How To Cry In The Rain? This Playlist.

Nothing lasts forever. Yesterday mother nature was looking full-on gorge in NYC as noted by annoying Instagrams (At the pier! The park! The Highline! #IcedCoffeeWeather! Shut up!). Yesterday was also very important because of — NOT the moon deciding to bleed or whatever — but the music universe being blessed with new Lana Del Rey and Robyn tracks. *Faints* Anyway, I’m obsessed with rainy days as long as the wind isn’t fucking around and attacking my eyeballs/umbrella. It’s behaving today, which means I got to throw on my (p)leather hooded jacket. But most of all, I’m obsessed with chain-smoking-friendly rainy day music. What can I say? I’m a closeted emo. So, go on and embrace your emo with my teardrops-friendly playlist. THE INDIE DIVA EDITION. Dance in the rain! Disguise your tears as rain drops!

Wanna scream at the clouds today? You need a belting rock diva. Which brings me to the seriously underrated artist known as Lissie who possesses my favorite kind of goosebump-inducing pipes. She makes your soul come out of hibernation, your goosebumps dance, your heart palpitate, etc etc. In other words, listen to Lissie’s killer cover of “Mother” by Danzig. This one’s a MUST. (Also, buy her album ‘Back To Forever,’ especially if you heart Stevie Nicks because she’s basically her daughter or something.)

Another criminally underrated artist is EMA, whose brand new album ‘The Future’s Void’ will crush/invigorate your soul and I predict will 100% be top 10 on ‘Best of 2014’ lists. (Pitchfork lives for her.) She’s the real deal in a sea of It Girls who throw on a flannel and sometimes pick up a microphone for fun. Thank you for making me feel thangs and giving zero fucks, EMA.

Chairlift should be the biggest thing on the indie pop planet. Frontwoman Caroline Polacheck is perfection, her angelic and also haunting pipes are untouchable/unfuckwithable. Especially on her my-life-is-over ballad, “Cool as a Fire,” and especially when it’s flawlessly sung live/directed by Blackbook’s very own, Jacob Brown.

Apologies in advance but I can’t get enough of my favorite depressed diva, Lana Del Rey. Today I’m attempting to take a break from playing her new immaculate jam “West Coast” on repeat, so I switched it up with her recently leaked track, “Black Beauty.” The song overwhelms me too much to try to describe it. You the fuckin’ best, LDR.

No caption necessary here. Have a totally not depressed day y’all! <3

BlackBook Tracks #37: Ketchup And Mustard

In the music world, this was far from a slow news week. (Couldn’t Gucci Mane have saved his Twitter freakout for later?) Here’s a sampling of what’s been going on over the past few days to help you catch up. I’m leaving Arcade Fire out of this, though, because you’ve probably already heard “Reflektor” and there’s only so much time you can spend holding your phone up to your computer.

 
 

Blood Orange – “Chamakay”

Dev Hynes’ long-presumed dead post-punk group Test Icicles may have been revived in DJ form, but he’s truly come into his own over the past few years as the alt-pop act Blood Orange. He’s gone on quite an extensive artistic journey, but his new video for “Chamakay” sees Hynes traveling to Guyana to connect with family members he had never met. A wistful, not quite nostalgic mood hangs over the song, and additional vocals from Chairlift frontwoman Caroline Polachek add to the feeling of watching a ghost become solid.
 
 

Banks ft. Totally Enormous Extinct Dinosaurs – “Bedroom Wall”

LA chanteuse Banks is currently on the road with the Weeknd, and while she may not be as prolific as her tourmate, she might be on her way to outshining R&B’s partied-out poster boy. English producer Totally Enormous Extinct Dinosaurs has a knack for making songs that sound both otherworldly and intimate, though “Bedroom Wall” is decidedly more minimalist than his own material, letting Banks’ warm vocals shine through. The two previously teamed up for Banks’ song “Warm Water.”
 
 

FKA twigs – “Papi Pacify”

From Jessie Ware to AlunaGeorge, the UK’s been producing plenty of fresh talent with diva potential. London’s FKA twigs immediately grabbed attention with first single “Water Me,” and second offering “Papi Pacify” will ensure her stock keeps rising. Directed by FKA twigs and Tom Beard, the video reflects the glittering, smoky, Arca-assisted production while getting just a bit smothering. FKA twigs’ EP2 is out next week on Young Turks.
 
