YUNG - "PILLS"
What are the dreams of a youth that never makes time to rest? For 21-year-old Yung frontman Mikkel Holm Silkjær, a Danish DIY figurehead who has left a catalogue of cassettes and self-produced songs in his wake, the goal seemed to be recording, and living, as fast as possible. Writing and performing songs filled with gritty guitar and driving rhythms that snap like a live wire, he’s been busy channeling the electric drive of youth, creating brief, flashing sonic portraits of his life in Aarhus, the country’s gritty, industrial second city. That makes the music on the reflective A Youthful Dream, the debut album from Yung out June 10th on Fat Possum, such a revelation. Angst makes space for wisdom, youthful exuberance begins channeling road-tested experience, and a blur of basement shows and self-produced bromides becomes something more. DIY doesn’t mean unrefined, it just means personal. And at a point where inertia made way for introspection, Silkjær showcased a new degree of songwriting craft and sonic experimentation, and a new perspective on everyday life and young adulthood. Listen to “Pill,” the first single from A Youthful Dream.
MITSKI - "YOUR BEST AMERICAN GIRL"
Ask Mitski Miyawaki about happiness and she'll warn you: “Happiness fucks you.” It's a lesson that's been present in her work for years, but never so powerfully as on Mitski’s newest album, Puberty 2, out June 17th via Dead Oceans. On Puberty 2, that tension is palpable: a both beautiful and brutal romantic hinterland, in which a fierce new voice hits a brave new stride. The follow-up to 2014's Bury Me At Makeout Creek, Puberty 2 picks up where its predecessor left off. Musically, there are subtle evolutions: electronic drum machines pulse throughout beneath Pixies-ish guitars, while saxophone lights up its opening track. In terms of message though, the 25-year-old cuts the same defiant, feminist figure on Puberty 2 that has previously won her acclaim. Born in Japan, Mitski grew up surrounded by her father's Smithsonian folk recordings and mother's 1970s Japanese pop CDs in a family that moved frequently: she spent stints in the Democratic Republic of Congo, Malaysia, China and Turkey among other countries before coming to New York to study composition at SUNY Purchase. She reflects now on feeling “half Japanese, half American but not fully either” – a feeling she confronts on clever debut single, “Your Best American Girl” – a super-sized punk-rock number where she “hammed up the tropes” to deconstruct and poke fun at that genre's surplus of white males. “I wanted to use those white-American-guy stereotypes as a Japanese girl who can't fit in, who can never be an American girl,” she explains.
JOLLY MARE - "TEMPER"
Fabrizio Martina, the man behind Jolly Mare, is a multi-instrumentalist and champion turntablist, with a master degree in Mechanical Engineering and a PhD in Vibration Dynamics under his belt. Nicknamed ‘the new face of Italian disco’, he’s currently a full time producer and DJ, taking part in festivals across Europe from Sonar to Harvey’s Discotheque Stage at Bestival. A graduate of Red Bull Music Academy in New York, he has opened acts from Masters at Work to Roy Ayers, worked with the likes of Soul Clap and Thundercat, and has already been featured in the likes of Pitchfork, Mixmag and Okayplayer with his dream-like brand of electro-funk, disco and house. Jolly Mare’s debut album Mechanics was conceived as a conceptual journey through the mechanics of groove and the dynamics of love. Featuring dew-eyed disco jams, Jolly Mare takes you on aural journey through a blackhole of futuristic funk and fresh, twinkling midnight beats - complete with crunchy, choppy bass riffs and plenty of jazzy synth action that’s bound to have you up and dancing. Jolly Mare has shared the first single “Temper” from his forthcoming Mechanics album, out April 8th via Bastard Jazz Recordings.
MUTUAL BENEFIT - "NOT FOR NOTHING"
Skip a Sinking Stone, the new album by Mutual Benefit (aka Jordan Lee) is a two-part meditation on impermanence that also acts as a portrait of growing up. Mutual Benefit’s work has been praised as being vulnerable and warmhearted. This new album, his debut for Mom+Pop, has a similar sensibility, patiently built from carefully chosen lines illustrated by lush astral folk and intricately composed arrangements that manage to appear effortless. Skip a Sinking Stone takes place after the success of Mutual Benefit’s debut studio full-length, Love’s Crushing Diamond, with Lee settled into a life that passes as steady. The first half of the record, awash in warm string arrangements and hope, is written about the year that followed: Mutual Benefit’s rotating cast of friends and collaborators is touring non-stop, playing professional stages and festivals, and Lee is in love. The second half of the album finds Lee in New York, in a rare position of having the time and resources to work on the new record full-time. Each stone ultimately sinks, but, as Lee sings on the album’s zenith, as the cycle ends and repeats again, all we can do is maintain the hope that it’s “Not For Nothing.” Mutual Benefit’s Skip a Sinking Stone is out May 20th on Mom+Pop.
PITY SEX - "BONHOMIE"
Ann Arbor quartet Pity Sex shares "Bonhomie," the third new song from their forthcoming second album White Hot Moon out April 29th on Run For Cover, and confirmed a headlining North American tour. A duet split between singers and guitarists Britty Drake and Brennan Greaves, "Bonhomie" spins romantic longing into a fully fledged fists-in-the-air anthem driven by the explosive rhythm section of Sean St. Charles and bassist Brandan Pierce. Produced by Will Yip, White Hot Moon is the most adventurous and monumental Pity Sex album to date. If White Hot Moon wears its ambition on its sleeve, that's by design: the band looked to wide-screen albums by Yo La Tengo and Sonic Youth for inspiration. By working with familiar sounds and transforming them into fresh creations, Pity Sex makes their judicious experiments more stark in comparison.
