The Editorial Me)” provides a first glimpse at his forthcoming album Songs For Imaginative People.

Parks – “Sweater Weather”

It’s past actual sweater weather, definitely so if you’re in Boston, the city that newcomers Parks call home. Look back on faintly warmer days with some charming indie pop.

Avan Lava – “Tear It Down”

A little disco bombast never hurt anyone, and Avan Lava’s infectious energy can’t be beat. Remember, you deserve to have a good time.

Sky Ferreira – “Everything Is Embarrassing” (Unknown Mortal Orchestra remix)

If you can’t get enough of Sky Ferreira’s Blood Orange-produced track “Everything Is Embarrassing,” Unknown Mortal Orchestra made a version that is nearly seven minutes long. That’s quite a bit of extra time to think about how the song’s title may or may not be your 2012 life motto.

FaltyDL ft. Ed MacFarlane – “She Sleeps”

Get your Friendly Fires fix as Ed MacFarlane lends muted vocals to producer FaltyDL’s insistent track “She Sleeps.”
 

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BlackBook Tracks #22: Be Thankful For These Songs

Insert joke about tryptophan here. I’m thankful that I made it through my entire family dinner without anyone asking me if I was “seeing anyone special.” I’m also thankful that I am sane enough to have zero desire to line up outside Target to try to buy stuff that I don’t actually want. Thanksgiving’s over, let’s move on to this week’s tracks.

Saint Michel – “Katherine”

This swoon-worthy synth-pop duo is hard to resist. Hailing from Versailles, France, Saint Michel just made their American debut in New York City, and they’re sure to make more magic happen soon.

Villagers – “Nothing Arrived”

Irish folk outfit Villagers is prepping a new album, entitled Awayland. “Nothing Arrived” shows that main man Conor O’Brien still has plenty of straightforward charm.

Grizzly Bear – “Boy From School” (Hot Chip cover)

This mournful, stripped-down cover of one of Hot Chip’s breakout singles has a haunting effect that makes it just as powerful as the original.

Jens Lekman – “The End Of The World Is Bigger Than Love”

Jens Lekman cures all ills.

Holidays – “Only In Dreams”

This Roman band charms effortlessly with a jangly, new wave-influenced take on indie rock. Is it summer again yet?

Cheatahs – “The Swan”

British guitar bands are supposed to be coming back, or something along those lines. London’s Cheatahs are set to lead the pack, armed with plenty of fuzzed-out pop hooks.

Girls – “Big Bad Mean Motherfucker”

Sure, Christopher Owens has gone solo now, but it’s nice to look back at when we first started loving him with Girls. With riffs rolling like the hills of San Francisco, “Big Bad Mean Motherfucker” is still a highlight from Album.

Graham Coxon – “What’s He Got?”

The story of being second best is a familiar one, but Mr. Coxon sounds surprisingly optimistic about it. If you can’t be dancing with tears in your eyes, mope with a smile on your face?

Lush – “Single Girl”

This one goes out to everyone who wasn’t lucky enough to avoid all of their aunts asking why they don’t have a boyfriend/girlfriend yet.

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BlackBook Tracks #21: Bringing In The Funk

Hey, how’s your week been? Good? Well, it’s about to get better. Drink some craft beer and listen to these songs. Things are about to get funky.

Jamie Lidell – “What A Shame”

Jamie Lidell moved to Nashville last year to record his forthcoming self-titled album, and “What A Shame” is the first hint at what he’s been up to. It’s a blistering cut from the British-born electro-soul artist, heating things up even more since 2010’s Compass.

School of Seven Bells – “Secret Days”

School of Seven Bells just put out the Put Your Sad Down EP, helmed by a sprawling, majestic title track that clocks in at nearly 13 minutes. For something a little less intimidating, check out another track from the release, “Secret Days,” still a strong listen from the Brooklyn psych-pop duo.

inc. – “5 days”

So, how about that indie R&B scene? L.A. duo inc. are the latest to arrive, and they have a vision that’s dreamy, hazy, and altogether intimate.

Alt-J (feat. Mountain Man) – “Buffalo”

There’s a real cinematic quality to Alt-J’s music, and it’ll be put on full display when this previously unreleased track appears in the upcoming Jennifer Lawrence/Bradley Cooper film Silver Linings Playbook. It starts off more airy than what we’re used to hearing from the British art-rockers, but still hints at their characteristic driving low end.

El Perro Del Mar – “Home Is To Feel Like That”

Swedish singer-songwriter El Perro Del Mar’s fifth album, Pale Fire, came out this week. It’s a quiet stunner, and “Home Is To Feel Like That” sees her flirting with electronic glances.

Midnight Magic – “Walking The Midnight Streets”

You need more disco-funk in your life. Here’s the title track from Midnight Magic’s just-released debut LP. It’s a dancefloor-ready good time from a band featuring various DFA alums.

The 1969 Club – “Go Right Ahead”
French garage rock? It’s more likely than you think–or than I thought, anyways. “Go Right Ahead” rips hard, all churning guitars and catchy chorus.

 

Heems – “Third Thing”

 

It feels like more rappers have released mixtapes this week than usual? One of them is Heems of Das Racist, who just dropped Wild Water Kingdom. “Third Thing” sees him teaming up with esteemed Italian dance producers Crookers.

Fine Peduncle – “Hymniptera”

Let’s get weird with some sexy, sinister electro-pop. Looping vocals, choppy synths, and pulsing bass form a mysterious world.

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