Tim Darcy – “Tall Glass Of Water”

If you’ve been following us for a while, you’ll know that we are massive fans of the Montreal art-punk quartet Ought, fronted by singer/songwriter Tim Darcy. Their songs that appear throughout their debut More Than Any Other Day and their sophomore Sun Coming Down convey tension and unrest in true punk fashion, although with a more refined, intellectual nature that shows through in the lyrics, commenting on everything from borderline existentialism to the mundane nature of everyday life. Darcy’s anxious, yelping, mile-a-minute vocals provide the main character for the music, and Ought definitely wouldn’t be the same without them. Recently, Darcy announced that he will release a solo album next year, and, perhaps sensing the inevitable unrest, also released the first single along with the news to quell the burning anticipation. “Tall Glass Of Water,” while having punk tendencies, leans more towards indie rock in it’s heavy, balanced guitar melodies, but Darcy’s signature croon still hovers above, with his lyrics both asking and answering questions about his own abilities to muster on and understand himself as an artist (“If at the end of the river, there is more river, would you dare to swim again?” Surely I will stay, and I am not afraid / I went under once, I’ll go under once again”). These sorts of musings come complimentary with the singer/songwriter, it seems, regardless of what name or group he releases them under. However, rather than only bathe them in tension and angst, there’s also a sense of peace in his conveying himself, which makes the track all the more satisfying.

Darcy’s debut album Saturday Night will be released February 17th.

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photo courtesy of artist

Monster Rally – “Island Romance”

Monster Rally is the project of Ted Feighan, who specializes in the dazzling amalgamation of hip-hop and tropicalia. He puts together each of his stunning tracks from sampling his collection of records chosen exclusively for their exotic, otherworldly cover images, always hoping to convey some sort of story or narrative within his work. The result is both mesmerizing and delightfully mysterious in nature, and sounds as if it belongs on the overhead speakers of a ’60’s tiki-bar revamped into a swanky, smoke-filled night club, with a martini in your hand and a lucid mind. Feighan’s fourth album Mystery Cove is the first to tell a cohesive story from beginning to end – a soundtrack to an imaginary film about two lovers on a getaway to an island that isn’t quite what it seems – and the cinematic nature shines through impeccably. Out of all the equally whimsical and haunting tracks, “Island Romance” remains one of the most idyllic, with floating instrumentals, shimmering chimes, and even the charming effects of screeching birds and record static, with a solid foundation of drums holding everything in place. After the soft, nostalgic introduction from “The Birds Pt. 4,” it’s the first in the twenty track lineup to show its more eerie, mysterious side, and the way it completely changes the mood of the album afterwards is absolutely brilliant. Feighan also creates all the accompanying art, which, given their colorful, collage-esque nature, goes perfectly with his lush musical menageries.

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photo by Casey Catelli

Flume – “Heater”

Last week, Flume released the Skin Companion EP, a handful of unreleased tracks from his most recent album released this past summer. Unlike the Aussie producer’s self-titled debut album, which was highly experimental, complex, and introverted in composition, Skin was chock full of tracks more suitable for the dance floor or headlining large festivals, considering their upbeat, pulsating natures as well as the cast of artists in which it included. “Heater,” one of the previously unreleased tracks, seems to find a spot in both Flume’s past and present – his signature inclusion of bright, cooing vocals and thick, thick waves of synth sound as if they were from his very beginnings, and the way in which the track bursts out of its murky, digital introduction points to the more extroverted, unapologetic personality expressed in Skin. It starts off on a high, and, in true Flume fashion, never gives you a chance to lose that sense of wonder.

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photo courtesy of artist

Teen Daze – “Cycle”

Teen Daze, also known as Canadian artist Jamison Isaak, has returned with a stunning new single, as well as news of a forthcoming album. “Cycle” is his first release since last year’s Morning World, an album which made use of a sun-bleached, giddy dream pop aesthetic. The new track feels more ambient and experimental than his past work, with layered, choral like vocals that float over the instrumentals with ease. It almost sounds like a rejuvenation of emotions, a rebirth of ideas and thought, both bright and shadowed at the same time. Towards the end of the track, the synth oscillates wildly, with Isaak’s soft oohs soothing the listener into submission.

