If you told me that this song was by Stars I would say, oh yeah, obviously, that voice, yeah, I hear it. But if you didn't, I would hesitate to assume. If you told me it wasn't, I would absolutely believe you. Anyway: This is not a new song by some new band from LA or Berlin or The Playa. This is a new song by Stars.
The first EP from SALES comes out this week, but most of its songs—save for the one above—have been filtering through the internet for months ("Toto" for about a year; the most popular, "Chinese New Year," since January). You wouldn't know the band hadn't released an album if this one didn't exist to remind you. They're very… what is a band supposed to be now? Present? Anyway: You can stream the EP here, and buy it here. It is excellent.
From the forthcoming Palme, a characteristically weird (and friendly!) track, freshly unpacked, from Iceland.
There is depressive music that tightens the girdle of neuroses around your brain and then depressive music that loosens it. Music that forces you to stare at the ceiling and music that lets you close your eyes for a minute. Music to breath in, music to breath out. A whole rich taxonomy, probably, with fans too lethargic to write it.
A cover of Sam Smith's unavoidable summer moan that alternates gracefully between entrancing and viscerally upsetting. It's a total aesthetic dismantling (and kind of a huge improvement!).
Lost in the slightly tense but mostly tepid feud between songwriter Dev Hynes (aka Blood Orange) and Sky Ferreira over artistic ownership of "Everything Is Embarrassing" is the document itself. Ferreira's version, the enormous hit, is slick and perfect and instantly imprints itself on your brain, where it is stored as just one or two repeating stanzas. Hynes's version, a functional and unpolished demo, feels small and tentative—it sounds embarrassed.
Prince is releasing two full albums before 2015, both of which will be granted, by default, rigorous consideration by people who have at any point prior cared about Prince. But what on Earth does a teenager make of this? Will the youngest listeners hear this song and think, oh, Prince, dad, whatever? Or will they wonder, who is Prince, I've heard of him somewhere, and then maybe Google him? Does he just get to reappear, no questions asked, his legacy venerated unquestionably, his singles made hits in whatever order planned? Or does Prince have to plead a new case? Anyway: a pretty fun song.
You can listen to Raury's debut here, in its entirety. It's the work of someone who is, by any traditional indication, about to explode—he's signed, rumored to be working with Kanye West—and it's shot with surprises. Raury is also 18, which is impossible not to think about as this strange and astonishing album weaves and wobbles through folk, pop, R&B and collage without breaking step.
Soaring, almost presumptuously confident pop music. Pristine production, accompanied by a victory-lap tour video with huge, adoring crowds. But then: "Truls?" The answer to any questions you might have here is Norway. (Thanks, Jenna.)
Demo 2014 by Failed FlowersIf music's culture thresher is towed about two decades behind the tractor, the early 90s indie reconstitution is technically overdue. Will it come and go and then linger quietly, giving way to some sort of mutated alt-rock revival? Or will fuzzy guitars and slack male-female duets, issued on streaming sites and cassette tapes, be the hot musical trend of 2015? If so, why not pay homage to some old criticism, too: "This is not the forbidding experimentation of an aspiring vanguard," wrote Robert Christgau in 1993. "This is the fooling around of folks who like to go out on Saturday [...]
A wobbly and proudly silly pop song from London's Only Real. Like "Cadillac Girl," "Pass the Pain" tips back and forth between endearing and slightly irritating, and never quite lets us know if its relationship with the 90s is pastiche, tribute, or coincidence.
Another unusually approachable track, after the excellent "Never Catch Me" with Kendrick Lamar, from an artist who has otherwise never really worried about alienating people. The vocals, unattributed for now, are at the forefront; Ellison's distinctive production reveals itself slowly and carefully.
Three fictional madmen—two sociopaths and a narcissist—die on television. It's a strange worldview that would take this as a sign of "The Death of Adulthood in American Culture", but that is the premise of the lead essay in the New York Times Magazine’s culture issue, by film reviewer A.O. Scott.
The unfortunate endings of Tony Soprano of "The Sopranos" and Walter White of "Breaking Bad"—plus Don Draper of "Mad Men," whose elegant silhouette is likely to plummet off a skyscraper soon, according to some fans—signify to Scott the "slow unwinding" of the very idea of adulthood as it was formerly understood, a principle inherent in the patriarchy. "The [...]
"Ugh, where are we all moving next?" asks everyone, everywhere, all the time. "Madrid seems pretty nice," says someone who just heard this song.