We’re quickly racing towards the heart of summer, which is exciting and terrifying at the same time. I mean, good times and all, but wasn’t it just spring like a week ago? Here are some new tunes to help the time fly by even faster. Don’t miss downloads in this set from Blake Banks, DreamVacation, Karen & the Sorrows, and Kazyak. In the Soundcloud section after the jump, stream songs from Blood Cultures, Comedienne, Foxygen (covering Jessica Pratt), Guided By Voices, Heems, Kintaro, Super Duper (ft. Daniella Mason), The Van T’s, Wu-Tang Clan, Xan Griffin (ft. Emilia Ali), and more!
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On Friday night, Chicago’s own BONZIE (aka Nina Ferraro) held a record release show at Schubas to celebrate her excellent second album Zone On Nine. It was a wonderful and emotional set filled with powerful songs that pushed beyond the boundaries of traditional singer-songwriter expectations. In an industry full of easy to categorize artists, BONZIE stands out with her unique perspective, captivating voice and experimental arrangements. That she’s chosen to remain independent in spite of offers from record labels speaks volumes about the value she places on independence and doing things her own way. It’s worked well so far, and connected her with local legends such as producer Steve Albini and Tortoise’s John McEntire, as well as international notables including Portishead’s Adrian Utley.
The writing and recording of Zone On Nine took BONZIE on a lengthy journey across oceans and to a myriad of destinations. The music reflects this and is all the better because of it. Her live show is stronger than ever too, as the full band and backup singers created a rich tapestry that perfectly highlighted the complex emotions infused into every song. If the rapturous reactions from all the fans, friends and family in attendance were any indication, there are even greater things in store for BONZIE in the months and years to come. Pick up a copy of the new record, and go see her perform live if you get the chance!
If you’re on the hunt for something pathologically weird, hopefully the new song from Ice Balloons will do the trick. It sounds like what would happen if you took Death From Above guitars and then threw in a whole bunch of other random noises with very little sense of cohesion. TV on the Radio’s Kyp Malone contributes his vocals to “Calypso Heartworm,” but they’re so processed and buried in effects that it sounds like they’re slowly drowning. Shockingly, it all works somehow. Your guess why is as good as mine. What’s interesting to me about an artist like Lissie is how she doesn’t seem content to simply stay confined to a singular stylistic box. Best known for being a folk singer-songwriter whose songs stand out because they’re very well written and sung, “Boyfriend” maintains a similar aesthetic, but removes the guitar in favor of very subtle synths. You may be unsurprised to learn that it works out quite well in a beautiful, almost R&B type of fashion. David Bazan and some of his old Pedro the Lion bandmates have found rock and roll again in their new project Lo Tom. “Covered Wagon” is yet another slice of their debut album, which does a strong job of conveying exactly what sort of sound they’re going for. It’s not exactly new territory, but there’s definitely still room in this world for a lively, well-written rock song like this one. Similar things could be said about matt pond PA’s latest song. If you’re familiar with his generally upbeat take on full band folk, “Skin and Bones” will feel immediately recognizable. It’s gotten less effective over the last decade, but there’s still enough wistful emotion attached that it’s difficult to say anything bad about it. So I won’t. Other artists with tracks in this set include Blondes, courtship., Elias, Grapell, Minimal Violence, Nicole Atkins, Sad13 (aka Sadie Dupuis of Speedy Ortiz), and Twinsmith.
Ice Balloons – Calypso Heartworm (ft. Kyp Malone)
Lissie – Boyfriend
Lo Tom – Covered Wagon
matt pond PA – Skin and Bones
There are quite a few great songs in today’s Pick Your Poison, and it’s difficult to choose only a couple to really highlight. Definitely listen through the entire set if you can, because there’s some real gems buried in here. Briana Marela specializes in ethereal pop arrangements, and on “Give Me Your Love,” the latest preview for her forthcoming album (out 8/4), she manages to push that aesthetic a step further. The echoes, overdubbed and harmonized vocal hook morphs along with the tempo to dip a toe into pseudo dance music. It works remarkably well, especially when paired with the new Kedr Livanskiy track “Ariadna”. Livanskiy is known as a creator and producer of dynamic electronic tracks, and her use of space, synths and reverb here makes for a hauntingly beautiful dance track. Speaking of hauntingly beautiful, you can get another preview of Mutual Benefit’s forthcoming full album cover of Vashti Bunyan’s 1969 classic Just Another Diamond Day below. It’s tough to think of another artist more equipped to take on such a landmark album, and the combination of acoustic guitar, violin and meek vocals really takes the original song in a different (yet equally great) direction. Those in search of a psychededlic pick-me-up need look no further than the fresh instrumental synth jam from Black Moth Super Rainbow member TOBACCO. If you’ve heard his stuff before, you pretty much know what to expect on “Got Wet in the Bomb Shelter” – strong, energetic beats tied to synths that sound like they were shot out of some sort of futuristic laser gun. It’s fun stuff, and a bit trippy when associated with the right visual. Other tracks in this set come from Clairo, Electric Guest, Katie Von Schleicher, Lafa Taylor & Aabo, Laoise, MIKE, Pandreas and RAC (ft. St. Lucia).
