Ok, so I’ve calmed down from last week – sorry for that attempt at high concept anger. Back to focusing on new music! This week, I’ve chosen some far more familiar artists who will all (hopefully) have some exciting albums coming out this year. Enjoy!
Pay Attention Selection of the Week
Father John Misty – “Pure Comedy”
This is not hyperbole: I think Josh Tillman, aka Father John Misty, is prophetic. A sarcastic misanthrope, a salacious romantic, and a slick-witted storyteller, Tillman went from a career as an overly earnest, soft spoken folk artist (and one time Fleet Foxes member) to a louder than life lounge singer Lothario seemingly overnight. But, rather than abandoning the earnestness, he used his newly minted persona to start speaking honestly without shying away behind cliché and metaphor and it has been remarkably disarming and refreshing. From the drug fueled kaleidoscopic adventure of Fear Fun to the dour intimacy of I Love You, Honeybear, Father John Misty’s particular brand of lounge act troubadour might not be to everyone’s liking – in fact, it might make you outright uncomfortable with its sincerity. But if prophesy is anything, it’s unflinchingly sincere. Although he has concerned himself largely with themes of self-awareness and companionship, he has dipped his toes into the political and social with previous scorched earth anthems “Holy Shit” and “Bored in the U.S.A.” Even from those titles you might assume they’d be on the nose and, well, you’d be right. But what seems trite on the surface will surely get under your skin quick with their righteous anger and resigned apathy. Promising more along this line, Father John Misty will return this year with his newest album Pure Comedy and, if the lead single of the same name is any indication, it ought to be a great shattered mirror look into our current state of affairs. Holding up the maddening hypocrisy of a seemingly suicidal creature terrified of its own mortality and trapped by its unexamined certainty, I will warn you now that “Pure Comedy” will not make you feel good. But, prophesy isn’t meant to – it’s supposed to scare you shitless, slap you in the face, and wake you up. And that’s just what Father John Misty aims to do. Well, either that, or give us some tunes for dancing on the ashes.
Bleak Brutality Selection of the Week
Mastodon – “Sultan’s Curse”
As far as I’m concerned, any time is a good time for more Mastodon but, in this climate in particular, I’m real ready for their brand of earth rattling rawk. The Atlanta sludge-prog metal heavyweights will be returning this year with their 7th studio album Emperor of Sand, another thematic album that explores the band’s experience of cancer and chemotherapy through the lens of a man banished to wander a desert wasteland and confront death. Although this theme has me chomping at the bit for more, I will admit that lead single “Sultan’s Curse” leaves me a little wanting. I’m not convinced Mastodon could make a bad track per se but I am now certain they can make a mediocre one. Although blistering and brutal as all their best work before, this track feels just like that – what they’re done before. Now, this hasn’t stopped me from listening to it on repeat, mind you. I just hope that the rest of the album finds them stretching out a bit more (hey, it happened on their previous record despite its lead single so I have faith).
Forever the Best Hats Selection of the Week
Jamiroquai – “Automaton”
Look, for you, Jamiroquai might only be that guy with the funny hats and that awesome video. And while you’re not wrong, I’m here to tell you that you are missing out (on more than just fun hats). The acid funk Stevie Wonder devotee has been making some of the absolute best grooves of our generation for decades and, in my opinion, is criminally slept upon. I, for one, have been desperately struggling to remain patient awaiting the follow up to his utterly masterful 2010 album Rock Dust Light Star and will FINALLY be rewarded this year with Automaton. On the first single, it sounds like Jamiroquai is ready to shake the dust off and get back to it, bringing his usual flair for robotic theatrics and spaced out funk hard and heavy. More along the lines of the electronically dazzling Dynamite than the full band sound of Rock Dust Light Star, the track sizzles with heavy synth and pulsating beats before exploding into a Technicolor chorus of 80’s-esque delirium. I really can’t wait for more but, even if this track doesn’t get you, seriously go check out Rock Dust – it is a truly joyous gem of an album.
Hey, There You Are Selection of the Week
Missy Elliot – “I’m Better” (feat. Lamb)
Missy Elliot has been flying low for over a decade now with her last proper release being 2005’s The Cookbook but that’s not to say she hasn’t stayed relevant. Every so often, she’ll reappear unannounced and drop an incredible single – and then disappear with about just as much explanation. Now, with the release of her newest single “I’m Better” coming just a year after her last (the Pharrell featuring “WTF”), it almost feels like we might get an album any day now. Here’s hoping – we’re better for it. This time around, Missy eschews her usual Timbaland assisted bounce and dives right into trap. The sparse beat hits hard and Missy’s flow is as smooth as ever – plus, she always knocks it out of the park with her videos. Here’s hoping we don’t have to wait for the next rap trend for another taste.
Sexiest Selection of the Week
Alina Baraz, Galimatias – “Pretty Thoughts”
Y’all, some tracks just get to you. Some tracks you just want to keep on repeat until they fill the entire room and become your every breath they are just that good. This track is one of those for me. A combination of artists formulated over facebook, California singer Alana Baraz and Danish producer Galimatias have honestly created the sexiest song of the year. I mean, I know it’s early but just listen – who’s gonna top that? Washed out, down tempo beats carry Baraz’s sultry voice on their oceanic waves and drift you dreamingly along in a lush haze and, like the fleeting tryst it concerns, is over far too soon. This is by far my favorite discovery in these past couple of weeks and, after exploring their lovely debut EP, I can’t wait to see what they do for their full length.