Single & Lovin' It, Vol. 8

by Mixtape Mandi

Every week, we compile a list of singles you need to have in your headphones right now. Specially curated by Mixtape Mandi, welcome to Single & Lovin' It for the week of June 26th. Missed last week's? Check it out here!

Toronto's Broken Social Scene released "Stay Happy," the fourth song from their upcoming album Hug of Thunder, led by the vocals of newcomer Ariel Engle. Produced by Joe Chiccarelli and mixed by Shawn Everett, Hug Of Thunder is everything BSS fans love from the Canadian collective and then some: an album overflowing with glorious open chords, multi-voice harmonies, spacious psychedelia-tinted breakdowns, and more.  It is a panoramic, expansive album that manages to be both epic and intimate; and like all things BSS, in troubled times, it offers a serotonin rush of positivity.  Since their inception in the early 2000s, the band has always pushed sonic boundaries while remaining reverent of a perfect chorus; almost twenty years down the line, Hug Of Thunder sharpens that balance. The record's twelve songs refract the band's varying emotions, methods, and techniques in ways that not only reference their other albums, but surpass them. Hug Of Thunder is righteous but warm, angry but loving, melodic but uncompromising.  If you've ever fallen in love with Broken Social Scene — as many of us have — it is a perfect return that was truly worth the wait. Hug of Thunder is out via Arts & Crafts on July 7th. 

"Stay Happy" by Broken Social Scene

Bearing witness to the baroque clusterfuckery of the world is no longer voluntary. We are all forced to watch. Every possible catastrophe vibrates in our pockets, demanding to be witnessed. In his second album, Forced Witnessout September 8th on Secretly Canadian, Alex Cameron’s solution to the difficulties we face is a danceable and dangerous earnestness, a sense of honesty that heals and relieves even as it cleaves us or makes us laugh in self-defense. He’s offering us vivid portraits of misfits who look at the world without illusion. Recorded in Berlin, Los Angeles, and Las Vegas and produced by Cameron along with Foxygen’s Jonathan Rado, these tracks at first seem shamelessly entertaining, the driving rhythms and rousing melodies embellished at every turn by Roy Molloy’s warm hornwork. But the love songs and anthems of personal resilience contain as much raw humanity as they do a savvy grasp of the impossible loneliness of the times, especially apparent in the song, "Candy May," which features Angel Olsen on backup vocals. If there is darkness in these songs, it is not because taboos can titillate but because Cameron knows that confession has a redeeming power and that people are often at their most startlingly beautiful when their skies have fallen. These songs are alive with the rich detail of life lived and the radical distinctiveness of the stories they tell feel universal. In these chaotic times when we aren't able to look away, Cameron is offering us a pure account of the world as he's seen it.

"Candy May" by Alex Cameron

"Cameo" by Childhood

The gorgeous, lilting "Cameo" is the perfect complement to the Childhood record's sun-drenched lead single "Californian Light." Recorded in Atlanta across the summer of 2016 where the band decamped for a month, it was produced by the legendary Ben H Allen III (Gnarls Barkley, Animal Collective, Deerhunter) who struck up quite the creative partnership with ringleader Ben Romans-Hopscraft. You could be forgiven for branding Universal High a rebirth. In places almost unrecognizable from the dub-charged psychedelic indie of their debut, the new sound swells from the southern streets in which it came to life, caked in the '70s soul of The Isley Brothers, Curtis Mayfield, and Shuggie Otis. Since the first album, Romans-Hopscraft has evolved into something of an auteur, with numerous collaborations under his belt as both a producer, recurrently alongside new regular comrade Sean Lennon, as well as numerous team-ups with Fat White Family's Saul Adamczewski.

