This week’s mix might help you remember bands who have been off the radar doing non-band things. It might jog your noggin and make you feel nostalgic for more decade music. It might even give you something new to play to break the ice when your friends are are all over and you didn’t remind them that it was BYOB. Oh, it just happened? Go ahead, save the day.*
1. Goldfrapp – “Rocket”
With the upcoming release of their fifth album Head First on March 22, Goldfrapp’s first single is sure to be a crowd-pleaser. As a feel-good anthem with a synth chord progression as memorable as Van Halen’s “Jump” and a singalong chorus that’s easy to remember, “Rocket” exists as a pop gem sent in a time capsule from the ’80s. It’s a departure from their previous album, the more ambient and organic Seventh Tree but is reminiscent of their earlier work, which is definitely a good thing. Maybe a lil Frapp will help us remember who Christina Aguilera is.
2. Caribou – “Odessa”
Hailing from Canada, Caribou delivers this first track from their upcoming release on January 25, Swim. Echoing his earlier work as Manitoba, Dan Snaith, evokes an eerie, experimental feeling of happiness with its calculated electronics, piping in at the most opportune moments along the bass line. Kudos to the dudes at Aquarium Drunkard who were on top of the similarities in vox and production to Erlend Øye of the formidable Kings of Convenience.
3. Owen Pallett – “Lewis Takes Off His Shirt”
His first full-length in four years since his fantastical He Poos Clouds, Owen Pallett (not as big of an RPG buff anymore) ties together repeated lines, crescendoing horns and flutes, and a synthy two-note beat into a neat little package. He leaves his familiar orchestra for a more honed and “breathless” rumination with the Czech Symphony. Hot on the heels of his release this past week, Pallett is also scoring the upcoming film adaptation of Rabbit Hole, which may actually fit well under the direction of John Cameron Mitchell (Hedwig and the Angry Inch).
4. Efterklang – “Modern Drift”
Unlike their first full-length stab, Tripper, Efterklang’s third, Magic Chairs (due out February 23), is the charm. Casper Clausen’s harmonious layered vocals (impressively subtle) melts in perfectly with the oohs and loose strings, while still maintaining an otherworldly vibe with the peekabooing bells and jungle beat of the drums. Although precipitously close to the five minute mark, “Modern Drift” really does just cruise through.
5. Summer Camp – “Ghost Train”
Working in unity with the electronic flourishes in the backdrop, “Ghost Train” best exemplifies Summer Camp’s lightheaded lo-fi indie pop. The duo of Jeremy Warmsley and Elizabeth Sankey is driven by the irresistibly girly charm of Sankey’s beautiful, laidback voice, at times joined by a backing choir almost. It’s as if sleepovers and corny scare tactics that are usually laughed off and forgotten are now worth remembering.
6. Solly – “Cali Dreams”
Solly takes the ’60s cool of “California Dreaming” from the hands of The Mamas & Papas and ushers it through a European discotheque, with it every single step of the way, doubling the hang time in mid poppy suspension. Maybe a minute too long, but still refreshing. After a listen, watch the video.
7. Wild Nothing – “Chinatown”
The plucky instrumentation, perfectly reverbed vocals, and dreamy melodies make this track solid gold. Having verses that are arguably catchier than the chorus is a testament to the song’s endearingly untraditional structure. Singing “we’re not happy till we’re running away,” Wild Nothing recycles the beginning through at the end into an all-encompassing swirl of giddiness. Keep your eyes peeled for their debut, Gemini, out in the distance on May 18.
8. The Delta Mirror – “He Was Worse Than The Needle He Gave You”
A mouthful to read but not an effort at all necessary to sink into The Delta Mirror’s SoCal shoegaze. “Got an empty bottle so that they won’t follow me?” or is it “so the day won’t follow me?” Up to you to decide. It’s funny to think that the duo, Craig Gordon and David Bolt, originally started off as a hip hop group, which is only hinted at by the resonating IDM percussion. No surprise they were recently signed to Lefse Records (A Grave With No Name, Neon Indian) for Machines that Listen, which drops on March 16.
9. Millionyoung – “Cynthia”
It’s clear we’ve been digging Millionyoung and his dreamy contribution to the electropop landscape. This dynamic package of a love letter to an eponymous girl quickly breaks into a gallop has an incredibly simple but effervescent breakdown. The twin guitars rounding out the song are so ace. Check out his Be So True EP from last week, or if you don’t feel like dishing out seven bones, try his first EP, Sunndreamm, for free.
10. Dan Black – “Symphonies (Remix Featuring Kid Cudi)”
British electromancer, Dan Black, tastefully samples “Umbrella” and adds boy band vocals and sweeping strings, while throwing in Kid Cudi on top for good measure. True, the original, Black’s first single for his upcoming Stateside release of UN in the Spring could have stood alone with just a catchy chorus and catchy instrumentation. But with the selling power of Mescudi’s recognizable scruffy delivery bookending “Symphonies,” this partnership is the best of both worlds. We’d say it’s even up to par with “Pursuit of Happiness.”
*Or you can download the mix in its entirety.