Every week WLUW’s music staff picks the best new music releases to add to our rotation. Check out what we’ll be spinning this week and into the future!
Feels - Post Earth
Westkust - Westkust
Hot Flash Heat Wave - Mood Ring EP
Frankie & The Witch Fingers - ZAM
Spelling - Mazy Fly
Julia Jacklin - Crushing
Faux Ferocious - Pretty Groovy
Helado Negro - This Is How You Smile
Better Oblivion Community Center - Better Oblivion Community Center - Dead Oceans
On first listen, Phoebe Bridgers and Conor Oberst’s collaborative debut, Better Oblivion Community Center, feels pretty nihilistic. Each song sounds like the story of a broken promise; a promise to reach out to an old friend, a promise to be a global citizen, a promise to be a better person. The duo pose the question: do we really ever do anything for anyone else? But behind Bridgers and Oberst’s mournful singing is a more hopeful message. Despite the questioning the genuineness of every act of kindness, there’s a recognition of a very human need to do good. When the duo sing “your black heart is big” on “Big Black Heart,” the listener can imagine somebody who’s been hurt but is clearly still sensitive to others. The world as seen by Bridgers and Oberst is cold, but the people within it are warm.
Favorite track: Service Road
Listen if you like: Bright Eyes or Phoebe Bridgers (duh), Big Thief, Sharon Van Etten
Faux Ferocious - Pretty Groovy - Burger Records
It’s Pretty Groovy indeed. There’s more to Faux Ferocious’ third album than the title lets on. A blend of garage psych, post-punk and krautrock, it’s certainly got grooves and tight performances. Tackling topics from corruption on “Price of Progress” to financial (and emotional!) insecurity on “Solvency,” the album does a great job at examining the way in which the issues of adult life translate into stress and emotional burdens. The repetitive rhythm the band works with gives the impression of punching a clock, something that is especially salient on the track “Moment of Totality” which is foreboding and shapeless. Most of the tracklist is punchy and energetic, which may prove misleading once the vocals kick in, but the lyrics also have a sarcastic quality to them that makes the often bleak subject matter as fun as the music backing it up.
Favorite track: Me and Johnny
Listen if you like: Moon Duo, King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard, Ought
Hand Habits - placeholder - Saddle Creek
2018 and the beginning of 2019 have really proven the strength of the Saddle Creek records lineup. Hand Habits, helmed by Meg Duffy, further exemplifies this strength with their sophomore LP placeholder. Although the folk-rock performances on these tracks are strong, the real highlight is Duffy’s talented songwriting. On the second track “can’t calm down” Duffy expresses their desire for maturity, but the rest of the songs demonstrate that emotional maturity and clarity are things that Duffy definitely has. With “pacify” Duffy sings “I don’t want to pacify you with an excuse,” and we see a moral framework of honesty that holds up the rest of the record. There are plenty of demonstrations of self-honesty too: on “jessica” Duffy details a one-sided relationship where they find themself being wanted, but ultimately they have the clarity to understand the situation and ultimately forgive. The stories they sing always progress in the direction of self-growth, and for all of the apparent heartbreak and uncertainty on display, placeholder is a surprisingly positive and resolved record.
Favorite track: the book on how to change part ii
Listen if you like: Tomberlin, Twain, Big Thief
Helado Negro - This is How You Smile - RVNG intl.
Typically viewed as an experimental electronic artist, Roberto Carlos Lange takes a more organic approach to his latest record as Helado Negro, This is How You Smile. Sometimes serene, sometimes poppy, sometimes haunting, Lange uses a variety of acoustic and synthetic instruments that lend a balanced palate of sound to the album. Adding to balanced variation is Lange’s use of both English and Spanish, tap into his Ecuadorian heritage which is also seen in the guitar stylings on “Imagining What To Do” and “Sabana de Luz”. Lange sings about curiosity and a grand kind of love that stops anything else from mattering. “Seen My Aura” describes a romance on a hot summer day, played out in the pool and on the searing pavement, Lange doesn’t seem to mind the sunburn he’s getting just to spend time with this person. Despite the ethereal quality to many of the songs and the carefree nature of much of the lyrics, it’s focused, well composed, and a must listen this week.