"I Will Spite Survive" by Deerhoof

Deerhoof announced their new album Mountain Moves will be released September 8th on Joyful Noise Recordings. Mountain Moves is comprised of 12 original songs and three covers, and was recorded, performed, and produced by Deerhoof's Greg Saunier, Ed Rodriguez, Satomi Matsuzaki, and John Dieterich, with the Children of Hoof Radio & Television Orchestra. Mountain Moves features Stereolab's Læticia Sadier, Awkwafina, Juana Molina, Xenia Rubinos, Matana Roberts, and new single "I Will Spite Survive" features Jenn Wasner. Though Deerhoof have often made albums from start to finish with virtually no input from the outside world, now is not the time for artists to operate in isolation. Mountain Moves throws the doors wide open. Working quickly, the band invited myriad guests to participate, some of them dear friends, others practically strangers. They are of different ages, different nationalities, different disciplines. The only common thread was that each and every artist on Mountain Moves doesn't fit into a single, neatly-defined category — and doesn't wish to. The results, as expected, were unexpected. Guide vocals and simple melodies were dispatched via email, only to be answered with an outpouring of alternate harmonies, suggestions for arrangements, additional instrumentation. Every file received triggered a new rush of jumbled emotions. Some guests crafted their contributions in the small hours of the dawn, toiling in hotel rooms before driving eight hours to the next tour date; others hopped on the subway and recorded with the band in-person.  

"Moon" by Blood Cultures

New Jersey's Blood Cultures returns after the celebrated release of the hazy-yet-sparkling single "Indian Summer" and an extended hiatus with newfound focus. Today, Blood Cultures shares a new tropical meets psychedelic synth infused single, "Moon," and announces a forthcoming debut album Happy Birthday, due out on July 21st. "Moon" promises to take listeners on an adventure with its buoyant synths, rhythmic beats, and reverb-laden vocals that create a surreal sound menagerie. Fans of Washed Out and Toro Y Moi will love how this drenched, synth-filled psychedelic tune lifts you into the atmosphere and cradles you into lush bliss.

"Dog" by Widowspeak

Widowspeak are excited to announce the August 25th release of a new album, Expect The Best, via Captured Tracks. Widowspeak's Molly Hamilton describes new single "Dog" as being "about the compulsion to move on from things and places, even people, when you're not necessarily ready to. Sometimes, I get caught up in 'the grass is always greener' mentalities, or cling to an idea that 'I'd be happy if...' and then make a drastic change. Then, inevitably, I feel restless a few months later and it starts again."

 

On Expect The Best, Widowspeak use familiar aesthetics as a narrative device, a purposeful nostalgic backdrop for songs that ask, "How did we get here?" Sonically, they exist somewhere in the overlap between somber indie rock, dream pop, slow-core and their own invented genre, "cowboy grunge." At the heart of the band, there is a palpable duality, a push and pull between the delicate and the deliberate: the contrast of Hamilton's strikingly beautiful voice and poignant melodies with the terrestrial reality of being a four-piece rock band. Expect the Best sees Widowspeak finding their greatest balance between opposing forces: darkness and light, quiet and loud, tension and calm.  The album is Widowspeak's heaviest record to date, but never loses the sense of quiet intimacy that they are known for. 

"Plum" by Wand

Los Angeles-based Wand announce the release of Plum, out September 22nd via Drag City Records, as well as lead single, "Plum." Plum is Wand’s fourth LP since the band formed in late 2013, but their first new album since 2015. After a whirlwind first two years of writing, recording, and touring, their newest document focuses teeming, dense, at times wildly multi-chromatic sounds into Wand’s most deliberate statement to date, with a long evening’s shadow of loss and longing hovering above the proceedings. In late winter of 2016, the band expanded their core membership to include two new members. The change in lineup naturally led to a shift in working method. The songwriting process was relocated to the practice space, where for several months on and off the band improvised, while recording and archiving as much as they could manage. And while previously Wand songs had often been brought to the group substantially formed by Cory Hanson, now seedling songs were harvested from a growing cloudbank of improvised material, then fleshed out and negotiated collectively. This new process demanded more honest communication, more vulnerability, better boundaries, more mercy and persistence during a year that meanwhile delivered a heaping serving of romantic, familial and political heartbreak for everyone involved. The resulting Plum delicately locates the band’s tangent of escape from the comfortable shallows of genre anachronism.

