As April comes to a close, here are 5 tracks I found irresistible for the last 30 days. Enjoy. Or don’t. You decide!
1. Lotus Plaza – “Strangers”
Though Lockett Pundt lacks the indie-ubiquity of his Deerhunter bandmate Bradford Cox, his second solo album under the Lotus Plaza moniker confirms his ability to write music that is big, catchy, and incredibly good. “Strangers,” the first single from Spooky Action at a Distance, finds its lineage in Pundt’s Deerhunter contributions (especially “Desire Lines”), but doesn’t sound like a leftover from any of their sessions. Guitars twinkle and shine in between one another beneath Pundt’s calming voice in pure pop perfection. I could have picked any track from Spooky Action, but “Strangers” stands out for the simple fact that after nearly a month, I still want to listen to this song multiple times a day.
2. Father John Misty – “Hollywood Forever Cemetery”
For such a spare, minimally composed song, “Hollywood Forever Cemetery” packs an immediate punch. While I’ve never been a big fan of Fleet Foxes (the reasons why could fill a separate blog post), former member J. Tillman adds a jagged edge to their simple formula to craft a song that has more power than it would seem at first listen. With just reverb soaked guitar and clattering drums, “Hollywood Forever Cemetery” is the kind of song you can listen to at both 2PM and 2AM and experience it differently each time. Equal parts catchy and dark, the song showcases Tillman’s ability to craft complicated ideas in simple arrangements with great effect. (The Aubrey Plaza-starring video makes for an awesome companion btw)
3. The Walkmen – “Heaven”
The Walkmen have come a long way from the the discontented 20-somethings that broke onto the scene with their fantastic second record Bows + Arrows. On 2010’s Lisbon, they finally found the middle ground between the fire and passion of “The Rat” and the gorgeous “We’ve Been Had,” and the lead, eponymous single from their newest effort finds them in an even more comfortable spot than before. Hamilton Leithauser still lets his uncertainties and doubts come to the fore, but they’re mixed in with a sound and feeling of contentment the band has yet to display. I don’t know when exactly The Walkmen became one of my favorite bands, but songs like “Heaven” verify why.
Stream “Heaven” here
4. MMoths – “Heart (Featuring Keep Shelly in Athens)”
While fans of louder, faster tempo jams might find “Heart” too slow and atmospheric, the standout track from the band’s self-titled debut has been in heavy rotation for me since first hearing it. Equal parts meditative and moving, “Heart” builds slowly to a drop that is subtle, but powerful. The song finds the middle ground between Grouper’s palette of washed out beauty and Beach House’s dreaminess, coming together to create a song that draws you in and becomes embedded in your mind.
5. The Death Grips – “Get Got”
I’m going to be completely honest and say I have no idea why I find this song as compelling and great as I do. Sometimes, a song just has intangible qualities that are hard to define, and “Get Got” is undoubtedly one of them. I don’t know if it’s the track’s wiley hook or frontman MC Ride’s seemingly disinterested snarl or even the inherent weirdness of the song that has kept it on repeat, but whatever it is, it works incredibly well.
Honorable Mentions: Screaming Females – “It All Means Nothing,” The Chromatics – “Kill for Love,” Breton – “Edward the Confessor,” Dirty Projectors – “Gun Has No Trigger,” Japandroids – “The House That Heaven Built”
Best Old Song Discovered Now: Grizzly Bear – “Easier (Alternative Edit)”
Daniel Rossen’s fantastic solo EP led me back to the welcoming embrace of Grizzly Bear, especially this alternate take on the opening track from 2006’s Yellow House. A b-side to the band’s breakthrough, “Knife,” this version of “Easier” features a different set of lyrics and some major arrangement changes that in many ways are superior to the album cut. This song isn’t just for obsessives like myself either. It’s a gorgeously arranged song with a level of emotional resonance that made the band’s name in the first place.