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.
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.
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.
Western (in sound and location) duo Widowspeak have a new EP due Oct. 29 called The Swamps, following the excellent Almanac LP, released earlier this year. “Calico” digs deeper into their sound, moving leisurely with dusty guitars until Molly Hamilton makes the titular refrain something of a cryptic mantra over an insistent pulse. The band also has debuted the brisk “True Believer” from the EP; you can pick that song up already on Amoeba.com. They’ll be at L.A.’s Echo Oct. 16 and S.F.’s The Chapel Oct. 18 with Pure Bathing Culture.
Schoolboy Q – “Banger (MOSHPIT)”
L.A. rapper Schoolboy Q has unveiled another new track—there’s no word yet if this will be on his upcoming Oxymoron album, the followup to last year’s excellent Habits & Contradictions, which as of yet has no tracklist or release date—but it’s as hot as anything he’s put out so far, sorta dark but not really creepy, like a party track you put on to take things to the next level. Those “boom shacka lackas” are taking me back to NBA Jam right now.
Lots of stuff this week!
Widowspeak – “True Believer”
Howdy, pardners! We were big fans of Widowspeak’s dusky, dreamy last album, Almanac, which was released last year. Now they’ve got more goodness on the way in the form of The Swamps EP, with hints of a third album on the way. The EP is out Oct. 29 on Captured Tracks, and you can hear the Mazzy Star-in-a-ghost-town-style “True Believer” now.
Johnathan Rado – “Hand in Mine”
More rootin’, tootin’, country-flavored indie pop on the way from Foxygen’s Johnathan Rado. As if his band’s effing fantastic We Are the 21st Century Ambassadors of Peace & Magic wasn’t enough for one year (one of the best of the year so far, I’d say), California native Rado has a solo album, the awesomely titled Law and Order, due Sept. 3 on Woodsist. “Put your hand in mine, it will excite you” says the Nancy Sinatra counterpart to his Lee Hazlewood. Cute ‘n’ seductive.