"While I Was Asleep" by Darling West

The last twelve months of Darling West's musical career can't be described as anything other than fantastic. Since the release of their second album, Vinyl and a Heartache, they have played concerts all over the world, been playlisted on the biggest radio stations in Norway, appeared on the Top 100 Country charts in the US, amassed more than 2.5 million plays on Spotify, been booked for the biggest festivals in Norway, Americanafest in Nashville, and won a Norwegian Grammy. Despite all this, the band has no plans of resting on their laurels, and now they’re releasing a new song from an album they plan to release in early 2018: "While I Was Asleep," recorded with Bård Ingebrigtsen in Amper Tone Studios in Oslo and mixed by Marcus Forsgren (Jaga Jazzist). This is the sound of a new and revitalized Darling West. The band is still playing their sweet Americana country-folk, but there’s a lot more drive in the music and the melodies are catchier than before. The band said "While I Was Asleep" began in Brooklyn and finished in the Ål mountains. It’s a song where Mari’s pop sense created the lovely chorus, with elements of light country-psychedelia in the rest of the song.

"Impostor!" by The Technicolors

Phoenix-based band The Technicolors' forthcoming album Metaphysical, out July 7th, focuses on "a void"— the one between where its frontman, Brennan Smiley, is and where he'd like to go. New single "Impostor!" seems to encapsulate this concept. "The song is about everyone's constant need of explanation for everything," says Smiley. "Everyone wants you to explain yourself, tell why you did something a certain way, as opposed to just feelin' it and letting it move you, or maybe challenge you to think differently."

 

Fittingly for of summer, "Impostor!" is a roll-your-windows-down tune. The guitar intro has a '90s rock grittiness and bite that sets the tone, and next comes Smiley's Julian Casablancas-esque voice — a softer swoon that creates a needed contrast for the song to flow (and makes it ideal to leave on repeat). Smiley says the track started simply with a guitar riff, courtesy of guitarist and vocalist Sean Silverman. The lyrics came later when Smiley was sitting in an un-air conditioned room in the thick of an Arizona summer. He watched an early-2000s Magic Tricks Revealed documentary in the guest room of the studio the where the band was recording, and realized he would have to sing "Impostor!" the next morning. He didn't have any lyrics — yet. "I started literally sweating out the most ridiculous lines ever," recalls Smiley. "The last line of the second verse is about making an elephant disappear." Smiley wrote the lyrics in about five minutes, and the track's guitar riffs ultimately powered Metaphysical as a whole.

"Porcelain" by Ayo River

Atlanta-based indie pop project Ayo River announced their debut LP, Failed State, due out in August 2017. Ayo River’s lead single "Porcelain" is a lean and flowing example of Ayo River's music, akin to early Death Cab for Cutie. The album was recorded over a span of two years in Athens, Georgia, where songwriter Weston Taylor elicited the production and engineering skills of multi-instrumentalist Matt Martin (Faye Webster), who also performs drums and bass on many tracks. The album was produced at Chase Park Transduction Studios (Deerhunter, Bright Eyes, Queens Of The Stone Age, Animal Collective, REM). The LP was mastered by TW Walsh (Sufjan Stevens, The Shins, Cold War Kids, Death Cab For Cutie). Ayo River, a moniker used by songwriter Taylor, is a project that deeply intersects his personal narrative with the constant underlying relationships and connectedness of the modern world. Taylor's artistic passions have been displayed through various mediums throughout his life, but his desire to tell stories remains a constant in all his art. Failed State is about a moment when something stops working and it becomes apparent that there must be change to move on. It's about the feeling when the party of your youth is over, when the relationships you once held dear have disintegrated, but the Internet won’t let you look away. It's about feeling like life is everyone vs. you. It's a collection of songs containing poignant stories and experiences from his life — a car crash that awoke him from an existential coma, a breakup that made him sick in the street, and his personal relationship with hip-hop in Atlanta.

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