September was a heavy month for new releases, but a light month for good new tracks. I reviewed the new alt-J album, the best release of the month, earlier and haven’t included them here. Here’s the newest Spotify playlist, which includes all of the tracks I listed here but two:
Superhumanoids – “Come Say Hello”/”Hey Big Bang.” I was remiss in omitting these tracks from the August playlist. Sarah Chernoff’s vocals are just incredible, a true soprano soaring over two memorable dream-pop backing tracks.
Snakehips ft. Sinead Harnett - “Days With You.” A soulful trip-hoppy track with unforgettable vocals from Harnett that I first mentioned back in June but that wasn’t released until the very end of August.
The Kooks – “Forgive & Forget.” Maybe the best track from their newest album, reviewed here.
Strand of Oaks – “For Me.” I found their new album to be wildly uneven, often far too low-key given their overall sound, but when Tim Showalter cranks up the tempo just a little bit he finds a sweet spot where the contrast between the guitars’ distortion and his lyrical laments is perfectly balanced.
Broods – “Mother & Father” Not quite as good as their first single, the amazing “Bridges,” but boasting a similar combination of a strong melody and Georgia Nott’s ethereal vocals. This is listed on Spotify but the song isn’t playing for me right now, so it may no longer be available.
Andrew McMahon in the Wilderness – “Cecilia And The Satellite.” Modern synth-pop, reminiscent of the Hooters (perhaps because that band had a minor hit called “Satellite” too) with earnest vocals at the front of the mix.
Max Jury – “Black Metal.” A bit precious, perhaps, but I got a laugh out of the lyrics and video, and the chorus is rather catchy. The 21-year-old singer-songwriter from Iowa draws on folk and country influences in his better tracks, but at other times veers off towards faux-jazz territory, which I’d say is the wrong direction for him or anyone else who wants to maintain his self-respect.
Cold War Kids – “All This Could Be Yours.” I’ve always found their music to be a little histrionic, mostly the result of Nathan Willett’s vocal style but also found in their dramatic piano/drum riffs. Sometimes it works really well, sometimes less so, with this song, released in July as the first single off their forthcoming album, somewhere in between those two points.
Death from Above 1979 – “Trainwreck 1979.” It seems like a lot of music critics/writers are making of a big deal about this group’s reunion ten years after their apparently one-and-done debut album, of which I have absolutely no recollection whatsoever. For electro-rock, it’s not bad, but I’m a little confused by all the hype; it seems like there are a few dozen U.K. acts putting out similar music right now.
Ex Hex – “Beast.” A new trio led by Mary Timony, former lead singer of noise-rockers Helium and member of Wild Flag, Ex Hex just released their debut album yesterday and it’s full of tight, power-pop tracks that betray Timony’s post-punk roots but are among the most melodic things she’s ever put out.
Animals as Leaders – “Tooth and Claw.” I think I mentioned these guys a few months ago, and I recognize this is pretty out there even for me, but Animals as Leaders’ highly experimental, technically precise brand of instrumental metal is totally riveting for me as a longtime guitar player and occasional fan of melodic death metal – which this resembles, just without the growled or screamed vocals.
Opeth – “Eternal Rains Will Come.” I left this track and “Tooth and Claw” at the end since they’re so unlike everything else on the playlist, moving way into the progressive realm right down to the Hammond organs and psychedelic harmonies. If you only know Opeth from their death-metal past, give this track a listen with fresh ears.
Tracks not on Spotify:
Ty Segall – “Tall Man Skinny Lady.” Getting a ton of play on Sirius XM right now, this song is one of seventeen on Segall’s latest album, with a simple guitar riff over a two-step percussion line that repeats incessantly throughout the song. I don’t know why they ran Segall’s vocals through reverb, which makes it sound like he recorded them from out in the hallway, but otherwise it’s a strong slice of psychedelic rock with an anarchic guitar solo.
Telegram - “Regatta.” An obnoxiously British-sounding act, from the Libertines influences in the music to the lead singer’s almost indecipherable Welsh accent, so the result sounds like a bit like the Arctic Monkeys replaced Alex Turner with Gruff Rhys. The video features the band’s members wandering around Tokyo.