We are debuting “Here Today Listening“, a weekly-updated playlist for which we pick out the 7 tracks from recently released or upcoming albums that we have been obsessing over the most. Follow us on Spotify and stay updated on the best tracks of the week.
The second studio album from Father John Misty, the moniker of Baltimore-born singer-songwriter and former Fleet Foxes drummer Joshua Tillman, has received high praise from critics around the world. Witty songwriting and lush melodies are at the center of this album. Lilting sadly like a barroom ballad, “Nothing Good Ever Happens at the Goddamn Thirsty Crow” shifts from lapsteel guitar to strings, and even a jazzy clarinet solo. But when it comes to Father John Misty, it’s all about the cynical one-liners: “She blackens pages like a Russian romantic/ Gets down more often than a blowup doll.”
Darren Hayman, formerly of the band Hefner, is no stranger to history concept albums. In the summer of 2013 Hayman released Bugbears, the last album in his trilogy about 17th century Essex. Two years later he is back with a new concept album that rewrites an old arts & crafts pamphlet by nineteenth-century polymath William Morris. The result, Chants for Socialists, is collection of beautifully crafted songs that are as relevant now as they where more than hundred years ago.
In the music press you are more likely to hear about Marika Hackman’s privileged background and famous model friends than her music, but the London-based singer-songwriter lush and down-tempo take on alt-folk doesn’t need any such context. Her latest single, taken from her debut album, We Slept At Last, balances laid-back vocals with ponderous drums, poised like a cat ready to spring.
We still have two months to way before the release of The Magic Whip, Blur’s first album in 12 years. Judging by “Go Out”, the supposed “Asian” theme of the album is thankfully limited to artwork and lyrics, rather than the cultural insensitivity of Siouxsie and the Banshees “Hong Kong Garden”. The single features a cheeky bass-line, care of Alex “the smug cheese man” James, noisy guitars from Graham Coxton, and Damon Albarn singing about onanism “at the local.”
The comeback of the year aware has to go to The Pop Group, not just for the length of time between album releases (35 years), but also for the power of this belated punch to the face. Citizen Zombie might be a little more accessible than their 1979 debut, Y, but the same manic energy is apparent. “Mad Truth” is a gorgeous piece of violent disco funk, proving frontman Mark Stewart has lost none of his confrontational attitude.
The Australian singer-songwriter came to critical attention with the release of her double EP in 2013, full of laid-back Americana-influenced jangle. “Pedestrian at Best” substitutes that slacker image with grungy riffs and a witty barrage of lyrics (“I think you’re a joke but I don’t find you very funny”). It’s a promising taster of her upcoming album, Sometimes I Sit and Think, and Sometimes I Just Sit, due at the end of March.
Speaking of grunge, New Jersey’s Screaming Females are back with the scorching Rose Mountain. Thanks to the production of Mat Bayles, the band’s sixth studio album has a decidedly stoner-rock flavour, full of chugging bass-lines and fat guitar tones. Marissa Paternoster’s vocals punch through the noise, adding a brilliant demented edge to the already manic tones of songs like “Ripe”.