It’s amazing to think about how far Katy Goodman has come in the last few years. Her work in Vivian Girls may have brought her to our attention, but her solo efforts as La Sera have allowed us to see a different side of her talents. Not everything she’s done in either project has been perfect, but it’s all been dynamic and interesting. “Losing to the Dark” is the first single off the third La Sera album Hour of the Dawn (out May 13th), and it does a fantastic job of blending some of the best elements from all of her previous work. The track sounds polished but with some nice touches of grit, which adds character. The distortion on the guitar helps a bit as well, and is insistent enough to make you want to turn the volume up just high enough that it might damage your hearing. That’s a good thing. Toss in the quick tempo and straightforward melody, and you get something fun, catchy and kinda perfect for driving. Before you know it, three minutes have passed, the chorus is stuck in your head, and you’re ready to hit the play button again. The world could use more songs like this.
Category: song of the week
If you could create a musical baby between James Blake and Massive Attack, it would probably come out sounding pretty close to what Movement is doing right now. They’re the sort of band that likes to blur the lines between genres and refuse to be easily pinned down, though you can suss out a few major themes in both this song “Like Lust” and the track “Us,” which they released last fall. Both are intensely beat driven, dark grooves that contain multitudes of subtext beyond what you might otherwise pick up on with just a single listen. Similar things can be said about the vocals, which are soft but hint at an intensity and passion, particularly as the line, “When it feels like lust,” fades in and out, symbolically rising to the occasion. The buildup for the synths is noteworthy as well for how it changes the direction of the song ever so slightly to keep you invested for about a minute longer than what might seem reasonable. With tour dates supporting sonic cousins Darkside and their debut EP out in April, Movement have rightly earned themselves a position as a band to watch. Let’s hope they keep cranking out tracks as good as the ones we’ve heard so far.
One of the best and worst things about Real Estate is that you can turn on any of their songs and instantly know who it is. The benefits are obviously the ease of recognition; that they have such a distinctive sound and style that you can pick them out of a crowd. Where things turn potentially bad is that with their third full length coming out soon, the idea of forward progression and general sonic evolution appears to elude them to a degree. Put this new song “Crime” on a playlist next to “Suburban Beverage” from their first album, and to the untrained ear they could easily have come from the same record, no matter if it was recorded in 2009 or 2014. Yet maybe the reason why Real Estate continues to pull from the same proverbial sun-soaked and lackadaisical mine a few years later is because it has yet to grow tired or stale. In many ways the music they make is born out of time, and with a clear lack of other artists following in their wake to drive the sound into oblivion, there’s no need to move from their current plane of existence. At least not yet. Looking at the guitar tabs for “Crime,” which the band kindly released in lieu of today’s traditional lyric video, it becomes instantly clear that as relaxed and practically minimal as their melodies may sound, there’s a lot more complexity to them than you might think. Maybe they really have been evolving this whole time in the most subtle and interesting ways, and we’re the criminals for not paying close enough attention to truly notice.
Dave Portner, aka Avey Tare, has made plenty of fascinating music as a member of Animal Collective, not to mention outside of that band as a solo artist. Avey Tare’s Slasher Flicks is his third project, but if you’ve heard anything he’s done previously then what he’s bringing to the table here isn’t a whole lot different. The good news though is that it is diverse and different enough to justify creating a whole new band to put it together. At the same time, whitewashed, fun house psychedelia seems to be a specialty of Portner’s, and it’s almost always a great idea to play to your strengths. So with this track “Little Fang,” the first audio we’ve heard from this new band and from the forthcoming record Enter the Slasher House, we get that tricky blend of strange and trippy composition complete with modulated vocals and stray sound effects. Yet unlike anything else, there’s an extreme clarity and straightforward approach to the song that makes it remarkably easy to digest. For my money, it’s one of the most commercially accessible and catchy things that Portner has ever done, and he’s managed to pull it off without diminishing expectations or sacrificing key elements of his work. If you didn’t know any better, it’d be remarkably easy to confuse it with something by Of Montreal or Ariel Pink. There’s no guarantee the entire record will sound this way, but at the very least it’s a strong introduction to this brand new band.
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Song of the Week is a new Friday feature on Faronheit that gives a closer, more in depth look/analysis of a song rather than simply handing it over to your ears. You are invited to share your own thoughts on the Song of the Week in the comments section.
As a guitar virtuoso, it makes perfect sense that Annie Clark places her focus on that element and her vocals for any given St. Vincent song. It’s been that way since the very beginning, though the dynamics of it have changed dramatically over time as Clark has continued to grow as an artist. As a preview to her forthcoming self-titled debut album (out Feb. 25th), “Prince Johnny” flips the script on the listener just a bit by placing an incredibly large amount of emphasis on the beats and percussion. It completely overwhelms everything in the mix except for the vocals, to the point where you might not even notice the bass guitar sliding in at the :20 mark or the initial electric guitar at :40. Only during the chorus does Clark’s guitar come roaring to life to help establish what will become the hook. She’s done something similar before, perhaps most notably on the Strange Mercy single “Cruel,” however there were a lot of other elements playing off one another in that track so the lack of guitar didn’t seem so important. Also, the “Cruel” chorus hit within 30 seconds, whereas “Prince Johnny” takes nearly 3x as long to get there. What does all this mean? Well, it provides a small glimmer of hope that the new record will be more than just a bunch of Clark’s previous work revamped to sound fresh, which is in part what the other two tracks released from the album so far may have implied. A bolder emphasis on beats and other digital elements also plays into the larger themes of the record, slowly stripping away the shreds of our humanity as we become increasingly reliant on technology to do the work for us. When it’s all over, perhaps even Clark’s voice will wind up proverbially buried underneath a pile of noise. We’re just going to have to wait and see on that one.