New Music Mondays | 10.16.17

It’s your favorite day! #NMM

‘Holy Mountain’ – Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds

“After two years of touring and recording since the release of his second album Chasing Yesterday, Noel Gallagher has returned (alongside his High Flying Birds) with the first single off of Who Built the Moon?, his upcoming third album. The former Oasis guitarist and chief songwriter has hinted at a shift in musical direction from his previous work. What was once a collection of songs whose driving force was mainly intricate lyrics and prominent drum beats is beginning to transform into a more experimental and psychedelic exploration. The album title itself, Who Built the Moon?, evokes a sense of celestial wonder and conspiracy. However, the band’s latest single release, ‘Holy Mountain’, fails to even present an inkling of this suggested experimentalism. Upon first glance, the track’s title seems to establish a certain theme of spirituality or abstractism; yet within the first five seconds, the arena-esque drum beat and accompanying horn section prove the listener wrong for judging this book by its cover. This brass-driven track has an exhilarating musical foundation that supports a slew of unfortunately corny lyrics of love and seduction that are most comparable to Gallagher’s lyrical abilities (or lack thereof) in the mid 1990s during the early development of Oasis. The opening line, ‘Dance dance, if you do that dance, I’m gonna let you join my one man band,’ foreshadows the banal lyrical content of the rest of the song and suggests a certain regression in the expressive originality of Gallagher’s incredibly successful 20+ year career. Without context for the rest of the album’s suggested themes, ‘Holy Mountain’ is an instrumentally enjoyable track that is weighed down by lines like ‘She had a look you won’t find in no book, and she smells like 1969.’ Fans of Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds can only hope that this single’s release was a plot to lower expectations to venerate the rest of the album in comparison. Who Built the Moon will be released on November 24.” – Jason Ebbs 

‘The Combine’ – John Maus

“On August 29th, John Maus released his first single since 2012’s A Collection of Rarities and Previously Unreleased Material, an album filled with exactly what it sounds like, in advance of his 5th LP Screen Memories, set for an October 27th release with Ribbon Music. The song, titled ‘The Combine,’ feels to me like a warm hug of Maus’s familiar synth-pop sound combined with his signature low, rough voice. In terms of instrumentation, Maus maintains the same style he’s become famous for, but in terms of lyrics and philosophical undertones — apart from being a musician, Maus also holds a PhD in philosophy — the song falls a little flat. The only lyrics are ‘I see the combine coming/it’s gonna dust us all to nothing’ in some variation, which isn’t really exciting or enough substance to read into, although it’s possible with the release of Screen Memories that the song will tie into a larger theme. What makes this song exciting is, yes, the sheer fact that Maus is back releasing music again after five years, but also Maus’s typical 1980’s pop sound integrated with something darker, almost haunting — the track is saturated with echoes and satisfying delays, nostalgic to ‘80s new wave and typical synthpop tracks, while also somehow leaving you unsettled in the best way.” – Caroline Smith

‘And Saints’ – Sleigh Bells

“Sleigh Bells is a Brooklyn-based noise pop duo made up of vocalist Alexis Krauss and guitarist-turned-producer Derek Miller. The two recently announced a new mini-album entitled Kid Kruschev, to be released on November 10th. ‘And Saints’ is the first single of this new project and features a slight stylistic change for Sleigh Bells. In the past, the group was known for their juxtaposition of Alexis Krauss’ dreamy vocals and simple pop hooks against walls of rythmic noise and blaring guitar riffs (See ‘Demons’ from their second album Reign of Terror for a great example). ‘And Saints,’ however, takes on a much softer tone. The track is airy and spacious, allowing room for Alexis Krauss to take over with her vocals. One thing ‘And Saints’ is particularly clever about is keeping Sleigh Bells fans on edge. Throughout the entire track, it feels like the signature Sleigh Bells’ onslaught of guitars could start any second, and then they don’t. It’s hard to say exactly what the idea behind releasing ‘And Saints’ as the first single for Kid Kruschev is, but I’d like to think it’s a warning from Sleigh Bells to be prepared for some stylistic shifts. It is interesting to note, however, that ‘And Saints’ is the closing track, which could influence its softer sound, but Sleigh Bells have hardly been timid with their album closers before, as can be seen from ‘As If,’ from their previous album Jessica Rabbit. Overall, ‘And Saints’ leaves me very excited for Kid Kruschev’s release because I believe this record could be their door to some much deserved critical recognition.” – Grant Foskett

