CocoRosie – “After the Afterlife” / “Gravedigress” from Tales of a Grasswidow
CocoRosie’s latest album, Tales of a Grasswidow, was just released, and like the previous EP, features guest vocals from Antony Hegarty — only this time around, he’s singing very candidly about love for humanity (perhaps even too candidly). “Gravedigress” is shrouded in death themes, and it is easily one of the best tracks on the record.
“After the Afterlife” blends morbidity and a fairly-like welcome into the afterlife into a shimmering land where seas and skies meet. Costumed characters abound, with both Sasquatches and female fairy tale protagonists sharing the screen, as they cut through flickering strobe light effects. The music video’s low-budget visuals stand in stark contrast with their high-quality, slow-motion “We Are On Fire” music video from 2012, but both are fetching in their own way.
Swahili – “Vestal”
Portland’s dub- and psych-influenced electronic dance band Swahili have just released the first completed single from their still-untitled second record. With “Vestal”, they leave behind their noise and drone days to embrace smooth, female-fronted pop music that shimmers with high-flying colors. What begins like a relaxed summer dream soon turns into a well-plotted and well-executed exchange of funk-inspired guitar riffs, spaced-out synths, and disco rhythms. Amazing layers of vocal harmonies and experiments also stand tall above these other elements; alternating high and low between rich synth washes, they speak cryptically of self-selected burials and necessary endings in a way that truly stirs the imagination.
Sisterfella – “Luther” / “Sexual Healing” (Remix)
Cape Town, South Africa’s dance duo Sisterfella, comprised of Elu Eboka and Francois Botha, blend old-school favorites with electro-funk madness. “Luther” appropriately samples Luther Vandross’ “She’s a Super Lady” and “Never Too Much” into a cut-up blend of old and new. They’ve also done stuff like remix Marvin Gaye’s “Sexual Healing” — but they aren’t limited to the past, and sometimes turn to remixing modern folks like Nelly Furtado and Destiny’s Child, too.
Statistics – “Take The Lead”
In this track featuring Har Mar Superstar, Statistics incorporate a bit of Jamiroquai-meets-Maroon 5 influence here, but I’m not afraid to admit that I’m okay with that level of mainstream appeal. Statistics is the solo project of singer-songwriter Denver Dalley, and Peninsula is his latest record, out this month.
Elusive Parallelograms – “8-Bit”
The tickling and ringing guitar line is probably the most compelling part about “8-Bit”, but there’s something satisfying about the way it blows up into a forwards-marching merging of guitars and group vocals. It’s a bit out of place on this Top Pops! listing for sure — and probably only barely counts as pop — but I didn’t want it to get lost. This comes from their July 2013 record, Fragments.