New music update, August 2017.

Big month for new music in multiple genres, with new music from a number of artists I didn’t think were still recording and a slew of brand-new artists working towards their first album or EP releases. I lead off with one of my favorite bands of the last few years and bounce around between familiar and new names, finishing up with a trio of metal tracks at the very end. If you can’t see the widget below you can click here to access the Spotify playlist directly.

Everything Everything – Can’t Do. E2 are part of a small movement of British art/indie acts, along with alt-J (who seem to have gone full commercial this year) and Wild Beasts, who engage in a sort of hysterical version of indie-pop, with lots of falsetto vocals, strange arrangements, weird tempos, and other things you wouldn’t expect to find in a four-minute song on the radio … but with compelling melodies that tie their best songs together. Everything Everything’s fourth album, A Fever Dream, dropped last Friday and I think it’s their best overall LP yet, although it doesn’t quite have a huge single like “Cough Cough,” “Kemosabe,” or “I Believe It Now.” “Can’t Do” is my favorite track from the album and the most likely to creep on to American radio.

Confidence Man – Boyfriend (Repeat). Speaking of weird, artsy acts, Confidence Man is an Australian quartet whose music is just … peculiar. Actually, the music is great; the lyrics and vocals are the peculiar part. I don’t love the flat affect the singer uses here, although it’s of a piece with the subject matter – and damn that’s a catchy beat.

Queens of the Stone Age – The Evil Has Landed. Villains is QotSA’s seventh album, their first working with producer Mark Ronson of “Uptown Funk” fame, and the influence is immediately obvious, as this is the funkiest output of Josh Homme’s career, although I think there’s been a soulful, groove element to lots of his work in the past.

Daughter – Burn It Down. Singer Elena Tonra gets angrier on this darker-than-usual track from the folk/electronic trio, which comes from their forthcoming album, Music from Before the Storm, the score to the brand-new episodic video game Life is Strange: Before The Storm, released today from Square Enix.

Birdtalker – Looking for Love. Birdtalker is a little bit country, and a little bit folk, and I guess there’s a little rock and roll in here, but I’m as drawn to the group’s lyrics as their music; I’m still waiting for a release date on their debut album One, the title track of which appeared on my June playlist.

The Pale White – Downer. A trio from Newcastle-upon-Tyne – that doesn’t matter, I just like saying it – the Pale White do guitar-heavy alt-rock, along the lines of other recent British acts with big guitar sounds like Drenge, the Amazons, and early Muse. Their debut EP is out later this month.

Death From Above 1979 – Never Swim Alone. If the White Stripes covered a Sleigh Bells track, it would sound something like this.

Wu-Tang Clan featuring Redman – People Say. Every time I think the Wu-Tang Clan is done, they pop back up, although I also couldn’t tell you exactly who’s in the Clan and who just keeps showing up on their tracks like Redman. (Does he need to go through some sort of initiation? Give them all his worldly possessions?)

Beck – Dear Life. It’s not “Dreams” – my #1 song of 2015, and probably my favorite song of his prolific career – but it’s a lot better than last year’s dismal “Wow,” too.

The War On Drugs – Nothing To Find. It’s a little long, as all their songs are wont to be, and I find it hard to listen to any of their songs without picturing Richard Belzer doing his Bob Dylan impression, but I like their uptempo stuff more and the new album A Deeper Understanding, which came out last Friday.

Starsailor – All This Life. I wasn’t aware this Britpop (or “post-Britpop,” as Wikipedia calls them, which I think is a question of time rather than genre) act had reunited until last week; their comeback album, All This Life, comes out on Friday, their first new material since 2009.

Maisie Peters – Place We Were Made. Just 17 years old, Peters built up a following on Youtube and has now released her “first proper single,” this worldly paean to home that feels like it should have been written by someone many years her senior. I’m projecting big things for young Ms. Peters, not least because of the evocative nature of the imagery in her lyrics.

Sarah Chernoff – Markings on You. Chernoff is (was?) the singer of the Superhumanoids, whose last album, Do You Feel OK?, was my #5 album of 2015, thanks to their combination of her powerful, multi-octave vocals and intricate electronic tracks. Chernoff just released her debut solo album, Warm Nights, which showcases her incredible voice – never more than on this track – in a new milieu, soft rock that wouldn’t be out of place on 1970s radio between 10cc and …

Anna Of The North – Fire. Anna Lotterud’s first album, Lovers, comes out on September 8th, featuring her electronic-infused indie pop reminiscent of The Naked & Famous.

