Tough Love finds the singer who made her name in the world of dubstep stretching further into pop environs, with help from the likes of Dev Hynes (Blood Orange), Miguel and Ed Sheeran. The Kate Bush-inspired title track that opens the album is already brighter and warmer than anything she has done before. The radio-ready but cool throbbing beats of “You and I” successfully split the difference between her “indie Sade” past and the pop horizon she now faces. Still, she’s really in her element amid the chilled out synths and digital handclaps of the sumptuous “Cruel.” Ware’s voice is in top form throughout, working wonders on the soulful “Say You Love Me,” amid gospel touches and a skittering beat. Her biggest issue is still somewhat anonymous lyrics, but the music and her voice always seems to make the most of them, driving home lyrics of heartbreak with a nuanced touch, while the tenuously sexy “Kind Of … Sometimes … Maybe” shows off her personality brilliantly, coming off as an update on Janet Jackson’s coy sensuality, filtered through Ware's old soul. Musically, Ware and her collaborators manage to move all over the map and make it seem like they’re travelling a straight line, keeping things rhythmically intriguing on tracks like the sultry “Sweetest Song” and even making room for a throwback disco track like “Want Your Feeling.” If it’s less cohesive than her debut, Devotion, it’s also a lot more fun, and perhaps more consistently rewarding. Tough Love should find Ware expanding her audience beyond the soul, electronica and indie fans who have already discovered her and into the pop realm without losing a shred of her estimable cool.
It’s hard to believe Halloween is just around the corner. Luckily, there are plenty of great new albums and classics for your Halloween party or just to carry you into scaresville.
You might not recognize his name, but Krzysztof Penderecki has soundtracked many a nightmare. The Polish, avant-garde composer was wildly inventive (and controversial) when his compositions first gained notoriety in the late ’50s, and thus his jarring compositions, featuring such innovative techniques as clustering tones, and such foreboding titles as “Threnody to the Victims of Hiroshima,” came to be used by wildly inventive and controversial film directors, from William Friedkin’s The Exorcist to Stanley Kubrick’s The Shining and David Lynch’s Wild at Heart and Inland Empire. Meanwhile, Radiohead’s Jonny Greenwood writes response pieces to both “Therenody” and “Polymorphia,” and his moody, solemn orchestral pieces serve as a terrific foil to Penderecki’s terror-inducing works.
Sego – “Wicket Youth” video
These Utah-via-L.A. Kitsune signees immediately get me for referencing Wicket the ewok from Return of the Jedi. Even if that’s not what they’re referencing, that’s not the point—“Wicket Youth” touches on familiar ’80s influences without really sounding like they’re retreading, instead infusing refreshingly plainspoken lyrics about nostalgia for youth with sparkling synth-pop flourishes. And it’s got a very ’80s, handrawn-style video to match. The Wicket Youth EP is out Oct. 27.
Cool Ghouls – “What a Dream I Had”
Here’s the third track from the forthcoming Cool Ghouls album A Swirling Fire Burning Through The Rye, out Nov. 11 on Empty Cellar. It’s perhaps the most impressive track they’ve debuted yet, built on a slow, steady jangle and “Lucy in the Sky With Diamonds” harmonies. Cool Ghouls keep the dream of San Francisco alive with songs like “What a Dream I Had.” Stream the track via Wondering Sound, and read my interview with them here.
The band’s new album was recorded in Atlanta and was the band’s first to be produced by Ben H. Allen III, who was worked with everyone form Kaiser Chiefs and Animal Collective to Cee-Lo and Gnarls Barkley. It follows a round of B&S vinyl reissues from Matador, including the recently reissued If You’re Feeling Sinister, which had some of us around here feeling nostalgic; Tigermilk; Fold Your Hands Child, You Walk Like a Peasant; The Life Pursuit; and Dear Catastrophe Waitress, along with The Boy With the Arab Strap, which comes out on vinyl Nov. 4.
The acclaimed indie rock band was mostly active in the 1990s, putting out several records on Merge. 2000's Sweet Bird of Youth is one of their strongest albums, with a 4-star rating on Allmusic.com. Merge reissued the album this year, and the band has recently becoming active once again, touring this summer.
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Hear the record's "Put It Right Out of Your Mind" below: