This year is shaping up to be a much bigger year in music than last year. There are so many cool things happening!
It was announced that Tim Hecker is dropping an album, which is very exciting news because he is great. Rihanna stormed our musical camps Wednesday when she dropped the jammingest song of the year along with a free album. Zayn Malik even did something, too. (But it sucks.) Beyond this, what else is there to get into? Lots. Here are five old and new songs that I’ve been digging into that I think you should dig into over the weekend.
“Your Silent Face” By Cold Cave
One of the best dark synth acts working now—the lovely “goth” group Cold Cave—returned with a “new” track: a cover of New Order‘s classic mid Power, Corruption, & Lies synthscape “Your Silent Face.” The version is both extremely similar and extremely different from the original, more of a lo-fi, bathroom echo reproduction. The song apparently comes from The Quietus Tweeting at the band. The face of the group—Wes Eisold, an always black dressed god—summed up all of our feelings about New Order by saying they’re, “a gift that somehow makes you feel alone and not alone at the same time.” This song, like all New Order songs, hits that mark quite nicely.
“Very Kind Human Being” By Machine Woman
Machine Woman is not only a fucking fantastic name for a sci-fi character but it’s the very appropriate name for the Russian born, Berlin based gloom techno act Anastasia Vtorova. Her latest EP is the December released For Sweden, essentially an aggressive introduction to her whirring technologic world. “Very Kind Human Being” is the first track and plays as her thesis: it features hydraulic sounds, a marching bass, and all sorts of ghosts clicking around her sonic circuitry. It is not her hardest song but it’s certainly a taste from an artist that I’m very excited about.
“Why (12″ Version)” By Carly Simon
Thanks to Jayda G‘s disco slanted Juno Plus mix, I was turned onto an obscure Carly Simon song from the soundtrack of a 1982 flop called Soup For One. The song isn’t even featured in the movie but is an echoplex mom booty shaker. Why is it so good? It was produced, arranged, and written by Bernard Edwards and Nile Rodgers. Are you fucking kidding me? This has the golden touch but, somehow, it took me almost thirty years to know it existed. If you like post-disco music that probably played on early eighties Soul Train, this song is for you. The extended 12″ version is the only one to listen to, too. You should never deprive yourself of a sprawling eight minutes of deep dancing Carly and Nile.
“Big Black Coat” By Junior Boys
This song came out to a very quiet reception in October of last year. It seemed fine and, being a song about fashion and maybe flashing (according to my friend Justin, at least), but their NPR First Listen has rearoused my over ten year rabid fandom for the work of Jeremy Greenspan and company—and a big part of that is “Big Black Coat.” The song is the title track and closer for the album and, like “Banana Ripple” on the last release five years ago, it is a long exploration and explanation of the band’s current themes. In terms of story, the song is about wanting someone for looks and lusting after a style, quite literally cozying up to a person to get to know them intimately, inside of their “coat.” Sonically, this song is a dance song built upon a dance song, a house song in a house song in the house of Greenspan. It is a series of new and old synths and looped vocals that start so simply, almost alarmingly plain. Around the halfway mark—at 3:10—it all opens up into an airy electric chord landscape. It goes inside the coat and gets to bumping the fuck out of whoever is wearing it for four more minutes. This song is a secret banger that takes a few listens to grasp. The full album of the same name is out next Friday, February 5.
“It Means I Love You” By Jessy Lanza
One of my favorite, favorite, favorite, favorite pop acts popping off right now is Lanza and she is finally back with a tease of her sophomore LP sound. “It Means I Love You” is the song and has her teamed back up with Junior Boys’ Greenspan, which means more of the same from her debut which Greenspan also produced. (And, theory: they are boning and are creative partners in wonderful sub-dance music.) This song, like Big Black Coat, is straight dance, pulling from eighties faux-Caribbean sounds and tropical destinations to chat about love. It’s a more substantial version of a song like “Fuck Diamond” and has Lanza pitched up into serious baby talking about desire before the song fucking chatters itself into a bongo breakdown. Her nu-R&B, hair pulling ways are gone: she’s ready to groove. “It Means” is excellent and, funny enough, it feels like the gorgeous alt cousin to Rihanna’s “Work.” Her new album—Oh No—comes out on May 13th, which means she has made it specifically on the occasion of my 30th birthday.