 

Goldroom ft. Ariela Jacobs – “Embrace”

Producer and DJ Josh Legg, aka Goldroom, might be one of the hardest-working guys in music right now. On the title track from his new Embrace EP, he enlists singer Ariela Jacobs to show that summer doesn’t have to be over yet. “Embrace” is sunkissed and soaring, daring you to have one last pool party.
 
 

Darkstar –  “A Day’s Pay For A Day’s Work”

London electronic trio Darkstar released its second album News From Nowhere earlier this year on Warp, and there’s still plenty of life in it. The band just released the video for “A Day’s Pay For A Day’s Work,” directed by Lucy Luscombe. Depicting a training session in trust exercises, the clip reflects the cozy, softly swooning track with the refrain of “I never cared so much for losing touch.” Fall back, someone will catch you.

Gotye’s Confusing, Challenging, Scary World

We all know the story by now: Australian singer-songwriter Gotye, aka Wally de Backer, works for years at home. His international presence is pretty quiet. Suddenly, his song “Somebody That I Used To Know” explodes, giving oddball pop a place on the charts again. Now, he’s performing at Radio City Music Hall, riding comfortably on the back of his 2011 LP Making Mirrors. He’s the guy with the unlikely hit on club-obsessed radio playlists, and he’s holding his own.

I caught up with de Backer on the phone to talk touring, writing, and itching to get back in the studio.

Where are you right now?
I’m in Las Vegas right now, at the House of Blues.

Is this your first time in Vegas?
Second time, first time playing a show there.

It’s kind of overwhelming, isn’t it?
Yeah, when I was first here a few years ago, I didn’t really enjoy it much. But we’re playing a show, and it looks good, we’re playing upstairs. Got a bunch of friends in the band and crew, so maybe we’ll head out and see something later. I wish I could see a Cirque du Soleil show while I was here, but no such luck.

At least you can fit in some gambling at the airport.
It’s amazing what kind of poker machines they have there.

You recently took Chairlift on tour. How was that?
It was great, I love that band. They were really fantastic to play with.

How did that come about? Did you invite them?
Yeah, all the guys in the band were really big fans of their second record. We played in Hamburg in Germany on our last tour and they were really lovely and played a great show. So I just asked, and they said yes.

What’s the strangest thing that’s happened to you on this tour?
I’m not really sure, not very much. Nothing really comes to mind. Been pretty even-keeled. I met Akon last night, that was interesting.

Oh, at the VMAs?
Yeah, I was at the VMAs. It’s pretty likely that you’ll bump into somebody at one of the parties. He was very enthusiastic about my music, which was cool and unexpected.

You know by now that you’re ubiquitous. Being from Australia, was being successful in America a goal for you when you were starting out?
I don’t know if it was a goal. I guess my goal with this record, as far as America was concerned, was just to get the record released. I tried to find an American label for my last album, Like Drawing Blood, and didn’t succeed after trying. I didn’t have a manager or an agent or any connection to give me a platform, so I ended up putting it out myself on iTunes and a few other services. My hope was for it to be coming out and be available on vinyl and CD and just broadly release something. The fact that it’s gone so well has been great.

Growing up and making music over the last ten to twelve years, I’ve never really dreamed about the scale of doing big tours or being onstage in front of thousands of people, as exciting as that can be. I don’t know; I like disappearing into the world of music itself and staying home and experiencing the connections that happen between people when you’re making music, recording records, or playing with my band. I like the audience as well, but I guess I just haven’t dreamed about it, like it’s some kind of goal or that it will satisfy me to get to that point to be able to do that. It’s been incredibly fun, and I’m enjoying it more and more, especially touring America over the past year. It’s almost like I’ve discovered it rather than it having been a thing I’d dreamed of for ages and now it’s coming true.

Would you say that in Australia, the music scene is more insular?
Well, because Australia is so far away from so many places, it’s very expensive for a band to get out. Not even out of Australia, just out of their city.

What’s coming up for you next?
Lots of shows, really. That’s what we’ve done for four months so far, here in the States. I’m going to Europe and playing some places I haven’t been to before, going to Poland and Portugal for the first time. Then we finish with shows back in Australia, which is going to fun. I’ve got some friends who’ve played in the live line-up for the band who are going to be back in the band, I’ve got horns and more backing vocals. I’m just taking it a day at a time on the tour, trying to enjoy different aspects. We spent a few days in LA and I’m really getting to like LA because there are so many interesting people and I’ve met a lot of people I’d like to work with in the future. I’m excited to travel next year and start writing new stuff and see some different places around the world.

Do you write on the road?
I’ve tried in the past, but it’s never been very successful.

Are you one of those people who needs to have a cabin in the woods, a total seclusion kind of thing?
I think it does help. I think it’s also because when you’re on tour and you’re meeting so many people and playing shows, there’s so much input. Especially when you’re enjoying it, it’s great. It’s not even necessarily that it’s overwhelming, just that you need a certain amount of withdrawal or a little bit of boredom, just that space to push myself to create and process a bunch of stuff. There’s just not much space or physical time to do that on the road.

Do you still try to take note of smaller ideas to expand on when you get to settle down?
Here and there. I try to recollect things we might jam with in sound check. I’ll make notes on potential song titles or sketches of lyrics, but it’s pretty infrequent. They’re only little placeholders at best.

What would you say that your writing process is like?
It is, for me, confusing, challenging, scary, and self-defeating. But good, usually, in the end. Going through that process and ending up with anything I find half-decent has always been kind of cathartic.

You can’t be too self-defeating, or you wouldn’t be here.
Yeah. I get asked a lot about being a perfectionist and stuff like that. It doesn’t matter if it hasn’t been tinkered or labored with too studiously. Usually I go in with one idea about what a song is about or what I want the production of a certain recording to evoke sonically for me. If I have that in my mind, [I make it happen], whether it happens quickly or whether it takes months of tinkering with samples and remixing or redoing vocals so that I can realize that feeling that I want from it. That’s kind of my process.

Which also makes it so compelling that you have become popular in America, because we’ve become used to everything being optimized for low-quality mp3s, and then you show up with something much more rich and subtle.
Thank you. Other aspects of my record, they’re still quite lo-fi, that’s because of the sources, the sampling, and I’m really not a great engineer. Francois Tetaz, who mixes my records, sometimes has to do it. I think sometimes the challenge with my stuff is trying to hold true to the vibe of what I record in my own way, which can be quite idiosyncratic and very lo-fi in certain ways. The challenge can be to make that translate when it’s put alongside something like what you described, very highly synthesized, heavily compressed pop music that has a lot of transience and tries to jump out of your speakers and smash you in the face. A lot of contemporary music is produced that way. It’s not like you want to be competitive with that stuff, but sometimes the challenge is making something sound like it’s not completely from a different world and still staying true to the aura of what I produced originally.

There’s also so much diversity to Making Mirrors. Do you try to mix things up live and present different versions of songs?
There are a few arrangements we’ve done on this tour that are new, songs we haven’t played before and really tried to come up with arrangements that suited the live environment. We take the album version as a starting point. I should do more of it with other songs in the future with the live show.

Is there anything specific that you hope people take away from your show?
I guess I hope that they feel like it was an immersive experience, between the visuals and sound, and one that has some twists and turns and surprises and is a moving thing, one that makes you feel like you’ve gone to a lot of different places, maybe somewhere you didn’t expect to go to. Maybe it’s a lot to ask, but I guess that’s what I hope.

Who are some new artists you’re excited about right now?
I really love tUnE-yArDs. I recently downloaded the Divine Fits record, and I really like a few tracks off of that. It’s great, I’m a big fan of Spoon and it’s interesting to hear a different take. Nick Launay, who produced the record, tipped me off to that album, so that’s a good one.

Would you say that you try to keep up with new artists, or stick with older stuff?
I’m always looking out for new stuff. I discover older music [as well]; my drummer Michael’s always good because he’s got a very encyclopedic music collection. You go record shopping with him and he’ll be like, "Yeah dude, have you heard of this record? You’ve got to check it out. 1974, these guys were doing this stuff, that guy was playing in this band and produced this thing and it all connects." He’s very good at contextualizing and giving tips for records I might otherwise pass by. My friends give me a bunch of new music and I’m always looking for new things that I find interesting. There’s a really incredible amount of new music that’s being recorded and released that’s very inspiring.

