Will Schube is voting for Mitski in 2016.
POW obviously slants towards rap music. Most of y’all reading it are here for that. But every once in a while a few of us manage to sneak some rock and folk through the cracks. It’s all very good stuff, but I’m gonna try to streamline it for the rap die hards. There will be occasional rock stuff as always (especially from resident expert Douglas Martin and his Dirty Shoes) but there will also be this. And this is a bi-weekly (-ish, depending on how much good stuff comes out in between these two week periods) rock/folk column highlighting a few new tunes/videos/albums that are particularly wonderful yet not necessarily POTW material. Firstly, ten albums not mentioned by me on this site that are very, very good. My favorites of the year thus far.
1. Mitski—Puberty 2
2. Steve Gunn—Eyes on the Line
3. Whitney—Light Upon the Lake
4. William Tyler—Modern Country
5. Woods—City Sun Eater in the River of Light
6. Terry Allen—Juarez (Re-Issue)
7. The Skiffle Players—Skifflin’
9. Car Seat Headrest—Teens of Denial
And now here’s the good stuff from the first part of July.
Everybody Wants Some!!– Original Soundtrack
In which Richard Linklater kindly and tidily rolls up the ’80s into one nice, two disc set for our consumption. The soundtrack was released last Friday, giving second life to a highly enjoyable if not slightly underwhelming film. We discussed it a bit here, but one thing Linklater’s soundtracks always do is remind you precisely how fantastic his musical curatorial ability is.
Linklater’s musical knowledge decade-by-decade seems to be nearly as encyclopedic as his sense of cinematic history, and his period films are littered with songs signifying entire eras. Dazed and Confused is full of ’70s rock-fueled testosterone, and Boyhood’s pace practically revolves around the early 2000s soundtrack pushing the story into present day.
Everybody Wants Some!! is no different. Hits from Van Halen, the Cars, Blondie, plus a crucial opening scene rendition of “My Sharona.” It’s another great soundtrack, and while it may not be the cult classic Dazed and Confused ended up being, EWS!! is still a fun time. You can thank the music for that.
Ryley Walker– “The Roundabout”
When Ryley Walker released his very good Dead Oceans debut, Primrose Green, in 2014, he sounded more like the sum of his influences than a musician able to turn those influences into something original. But with time comes maturity (so they say…I’m still fighting the good fight) and Ryley Walker has turned himself into one of the best songwriters we have. His forthcoming album, Golden Sings that Have Been Sung (not a typo), is tremendous, and one of its finer moments is the recently released single, “The Roundabout.”
On Primrose, Walker opted for lyrics based around sounds rather than words. It was more Van Morrison than Dave Berman. On Golden Sings, Walker puts a singular importance on words—both funny and sad, vague and hyper-specific. On “The Roundabout,” the realization comes sardonically: “Can I buy you a drink, my credit is quite shit, we can all laugh and have tap water.” It sucks but it’s painfully familiar so you chuckle along. At least the music is great.
Natural Child– “Now and Then”
A solid song by a sturdy band. Not particularly glamorous, but it’s great bar rock. And just a friendly reminder, Hold Steady isn’t the only bar rock that exists…”Now and Then” sounds like The Band drunk on whiskey at 2 in the morning. The track has everything you need. A sweet guitar solo, vocal harmonies, a punching bassline, and self-deprecating lyrics. Perfect for singing too loudly after a few too many.
Wild Beasts– “Celestial Creatures”
I’ve been breathlessly waiting for a new LP from Wild Beasts; for my money one of the most underrated bands of the past ten years. They’re the rare group that manages to innovate while still sounding distinctly rooted in a sound. Apparently I blinked because the band announced a new album along with three singles before I realized what happened.
The latest is “Celestial Creatures,” a slinking, sex-funk crusade that lingers mentally long past its duration. Singer Hayden Thorpe’s voice is always somehow both scathing and operatic, and “Celestial Creatures” is the latest in this haunting tradition.
Cass McCombs– “Run Sister Run”
Cass McCombs sing-talking David Byrne style is the best thing around. I had yet to realize this before the release of his latest single, “Run Sister Run,” but now there’s nothing I’m more sure of.
“Run Sister Run” is the second released track from the forthcoming Mangy Love, Cass’ eighth album and first for Anti Records. While McCombs spent the first part of 2016 crafting Dead-era folk rock with The Skiffle Players (see the above list), he found enough time to also make perhaps the finest solo LP of his extraordinarily solid career. “Run Sister Run” is just weird enough to stand out amongst McCombs’ most consistent songwriting while still sounding logically in step…What Cass does best.