Onetime Sufjan Stevens collaborator and now a formidable art-pop songstress in her own right, My Brightest Diamond (aka Shara Worden) pushes her songs further into accessibility with This Is My Hand. The sound of the record finds Worden singing over playful orchestrations, wielding her operatically trained voice slowly like a great and powerful weapon. “Pressure” begins with a drumline cadence and marching band horns, drawing soul out of her sometimes austere vocals and layering them over the song’s sexy strut “Before the Words’” huge, propulsive drum beat and jazzy bassline pair nicely with her hauntingly cooed vocals. Though she mines gold at playing the witchy vamp, it’s great, too, when she climbs out of her shell. “I am a lover and a killer” she sings with growing ferocity over a muscular groove on “Lover Killer,” finding inspiration in Prince and kinship in St. Vincent. “This is what love feels like!” she sings before unleashing a desperate wolf cry in “I Am Not the Bad Guy,” with a throbbing menace reminiscent of Radiohead, or a more friskier version of Third-era Portishead. Tracks with more open space, like “Looking at the Sun,” offer a chance for her divaesque vocals to come through beautifully, even as her words are foreboding (“wrestling with a double mine like two horses pulling both sides,” she sings creepily over Disney-level orchestration). “You never know minute to minute where I’m going” she sings tantalizingly on “Shape.” True. But that’s what makes listening to This Is My Hand so thrilling.
Lots of new videos this week!
Earl Sweatshirt – “Hive (featuring Vince Staples & Casey Veggies)” video
The third single from Odd Future member Earl Sweatshirt’s upcoming debut LP, Doris (out Aug. 20 on Tan Cressida/Columbia), is another winner, full of woozy, spacey effects, and a slowed-down beat to match Sweatshirt’s laid-back flow. It’s not as flashy as “Whoa” or “Chum,” but it’s no less hypnotic.
Lawrence Rothman – “Montauk Fling” video
Maybe it’s because I just rewatched Mulholland Dr. for like the fifth time, but this new video from L.A.’s Lawrence Rothman is really doing it for me. The song is a kind of electro-symphonic ode to yearning, and the video’s decayed Hollywood mythologizing feels like a drag-performance-art version of Sunset Boulevard. Rothman appears decked out like a young Elizabeth Taylor, cooing “can I be your boyfriend?” while mirror-imaged women writhe around in leotards and 1950s-style underwear. The occasional creepy footage of an L.A. freeway or the Hollywood Tower (I think?) makes the video by Floria Sigismondi (David Bowie, The White Stripes, Marilyn Manson) an expertly crafted example of how subtly unsettling Hollywood imagery can be. The single’s out digitally and on 7” Aug. 6 from Mamaroma, Sigismondi’s label.
Shannon and the Clams – “Into a Dream”
Shannon’s sweet snarl leads us through a tunnel-of-love melody and ’50s pop arrangement. The gloriously lo-fi production and Shannon and her Clams’ disorienting harmonies make the whole thing a fun, woozy ride. Dreams in the Rat House is due out May 21 on Hardly Art. Listen or download for free from Amoeba. Check ’em out at Amoeba San Francisco Thursday May 23 at 6 p.m.!
Honeymoon – “Sure Stuck”
Honeymoon is an Australian-born, L.A.-based production duo whose upcoming album is said to be an update of ’60s/’70s psychedelic pop. It sure sounds that way from “Sure Stuck,” the second song they’ve released from the upcoming album. Think a more electronic Tame Impala. Honeymoon’s one to keep an eye on.
Classixx Releases ‘All You’re Waiting For,’ Featuring LCD Soundsystem's Nancy Whang
Classixx’s recent singles in advance of Hanging Gardens, the L.A. act’s upcoming debut LP due May 14 on Innovative Leisure, have gotten their fair share of press, but now they’ve gone and dropped their best jam yet, featuring cool as F vocals from LCD Soundsystem’s Nancy Whang. Here’s your early summer jam.
IO Echo Unveil Interactive Video
I’m already a fan of L.A. group IO Echo and their recently released shoegazey electro-pop album, Ministry of Love. Now they’ve released a cool interactive video for the title track that just makes them that much cooler. Wow. Why don’t more bands do stuff like this? And more importantly, do I win something if I rearrange singer Ioanna Gika correctly in the beginning? Check it out on VICE’s Noisey blog.
|Shlohmo DJing live at Amoeba Hollywood|
Producer Shlohmo and R&B singer Jeremih have collaborated on a song that melds the styles of both artists, with Shlohmo’s dreamy beatscapes becoming harder-edged and Jeremih singing lushly, breathily while still singing those come-ons acrobatically (“I’m gon’ do you” he repeats, just slightly tamer than his track “Fuck U All the Time,” which Shlohmo has also remixed). It was recorded for Adidas’ “Songs from Scratch” series. Amoeba Presents Shlohmo with Jeremih at the Henry Fonda Theatre April 6; tickets are $20 (plus a $2 service fee), purchasable in-store. Read more here.
Young & Sick – “Continuum”
|Example of Young & Sick's artwork|
Young & Sick’s “House of Spirits” was a sad little piece of electronic R&B in which the L.A. based music, fashion and art project lived up to its name, with lyrics about drowning in a car with the one you love. “Continuum” is no less obsessed with drowning, but it is less directly influenced by R&B, instead spinning out ethereal soul somewhere between likeminded acts How to Dress Well and Rhye. As much as I like the song, the story of how they released it sort of takes precedence — they released it via the Tor underweb, a sort of black market of the Internet that makes Craigslist seem like the Pennysaver, with killers for hire and all sorts of unspeakable porn. That and apparently they turned down six figures to do it their way and remain anonymous. They sure have their values in check! Read all about it in Forbes — Forbes, for crying out loud.