Wolf Alice – Beautifully Unconventional. If you just heard the first few measures, you might think this was a lost Blur track from their Britpop heyday – at least until Ellie Roswell’s distinctive vocals kick in. By the way, the London quartet – whose second album, Visions of a Life, comes out on 9/29 – says they got their name from an Angela Carter short story, but really, it’s because their name is pronounced “wool phallus,” right?

Kate Nash – Agenda. Kate Nash looked like she was going to be a superstar after “Foundations,” from her debut album, hit #2 in the UK and won her great critical acclaim, but she never quite produced a hit to follow it up and has been releasing music on her own the last five years. She’s a clever lyricist, at least most of the time, and I can’t decide if this song is a parody of people who wear their activism on their sleeves … or just something very silly.

Liam Gallagher – For What It’s Worth. Liam keeps releasing these faux-Oasis songs and I fall for it every time.

The Horrors – Something To Remember Me By. “Sheena Is a Parasite” is a distant memory, and now they’re a sort of hazy, neo-psychedelic band, supporting whatever is left of Depeche Mode on the latter’s tour this year.

Bad Nerves – Radio Punk. An anthemic punk-pop track from this Essex quartet on their third single to date.

Mourn – Color Me Impressed. These Catalonian punks are prepping to release their third album, having appeared a few times on my lists before (“Gertrudis, Get Through This!” was #66 on my top songs of 2015); Hinds gets all the love among Barcelona indie bands, but Mourn is much further along in both songcraft and pure playing skill.

Quicksand – Illuminant. This incredibly influential post-hardcore band just released its first new song in 23 years, which is weird because…

Less Art – Wandering Ghost. The three members of Puig Destroyer are all in this new post-hardcore quintet, whose debut album Strangled Light reminded me a ton of Quicksand’s first two LPs from the mid-1990s.

INHEAVEN – World On Fire. This south London quartet have released a bunch of singles but no album yet; this was the first of their tracks to hit my ears and I like the hard-rock leanings (the main guitar riff has a great hook) and ’90s college-radio feel.

Ensiferum – Way of the Warrior. Folk or Viking metal kind of cracks me up – it seems like such a strange mashup, these heavy riffs and loud percussion merged with what sound like Irish dance songs. This Finnish band just changed keyboard players, replacing Emmi Silvennoinen with accordionist Netta Skog, whose instrument is front and center on this track.

Mendel – Descending Upon Hades. Instrumental, progressive/classical metal from the Dutch guitarist Mendel bij de Leij, who is also the guitarist for the Belgian extreme death metal band Aborted, whose “music” doesn’t even deserve that moniker. It turns out Mendel is a technical wizard, however, and this track shows off his shredding skills and his creativity.

The Haunted – Preachers of Death. The Haunted were born from the ashes of At the Gates when that band broke up in 1996, although they later reformed and released a new (very good) album in 2014. The Haunted are similar musically to AtG, melodic death metal with a little less emphasis on melodic elements and heavier riffing … but this sounds for all the world to me like an At the Gates song. And that’s a good thing if you like extreme metal.

Arch Enemy – The Eagle Flies Alone. I really like the guitar work in this track … but if it weren’t for the death-growl vocals, this would barely qualify as metal, let alone as death metal, right? It’d be a better song with clean vocals given the disconnect, although the lyrics are so trite that perhaps it’s better if listeners can’t understand them. After “The World Is Yours,” I was optimistic about these Swedish stalwarts returning to form on this album; now I’m concerned they’re going the path of In Flames towards metal irrelevance.

Comments

  1. Keith, I want to thank you for your monthly and annual music lists. They are one of the inspirations for my own “blog”, Decades of Dorkadence (https://decadesofdorkadence.wordpress.com/). It’s really just me reposting my annual compilations starting in 2002 with a short monthly favorites list mixed in. Lots of Spotify and our tastes overlap somewhat. I promise I’m not posting this as any sort of moneymaking attempt, despite the millions of dollars available in bloggerous pursuits.

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