In the build-up to the year-end shopping fest, we have another month with new amazing releases, mostly by female artists. We suggest you download these songs this month…
Song: Los Ageless
From album: Masseduction
The genius that is Annie Clark returns with another album of caustic pop-rock under her St. Vincent stage name. Fresh from being handed the first Grammy awarded to a solo female artist in the alternative rock album category in 20 years, her latest album Masseduction is another winner. Her genre is tricky to pin down with futuristic pop or industrial techno being just two of the attempts at description from the music hacks. Her music has sass, character and smarts in spades. Each track feels precision-tooled with extreme technical proficiency. But like all great artists, a warm soul lurks beneath. Los Ageless is the album’s 2nd single. A belter, that twists L.A. into a sinister warning about fake beauty.
Be warned, when Equilibrio downloaded the album from the South African iTunes store, the sound was very over-saturated, resulting in massive distortion throughout. Test before downloading or else stream or source from elsewhere.
(Also download these songs from the album: New York, Pills, Fear The Future)
From album: Turn Out The Lights
Emo is a musical style that emerged in late 80s USA and entered the mainstream in the early 2000s. Originally a sub-genre of punk, the definition of emo has broadened to basically include any alternative rock music with highly confessional, often depressing, lyrics. Julien Baker was the frontwoman for emo band Forrister, but of late has preferred the solo route. The musical palette of her second album Turn Out The Lights is simple piano and guitar, without a drumbeat in sight. It is about as far removed from the typical emo aesthetic as you can get, but her lyrics remain rooted in angst and self-doubt. Appointments is the exquisite first single from the album and where her clear and beautiful voice rises up to meet the power chorus tagged on at the very end.
(Also download from the album: Shadowboxing, Turn Out The Lights, Claws In Your Back)
From album: The Best Of Both Worlds
The realm of the house DJ tends to be a pretty much male dominated environment. Not so for Honey Dijon. Hailing from the original home of house music (Chicago), and now living in the new capital of dance music (Berlin), she leans towards old school style. Think soul-inflected vocals and hip-house from a myriad of guest vocalists backed by old analog sounding synths. There’s even a track called 808 State Of Mind, paying homage to the famous Roland 808 keyboard. Single Thunda, featuring vocals by John Mendelsohn, is the meatiest track on the album, with its rolling bassline and brass synth stabs. Now, if her designers would only do something about that horrible album cover art next time around…
(Also download from the album: Burn, 808 State Of Mind, State Of Confusion)
Song: Three Futures
From album: Three Futures
Torres is Mackenzie Scott, a god-fearing Baptist from Georgia, USA. But on third album Three Futures you’d never say so based on the adult themes of both her music and videos. She drifts away from the loud/louder guitar based dynamic of previous outings, and no longer sings predominantly in her lower register. Scott has found her voice in more ways than one. Three Futures is awash with synth-flourished ballads and mid-tempo numbers. The third single and title track strikes a balance between these two poles, and is written from the perspective of a young man at the point of knowingly breaking his partner’s heart.
(Also download from the album: Skim, Bad Baby Pie, Helen In The Woods)
Song: I’m So Free
From album: Colors
Beck’s last album, Morning Phase, garnered universal acclaim and a bagful of Grammies. No one was more surprised at this than Beck himself (possibly except for Kanye that is). Morning Phase was by far his most straight-up release to date, filled with low-key acoustic pop. There were no Devil’s Haircuts or Losers to be found here.
His thirteenth album Colors is his quest for top 40 pop glory. Already 4 singles down and counting, he may as well go ahead and release all 10 tracks – they’re so bloody catchy. I’m So Free is the most immediate of them, and amazingly is not even one of the singles (yet). Fun, singalong stuff.
(Also download from the album: Up All Night, Dear Life, Dreams)
Song: Fluorescent Light
From album: There Is No Love In Fluorescent Light
Since 2000, Canadian band Stars has delivered 8 albums of superior, eloquent boy/girl pop. The boy in question (Torquil Campbell) is the cynical one, always singing as if something remains frustratingly just out of his reach. The girl (Amy Millan), is his foil, and you can almost sense her rolling her eyes in response. Musically, Stars barely break a sweat and tend to let the stunning melodies flow, never jarring. Fluorescent Light is the near title track and best single from said eighth album, and is a knowing, humorous reflection on how difficult it can be to experience genuine emotion in the increasingly artificial world around us.
(Also download from the album: Real Thing, On The Hills, California)
Song: I Wanna Be Like You
From album: Ash
Twin daughters of one of the members of the Buena Vista Social Club, Cubans Lisa-Kaindé and Naomi Diaz were raised in France. Like Nadine Shah (reviewed last month on Equilibrio) they sing of the real-life experiences of growing up a brown person in a predominantly white place. With a stellar list of guests (including Me’shell Ndegeocello, Kamasi Washington, Nigerian Yoruba drummers, and even Michelle Obama), the toned-down theatrics of their debut album suit them better. The new approach doesn’t lessen their impact however; even the almost danceable I Wanna Be Like You has lyrics that kick like a mule.
(Also download from the album: Deathless, When Will I Learn, Away Away)
In case you missed it…
Song: Fade Into You
From album: So Tonight That I Might See (from 1994)
Mazzy Star were a Californian dream pop band comprising guitarist David Roback and Mexican singer Hope Sandoval. It wasn’t until the second Mazzy Star album, So Tonight That I Might See, that they perfected their sound and simultaneously collided with the zeitgeist of mid 90s America. Their best-known song Fade Into You was only mildly successful on release, but has since grown in legacy to become a cult favorite. The song’s familiarity has also been boosted via its appearance on a few movie soundtracks and in numerous episodes of high-end television series. Slow, waltzed-timed, noir-Americana with a haunting melody that sticks in the memory long after the track has finished. Plus, what might just be the best use of pedal steel guitar ever.
(Also download from the album: Five String Serenade, She’s My Baby, Into Dust)
(RELATED POSTS: read our previous posts here)