Briana Marela – Give Me Your Love
Kedr Livanskiy – Ariadna
Mutual Benefit – Diamond Day (Vashti Bunyan cover)
TOBACCO – Got Wet in the Bomb Shelter
If you love a dark piano pop ballad, you really shouldn’t miss Anya Marina’s new song “Serious Love,” which is graceful and beautiful complete with soaring strings and a sultry vocal that really sets the mood. The great talents of electronica producer Hudson Mohawke and hip hop artist Remy Banks meet on the rhythmically dope track “Passports,” composed specifically for the latest season of HBO’s Silicon Valley. And speaking of talented electronica producers teaming up with great vocalists, we’re lucky enough to get a new track from the duo of Joel Ford and Leanne Macomber, aka Young Ejecta. “Build A Fire” contains the essence of an 80s dance track, replete with pulsating synths and supremely smooth vocals. It feels like a long-lost classic from New Order, but if they were fronted by Siouxie Sioux or something. Pretty fantastic. Other songs in this set come from Cam’ron, Don’t DJ, INDIIA, LINES, The National Parks, Sudan Archives, Super Furry Animals (covering The Smiths), TOKiMONSTA (ft. Yuna) and more!
Anya Marina – Serious Love
Hudson Mohawke – Passports (ft. Remy Banks)
Young Ejecta – Build A Fire
Back in action for another week with a fresh edition of Pick Your Poison to entertain your ears and soothe your soul. Don’t miss downloads in this set from Mt. Doubt, Pearl Earl, Suntrodden and Yeah But No. In the Soundcloud section after the jump, stream songs from Bassnectar (ft. Mimi Page), Cathedrals, The Duke Spirit, Eamon, The Fresh & Onlys, Galimatias, L.A. Witch, Leven Kali, Majid Jordan (ft. PARTYNEXTDOOR), See Through Dresses, Washed Out and more!
The retro futurism of Skylar Spence combines with the electronica of The Knocks to form Amelia Airhorn, which is about as fun and danceable as you might suspect. “NY Is Red Hot” has all the feeling and heart of a classic disco song, with some modern sampling and effects to prime that pump and do something fresh. It’s a little difficult to describe the new Keep Shelly in Athens track “Leave In Silence,” and that’s a good thing. It takes synth-pop and adds a few experimental tweaks for some dramatic weight. Then there’s the new one from band to watch Sleeping Bag, who dive straight into the post-punk pool and go for a quick sonic swim. “Doin’ It Alone” may not last longer than two minutes, but it accomplishes everything it sets out to do. Other songs in this set come from A$AP Ferg (x2!), Cardiknox, Drop the Gun, Exit Someone, Oly, People Like You and more!
Amelia Airhorn – NY Is Red Hot
Keep Shelly in Athens – Leave In Silence
Sleeping Bag – Doin’ It Alone
Oh wow, this is a great set of music for your mid-week blues. Amy O’s “Sunday Meal” is a complete delight, moving from a somewhat quiet and serene ballad into a fun little ball of energy in just over two minutes. If you’re a fan of beautiful piano ballads, Gordi’s latest single will hit you right in the feelings. She’s got a new album Reservoir out at the end of August that’s going to be one to keep an eye (and ear) out for. Those in search of some interesting electronica might do well to check out the new track from Makeness, which somehow manages to feel energized yet restrained. The Pains of Being Pure at Heart also continue to evolve their sound by exploring some ’80s-style synth pop with a bit of modern flair on “When I Dance With You”. Other artists in this set include A$AP Ferg (x2!), Mumdance & Logos, Otzeki, Pink Frost, Viceroy (ft. Tom Aspaul), Yoko Ono, along with a solid Hercules & Love Affair remix of a Sharon Van Etten track.
