Widowspeak’s All Yours is just what we need to cool off during this hot, hot summer. The duo’s tunes are cool and meditative, evoking the feeling of watching a fading sunset over the forested hills of New York’s Hudson Valley, where the band resides. Molly Hamilton’s sweet vocals whisper over Robert Early Thomas’ dusky licks and a touch of organ on the sultry title track. The band mostly keeps things spare and dreamy, but they plug in to give tracks like “Dead Love (So Still)” a little raunch, coming off like the Velvet Underground’s third album reimagined as stoner country music. Elsewhere, Hamilton plays Nancy Sinatra to Thomas’ Lee Hazlewood on the sumptuous “Girls,” generating plenty of heat from a spacious, two-chord jam and Hamilton’s narcotic drawl, while “Borrowed World” sees Thomas take the mic for a spry duet (something the band should consider doing more often). Somehow, All Yours is both Widowspeak’s mellowest album and its most exciting. With a sharp focus on songwriting over ambiance and more room for Hamilton’s vocals to shine, they end up with their best, most distinctive album yet.
HAPPY NEW YEAR Y’ALL! Here is a list of songs to ring in the new year. Some of it is happy and some of it is sad—just like your life will be next year! J/K IT WILL BE AWESOME.
Run The Jewels - the super talented hip-hop power duo of El-P and Killer Mike - has just announced new tour dates along with track listings, contributing guests, and artwork details for their forthcoming sophomore release. With cover art almost the same as last year's self-titled debut on Fool's Gold (only in a different color), the new album on Nas' new Mass Appeal Records is slated for release on October 28th. Aptly titled RTJ2, the album will feature guest spots by Zack de la Rocha, Travis Barker, Diane Coffee, and BOOTS (note this is not Boots Riley of The Coup but BOOTS the sometimes Beyoncé collaborator).
The Run The Jewels has been attracting attention of late for their impressive recent tour sets, including a stop in the Bay Area last month at Outside Lands and the previous month in New York at the Governors Ball. They've also been garnering attention with new audiences care of Killer Mike's recent guest appearance on CNN, speaking out on the grander implications of the Michael Brown shooting in Ferguson (see video below).
Too much great stuff this week and it’s Halloween!
Dum Dum Girls – “Lost Boys and Girls Club”; Announce New Album
Whoa, what’s going on with Dum Dum Girls? The band, started by singer Dee Dee in San Diego, began as a lo-fi post-punk project, like someone left their Supremes and Siouxsie & the Banshees records in the sun and spun the melted result. From there, they’ve gone more toward Pretenders territory, producing shimmery jangle-pop, but this first taste of their newly announced album, Too True, due Jan. 28 on Sub Pop, recaptures some of their early darkness with their newfound sheen intact, emanating darkness and sensuality with a slow-moving shoegaze pop throb. Uhh, it’s very sexy. Richard Gottehrer (who has produced Blondie and The Go-Go's) and The Raveonettes' Sune Rose Wagner, who both produced the band’s Only in Dreams and He Gets Me High EP, are back behind the boards. And way to go, H&M, for promoting your crappy clothes (which I buy) with actual cool music.
Best Coast – “I Don’t Know How” video
The amazing new album from Arcade Fire proves the band was, and is, worthy of all that damn praise and hype that's been heaped upon the band since its inception. It also proves you can teach an old dog new tricks, as the band largely ditches the orchestral indie rock of their previous releases in favor of lean, mean groove-oriented jams. This isn't to say Reflektor is somehow less complex than their earlier work; the title track alone is a seven-and-a-half minute odyssey that sets the tone for an album that gives listeners a dance song while seemingly satirizing itself at the same time—are they the reflectors, repeating past sounds for the sake of accessibility? Are we the mirrors, reflecting what we want onto our musicians? It poses interesting artistic questions while giving us visceral thrills. Reflektor continues with more pensive groovers. "We Exist" pulls off a "Billie Jean" rip through "Reflektor's" staging of borrowed sounds, yet its also a silky rocker worthy of its own ripoffs, peeling into half-time chorus that that keeps listeners on their toes. The band successfully ventures into dub reggae on "Flashbulb Eyes"—no really, don't roll your eyes until you hear it—which moves into the tribal opening of "Here Comes the Night," making use of the band's many-membered setup for a dynamic, smooth jam that questions the concept of heaven in an accessible way, much as their forebears in Talking Heads did on "Heaven." "Normal Person" is like a response to The Suburbs' "Roccoco," which took hipsters to task for pretentiousness—this Robert Palmer-style rocker asks, "Is anything as strange as a normal person?" Reflektor's second half struggles for the same energy as its first, it offers the kind of sonic exploration the band perhaps hasn't always let itself undergo, like venturing into krautrock on "Porno," and more of the sort of spiritual questioning posed on "Here Comes the Night" pops up on "Afterlife," a much-wanted followup to The Suburbs' "The Sprawl II." It's a lot to take in at once, but you could listen to Reflektor ten times in a row and find a new song or idea to latch onto that you hadn't noticed before. It's the next logical step for a band who has carefully considered each release thus far, and it's also one of the year's best.