Steve Lacy – “Dark Red”

the-internet-steve-lacy-some

The Internet’s Steve Lacy has gone solo with a brand new EP, simply and aptly titled Steve Lacy’s Demos. It’s a collection of six wonderfully mellow tracks, and as lead guitarist for his other project, it’s no stranger to a funky guitar melody. “Dark Red,” the obvious stunner of the pack, is half saccharine-sweet doo-wop and half soul, a stunning combination that places both Lacy’s instrumental and vocal skill on full display. It’s smooth and refined, and, due to its short duration, incredibly worthy of a second (or third) listen.

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photo by Gunner Stahl / via the FADER

Tennis – “My Emotions Are Blinding”

The guitar that opens the newest track from Tennis’s upcoming fourth full length album is so beautifully simple, but the bright, clean, nostalgic tone in which it’s played immediately evokes an essence of wonder and whimsy in the ear. Its this sense of immediacy that’s synonymous with Tennis as a whole, and, throughout the years, its clear their charm is just as potent as their immense talent. It’s light and breezy – perhaps inspired by husband-wife duo Alaina Moore and Patrick Riley’s numerous sailing trips – yet Moore’s voice contributes something profound and intellectual, deeper than the song itself.

Yours Conditionally will be released on March 10th.

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photo via noisey

Jay Som – “Baybee”

Next month, Oakland-based multi-instrumentalist Melinda Duterte will release Everybody Works, her official debut album as Jay Som. Of course, the album follows her excellent bedroom-recorded release Turn Into, which unleashed her atmospheric, gossamer-like dream pop onto the world. The new album’s first two singles, “1 Billion Dogs” and “The Bus Song,” expanded on that same aesthetic, complete with thick, foggy guitars and . “Baybee,” however, may be her most delicate and refined track to date, solely based on the magical way in which all the elements merge together. Her vocals are the star of the entire track, hovering gently on elastic twangs of guitar and supersonic effects, narrating the complexities of emotions within a relationship frustratingly based on them, portraying happiness as a dual effort from both parties. It’s somehow both soothing and exhilarating, two contradicting feelings which will surely make the debut that much more of a stunner.

Everybody Works will be released on March 10th.

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photo by Cara Robbins

Album Review: Tim Darcy – Saturday Night

As the frontman of art punk band Ought, Tim Darcy is no stranger to vulnerability or sensitivity; in fact, his lyrics and the melodies that escape his guitar seem to feed off their presence. Ought, of course, being a band party born out of protest, perfectly rides the line of being intellectual but constantly pissed off, and Darcy’s contribution is similar; the music is anxious and jittery, filled with chunky guitars and meticulous basslines, and Darcy’s lyrics, yelped out with a tone existing somewhere between vitriol and inquisitiveness, touch on existentialism and human nature, as well as the monotony of everyday life. In Saturday Night, Darcy’s experimental debut solo album, he becomes a human conduit for emotion, and, as a result, the vulnerability appears less like divine annoyance and more like a lovesick serenade.

Saturday Night was recorded around the same time as Ought’s sophomore album Sun Coming Down, though some of the songs that appear on the solo album were materializing well before the creation of the group itself. Obviously, the songs are much more introspective, perhaps a result of allowing ideas to flow freely rather than attach them to any specific sentiment, politically charged or not, as was the case in Ought. Of course, there are a few overarching themes in Saturday Night – toxic masculinity, vulnerability, gender dynamics – expressed through half-fluid, half-disjointed instrumentals and more experimental effects. The title track begins with a bow across guitar strings, resulting in a just barely tolerable shriek before the splash of drums and deep, brooding vocals set in. It feels lost in time, as if it is the entirety of a performance art piece, especially when Darcy’s voice shouts into the void in a desperate attempt to make sense of his own existence. As a result, the album can sound self-indulgent at times, but then again, a debut solo album deserves no fault in that regard. “Found My Limit” follows that same hollowed out, eerie tone, its repeated phrase like a mantra learned over years of pain and slow realizations.

Some of the best tracks on the album, however, are the ones steeped in thick, chunky guitar and stark, confident vocals. “You Felt Comfort” is heavy, upbeat garage rock at its finest, while “Saint Germain” reads like an existential poem, and, almost appropriately, seems to unravel and stretch towards the edges of time the more it plays on. Darcy finds ways to explain his artistic process in this track as well, playing the philosopher and explaining that “creation is the loudest screech of escape/ which explains why mine sounds like a scream.”  “Tall Glass of Water,” the obvious stunner of the album, has Darcy’s voice so expertly nestled between rampant, electrified guitar, this time with lyrics analyzing his own abilities to muster on and understand himself, asking “if at then end of the river/there is more river/would you dare to swim again?,” then answering saying “surely I will stay, and I am not afraid/I went under once, I’ll go under once again.”

