Night Moves – “Carl Sagan”

Minneapolis-based duo Night Moves are no strangers to the benefits of living vicariously in the past, considering that the new singles off of their upcoming sophomore album Pennied Days remain drenched in that unmistakable ’70’s and ’80’s vibe. Earlier this month, they shared the enchanting and poignant track “Denise, Don’t Wanna See You Cry,” which contained swelling guitars and desperate, impassioned vocals begging for something more that what was given. Now, on their newest track “Carl Sagan,” that deep, dark edged sound is swapped out with a thick slab of bright, sleek instrumentals, providing ample evidence that the new album won’t waste time stuck in one particular feeling. The vocals are perhaps the best part of this track, as John Pelant visits what seems to be just about every vocal range he possesses, channeling his influences beautifully in the process.

Pennied Days will be released on March 25th.

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photo courtesy of brooklyn vegan

Murals – “Watching In The Dark”

Psych-pop group Murals have recently released their sophomore LP Violet City Lantern, which contained various stunning examples of their unique, unassuming take on the genre, remaining mellow and soft throughout the entirety of the album. “Watching In The Dark,” however, remains the most enchanting, both for the overwhelming, almost tangible nostalgia as well as the way it builds up in potency as the track plays on. The simple, calm instrumentals and the wistful vocals feel guileless and comfortable when intertwined together, and ends feeling content and somehow more enchanting as when it began.

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photo courtesy of SPIN

Baywaves – “Marsupilami”

Madrid based quartet Baywaves are getting ready to release their debut EP Only For Uz in exactly one month, and today, they have shared the wonderfully psychedelic track “Marsupilami” as a brief teaser. The track explodes right out of the gate with a menagerie of colorful instrumental techniques as well as a beautifully hazy, sun drenched vocal track, bleeding beautifully into strong, brazen guitar fronted interludes, courtesy of King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard’s Joe Walker. It’s the perfect mix of frivolity and confidence, and functions like a kaleidoscopic journey beginning to end.

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photo by Denisse Garcia

Album Review: Wild Nothing – Life of Pause

Jack Tatum’s take on the shoegaze and dream pop genres over the past few years have taken on various personalities and approaches, yet always seems to remain deeply rooted in the various permutations of nostalgia. Whether it was the naive, romantic Gemini or the moodier, dreamier Nocturne, Wild Nothing has always had a knack for capturing deeper emotions through texture and hazy sound. In Tatum’s third full length Life of Pause, however, things get a bit less gauzy and a lot more lucid, swapping out an ethereal aesthetic with one a little less familiar.

From the jangly, technically strange opener “Reichpop,” its clear that this album is already worlds apart from its predecessors. Jungle-like marimba instrumentals hide underneath crystal clear vocals, sounding so out of place from the soft guitar and synth textures found in Nocturne, and instead succeeding in settling into a less familiar identity. “A Woman’s Wisdom” alludes to this new, warmer identity a bit more, adding to Tatum’s new found obsession with soul music by peppering in a few funky guitar melodies, reminiscent of mid 1970’s America (the band, not the region). While its clear that Tatum’s fascination and intent remains pure within the confines of the instrumentals, its worth mentioning that Life of Pause does tend to sound and feel forced during various points during the album, as well as feel a bit too ambitious for what it had initially presented itself to be. When listening to tracks like “Lady Blue” and “Alien,” for instance, the noisy instrumentals and their individual personalities all fight for attention, never allowing the proper space for a listener to really latch onto and relate with, which then creates an almost tangible lull instead of the desired evocation. This seemed to be the case for the album as a whole, which is disappointing, considering Tatum’s past track record of effortlessly capturing just about any emotion the human mind could manufacture. Here, it just sounds a bit too flat, traveling much too fast and much too furious, with a thick, heavy brick on the gas pedal. However, while there aren’t many moments to truly connect with, the ones that are there salvage the album to a greater extent than the lesser tracks deduct, leaving this album’s parts to be greater as the album as a whole. The title track “Life of Pause” along with “TV Queen” are perhaps the most euphoric on the album, with elaborate, colorful synth and wonderful vocals, going back to those old Wild Nothing tracks we all know and love.

The fact that this album is worlds different from the past is good for Tatum, considering he had said in the past that he wanted Life of Pause to be the album that would “displace him.” While this album may not immediately welcome you in with open arms, it’s still a decent, comfortable continuation for Wild Nothing, hopefully leading to more experimentation in the future.

6.5/10

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photo by Shawn Brackbill

Japanese Breakfast – “Everybody Wants To Love You”

Michelle Zauner began her persona as Japanese Breakfast soon after her former band Little Big League went on hiatus, and has since swapped out the raging instrumentals with more focused, meticulous melodies and harmonies. Since sharing the ethereal, textured track “In Heaven,” the first single from her upcoming album Psychopomp, Japanese Breakfast has now released the ode “Everybody Wants To Love You.” The track shimmers and glows throughout its two minute duration, containing Zauner’s impassioned unique vocals as well as absolutely stunning guitar riffs that take it from a simple indie ballad to something more substantial. In it’s constant joy, however, there seems to be an aura of wistfulness, something that should no doubt be toyed with beautifully in the upcoming album.

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photo by Julian Master

Paradis – “Toi Et Moi”

French electro-pop duo Paradis have released the first single from their upcoming debut album Recto Verso, titled “Toi Et Moi.” It is a sleek, elegant work, complete with metallic textures in the synth as well as a passionate, seductive vocal track. While it is exciting to have new tracks by the duo, here’s hoping that the debut album will showcase those few past tracks that Simon Mény and Pierre Rousseau succeeded in having people swoon over.

