New(ish) Music Tuesdays: 12/1/15

 

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Welcome back to New(ish) Music Tuesdays, a semi-regular column on The Young Folks in which our writers highlight their favorite recent songs. It’s been a while since we last did this – late October to be specific – but we’re back with a slew of cool tunes.

 

Ryan Gibbs’ picks

Public Service Broadcasting – “Go!”

This British instrumental art-rock duo heavily utilizes field recordings, public domain audio and archival film in their music. On their excellent new album The Race for Space, the band creates a concept album out of the archival audio from NASA and the Russian Space Agency during the Space Race. On “Go!”, the band weaves a propulsive Krautrock beat around samples from the NASA mission control room during the Apollo 11 moon landing. Public Service Broadcasting does a good job integrating these cherished audio recordings into their music, and preserves the sense of urgency and spirit that are apparent in them.

EL VY – “Return to the Moon (Political Song for Didi Bloom to Sing, With Crescendo)”

I’m not too big on The National, apart from one song I really love and another I appreciate in part to a quirky Kristen Schaal-starring music video. However, I really enjoy this song from EL VY, the new side project from National frontman Matt Berninger and Menomena/Ramona Falls member Brent Knopf. “Return to the Moon” is a completely different animal from The National’s cavernous, dour sound. The song’s jaunty and upbeat and its danceable guitar lines somehow mesh perfectly with Berninger’s morose baritone. His lyrics, always the thing I liked the most about The National, are present in a way that (sorry!) don’t make me want to fall asleep. The rest of the EL VY album didn’t grab me as much as its title track, but it was certainly the most engaged I’ve been with the work of a singer whose music I appreciate but have previously found myself largely disinterested in.

Line & Circle – “Mesolithic”

Line & Circle’s fantastic debut full length Split Figure comes after two years of wonderful singles and EPs. The band’s jangly, melodic sound reminds me a lot of early R.E.M. and it’s a bit of a shame that they’re not being talked about more openly as one of the next big things in guitar music, because they certainly should be. A good example of how great this band is can be found on “Mesolithic,” which is brimming with melody and emotional vocals from singer Brian Cohen. The song often feels like it is floating on air due to its atmospheric keyboards and chiming Peter Buck-style guitar. I have a feeling that Line & Circle will be overlooked in year-end lists, but they certainly won’t be on mine because their record is full of songs as great as this one.

Matt Rice’s pick

CL – “Hello Bitches”

I was the only person to vote for CL’s “The Baddest Female” in the 2013 Pazz & Jop poll, and I put it at No. 1. I stand by that. The song is a perfect piece of K-pop hip-hop, combined with lyrics as upfront with their feminism as “I Am Woman.” I’ve enjoyed every single CL has released since, with and without 2NE1, but I never expected her to come close to reaching that peak again. Until last year, when Skrillex’s “Dirty Vibe”—which featured CL as well as G-Dragon—made my top 10, mainly because of CL, revealing that “The Baddest Female” was anything but a fluke. Now with “Hello Bitches,” she again comes closer to reaching the level of “The Baddest Female” than she has any right to.

“Hello Bitches” has mainly been notable for its music video, which features the ReQuest Dance Crew (they also recently appeared in Justin Bieber’s “Sorry” video), though the song actually manages to live up to its video. The lyrics are less notable, if only because they’re less political, but there are still gems like, “My boys won’t hesitate to run up on your boys” and “Want me to love them long time and I tell ‘em no.” But those lines would most likely not work if CL and the beat didn’t sell them as well as they do. Her long-awaited solo debut is supposedly coming soon, and “Hello Bitches” has me as excited as ever.

Camille Espiritu’s pick

Sara Bareilles – “She Used to Be Mine”

‘She Used To Be Mine’ is a beautiful melodic ballad, filled with lyrics that will seriously move you.  It was the first song that Sara Bareilles wrote for this record and possibly my favorite on it. It is a song that anyone can relate to. The lyrics are heartfelt and at the same time heartbreaking. Here is a part of the song that may seem dark at the surface, but it is honest and really touching.

She’s imperfect but she tries

She is good but she lies

She is hard on herself

She is broken and won’t ask for help

She is messy but she’s kind

She is lonely most of the time

This classic tune is filled with so much love, compassion, and strength. One which reminds you to face our problems head on. The music video done in black and white allows you to focus on the the tune’s classic sound and honest lyrics, which is what I truly adored about it. I can honestly listen to this song over and over again, but would prefer to see it done on stage as it plays in the production of Waitress.

 

Joshua Cabrita’s pick

We Are the City – “Keep on Dancing”

A few weeks ago, We Are The City’s third album dropped with greater experimentation, deeper lyrics, and even catchier tunes. Above Club is less a departure than an evolution of the Vancouver-based trio’s sound, a dense album that manages to pack a lot of thematic rigor and catchy hooks into 8 tracks that only span around 20 minutes. The lead single, “Keep On Dancing,” is a swirling, intoxicating, and heartbreaking bombardment of repetitive drum beats, emotional vocals, and impressionistic lyrics.

Similar to their 2013 film Violent, “Keep On Dancing” explores a search for God in a hedonistic cesspool. The song encircles you with its club-soaked atmosphere, repetitively returning to a few lyrics and correlating sounds. The chorus, “whatever God is, it’s here with me now,” is an outcry to feel presence from the divine in a world where the only thing that is important is that you “keep on dancing.”

Ryan Gibbs is the music editor for The Young Folks. He is based in Newport, Rhode Island.