Electric Youth broke out in a big way with “A Real Hero,” a song that came to define the sound of the film Drive and its corresponding soundtrack. The duo double down on that impossibly romantic synth sound on Innerworld, their long-awaited debut album. That slow-burning pulse is back in songs like “Innocence,” perfectly capturing the romantic ideal of first love with synthesizers that at first sparkle like eyes being rubbed awake and then dazzle with gentle orchestration. Subtly enough referencing the soundtrackers of ’80s proms like Yaz and Alphaville, Bronwynn Griffin’s breathy voice sometimes floats by as a dream and other times catches onto a lighter-waving sentiment, like “we are the youth, we like to sing” (on “WeAreTheYouth”). Though Electric Youth may lack a bit for originality, Innerworld pretty skillfully avoids sameyness by appealing to current Europop-indebted dance music on tracks like “Runaway,” though they’re at their comfortable best on songs like “Without You,” building from their favored digital throb into a lovable freestyle couple. Griffin and her partner, Austin Garrick, have been a couple since the 8th grade, and thus their ability to make every synth stab feel like a dizzying first crush rings authentic. It doesn’t matter if you’ve heard some of the sounds here before, or that they even include the three-year-old “Real Hero”; Innerworld’s swoony romanticism makes you feel like it’s the first time.
Christopher Owens – “Nothing More Than Everything to Me” video
I randomly this week put on Girls’ first album, Album, expecting it to not age as well as it has in the past few years. But it really is the perfect summer album. Since that band’s demised, Girls singer Christopher Owens released an underrated solo album, Lysandre, and now has a new album on its way called A New Testament. The country and gospel touches that were prevalent on his last album and the second Girls album, Father, Son, Holy Ghost, are here but twanged up a bit and honed down to a bite-sized portion, sounding not unlike a cleaner version of something that would’ve been on the breezy Album. See Owens play as house band for a kids’ dance in the video below for “Nothing More Than Everything to Me.”
The Donkeys – “Scissor Me Cigs” video
San Diego’s The Donkeys produce a melancholic surf rock on their recently released Ride the Black Wave album that suits the sleepy “second city” of Southern California well. The video for “Scissor Me Cigs” showcases another record store, M-Theory of San Diego, as well as the band’s hometown with a kind of hazy Sunday afternoon feel.
La Sera – “Losing to the Dark”
Whoa, Katy Goodman’s La Sera project has really kicked it up a notch. “Losing to the Dark,” the first taste from Hour of the Dawn, out May 13 on Hardly Art, is a lot more fierce than the bubblegum-flavored, lovelorn power pop we’ve come to know and love from her. Goodman said in press material that she wanted the new record to sound like “Lesley Gore fronting Black Flag.” Think she nailed it.
Thee Oh Sees – “The Lens”
Following the shortest breakup in musical history, Thee Oh Sees have been pretty busy preparing the release of their umpteenth album, Drop, out April 9 on Castle Face. Contrasting with the super heavy, psychedelic “Penetrating Eye,” “The Lens” is a slow-burning classic pop number with touches of “Hey Jude.” Maybe all of that breakup stuff was just a ruse to get our attention for their best album yet. Listen over at Pitchfork.
Beatles LOVE Lamps and Mugs
Nothing says “love me do” like a Beatles LOVE lamp. Who doesn’t love the Beatles? Weirdos, that’s who. For a V-day gift that won’t break your budget, Beatles LOVE mugs are the ticket, for only $10. I personally like the John & Yoko mugs — if there’s a couple who ever made it through adversity and symbolized love above all else, it’s them. Check out all of our Beatles lamps and all mugs. Or pick up the Beatles catalog, recently reissued on vinyl.
Yo La Tengo – Fade
LP $16.98 [out 1/29]
Deluxe LP $20.98
Even within their warm, now familiar sound, we’ve seen many guises from Yo La Tengo over the years, from grounded noise rockers to Burt Bacharach enthusiasts. This latest incarnation of the band on Fade, their 13th album, pulls from several of these but is most in line with their mellowed out 2000 album And Then Nothing Turned Itself Inside Out. This is great news for fans, as that was one of the band’s classics. Fade begins typically with a long, contemplative piece entitled “Ohm” that sets things up for a subdued affair. The next couple of tracks are consummate minimalist pop pieces, but the band turns up the guitars for “Paddle Forward,” a gorgeous slice of indie guitar pop that reminds us why young bands like Yuck and the Slumberland clan pull liberally from Yo La Tengo. By the time we’re halfway through the album, the droning, breathtaking “Stupid Things,” it’s clear we’re listening to one of the better Yo La Tengo albums, an improvement over 2009’s Popular Songs. Its release couldn’t be better timed, either. You just want to curl up with Fade like an electric blanket and relish in its radiance. Catch Yo La Tengo at Amoeba Hollywood Jan. 17 at 6 p.m.