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photo courtesy of artist

Album Review: Pillar Point – Marble Mouth

Over the years, Scott Reitherman’s career as a musician has been fantastically reinvented. After leaving his position as frontman of Throw Me the Statue, he took on the persona of Pillar Point, releasing an EP and an album in the course of just one year. Both of these remarkable releases portrayed his skill in creating and maintaining a chilling, murky persona, yet they still managed to feel lush and ethereal, mixing sultry synth with post-industrial sound. On Marble Mouth, Pillar Point’s sophomore full-length album, Reitherman’s monochromatic aesthetic dives headfirst into color, resulting in a focused, yet still euphoric continuation of his past self.

Reitherman claims that Marble Mouth is the “full Pillar Point identity lock,” and the confidence definitely shows, swapping out the unassuming timid nature of his debut with the abundance of risks taken in each track’s construction. Within the first few bouncy, metallic moments of “Part Time Love,” it’s clear that this album would not be timid and shy, but instead filled with outbursts of iridescence – as if it wasn’t obvious enough by the color splotched album cover that completely contrasts against the moody monochromatic portrait plastered on his debut. Additionally, this album features wonderful collaboration with members from chill-wave group Washed Out as well as the quirky Kishi Bashi, which definitely contributes to it’s strong, shimmering composure. Despite this more fluorescent, energetic persona, Reitherman still hasn’t lost the meticulous, systematic skill that went into perfecting stunning tracks like “Cherry” and “Dreamin’,” and a majority of the album reflects this remarkably. “Strange Brush” contains both wonderful vocals as well as a killer synth bass line, brilliantly changing into an emotional confession close to the passionate end. It’s no surprise that textures play a big part in Pillar Point’s particular aesthetic, and Marble Mouth does not refrain on providing them. It’s heard throughout the album; inserting itself in the vocally robotic “Gloomsday” and the eerie track “Playtime,” and especially in the whining, wobbly sounds in “Black Fly on a White Wall.”

Perhaps the most important aspect of this album is the remarkable lyrical and vocal work, and how they flow seamlessly within the energetic instrumentals. The subject of love and relationships (or the lack thereof) no doubt play a major part in the album’s theme, showing it as a constant struggle from beginning to end. Reitherman’s lyrical brilliance and vocal strength shows through exclusively on tracks like “Underground” and the beautiful “Dove,” proving to be the strongest tracks the album has to offer. In fact, “Dove” remains as the shining glory of Marble Mouth, as it seems to showcase the best of Reitherman’s dual personas, containing the rough yet ethereal qualities of his debut as well as the newly adopted color and euphoria he has obtained over the past year. It’s an absolutely gorgeous track, and one that could arguably be the best of his career. After a whirlwind of energy and passion, the closing track “Dance Like You Wanna Die” reminds listeners of the main theme, and shows off Reitherman’s stunning vocals once more.

While Pillar Point was a timid wade into the deep pool of Reitherman’s abilities in the realm of electronic pop music, Marble Mouth is the result of a full submersion. While it is missing the thick intrigue that made his debut so great, there’s more than enough to be appreciated in a mere forty minute long LP, starting and ending with its genuine nature.

9.0/10

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photo courtesy of artist

James Blake – “Modern Soul”

Last year, electronic artist James Blake announced the upcoming release of Radio Silence, the follow up to 2013’s excellent album Overgrown. The first track from the album, “Modern Soul,” was debuted during Blake’s BBC Radio 1 residency, and it provides a little taste of what the album has to offer. Within the first few seconds of hearing Blake’s smooth, falsetto vocals, it’s clear his skill in manufacturing various textures and waves within his signature synth beats hasn’t deteriorated in the slightest. Plus, he has also mentioned that the new album will feature collaborations with Kanye West and Bon Iver’s Justin Vernon. It’s still not clear when the album will be released, but when it does, it’s sure to be magnificent.

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photo courtesy of artist

Bon Iver – “Haven, Mass”

The early-bird ticket holders for the Eaux Claires Music & Arts Festival – organized by Bon Iver’s Justin Vernon and the National’s Aaron Dessner – were fortunate enough to receive a cassette (now available to stream in full) containing previously unheard music from various artists. On that cassette was an old track from Vernon himself, dating back to anytime in 2009 or 2010. “Haven, Mass” was a track that didn’t make it onto sophomore album Bon Iver, Bon Iver, which is funny, considering it would have sounded right at home within it’s confines. Vernon’s signature vocals are ensconced by saccharine sweet instrumentals, and almost feels heavy, as if weighed down by something inscrutable. At this point, it’s almost impossible to receive anything from Vernon that isn’t perfection, and while this track isn’t necessarily new, it’s something to hold on to until the next work of beauty from Bon Iver comes along.

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photo by D. L. Anderson

Sales – “Jamz”

Florida beach pop duo Sales are getting ready to release their debut album later this year, which has become highly anticipated since their magnificent self-titled EP was released just about a year ago. Of course, they also shared their single “Big Sis” in the summer of last year, and newcomer “Jamz” perfectly falls right into place alongside in terms of its sense of direction and emotion, creating beautiful echoes and spaces in between it’s shimmering construction. Lauren Morgan’s unique flinty croon mixed with mellow, yet incredibly focused guitar melodies and instrumentals provided by Jordan Shih have quickly become the duo’s signature, and judging from this track, the upcoming album is sure to be a wonderful work of sun-kissed bliss.

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photo courtesy of artist