Music update, July 2017.

I’m going dark for a week, but I’ll tide you over with a new playlist, which you can access directly in Spotify or via the widget below.

Arcade Fire – Signs of Life. I’ve listened to their new album, Everything Now, and I can certainly understand why some people hate it. The lyrics are beyond pretentious; the too-clever-by-half songwriting we saw on Reflektor appears to be a feature rather than a bug. Social commentary and criticism by anecdote worked beautifully on The Suburbs, one of the best albums of the century so far, but their frontal attempt to ridicule their targets only leaves them looking ridiculous (“Infinite Content” comes to mind). But this song is good, “Creature Comforts” is solid, and the album’s title track is definitely the best thing ABBA has done in forty years.

Sløtface – Pitted. This Norwegian punk-pop act, definitely among my favorite finds of the last year or so, does what Arcade Fire used to do – they tell fun stories that seem frivolous but abound with meaningful details, and every song they’ve released has had a catchy hook.

Atomic Tom – Burn the Witch. Atomic Tom covered my #1 song of 2016, and managed to make it newly sinister via a different arrangement and the introduction of a heavy guitar line in the second chorus.

Allie X – Vintage. Almost too poppy for my tastes, but the chorus and the keyboard riff both stuck in my head after one listen.

Hundred Waters – Blanket Me. Hundred Waters had my top album of 2015, and this single is very much in the same vein of experimental, airy, voice-as-instrument music.

Foster The People – Lotus Eater. Didn’t love their new album, which dispenses with the stuff that worked (for me) on Supermodel, but this track does recall that album’s more rock-oriented moments.

Orchestral Manoeuvres In The Dark – The Punishment of Luxury. I can’t believe it’s 2017 and I put an OMD track on a best new music playlist.

Dan Croll – Bad Boy. I wasn’t familiar with this English singer-songwriter, who just released his second album, Emerging Adulthood. This seems like it has a good chance to be a big crossover pop hit if US radio gives it a chance.

The War On Drugs – Strangest Thing. I wish their songs were shorter, and maybe that the singer would stop wth the Dylan impersonations, but they’ve reeled off a bunch of compelling songs in a row now.

Wolf Parade – Valley Boy. I didn’t think these guys were ever getting back together.

Little Cub – Too Much Love. I felt like some of the vocals on this London trio’s debut album, Still Life, are just too precious, but the soulful electronica behind the words is simultaneously sophisticated and rapturous.

Nine Inch Nails – Not Anymore. I didn’t think much of NIN’s new EP; this was the best track of the five.

YONAKA – Wouldn’t Wanna Be Ya. Strong riot grrrl vibe here with a perfect putdown in the hooky chorus. This is the kind of track Mister Wives keeps trying to make.

The Night Café – Felicity. This Liverpudlian quartet is touring with Sundara Karma and sounds a lot like Sundara Karma.

Prong – Divide And Conquer. I’ve mentioned before how Prong’s Beg to Differ is both one of my favorite metal albums ever and a seminal record in defining my taste in music. New Prong kind of makes me sad, since they’ve long since morphed into any-metal act with only occasional hints of their former glory, like on this track, still angry if overproduced.

Arch Enemy – The World Is Yours. I thought Arch Enemy’s last album, its first with the band’s new lead singer, was formulaic and cliched, a far cry from the band’s heights as one of the most important bands in the Gothenburg school of death metal. This song, from their upcoming album Will to Power, is easily better than anything from that last record.

Comments

  1. Prong – Prove You Wrong, Beg To Differ, Cleansing. 3 of my fav albums. Saw them back in the day at Sommerset WI, playing with Pantera. Good times. Keep up the great work!! (Still only reason I have an Insider subscription)

  2. You nailed my thoughts about War on Drugs – though the Dylan impersonation is starting to grow on me…

    Have you listened to Fazerdaze from New Zealand? If not, listen to “Lucky Girl”. Very catchy.

  3. I saw OMD live in SF last weekend and they were really fantastic – I thought it would be a couple of guys fiddling with keyboards but they had a drummer and bass player (in addition to two guys fiddling with keyboards)

  4. Aaron Gershoff

    Hope all is well Keith. Looking forward to seeing you back on Twitter and ESPN soon.

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