Adriane Pontecorvo: Retro, fun, and unabashedly sexy. Kimbra sings, squeals, and shouts, possessed by the spirit of a low-key disco diva. She’s all over the place in the best way, as strange as she is sultry on this electric downtempo track. Whether whispering or growling, Kimbra’s voice is always powerful, and here, it may even be at its strongest, a warm blend of soul, jazz, and pop. Everything from handclaps to oohs melts together, and it’s a hedonistic kind of heavenly. [10/10]
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Andrew Paschal: The Weeknd returns with one of his tightest pop singles yet. “Starboy” eschews the bouncy R&B of “Can’t Feel My Face” for something more nocturnal and tormented. Daft Punk show surprising reserve in their production efforts, pulling back from their maximalist impulses to engage with the track’s brooding ambience. The noirish combination of sensuality and melancholy is oddly reminiscent of Madonna’s 1992 classic “Erotica”, and the tightly coiled, looping beats are like candy for the brain. My first exposure to this song was during the Weeknd’s recent performance on Saturday Night Live, which was propulsive and almost euphoric. The studio track, however, features the blue-hued keyboards more prominently, making for a more somber, but no less engaging, listen. [9/10]
London’s Crystal Fighters are one of the more interesting contemporary bands as they mash up musical styles to create the most memorable of catchy earworms. Melodies and instruments from Basque folk music are intertwined with electronic music beats. Acoustic, electric, and electronic elements coalesce utterly naturally in their music. This Friday the band is due to release their third album, Everything Is My Family, and we’ve got the premiere of Crystal Fighters’ brand new anthemic single “Lay Low”, which rises to rousing crescendos and wall of sound vocal choruses. It’s a stellar, joyous, glorious tune, with killer melodies and it promises that the band’s new record may be the very best yet.
Mike Watt is a punk rock legend whose bands Minutemen and fIREHOSE had a huge influence on both punk and rock generally. In 1995, Watt first went solo as he toured the US, eventually stopping at Chicago’s Metro on May 6th for an incendiary set that crackles and thrills 21 years later. It’s that performance that Columbia/Legacy has chosen to memorialize with the release of Watt’s “ring spiel” tour ‘95 due for release on November 11th. The tour followed the February 1995 release of Watt’s first solo album, ball-hog or tugboat?, which has stood the test of time with a set of songs that featured the playing of Henry Rollins, Flea, Thurston Moore, J Mascis, Adam Horovitz, Mike Diamond, Frank Black, Dave Pirner, Evan Dando, Nels Cline, Pat Smear, Dave Grohl, Eddie Vedder, and more.
The 10X’s stock and trade is crafting anthemic indie rock with a veneer of glossy production. Wave-crashing percussion, intertwining guitar hooks, and tapestries of synths support songwriter Jeff Gingrich’s emotive vocals. There’s a degree of ‘80s new wave revivalism, with U2 and the Killers standing as obvious reference points.
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