Favorite track: Pais Nublado
Listen if you like: Panda Bear, Tasha, Amen Dunes
Lomelda - M for Empathy - Double Double Whammy
Following up on 2017’s magnificent Thx, Lomelda’s M for Empathy is a wonderfully focused collection of songs. Each track, with one exception, comes in under two minutes. Hannah Read writes in a space between her thoughts and her poetry. Each song is an earnest examination of what other people are thinking about her and what she is thinking about other people. Sometimes only a single thought or feeling is touched on, as with “Bust” where the entirety of the lyrics read “I thought of so many things to say to you, but what were they to you?” The arrangements are often sparse, but they’re so meticulously arranged each track has a glittery feel to it. The album has a sense of childlike curiosity and almost urges listeners to care a little more about others (without being that cheesy).
Favorite Track: Bust
Listen if you like: Adrianne Lenker, Mount Eerie, Frankie Cosmos
Living Hour - Softer Faces - Kanine Records
What’s the longest time you’ve held your head underwater? Unless you’ve taken the proper training, probably not very long. Living Hour can help bump your record to 39 minutes with Softer Faces. The group tightens down their distinctively dreamy sound here, and it really feels likes being submerged in the ocean. Lead vocalist Sam Sarty has a hushed and breathy voice that shines over the plinky guitars and soft organs used in most of the tracks. Each instrument in the quintet weaves together to make a soft sound that has quite a bit of depth. The special touch that sells the dreamlike quality of the music is vocal harmonizing used subtly on tracks like “Bottom Step” and more overtly on the pretty “I Sink I Sink.” The lyrics are emotionally vulnerable, discussing topics like loneliness, uncertainty and emotional distance. There’s an introspective and healing quality to the performances here, and the fuzzy and shapeless closer “Most” serves as fitting ending that gives the listener a moment to reflect.
Favorite Track: Before You Leave
Listen if you like: Beach House, The Antlers, DIIV
Pond - Tasmania - Spinning Top
In the increasingly saturated Australian psychedelic rock landscape, it has become increasingly difficult to create a distinct or memorable sound. This is especially true of bands Tame Impala, GUM, and Pond, all of which have shared members and regularly produce psych rock. Nick Allenbrook, no longer a part of the Tame Impala lineup, continues to differentiate himself from his contemporaries with Pond’s Tasmania, their follow up to 2017’s The Weather. Taking on a less guitar-driven approach, Tasmania relies on synths and punchy basslines to deliver a catchy and danceable set of tunes. It ends up sounding closer to something Neon Indian might produce than any of Pond’s more closely affiliated acts. Allenbrook’s raspy and punctuated vocal deliveries fit right into this groovier instrumentation. The musical approach of the record belies the political skew of the lyrics, which tackle subjects from white privilege and climate change to anxieties over gun violence. It’s a refreshing take on psychedelic and it speaks to the genre’s room for growth.
Favorite track: Daisy
Listen if you like: Tame Impala, Neon Indian, Methyl Ethel
Yves Jarvis - The Same But By Different Means - Anti-
For The Same But By Different Means, it sounds as if Yves Jarvis (born Jean-Sebastian Audet) has set up a laboratory in a church, or in a field next to a church. Many of the sounds on this record are angelic, and there are a lot of field recordings adding to the natural feel of the record. Audet plays in between the lines of R&B and folk, sometimes bringing in elements of jazz and blues. The album serves as the fruit of a search for a new style for Audet, who previously recorded music under the name Un Blonde. This is reflected in the many ideas and experiments floating around on the record, which is comprised of 22 tracks of greatly varying length. Most of the tracks are carefully layered, something that becomes especially apparent when Audet chooses to sing, leading to some wonderfully warm vocal harmonies. The layering gives each track the feeling of being a different painter’s palette. It’s sometimes a little dizzying, but by the end, it feels as if Audet has a newfound sense of clarity.
Favorite Track: Goodbye Reason, Goodbye Rhyme
Listen if you like: Moses Sumney, Ricky Eat Acid, King Krule