Mike Schiller: Somehow, Greg Dulli can recruit Har Mar Superstar for his video, infuse his song with a full horn section and finish it with a straight-up dance beat and extended falsetto notes, and it still sounds like he wrote the song at midnight by candlelight. That’s to his credit, of course—Dulli’s ability to find darkness in unexpected places is one of his great strengths. “Demon in Profile” is both classic and brand new for Afghan Whigs, as its big instrumentation and soaring vocal lines signal a new direction for the band even as it reaffirms their ability to find comfort underground. [8/10]
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Tel-Aviv duo Lola Marsh occupy a space in between indie pop, indie folk, and electropop with their beautifully melodic, breezy songs. It’s a thoroughly modern and engaging approach to pop music that highlights the superb songwriting chops of Gil Landau and the enigmatic vocals of Yael Shoshana Cohen. Lola Marsh’s tunes have stormed the Hype Machine charts, and their future looks bright with their debut album coming sometime this spring or summer.
Mike Schiller: Subtlety is an underused skill in hip-hop, but Porter Ray has it down on “Past Life”. Over beautiful, hazy production, we get high-speed raps about everything but this moment. We hear about memories, we hear about dreams, we hear reminiscing about the past and looking toward the future. If it feels a little ethereal, that’s probably its intent. [7/10]
Chris Ingalls: It’s been six years since the last Fleet Foxes album, so “highly anticipated” is certainly the right term to use here. Since the release of Helplessness Blues, drummer Josh Tillman jumped ship and became everyone’s favorite sexy misanthrope, Father John Misty, yet the Foxes soldier on and are doing exactly what we expect of them—deep, cavernous-sounding indie campfire folk with Robin Pecknold’s keening tenor cutting through the heavy percussion and woodsy acoustic guitars. With this track, however, they diverge a bit with an epic, multi-part track reminiscent of the Decemberists’ prog/folk diversions. The band test drives their sound through a series of strange avenues but it still—thank goodness—sounds like Fleet Foxes. This is a band stepping out of its comfort zone and sounding so much better for it. [9/10]
Adriane Pontecorvo: Breakbeats, soulful vocals, more breakbeats. What decade is this? A better one, from the sounds of it. The production soars on “I Adore You”, fresh, fast, and retro. The melancholy in Natalie Williams’ voice feels almost hopeful, and whether that’s just her or a rosy retrospection on the simpler days of house music doesn’t really matter. The song is gorgeous, and it’s good to feel like the ‘90s are back for a few minutes. [9/10]