Updated: Nov 29, 2018
Day In America- Mark Kozelek, Donny McCaslin, Jim White: 5
15 minutes of reaffirmation that we need gun control and Kozelek’s disgust with recent shootings, particularly in Parkland. Still rambly, definitely has similar traits to his recent solo work and as Sun Kil Moon, but the core of his argument is well-spoken and everything he addresses is relevant to the problem at hand. Same intimate, moody guitar plucking we’re used to as well.
Almost Had to Start a Fight/In and Out of Patience- Parquet Courts: 4
Fun art punk/garage punk track with a gritty vocal that has plenty of personality/attitude. Has an interesting structure with a well-handled tempo change. The jittery lyrics seem to follow stream of consciousness panic and fit the instrumental; a great moment for Parquet Courts overall and I’m excited for their new album.
Falling Into Me- Let’s Eat Grandma: 4
Sweet synthpop/neo-psychedelia single with distorted, strung out lead (instrumentals) and bass. The chorus is infectious
Feels nocturnal and chilling, with lyrics and vocals as luminous as the production.
Pristine- Snail Mail: 4
Straight to the point, well-handled indie track. The lyrics are well-spoken with a sense of lovesickness and unapologetic vulnerability. The simplistic instrumentation and modest vocal performance work together harmoniously; there’s not much that isn’t to like, especially for indie junkies.
Dive- Beach House: 4
Beach House’s new material has left me relatively satisfied, although part of me does still want them to step outside their comfort zone a little bit more. Consumed on their own, both Dive and Lemon Glow have been well-composed and enchanting cuts. The overpowering distortion and drum build this up to a satisfying climax as reverb-drenched vocals soften it out. Its structure is more interesting than what we’re used to from the group, so I’m hoping for the best from 7’s release.
Over and Over and Over- Jack White: 4
Feels more like classic Jack White than the past few singles with clear blues rock influence and a more straightforward structure. Killer distortion and colorful background vocals give the track a much-needed energy, and the crescendo is satisfying. Good single, but I’m not entirely sure it stands out from any of his other solo work.
Get The Fuck Off My Dick- Vince Staples: 3
Vince Staples really doesn’t take any shit and it’s awesome.
U&I- Flatbush Zombies- Dia: 3
These are well-written and delivered verses and the members’ flows change enough to hold your attention, but the hook and beat are average. I wish Dia had been incorporated into more portions of the track to add some much-needed color, since not much about it is genuinely standout.
Wide Awake- Parquet Courts: 3
I like this track’s new wave twist; the peppy guitar/synth layers and killer bassline make for a fairly exciting 2 minutes. Unfortunately it feels unfinished and isn’t very satisfying on its own as a single.
Disarray- Preoccupations: 3
Preoccupations’ new material disappointed me thus far. Coldwave doesn’t seem to be a wise direction to divert their sound; it’s all felt so watered-down from the excitement of Viet Cong or 2016’s self titled. The reverb and muddiness in the production takes a lot away from what these singles could be. Nevertheless, this song was slightly more vivid and hard-hitting than Antidote or Espionage, with a tempo change in the middle and sharp guitar work.
Does This Ski Mask Make Me Look Fat?- Jpegmafia , Heno.: 3
What a b-side sounds like; this could’ve fit snugly as a throwaway track on any of Peggy’s other projects. The rough percussion is somewhat hard-hitting and the layers of smooth, dark synths have a slightly unsettling and murky tone, but it fails to make much of an impact in the grander scheme of things.
Take it All- Iceage: 3
The ringing guitars that slowly fade in, jittery strings/percussion, and clear emotion in
Elias’ vocal are the best qualities of the track. What prevents it from making a lasting statement is its lack of crescendo; it’s so one-note that it’s difficult to take much away from it.
Everyone Acts Crazy Nowadays/Not in Love We’re Just High- Unknown Mortal Orchestra: 2
I was fully prepared for UMO to go in a full-on garage rock direction after American Guilt, but I guess that’s not where they’re headed. These tracks feel like watered-down versions of their past material, with neo-psychedelic, droning layers of synths that create a pleasant atmosphere but fail to do much more. Both are lyrically dull as well; not sure how excited I am for this new album.
For You Too- Yo La Tengo: 2
The layer of distortion over everything gives it a nice mood/aesthetic, but has Yo La Tengo ever not had that? At its core, the song feels generic and underdeveloped.
This is exactly what frustrates me about the group’s new record. It could’ve been one of my favorites of 2018 had its hauntingly beautiful moments been supported by a more satisfying and complete instrumental. Most of it felt lazily composed and thrown in to take up space.
Pain Killer- Iceage, Sky Ferreira: 2
None of this track meshes well. The horns feel out of place, Sky’s performance is lackluster, and the delivery is awkward. It’s underwritten (especially for an iceage song) and the hook is painfully generic. Not sure if this new Iceage record will pan out how I’d hoped.
My Enemy- CHVRCHES: 2
This is just another average synthpop single deprived of substance with painfully vague lyrics. I become more convinced with every new CHVRCHES release that the group will never push any boundaries.
My Life- ZHU, Tame Impala: 2
There was no reason Kevin Parker needed to feature on this, you can barely tell he’s there. He’s just tacked onto an underwhelming house/club instrumental and neither artist contributes much of anything memorable to it.
Heartstrings, Song of the Summer- Remo Drive: 2
I don’t think the power pop direction is going to help Remo Drive’s sound that much. They already seem to be watering down their inventiveness on this EP; Song of the Summer’s tempo changes give it some interest, but most simply read as unsubstantive.
High Horse- Kacey Musgraves: 2
This track’s production doesn’t read to me as above average; I enjoy the subtle disco twist, but it mostly feels like an ordinary synthpop single. The lyrics are poorly-written and don’t sit right with me; hopefully I enjoy other moments on her new record more.
In Contempt- Street Sects: 1
New Street Sects material has felt so structurally loose and muddy from a production standpoint in a way that feels more disorganized than inventive, but the vocal performances have been poor as well. When they try to tone it down/don’t let their raw passion and emotion carry them, they seem to not know how to approach the problem.
Once in My Life- The Decemberists: 1
Everything about this is cliche. The synth additions add some fluff to the track, but guitars make up most of the production with an overused chord progression and flat lyrics that don’t make up for it whatsoever.