‘Underdog’ – Banks

“Banks surprised fans at the end of September with the release of her new single ‘Underdog,’ just a year after her latest LP, The Altar. ‘Underdog’ may be a step in a new direction for Banks, as it features a more traditional, upbeat pop sound, opposed to her usual dark style of pop. Even the light colored artwork for the single shows a significant shift from Banks’ past work. Her sultry vocals are still seen in the verses of the song contrasting with her infectious falsetto in the chorus. Lyrically, ‘Underdog’ is a typical pop song about wanting a lost love back in your life as Banks repeats ‘come back in my bed / come back to heaven’ several times in the pre-chorus. The layered production is what makes ‘Underdog’ special and rooted in Banks’ past work. The intense build up from verse to pre-chorus to the explosion in the chorus is reminiscent of ‘Gemini Feed’ from 2016’s The Altar. The most interesting parts of ‘Underdog’ are the unusual noises Banks’ makes. She literally starts barking in the fourth line of the song and continues to do so throughout the single, which seems appropriate considering the title. The bark sounds like something that you may have heard from Nicki Minaj, but somehow works perfectly for Banks. This type of risk is what sets Banks apart from mainstream pop music right now. Whether ‘Underdog’ signals a change in Banks’ career, or not, she keeps listeners on their toes for what will come next.” – Emma Turney

‘Headphones’ – WALK THE MOON

“Walk the Moon has taken a complete 180 with their new song ‘Headphones’. The band said to expect a new sound, and this song delivered. ‘Headphones’ strays from the ’80s inspired synth-pop the band is known for and enters the instrumental-heavy grungy rock of the ’90s / early 2000s. This song puts less weight on Nicholas Petricca’s vocals and really focuses on music. Contrary to the title, ‘Headphones’ should NOT be listened through headphones. This song is fresh and exciting and goes to show you to expect the unexpected on their new Album What if Nothing out in early November.” – Marisa Kenny

‘Carry On’ – Daphni

“It’s been awhile since the last Caribou album. Too long, in my opinion. Thankfully, though, Caribou’s fans have something to tide themselves over for a while. Daphni, to be clear, is not the same as Caribou. They’re both the solo electronic projects of the same man, Dan Snaith. They share many similar qualities. Some people (not me) would argue that they sound just about exactly the same, but clearly Snaith wants us to keep these two projects separate in our minds, so here we are. To be fair, there are some significant differences between the two. Snaith’s music as Daphni is a streamlined, dance-oriented affair, as ‘Carry On’ demonstrates. This last single from Daphni’s new album Joli Mai is an artful piece of somnambulant dance music that’s well worth a few careful listens. The track struts along with a lean, repetitive drumbeat, some stuttering synth chords, and a bit of wordless wailing from Snaith. On the first listen, it seems almost disappointingly simple. But the deeper you look, the more you’ll find. Subtle ambient layers, electronic tweets and blips, and some delicate scratches of bass guitar somehow sneak in without so much as a hello, planting themselves in your mind like old memories. The song ends by gradually shutting off each built-up layer, making you aware of all the quiet elements coloring your perception of the song by pulling them out from under your feet. It’s a good representation of Joli Mai‘s well crafted minimalism, and a nice way to pass the time before the next Caribou album finally arrives.” – Craig Short

‘Pour Some Sugar on Me’ – Ninja Sex Party

One of the common complaints about Hair Metal is the fact that the lyrics are focused around very sleazy and explicit sexual metaphors. This is made worse by the fact that many of the performers lack sex appeal, making the feel of the music downright creepy to some. Well, I can’t say that the sexual metaphors are gone. However, if you want to make the performer sexier, do I have the solution for you. His name is Daniel Avidan, or as many know him ‘Danny Sexbang: The Sexiest Man Alive.’ The New Jersey native and BU dropout is the lead singer of the comedy/synth-pop duo Ninja Sex Party, and their upcoming album features a cover of Def Leppard’s 1988 smash ‘Pour Some Sugar On Me’ which was released this Thursday. What I love about this cover is how it wasn’t just a copy and paste cover with better production, or a run of the mill Boyce Avenue style acoustic version. NSP intelligently ups the tempo, adds moments of relative silence to let Avidan’s vocal performance really shine which, conversely, makes you appreciate when the other instruments come in. The cover also adds some colorful and bouncy new-wave synths under the fleet of electric guitars that are a staple in the genre. The bridge is my favorite part in this song, mostly thanks to NSP swapping out the original recordings’ jock-jam chanting for a more ambient 1990’s R&B bridge featuring electric piano and low bass. It’s almost like a song about crazy sex should be…sexy. NSP killed it on this one; this record is going to be fantastic. Oh yeah, did I mention that Danny’s friends that are in the music video are porn stars? Worth Mentioning.” – Matt Wikstrom

