It’s Friday, which means that it’s time to look back at the best new music we’ve heard over the last few days. This week suggests that the dearth of decent releases over the last couple of weeks is finally coming to an end — there’s another new track from the new Julia Holter album, which sounds many kinds of awesome, along with the return of Kathleen Hanna (and JD Samson!), a summer jam from John Cale, weird dark atmospherics from Dustin Wong, a great collaboration between Fatima Al Qadiri and Visionist, and plenty more. Click through to get listening!
Julia Holter — “Maxim’s I”
The Julia Holter record is shaping up as the one release in the cultural desert of August that’s really gonna be worth hearing. This majestic track is the third song we’ve heard from it so far, and the best yet — much has been made of the fact that this is Holter’s first “proper” studio album, and “Maxim’s I” really demonstrates the sonic breadth of vision that her new workspace has apparently allowed her.
The Julie Ruin — ”Ha Ha Ha”
Seriously, it’s been far too long since we’ve had the pleasure of Kathleen Hanna shouting into our headphones. Long may she prosper.
John Cale — ”All Summer Long”
A John Cale summer anthem? After nearly half a century, the great man still manages to surprise us. This is an outtake from the Shifty Adventures in Nookie Wood sessions — according to Cale, it didn’t fit with that album’s “theme of claustrophobic darkness,” but he’s releasing it as a one-off single. Bravo.
Neko Case — ”Night Still Comes”
As far as opening lines go, “My brain makes drugs to keep me slow” is a pretty effective way to grab the listener’s attention. So commences this new song from alt-country doyenne Neko Case, which is as smokily beautiful as we’ve come to expect from her — it’s the first taste of her unwieldily titled new album The Worse Things Get, The Harder I Fight, The Harder I Fight, The More I Love You.
Fatima Al Qadiri/Visionist — ”The Call”
NYC producer Fatima Al Qadiri’s excellent Desert Strike EP was one of the great underappreciated debuts of 2012, and this new track finds her working with London producer Visionist. “The Call” is a quietly brooding instrumental that’s rather more subdued than anything off Desert Strike — it’ll apparently feature on Visionist’s upcoming EP I’m Fine.
Dustin Wong — ”The Big She”
Former Ponytail guitarist Dustin Wong’s excellent solo work has thus far been based around atmospheric guitar loops. This new track, which is from his upcoming album Mediation of Ecstatic Energy, is rather different — where his previous work has been airy and beautiful, this is dark and decidedly sinister. If it’s a harbinger of a new direction for Wong, it bodes well indeed.
Polvo — ”Total Immersion”
The return of cerebral guitar progenitors Polvo finds them in a reasonably subdued mood. If this is math rock, it’s trigonometry rather than differential calculus — but then, maybe simplicity isn’t such a terrible thing.
Kishi Bashi — ”Philosophize In It! Chemicalize With It!”
If you had to choose one adjective to describe hyper-talented of Montreal collaborator and musical polymath’s music, it’d probably be “exuberant,” and it’s a word that certainly applies to this new track, the first we’ve heard from him since his debut solo album 151a. The song comes with the same intricate arrangements and bursts with the same joyous energy that characterized 151a, and it’s catchy as hell.
Marnie Stern — “This Was It”
The latest installment in Adult Swim’s Singles Series is a breezy pop song from guitar goddess Marnie Stern — it’s a super catchy two-and-a-half-minute ode to the redemptive power of love, you’ll be able to download it for free from here on Monday morning.
MEN — ”All the Way Thru”
This sees JD Samson working with French producer Yuksek, and his production is an excellent fit for MEN’s polemic dance-pop — this song is a whole lot smoother than anything we’ve heard from Samson before, and it suits her well.