You mentioned you’re going to Poland and Portugal soon. Where’s the most unusual place you’ve ever played?
We played at this pool party for the KROQ radio station at Coachella Festival earlier this year. It was about 110 degrees and some of the computers from the house desk had a meltdown during the set, and there were girls in bikinis at this pool party and I’m trying to sing these peculiar songs about my home organs, and that felt quite incongruous.

Is there anywhere you haven’t played yet that you would like to go to?
We haven’t been able to go to Scandinavia yet. I have friends in Norway, and I would love to go and play in Oslo. I hope we get to Scandinavia, and I would love to play more broadly in Asia and see more of those countries. Maybe next year, we might go to Singapore and visit China, so that’s really exciting.

It’s interesting that you mention Scandinavia, because some of what you do also has that clean, well-measured quality to it that a lot of music from there has.
Is there any Scandinavian stuff you’re really into?

I just saw this group called Icona Pop, but that’s more straight dance-pop, following in the whole Robyn or Annie kind of thing. Would you say that a lot of Scandinavian artists inspire you?
I’ve liked a bunch of stuff that Robyn and Annie have put out. Others from Scandinavia, I’m trying to think. I really like the Jónsi record, but that’s not technically Scandinavian. Kings of Convenience, from Norway, are one of my favorite bands. Really beautiful band, one of the best live shows I’ve ever been to.

Where do you think you can go from here?
I don’t know, Siberia? Maybe I’ll just go home for a while, that’ll be welcome.

Anything else you’re into right now that you want to shout out, bands or anything else you think is cool?
Jumping into my mind…you mentioned Chairlift before, the other guy supporting us on this tour is a young guy called Jonti, who put out a couple records on Stones Throw, and he is really fantastic, I think. Beautiful producer and sonic experimentalist. I think people might really enjoy listening to his records and what he does with sound and the melting pot of things he brings together. He’s doing some really clever things with his live show, and his records are sterling, so check them out.

BlackBook Tracks #12: Acts To See at Fashion’s Night Out NYC

It’s Fashion’s Night Out, which for some people, might be the best day of the year (just call it Treat Yo Self 2012). Special deals, limited edition gear, and complimentary drinks and snacks abound. If you’re in NYC, here are some options for music to see around town.

Theophilus London – “Last Name London”

Check out the ever-stylish rapper/Cole Haan collaborator at the Gramercy Park Hotel.

 

Azealia Banks – “1991”

If you weren’t lucky enough to catch her at Spin’s Fashion Week party last night, Yung Rapunxel will be appearing at the MAC store in Soho, presumably to support their new lipstick collaboration.

 

Icona Pop – “Sun Goes Down”

Rising Swedish duo Icona Pop will be bringing their non-stop energy to no less than four appearances tonight. They’ll be DJing at Helmut Lang in Soho, AllSaints in the Meatpacking District, and Mister H at the Mondrian Soho, as well as fitting in a live performance for Urban Outfitters.

 

Poolside – “Only Everything”

Dreams take flight in the new video for Poolside’s single “Only Everything,” their latest slice of chilled-out disco. Catch up on BlackBook’s Q&A with the LA-based duo and check them out tonight at 8 at Moods of Norway in Soho.

 

St. Vincent – “Champagne Year”

Sweet-voiced songwriter St. Vincent always has great style, so it’s no surprise that Rag & Bone are bringing her to their party. Here’s her song “Champagne Year” for a champagne night.

 

Frankie Rose – “Know Me”

The veteran member of Vivian Girls/Dum Dum Girls will take her darker solo project to Theory in the Meatpacking District.

 

Chairlift – “I Belong In Your Arms” (Japanese Version)

Synth-pop darlings Chairlift will be performing at Prada’s party in Soho. This is also sure to be a popular one.

 

Haim – “Forever”

LA rockers Haim have been working their way up for years, and they’re now undeniably buzzworthy. They’ll be playing at Topshop tonight.

 

Wild Belle – “Keep You”

Sibling duo Wild Belle will be bringing their dark pop sound to Mulberry in Soho. If you don’t get to see them tonight, you can always try to see their session at Le Baron next week.

