July music update.

All my trade writeups from last week are up for Insiders. I skipped some of the smaller deals because of my TV commitments that evening.

It’s turning out to be a good year for new music after a pretty slow start, and that’s before we get to a spate of promising fall album releases, none more exciting (to me, at least) than the alt-J album dropping on September 22nd, with Interpol, Ryan Adams, and the Kooks also on the watchlist. I spent a little more time than usual trolling for new music once we got out of the All-Star Break, so this month’s update is longer than normal. The Spotify playlist also includes tracks from albums I’ve reviewed since the last monthly post.

Cymbals – “Erosion.” This British quartet produces modern darkwave tracks that seem to take the whole ’80s thing a little too seriously, right down to understated production and lyrics that speak of anomie and disaffection. It’s a good song anyway.

Jungle – “Busy Earnin’.” This new soul “collective” draws more from the ’70s and its funk and disco movements than from traditional soul or Motown, adding twists like unusual percussion lines and instruments to establish their sound as something new. It’s not a genre of music I typically enjoy, but I’ve liked what I’ve heard from Jungle because it’s different from anything else I’ve heard in this vein.

Little Daylight – “Overdose.” My daughter might have this electro-pop nugget as her favorite song of the year, although it gets strong competition from Ingrid Michaelson’s “Girls Chase Boys.” The Little Daylight album sounds a lot like a lightweight Naked & Famous disc, more upbeat and less trancey, with “Overdose” far and away the best song.

alt-J – “Left Hand Free.” The A&R man said he didn’t hear a single, so the boys whipped up this very un-alt-J-sounding track, although even when trying to sabotage themselves they can’t help slipping in a few flourishes of their own. I actually like the track despite its unholy origin.

Golden Coast – “Break My Fall.” A suggestion from Paul Boyé (rap name: Chef Boyé D) when I pointed out that he’d recommended four albums in one tweet, one more likely than the next to send you for the liquor cabinet. Paul’s got pretty good taste other than his inexplicable love of St. Vincent’s music; this Golden Coast track strikes a good balance between pop and alternative, perhaps falling a bit short (pun intended) because it’s not built around a single hook, but provides a more consistent, energetic vibe throughout.

Spoon – “Rent I Pay.” I’ll have a review of their album, They Want My Soul, up tomorrow when it’s released. Preview: I like the album, and this is its best song.

Colony House – “Silhouettes.” A hesitant recommendation, because this sounds like every other one-hit indie-pop wonder I’ve come across in the last few years, a lot like Knox Hamilton’s “Work It Out” in that regard. It’s pretty catchy, but the wordplay in the chorus gets old given how often he repeats the line. The song is free right now through that amazon link.

Movie – “Ads.” I can’t be the only one who hears strains of Blur’s “There’s No Other Way” here in the bouncy guitar intro, can I? “Ads” has more of a quixotic funk vibe than Blur’s psychedelic-tinged early work, providing a darkly comical contrast to the anti-commercialist message of the lyrics.

Doss – “Softpretty.” I sense there’s some irony in the song’s title, as the brief lyrics present a harder edge than the bubbly electronic music beneath them. It’s not even clear who Doss is – her bios are brief and weird by design – but I think she’s a sleeper prospect.

White Lung – “Down It Goes.” A female-fronted punk band that would have been tabbed “riot grrrls” by the mainstream press twenty years ago, White Lung got a boost when one of their main influences, Courtney Love, proclaimed herself a fan of their music. It’s punk, not post-punk, and there’s a strong melodic element that makes it play nice with more pop-oriented artists without surrendering the ferocity of their core sound.

The Raveonettes – “Killer in the Streets.” This Danish duo released a new album last month without any advance warning, and it’s … well, it’s just okay, definitely not quite what I was hoping for, lighter on hooks and less distinctive than I expected. This song was the best of the bunch for me due to the layered sound, with guitar tracks that appear to head in different directions and a compulsive drum loop reminiscent of the Madchester scene of two decades ago.

Ages & Ages – “Divisionary (Do The Right Thing).” The song is good, but the video is wonderful, an actual story told in four minutes. They might get lumped in with the new folk-rock movement, but I think they have more in common with groups like the Mowgli’s, with big coed harmonies driving the song toward the big finish.

Dotan – “Home.” I don’t even know if I like this song, but I think it’s going to become a huge hit. It reached #2 in his native Netherlands and #6 in Belgium, with a very Bastille vibe about the song thanks to an earworm chorus.

Twin Peaks – “Flavor.” This song is also free on amazon through that link. Think the Orwells – slightly obnoxious, vigorous pop-rock, with this track built on an off-beat chorus and a completely unexpected acoustic guitar interlude in lieu of a screeching solo.

Jenny Lewis – “Just One Of The Guys.” I’m sure you’ve heard it by now, a very lizphairian track between the lyrics’ feminist lament and the sunny folk-rock vibe of the music. You’ll be hearing covers of this in coffeehouses from now until the end of time.

New Pornographers – “Brill Bruisers.” The title track from the band’s forthcoming album is their most promising song in years, effusive and ebullient and still very much out of the mainstream without ever sounding obtuse. I’m not a big NP fan, neither their work together or any of the members’ solo work (Neko Case and “Destroyer” Dan Bejar are the best-known), but this track has me very optimistic.


  1. I’m hoping new Spoon is more Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga and less Transference.

    Huge fan of TNP and most of their solo stuff, specifically Case and Newman’s work. I’m flabbergasted when someone doesn’t immediately love their power pop anthems, but I guess that’s just taste for you.

    Thanks for sharing. I feel like it’s been a really slow year, so it’s nice to find out others think differently and can share why.

  2. Fantastic choices Keith. I didn’t peg you for this style of music. You definitely gained more respect in my book, however unimpressive that is.

  3. I’m a huge New Pornographers fan and Brill Bruisers has me totally psyched about the new album.

  4. Keith, have you listened to the new Strand of Oaks album, “Heal?” It’s my favorite album of the year so far–lots of different styles with 80’s and 90’s sounds, and even J Mascis on guitar for track 1.