Teen Daze’s newest album Themes for Dying Earth will be released in February.

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photo by Landon Speers

Cigarettes After Sex – “K.”

“Nothing’s Gonna Hurt You Baby” by Brooklyn “ambient pop collective” Cigarettes After Sex will probably go down in history as a song people will say they found in the “weird indie part” of youtube, with over 31 million views – perhaps inevitable from the band’s rather suggestive name. Regardless, it is popular for a reason, considering the gorgeous synth and reassuring, desperate vocals, as well as the thick, heavy sense of longing that drives the track. “K.” –  the first single from the group since signing to Partisan Records – has Greg Gonzalez’s vocals sounding more gorgeous and potent than ever, with soft, hazy instrumentals cascading around him like tendrils of smoke. It has a beautifully weary feeling to it, yet sounds strangely optimistic and hopeful in the lyrics. In the simplest terms, its an absolutely breathtaking song, and hopefully the new LP out next year will follow suit.

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photo by Shervin Lainez

The xx – “On Hold”

After four long years, The xx is finally back with a fantastic new single as well as news of a brand new album out in January. The new LP will be the follow-up to their absolutely stunning sophomore album Coexist, which had the trio waist deep in dark, shimmering synth, moody vocals, and simultaneously minimalist and complex beats. They have always been a band fascinated with the frailty of the human condition, as well as the intimacies and flourishes of love and the lack thereof. Their newest single “On Hold” expresses the evocative aesthetic they have exclusively been known for since 2009, yet also contains more of an emphasis on Jamie xx’s production skills than what was heard in the past. Romy Madley Croft and Oliver Sim share the absolutely gorgeous vocals, the lyrics conveying the pain of letting someone go for the last time.

The xx’s new album I See You will be released January 13th.

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photo by Laura Jane Coulson

Kevin Krauter – “Fantasy Theme”

Along with his involvement in the jaunty lo-fi quartet Hoops, Kevin Krauter has also been working on a solo EP titled Changes. Back in September he released the first track, “Bachelor,” which gave the first hint that the EP will take a large step away from the fuzzy, jangly indie rock of Hoops and instead take on a more mellow and introspective persona. In “Fantasy Theme,” the Indiana artist’s newest release, it gets even more pained and gorgeous, as Krauter’s vocals drift and float beautifully on top of a meticulous acoustic guitar melody. There’s a tangible yearning within the instrumentals, and the simultaneous subtlety and depth of the track as a whole is absolutely brilliant.

Krauter’s debut EP will be released on December 2nd.

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photo courtesy of winspear

Methyl Ethel – “No. 28”

Back in March, Methyl Ethel released their fantastic debut album Oh Inhuman Spectacle, where they beautifully blended the haziness of dream pop and the sharp edge of psych rock in order to create such a unique musical aesthetic. Now, the Australian trio is back with “No. 28,” seeming to be more on the simple psych side. Immediately, a bold, stark guitar introduction pierces through, hollowing out a space for frontman Jake Webb’s vocals to reverberate freely. There’s an invigorating energy radiating throughout the track, with the instrumentals sounding carefree and passionate all at once. Hopefully this hints at another album for the trio in the near future, but for now, this track satisfies those rebound cravings.

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photo by pilerats

Mega Bog – “Fwee”

Mega Bog have announced that they will release their sophomore album Happy Together early next year, and have provided a little snippet to go along with the news. In fact, at just under two minutes, “Fwee” is the definition of a snippet, but so chock full of such inspired, melodic synth and bright, shimmering instrumentals that it feels like much more. Erin Birgy’s elastic vocals evoke the themes of joy and whimsy in the track, and sounds like a wonderful release of pressure as her exalted sighs mix together with classic rock.

Happy Together will be released on February 3rd.

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photo by Andrew Swanson