MORLY - "IF ONLY CHORDS"
Morly has announced her new EP, Something More Holy, which is set for a worldwide release on April 8th via Cascine, and is the follow up to her acclaimed one-off single "The Choir," and debut project In Defense of My Muse. Something More Holy, the first collaborative release of Morly's, leads with the moving track "If Only Chords," which is a testament to the Minnesota born singer, multi-instrumentalist and producer's exceptional sense for melody. Known for her minimalist and mostly instrumental approach to creating music, "If Only Chords" demonstrates Morly evolving her lo-fi sound and songwriting ability, as the new single soars with textured pop elements. Morly expressed, "This EP was quite literally a process of finding my voice-discovering how I sing technically, emotionally, and lyrically; but also discovering myself in the context of collaborating with someone else." Morly continues, "Being so used to working alone, collaborating with my good friend Stint forced me to learn how to communicate what sort of sonic space I wanted to create and also know when to trust someone else's artistry. Working with him actually helped me to understand myself more as an artist-how I create, what I like, what I have to say."
THROWS - "THE HARBOUR"
Brand new Full Time Hobby signings THROWS share their debut single “The Harbour.” Recorded, aptly, at their Reykjavik studio in the town’s industrial old fishing harbor, it was an experience the pair say left them feeling “refreshed and powerful”. Through the studio’s big windows over-looking the sea, synths and a trove of old guitars came to make up a track that somehow manages to be ghostly and galloping in equal measure. As for the memorable video itself, the band explains: “The Harbour is an Ode to being true to yourself and if people can't deal with the true you, then they're not the people for you. Hold on to the strange and wondrous wonky parts of your personality, and treasure those parts of your loved ones.” Expect more from THROWS in the near future.
ORACLE NORTH - "UNDERZONE"
Having previously collaborated on numerous projects and having released material on labels such as Kitsuné and Palms Out Sounds, Swedish four-piece Oracle North are currently getting ready to release their second EP. Drawing inspiration from life-embracing warm and ambient soundscapes and colder forms of new-wave and punk, their new EP moves around themes as loss and alienation but never hits a dead end, rather a supposition for rebirth, for becoming your own origin. Underzone is a natural evolution from the band’s previous EP Communion, still heavily rooted in the Factory Records-era post-punk the new EP moves towards the earlier days with a much more industrial feel, whilst seamlessly blending in retro dark-wave textures and 80’s infused electronic sections to merge and create an EP full of rich yet dark, atmospheric colors and an orchestrated bohemian individuality. Dark but uplifting vocals take centre stage in tracks such as “Underzone,” supported by post-punk instrumentation that occasionally flirts with experimental yet melodic electronic sections. The EP explores unforgiving anxiety and flirts with an almost impending doom, whilst still managing to infuse a strong feeling of hope, or perhaps more appropriately survival.
SUUNS - "PARALYZER"
Suuns have shared the second single, “Paralyzer,” from their forthcoming album, Hold/Still, due out April 15th on Secretly Canadian. With the single comes the second in a trilogy of videos directed by Charles-André Codérre. Suuns’ first two singles from Hold/Still are an appropriate introduction to the album as a whole and the accompanying remixes work in lockstep with the originals showcasing the band’s new, adventurous electronic sound. With the help of John Congleton (St Vincent, The War On Drugs, Sleater-Kinney), Suuns have created an enigmatic thing: an eerily beautiful, meticulously played suite of music that embraces opposites and makes a virtue of cognitive dissonance. The eleven songs within are simultaneously psychedelic, but austere; sensual, but cold; organic, but electronic; tense sometimes to the brink of mania, but always retaining perfect poise and control. The result is undoubtedly Suuns’ most focused album to date, the sound of a band crafting a guitar music that feels unbeholden to clear traditions or genre brackets.
RJD2 - "WE COME ALIVE" FEAT. SON LITTLE
Dame Fortune, the sixth studio album by veteran producer and crate-digger extraordinaire RJD2, is streaked with Philadelphia’s reputation for deeply felt soul music while maintaining a playful sense of adventurousness. No song better represents this than the album’s slinky centerpiece, “We Come Alive” featuring Son Little (aka Aaron Livingston). Working together in various entities, most recently the duo’s Icebird project, the producer and guest vocalist have a creative connection easily recognized by the strength of this standout single. As described by RJ, “Our musical tastes are very similar—he can go from Black Sabbath to Dennis Brown and not miss a beat. We work very well together." Dame Fortune was recorded over the past year while living in Philadelphia before RJD2 moved back to his hometown of Columbus, Ohio. In addition to Son Little, the thought-provoking, yet deliciously entertaining album features guest vocals by Jordan Brown, Blueprint and frequent collaborator Phonte, while also presenting the bombastic hip-hop sound that marked RJD2's breakthrough album, Deadringer, and even an orchestral composition for the societal unrest experienced in this day and age. Dame Fortune is out March 25th on RJ’s Electrical Connections.