‘Oppsie’ – Good Morning

“It is time to wake up and introduce your ears to this under-the-radar band. With the band dropping two new singles earlier this fall, there’s no better time to become acclimated with the the Melbourne-based duo. Good Morning is comprised of Stefan Blair and Liam Parsons, who possess the capability to effortlessly trap listeners into a summer haze with a relatively minimalistic sound. The band’s recent release, ‘Oppsie’, entered the music world on September 15 on a duo single release titled ‘Step Aside / Oppsie.’ Compared to the majority of the bands’ other music, ‘Oppsie’ treads away from their standard Lo-Fi, DIY basement recording sound previously captured on Good Morning’s most recent album, Glory. However, the group is still able to maintain their hypnotic groove with their new music and slightly altered sound. Good Morning’s opening guitar riff on ‘Oppsie’ seduces listeners from the moment the song is played, slowly luring them into a dream state with the band’s layered lyrical repetition. In the best way possible, I feel as if I’ve entered an newfound existential crisis, wanting to only exist within the limits ‘Oppsie’ has to offer. After hearing both the new singles released by Good Morning, I’m at the edge of my seat waiting for a new album from the band. Until then, I guess I’ll be listening to their new singles on repeat.” – Maya Dengel

‘Pure Country’ – Father John Misty

“In this thoroughly post-modern climate of one so crippled as America, it seems that mental rest is far and few in between. Though the sacred chamber of music has been seemingly co-opted by political forces as of late, there has been a single glimmer of clarity; a single beacon of sagacity amongst the sheep. What began as a post-doc thesis turned flaming passion piece, ‘Pure Country’ is All-American singer/songwriter Josh Tillman’s homecoming to what really matters. Upon first listen, the grit and sheer blue-collar timbre of the vocal delivery awoke something deep inside me. All the anger and vexation I felt seemed to melt away — a sense of earnest love for my country and its people left in its place. The perplexing and soaring nature of each steel pedal guitar flung a rushing wave of American ethos into by being, coupled in harmony with that sweet, sweet Hammond sound. There is no doubt that this is the father’s work, clear and plain. What Mr. Tillman wants us to understand is that we are all of the same stardust. When it gets down to it, such a uniting force as down-home dixie finds a home in each and every one of us. We are all one: amalgamated in honesty, morality, and in essence, ‘Pure Country’.” – Andrew Goldberg

‘Here We Are Again’ – Ella Grace

“‘Here We Go Again’ is another single by Ella Grace, a 22 year-old independent artist from London. The song is the latest single in a string of indie, acoustic releases. Accompanied by birds chirping and a subtle rain pattern, it’s a peaceful and content listen. Despite Grace’s penchant for singing about roads, journeys and the phrase ‘my friend,’ which can get a bit repetitive, this song remains a sweet listen for anyone who wants to put on a pair of earphones, lie in Centennial, and stare at the drifting clouds.” – Catalina Berretta

‘Fermata’ – Sorority Noise

“Sorority Noise cemented their place in the emo-rock rival long ago. With a trilogy of worthwhile pop-punk albums already released, the band finds themselves changing their pace a bit on the new two song EP Alone. Both ‘Week 51’ and ‘Fermata’ are much more reserved than the band’s past work. You won’t find frontman Cameron Boucher screaming his heart out on either track, but he’s still wearing his heart on his sleeve. Cameron is no stranger when it comes to exploring personal loss in his music. Much of the emotional subject matter on the band’s previous album stems from the loss of several of his friends to overdose and suicide. This loss continues to guide Cameron’s songwriting in ‘Fermata,’ as he sings ‘It is not about me / What can I do to make you see / I am lucky just to know you’re alive? / Before you leave, make sure the door’s locked twice.’ These lyrics are all the more impactful with Cameron’s personal history in mind. He’s happy just knowing that his significant other is alive, but the strained relationship seems to be ending nonetheless. Relationships and break-ups are typical fodder for emo ballads, but Sorority Noise offers a different perspective here by demonstrating that past struggles can inform current ones, adding weight to subjects that might seem superficial on the surface.” – Isaac Shur

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