Like some people with their Starbucks card (cough – Kaylee), I like to keep my iTunes account stocked with plenty of credit to go towards new tunes. These past two weeks – between orders and pre-orders – I have zipped through all of my dedicated iTunes dollars, and am onto the old credit card spending now. For someone who is about to hand over far too much moola for a new condo next week, I should probably cool it on the playlist purchases. But there’s just far too much good music being released for that to happen.
So, behold a short list of five essential new albums you should do yourself the favour of purchasing. While the free online streams are always a treat, and YouTube is the cheap fallback, these are releases worthy of owning, because each of these albums might be the history-making seminal pieces in these artists’ seasoned discographies. Enjoy!
FUTURE ISLANDS – SINGLES: Some of you might only know these Baltimore boys after their explosive David Letterman performance two weeks ago – remember, the one that might have garnered the most enthusiastic reaction out of Dave to date? Well, I suppose that’s one starting point – but, another is at their debut album and, especially, their magical 2010 sophomore release In Evening Air. Future Islands’ synth-pop isn’t for everyone; they’re eccentric, theatrical and downright wacky at times and Singles is absolutely no different. But, between their electro zaps and Samuel Herring’s majestic roars, you’ll find some of the most uniquely melodic– and mature – material of their career.
PHARRELL WILLIAMS – GIRL: On the topic of his near “concept” album and its title, Williams already won me over post-“Blurred Lines” BS by stating that “there’s an imbalance in society, in my opinion, and it’s going to change. A world where 75 per cent of it is run by women – that’s a different world. That’s gonna happen, and I want to be on the right side of it when it does.” Amen, brother. With that, our favourite hat-sporting producer and hypeman happily stepped into the limelight with some of the year’s most groovy and soulful solo departures. Realistically, everyone has always loved Pharrell – back to the day he first drank from Tuck Everlasting’s immortal stream – and after he shook it with Lupita and Meryl mid-Oscars, he certainly secured himself as one of our lifetime’s most formidable music forces. Pick this one up for a good time.
ST. VINCENT – ST. VINCENT: I wrote about the gorgeously quirky musician Annie Clark and her famed fashion sense over two years ago, only touching a little on the Berklee College of Music dropout’s musical flavour. Despite the fact that, with this album’s anticipated release, her mane was teased into a bonkers mauve mess and she sartorially adventured away from her sweet hipster duds – there’s no denying the only conversation to be had here is about Clark’s musical talent. This self-titled debut is nothing less than electric; lasery riffs, lyrics ranging from topics of masturbation to becoming a digital hostage and Clark’s unwavering vocal presence have made her fifth album one of the most astounding things to be released in some while. I wish you luck in trying to compare this to anything else that’s ever been created – and, it’s safe to say you might be missing a little bit of history if you don’t give this a listen.
WAR ON DRUGS – LOST IN THE DREAM: War on Drugs, better known as the band Kurt Vile formerly founded and played with, have always been a force to be reckoned with, in my mind. But, with Lost in the Dream, which frontman Adam Granduciel described as “a familiar kick in the gut, reminding listeners what music is supposed to sound like, making you want to run Rocky-style through the streets (or at least us anyways)” – their generational influence is going to peak. Similar to way that Dylan, Springsteen and Petty’s late radio rock empowered the young to escape – or to keep searching – this album’s dreamy highway anthems are going to force the tops off cars while twenty-somethings peel out of town on that exact same search. Each song has a range of lush rock instruments – dabbling in both new and old approaches – while each of Granduciel’s genuine words are doused in meaning.
BECK – MORNING PHASE: I love Beck. I’ve always loved Beck. Morning Phase is that album for both the converted and unconverted; it’s like one of those woozy, daydreaming later Pink Floyd or Beatles albums that transports you from where you are into the artist’s imaginative folk-rock world. It’s not risky, but it’s damn peaceful – and, in a land of chaotic releases and departures, any ethereal musical equivalent to a stretch of a warm Californian beach is kind of welcome. This isn’t a Beck record for your next apartment party, but the string overtures and drunken bass lines make this the perfect Beck record for your next reflective lie-down. Goodnight.