Needless to say, Darcy is as much a poet as he is a musician, and there are lyrics in Saturday Night that will stay with you long after the album is through, although it’s up to you to decide which to hold onto. Given Darcy’s unique voice, you might have to listen a number of times to truly grasp the essence of what he is communicating – one of the few grievances I have with the album – but once you do, the music becomes something else entirely. He  also dedicates three tracks to Joan of Arc, fascinated by her passion and constant destruction of the patriarchy, his most telling line of her personality being “Joan hasn’t got a gun/ but she’ll change the tide to bury you.”

Though he fulfills many roles – the intellectual protagonist, the enraptured existentialist, the hopeful cynic – there’s a part of me that wants to leave Saturday Night with  Tim Darcy being the lovesick, byronic hero he portrays himself to be in “Still Waking Up,” perhaps the most delicate track off the album. The saccharine sweet ballad is pure and unpretentious in both its Americana-esque instrumentation as well as the lyrics, and I still can’t get over the fact that he can sing the phrase “release the hounds” and still manage to sound like a hopeless romantic. It’s the simplest song off the album, but the most indicative of Darcy’s attempts to understand himself, and, by extension, the world in which he exists.

8.0/10

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photo by Shawn Brackbill

Hoops – “Rules”

Indiana chillwave quartet Hoops released their self-titled debut EP last August, and now they’ve announced the upcoming release of Routines, their debut full length. “Rules,” the first tease from the new album, shoots out from your speakers with concentrated bursts and waves of lo-fi guitar, and rapid drums and gauzy vocals appear shortly after to smooth everything out. Despite the track being short in duration, the group makes up for it with fine details, effects, and overall charm that practically oozes out of every second.

Routines will be released on May 5th.

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photo via fat possum

Lowly – “No Hands”

Danish dream-pop quintet Lowly recently released their debut album Heba, chock full of dark, gorgeously rich instrumentals and somber, ethereal vocals provided by Nanna Schannong and Soffie Viemose. When listening to the album in full, its hard to believe that this is the group’s first album; the potent emotion in the lyrics and the half-shimmering, half-shuddering flourishes in production point to a band that know their abilities to a point of brilliance. There are moments of glitchy synth and warped guitars, others with anxious, splashy drums and wavering vocals, but, as evident in “No Hands,” always seems to return to something ethereal, large, and brooding. It’s a rather slow build, but with beautifully shrill vocals and almost quaint, polka-dotted synth, it’s absolutely worth it in the end, where everything swells to meet the desperate voice that has brought you all this way.

(“No Hands” begins at 28:35, but we highly suggest you get there organically.)

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photo via bella union

Mac DeMarco – “This Old Dog”

The fact that Mac DeMarco released not one, but two tracks supposedly out of nowhere yesterday was incredible for me considering I’ve been on a huge binge lately; I finally received the vinyl of 2 that I ordered weeks ago, as well as the fact that I’ve had “Treat Her Better” as well as the rest of Salad Days on repeat for the past month. There’s something about DeMarco’s delightfully lethargic croon and the simultaneous honesty, sensitivity, and humor in his lyrics that just seems right at the moment, and thankfully the news of his upcoming album This Old Dog means that there will soon be more of him to love. The title track, released along with companion “My Old Man,” has the artist even softer and more straightforward, with a quiet, uncomplicated melody that creates ample room for the fluttering waves of guitar in the chorus, acting like an excitable, pulsating heartbeat. Of course, the goofy, easily likable persona is still there, but judging by the calm beauty of Another One as well as these two new tracks, there’s a calmer, more introspective part of him that still deserves further exploration.

This Old Dog will be released on May 5th.

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photo by Coley Brown

Future Islands – “Ran”

Synth-pop trio Future Islands have announced the release of The Far Field, the follow up to 2014’s fantastic album Singles. Along with the news, they have also released the electrifying new single “Ran,” sharing the same tone and intensity in the instrumentals as “Seasons (Waiting On You),” perhaps their most popular track to date. Frontman Samuel T. Herring hasn’t lost his fiery passion or his signature, arresting voice, and, as with any Future Islands song, it sounds as if he’s expressing every human emotion in the same breath, which adds an inexplicable, yet addictive tension to their music.

The Far Field will be released on April 7th.

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photo by Tom Hines

The Jungle Giants – “Feel The Way I Do”

Australian quartet The Jungle Giants have released the first single from their upcoming third full length album, the follow up to 2015’s Speakerzoid. “Feel The Way I Do” is a perfect amalgamation of the quirky instrumentals of their past repertoire along with new sharp, metallic synth effects and frontman Sam Hales’s piercing, powerful vocals. The result of this newly assumed sound, changing from pure, bubbly pop to something grittier, is a remarkably addictive, danceable beat, where the group’s same quirkiness, now sleek, focused, and balanced, becomes a valuable asset.

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photo courtesy of artist