Chris Gerard: A few weeks after removing all his music from Spotify, the always unpredictable Prince has delivered his new track “Stare” exclusively (so far) to the service. Whether “Stare” will be included on his upcoming new release The Hit & Run Album is unknown. What is known is that “Stare” is the type of blazing funk that can only come from Prince. It’s not really too far removed from what he’s done in the past – it’s a bit of a mix between “Sticky Like Glue”, “Musicology” and “Sexy Dancer”, with a nifty sample of his classic “Kiss” thrown in for good measure. It doesn’t break any new stylistic ground, but that hardly matters. The groove is smokin’ hot, with sizzling horn riffs and a bassline capable of inducing brain melt. “Stare” continues the hot streak the mercurial genius has enjoyed since the beginning of 2014 with the release of multiple standalone internet singles, and his outstanding pair of LPs Art Official Age and PlectrumElectrum. [8/10]
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It’s not every day you get a new song that fades out anymore, but it’s rarer to get one that fades in as well as out. It’s a dying trend, but one that ASG singer/guitarist Jason Shi and Thunderlip drummer Johnny Collins decided to exploit on “Lions”, a fantastic new track by their collaboration Wildlights. It’s a bit of a delayed start as a result, but when it gets going it’s a swift, groovy blast of sunny skate punk and hazy desert rock.
Where did this spryness come from? As it is with all the pioneers of the Dunedin scene, you expect them to mellow out once they reach a certain age. But the Chills return in full form after close to 20 years with a propulsive confidence that gives an eye wink to their reverb-soaked contemporaries. Not that it’s a complete surprise—Martin Phillips has always had it in him to remold the Chills, and after sprinkling a few tracks here and there in the past few years it seems he’s finally concocted a formula that works. It’s a succinct rock song that curiously reminded of a less bombastic British Sea Power, which isn’t a bad thing, really. It’s also idiosyncratic enough to distinguish it as a Chills track, and that’s reason enough to believe that “America Says Hello” is a welcome return to the full-length album format.—JUAN EDGARDO RODRIGUEZ (8/10)
The band might be led by its namesake, Brooklyn musician Chuck Stern, but anyone familiar with the underground/experimental/heavy music coming from the borough will see Stern as a supergroup. Partnering with Keith Abrams of Kayo Dot, Toby Driver of Kayo Dot and Vaura, and kayo Dot/Candiria collaborator Tim Byrnes, Stern has created a surreal hybrid of gothic rock, DC post-hardcore, progressive rock, and post-metal, with a strong Faith No More influence tossed in, and the end result is the extraordinary new album Bone Turquoise. If you want a good indication of how surreal and enthralling it is, you can’t do much better than “Your Level Best”, a weirdly gloomy track that slogs along like a dirge sung by a lunatic. Trust us on that one.
How the Sweeplings came to be is unusual, but in keeping with contemporary culture. Singer-songwriter Whitney Dean was watching America’s Got Talent at home in Huntsville, Alabama, and was entranced by the vocal talent of finalist and Spokeane, Washington resident Cami Bradley. At his wife’s urging he flew out to meet Bradley in Spokane, the musicians clicked, and the end result is Rise and Fall, a combination of Americana grit and Southern soul, brought forth by Bradley’s dulcet voice.