Top Pops! August 2013: Julia Holter, BRAIDS, Jessy Lanza, Tirzah, Dream Koala, Diane Coffee, The Darcys
Jessy Lanza – “5785021”
As a hardcore lover of R&B in the ’90s, I’m a fucking hard sell when it comes to the indie R&B revival that slinketh around these days. I need more than just a pretty voice; that helps, but a hook needs to catch me, and not in a shallow way, either. On “5785021”, probably the best track on Jessy Lanza’s upcoming release, Pull My Hair Back. Tender vocal melodies that slink and out of upper registries couple with background synths reminiscent of Art of Noise’s “Moments in Love”, without being actually derivative. Pull My Hair Back comes out September 10th on Hyperdub; stay tuned for a full album review.
I can recall a time far, far away… back in 2009, when my musical playlist was dominated by tUnE-yArDs and Micachu and the Shapes, in their lo-fi heydays. Since then, Micachu has been back here and there in small doses — though with nothing as earthquaking as the debut Jewellery record, I would argue. So it is with great delight that I stumbled upon the I’m Not Dancing four-track EP from Tirzah, which was produced by Micachu and features some of her distinctive drum sounds and general aural simplicity. The EP is out now on Greco-Roman. The Grant Amour-directed music video for “I’m Not Dancing” is also delightfully awkward and fitting for the album title.
Dream Koala – “Odyssey”
It makes me glad to learn that an artist with a name as spacey-outlandish as Dream Koala is actually inspired by dreams in his compositional and thematic process. Brazilian-Parisian Yndi Ferreira’s first full-length release, Odyssey, is due out September 23rd, and this self-titled track is the first single.
As Ferreira explains, “This track is inspired by a dream I had where I died in a plane crash. “Odyssey” comes from the travels of Ulysses – his fear of never coming back home & never reaching his ambitions. It’s a track about deception and the fear of death, the fear of never accomplishing your goals.”
“Odyssey”‘s cascading vocals are definitely my favorite bit, as they rise and fall with dramatic flair above post-rock crescendos. By the way, he’s also eighteen.
BRAIDS – “Hossak”
Notably more muted than the singles off of BRAIDS‘ first full-length, Native Speaker, “Hossak” resides in the same sonic world as that of their labelmates Blue Hawaii, albeit with a slightly more gentle lulling quality. Their upcoming record, Flourish // Perish, has just been released on Arbutus Records.
Julia Holter – “In The Green Wild”
With a bassline and breathy spoken vocals that shimmy into your mind atop twisted string dissonance, this track is as comfortably pop as it can be while simultaneously scratching chalkboard nails into your psyche. The costume-heavy music video is also an enjoyable one. Loud City Sounds is out now on Domino.
Diane Coffee – “Hymns”
In an unlikely pairing between instrumental and post-rock-leaning label Western Vinyl, Foxygen’s Shaun Fleming has turned inwards on his solo self to expand back outwards in the form of his new project, Diane Coffee. Like Foxygen, Diane Coffee pulls from ’60s psychedelic guitar rock influences unabashedly, but here the music is less of a non-stop, messy loss-of-control and more of an adorable ballad, complete with absolutely stand-out vocals. The press release features a quote from Joseph Campbell, wherein he describes a shaman as a “person, male or female, who… has an overwhelming psychological experience that turns him totally inward. It’s a kind of schizophrenic crack-up. The whole unconscious opens up, and the shaman falls into it.”
I can’t say I’m entirely behind the new tendency of musicians openly calling themselves shamans — but whatever the reason for the “schizophrenic crack-up” that has been alluded to, “Hymns” seems an indicator that Diane Coffee is a far more matured spin-off of Foxygen, and I welcome that with ecstatically open arms!
The Darcys – “The River”
Where “The River” becomes interesting is when it picks up pace with a low-end that gets out of control (almost to strangely overpowered bass levels, to be honest) to mix together with skitterish guitar lines and echoing vocals. This track comes from Warring, which will be released on September 17th via Arts & Crafts — the last record in a trilogy.