 

POP ETC – “Live It Up”

The reinvented Morning Benders will be lending their weirdo R&B vibes to Morgane Le Fay’s event in Soho.

BlackBook Tracks #10: Just Chill

It’s been a long week, hasn’t it? Maybe you say that every Friday. Sit back, relax, and ease yourself into the weekend with these songs.

Django Django – “Firewater”

Kick things off with this hangover anthem from the London psych-rockers’ excellent self-titled debut album, currently available for streaming at Rolling Stone.

Phoenix – “If I Ever Feel Better”

This track from the French band’s 2000 debut album United never fails to hit the spot.

Peter Morén – “Social Competence”

The Peter Bjorn and John frontman gets vulnerable with an acoustic guitar in his solo project. Here’s a sample of his other side from 2008’s The Last Tycoon.

Ra Ra Riot – “Too Dramatic”

Ra Ra Riot have been laying low for a while, but hopefully they’ll be back sooner than later with more lush, string-heavy indie pop.

Johanna and the Dusty Floor – “Fishbones”

“Fishbones” is like the audio equivalent of finally getting sheets with a decent thread count and finding it even more impossible to get out of bed in the morning.

Chairlift – “I Belong In Your Arms”

This slice of jubilant dream-pop from the Brooklyn duo always feels like a breath of fresh air.

Chad Valley – “Fall 4 U” (ft. Glasser)

Synth-pop maestro Chad Valley is gearing up for his debut LP Young Hunger, and “Fall 4 U” is the first tease from the album. It’s nothing short of completely gorgeous and transportive.

Divine Fits – “My Love Is Real”

An indie supergroup featuring members of Wolf Parade and Spoon ended up being a good idea! Here’s the stark, captivating opener to A Thing Called Divine Fits.

The Cast Of Cheers – “Family”

Irish band the Cast of Cheers finally released their album Family on this side of the pond, and it’s a good one. The title track is all angles and jangles, with plenty of energy to spare.

Feeling Thorny: A Wine to Remember

Usually promotional parties are a mediocre gathering of media folk at an event that tries too hard but doesn’t deliver. That, or their product sucks. Last night’s Thorny Rose wine event however, was unforgettable, plus the wine was tasty and affordable. To be honest, I didn’t have high hopes, but when I saw they had Chairlift playing, I figured, why not? Plus, the event was held on the swank roof deck of Hotel Chantelle and Top Chef Season Nine contestant Ty-Lor Boring was cooking up lamb meatball sliders and prosciutto wrapped shrimp. As if that wasn’t reason enough, when you left, they let you pick an ice cream sandwich from the Coolhaus dessert truck.

Owned by Constellation Wines, the goal of Thorny Rose Wines is to, “meet the demands of Millennial consumers,” which the company says, is, “a segment with unparalleled growth and influence.” Mostly this means they are really good at social networking and throwing parties.

Speaking of, as the DJ and electric violin duo Mia Moretti and Caitlin Moe provided the pre-Chairlift beats, we snagged a couple hefty glasses of the sauvignon blanc and sat down to an epic game of Jenga. Next, we tried the Red Blend, a perfectly respectable table wine, and made our way to the other side of the roof. There, a man on stilts painted a mural and smiling ladies in black tied leather bands on guests’ wrists. More women in black waltzed by with trays of food and bottles of wine, which they poured freely in a Bacchanalian manor as well-heeled guests imbibed.

Everything sported the Thorny Rose logo on it, from the wall, to the bar mirrors—even the Sharpie markers touted the name of the wine. The team behind the campaign cleverly hash tagged the phrase, “feelingthorny,” and through this catchy marketing push, they made it a brand I can’t forget. And the wine, well it’s totally drinkable and perfect for any party. Right now, you can buy the wines for around $10 at Dawn Liquors, Madison Avenue Wines, Wine Heaven, and Tenth Avenue Wine & Liquors. But, don’t be surprised if you start seeing them everywhere soon.

Swooning With Washed Out at House of Vans

PDA at shows is generally annoying and awful—I was permanently scarred when I saw people attempting to grind to Ben Kweller one time—but anyone smooching at the House of Vans last night gets a free pass, just this once. With the swoon-worthy line-up of Lemonade, Chairlift, and Washed Out, the Greenpoint skatepark got more romantic than usual, at least for those who were fortunate enough to be accompanied by a boyfriend/girlfriend/special buddy/very friendly stranger.

