Summer isn't over yet, and there are tons of great releases coming in the next few weeks. Check out our list of 20 upcoming albums, including new records from Lana Del Rey, David Gilmour, FIDLAR and more.
Beach House’s latest album strips back some of the pop shimmer of their last two albums while retaining the more confident songcraft they started debuting on 2010’s Teen Dream. First single “Sparks” is a powerhouse shoegazer that showcases the duo’s strengths, pairing Alex Scally’s emotive guitarwork with Victoria LeGrand’s lush, layered vocals.
From the get-go, Bat for Lashes aka Natasha Khan is grabbing for the brass ring on The Haunted Man, declaring "thank God I'm alive" on opener "Lillies." Though she still incorporates the inward-looking, intimate goth-tinged singer-songwriter sound of her first album and part of her second, on this third album she engages in embracing pop in a way she never has, save for on her breakthrough single, “Daniel.” “All Your Gold” is the kind of shivery, evocative pop that Kate Bush pioneered in the ’80s and which has netted a bevy of recent followers (from Florence + The Machine to Beach House), but Khan does it better than most of the pack for her impeccable use of unforced detail. As on her first single, “What’s a Girl to Do,” she sings of lacking affection for someone, this time because of past injury — “today I was a dead girl walking,” she sings creepily amid stuttering guitar and a heavy dance beat that sweeps you off your feet. Similarly, the stunning “Laura” details a fading beauty or diva with beautiful tragicomedy — “you’ll be famous for longer than them, your name is tattooed on every boy’s skin.” The song’s subject remains ever elusive, yet you feel for her out of the burning intensity in Khan’s voice. Khan shows a knack for memorable choruses across The Haunted Man, even as she can sound distant and lost, creating an intriguing push-and-pull, from “Laura’s” “you’re more than a superstar” to “Marilyn’s” grand pop moment of “turnin’ into a Marilyn, leaning out of your big car” amid that song’s slow-motion synth-and-drum-machine fireworks. Because of the album’s immaculate pacing, where these high points are broken up by headier moments, like the warbling “Oh Yeah” and orchestral flourishes of “Winter Fields,” that you come back to once some of the glory of the album’s singles wears off. It's altogether one of the most rapturous and addictive listening experiences of recent memory, surely one of the year’s best.
I love being in a song's clutches, whether it's a new single by an established band or the first track from a new artist I've never heard. I know a song has grabbed me when I hit repeat immediately after its final notes wafted through my ears. I especially love it when this happens with artists with whom I wasn't familiar before. It makes me want to dig into the rest of their music, learn a bit about their history, find out where they've been all this time and why haven't I heard of them until now?
This happened with quite a few tracks I first discovered this year in the Free Downloads section of Amoeba.com. Since it's the season of "Best Of" lists and looking back at 2011, I wanted to share some of my favorite discoveries (in alphabetical order):
2 Hearts and Chemicals is a bi-coastal band featuring childhood friends Eli Lhymn (who is based in LA) and Stephen Biebel (who is based in NYC). Through the magic of the Internet they exchanged tracks created in their individual studios to produce the Coming Home EP. The title track is an ‘80s synth meets ‘90s shoegaze pop soundscape featuring female background vocals by Iameve.
Before even hearing Gary Clark Jr.'s music any artist whose musical influences range from John Lee Hooker and Curtis Mayfield to Snoop Dogg is definitely deserving of one's attention. And in the case of this 27 year old Austin, Texas blues singer, songwriter, and guitarist that attention is more than deserving as witnessed by his numerous recent soulful performances such as the concert video below of "When My Train Pulls In" at Bardot Hollywood (not too far from Amoeba) earlier this year) or the above rendition in of "Bright Lights" live from Dave Matthews Band Caravan in Chicago just last month.
The artist's recently released major label debut EP of the same name, The Bright Lights EP on Warner, was released three weeks ago and is self-produced with the exception of the title track which was produced by Rob Cavallo (Green Day, Dave Matthews Band, etc). Leaving you longing for more this all too short EP release is essentially a teaser for the young bluesman's (who has been accurately compared to a "Frosty" era Albert Collins) full-length Warner album debut that is expected to drop sometime in the Spring of 2012.
Gary Clark Jr. "When My Train Pulls In" (Live at Bardot Hollywood) (2011)