Lemonade kicked the night off with "Sister" from their recently-released album Diver. The San Francisco-formed trio seems very enthusiastic about making sultry dance-pop, and probably about life in general. Given that they have songs as good as "Ice Water" and "Softkiss," there’s no reason why they shouldn’t be.

Chairlift’s Caroline Polachek simultaneously embraces and surpasses her fragile appearance onstage, which fits her and bandmate Patrick Wimberly’s dark/dreamy blend. Their set featured an abbreviated version of their past hit "Bruises" flowing into "I Belong In Your Arms" from this year’s sophomore release Something, which may very well have been the highlight of the entire night

Washed Out, aka Ernest Greene, headlined the show with his sun-bleached synths for a lo-fi dance party. In 2012, it’s kind of hard to tell whether or not chillwave, the microgenre that Greene was king of in 2010, ever really existed. But his music is still perfectly pleasant, and there’s no reason to worry about it.

BlackBook Tracks #3: 2012 First Half Report

Looking sharp, 2012. In our first two installments, we’ve already highlighted some of the best songs of the year so far, like Tanlines’ “All of Me” and “I Love It” by Icona Pop. Here’s a sampling of some other great singles from the past six months.

Django Django – “Default”

This relentlessly catchy cut from the London-based psych-rock quartet demands to be put on repeat.

Hot Chip – “Night And Day”

Hot Chip have always been pretty sexy, and they reach their full potential in that department with “Night and Day.” With a nasty bass line and characteristic humor, the song simultaneously fulfills their established R&B-inflected electro sound and pushes it further.

Grimes – “Oblivion”

Claire Boucher’s ethereal vocals and looping production make this song both expansive and intensely intimate.

Kindness – “House”

An earnest, quietly anthemic love song from the British up-and-comer. Kindess’s debut album World, You Need A Change Of Mind was produced by French studio wizard Philippe Zdar (Phoenix, Chromeo).

Chairlift – “Met Before”

On sophomore album Something, Chairlift moved swiftly past the previous success of “Bruises” and went in a dreamier direction, while remaining just as charming.

Sharon Van Etten – “Leonard”

Sharon Van Etten’s been around for a while, but she’s earned some new fans from third LP Tramp. This highlight from the album lets the singer-songwriter’s voice soar.

Perfume Genius – “Dark Parts”

Seattle’s Perfume Genius, aka Mike Hadreas, is known for his stark, minimalist style. “Dark Parts” shows off his ability to distill imagery and make you cry.

Bear In Heaven – “Sinful Nature”

Bear In Heaven’s shimmering electro-pop sounds perfect right about now. With lines like “Let’s get loaded and make some strange things come true,” this song puts romance in a weird place.

New Build – “Do You Not Feel Loved?”

There’s a bit of overlap here, as New Build is a side project of Hot Chip’s Al Doyle and Felix Martin. This track from their excellent album “Yesterday Was Lived And Lost” is gently delivered, but urgent all the same.

Santigold – “Big Mouth”

It took four years for Santigold to make her return, and tracks like the rattling, blistering “Big Mouth” make sophomore LP Master of My Make-Believe worth the wait.

In Case You Missed It: Choose-Your-Own-Adventure With Chairlift

To come: trend piece about Brooklyn indie-rock bands embracing "choose-your-own-adventure" in their supplementary activities. Or not. Definitely not. That would be a terrible trend piece. But not too long after Vivian Girls’ choose-your-own text-based computer game nostalgia-fun extravaganza, Chairlift have released a choose-your-own-adventure music video for their new single, "Met Before," directed by Jordan Fish (who has previously worked on videos for MGMT, Das Racist and more).

In the video, it’s up to the intrepid viewer to choose which romantic fixation and aspect of multiverse theory Ph.D. student Caroline Polachek pursues. We won’t ruin the fun, we will tell you but there is one path that involves beekeeping, suits and all. Also, there’s some adorable air guitar and drumming at the beginning. And the song kind of rules too. 

Watch and let the minor afternoon diversion fun begin. (h/t Stereogum