Amy O – Sunday Meal
Gordi – Heaven I Know
Makeness – Micro Boss
The Pains of Being Pure at Heart – When I Dance With You
In terms of modern R&B artists, I think one of the main reasons why 6LACK is starting to get lots of attention from fans of the genre is because he’s demonstrated a unique ability to occupy the creative space between Frank Ocean and Jeremih. That impressive dynamic continues on new track “That Far,” which is magnetically compelling. Fascinating, to me at least, is Diet Cig’s new song “Together We Can Conquer Whatever,” which takes the pop-punk band’s sound and softens it up a bit. They just put out an album a couple months back, but this is a one-off track they contributed to the soundtrack of an Amazon original special American Girl: Summer Camp, which might explain the sense of child-like wonder that radiates from it. It’s kind of an odd choice to have a band named Diet Cig do a song for a children’s film, but when it works, it works. Also making it work is Kyle Bent on his new track “Just A Little Bit”. It’s a solid rap track that lands somewhere in the neighborhood of Future and D.R.A.M., so if you like them then you’ll probably like this. Other artists in this set include The Aces, alxxa, Blondage, Cam Maclean, EMBRZ, Jayaire Woods, Minke, Thea & The Wild, and Wingtip (ft. Delacey).
6LACK – That Far
Diet Cig – Together We Can Conquer Whatever
Kyle Bent – Just A Little Bit
We’re in the middle of a heat wave in Chicago, so maybe stay indoors and blast some AC along with some fresh tunes. Don’t miss downloads in this set from Air Traffic Controller, Allie & Ivy, Chase City and Nathan Oliver, among others. In the Soundcloud section after the jump, stream songs from Count Counsellor, Great Grandpa, Hater, Jesse (of Pure X), Living Colour, Lost Balloons, Michael Nau, Nyck @ Knight, Paris Lain, The Pollyseeds, Punctual and Robotaki (ft. Claire Ridgely).
Get your psych-pop on with another characteristically odd yet catchy song from Ariel Pink at the top of this set. It’s sure to prepare you well for “Another Weekend” (sigh, I know). You may be familiar with Jack Cooper from his band Ultimate Painting, but he’s venturing out for his debut solo album Sandgrown, which will be out at the end of August. You can hear a pretty chill yet lovely track from it below, following in the tradition of many other singer-songwriters before him. Thee Oh Sees have been around for quite awhile now, but with their next record they’re making a change. Specifically, the “Thee” has been chopped off to leave just Oh Sees. Good thing they haven’t lost any of their edge, as “The Static God” absolutely destroys. And then there’s Chicago’s own Twin Peaks, back with a new track as part of a “Sweet ’17 Single Series”. It’s a nicely fuzzed out jam that may not be their loudest or catchiest, but still very nice for your summer playlist. Other tracks in this set come from Action Bronson & Big Body Bes, B Boys, Nidia, Peaking Lights, Pierce, Secret Colours, Slotface and Tyga (ft. Vince Staples).
Ariel Pink – Another Weekend
Jack Cooper – North of Anywhere
Oh Sees – The Static God
Twin Peaks – Tossing Tears
If we’re lucky enough, maybe there will be so much new music released this summer that Pick Your Poison can sustain extended editions with downloads twice each week instead of once! Time will tell, but in the meantime, there’s plenty to go around. I’ll wholeheartedly recommend tracks in this set from ANA ANA, Beta Days, Impuritees and Jelly Ellington. In the Soundcloud section after the jump, stream songs from Andrew Applepie (ft. Bjurman), Ashe, Barns Courtney, BLESSED, Bok Bok, The Dears, Doldrums, Jordan Rakei, Noise Cans (ft. Jesse Royal), Tora, Twinsmith and Umm.
The line between pop and R&B continues to be blurred with EXES’ “Cain,” a song that evokes feelings of Lana Del Rey or The xx filtered through Frank Ocean. It’s lovely and sweeping and minimalist while firmly planting its tender hooks into your ears. If you’re a fan of glitchy electro-pop, the latest from FEMME will satisfy quite nicely, as it bounces and loops with recklessly joyful abandon. Instrumental tracks don’t show up on Pick Your Poison playlists too often (not purposely, I assure you), but Mikey Young’s “Walking For Pleasure” is an offbeat delight, taking synths and other electronic elements into an almost sci-fi or outer space type of atmosphere. Then there’s EDM artist RL Grime, who teams up with Miguel for a new single, which basically blends airy beats and drops with R&B flair. Other artists in this set include Gramatik & Eric Krasno, Jaymes Young, Lunice, NOTS, Sleep Party People, Tall Friend, Todd Terje (ft. Det Gylne Triangel) and more!
EXES – Cain
FEMME – Fire With Me
Mikey Young – Walking For Pleasure
RL Grime – Stay For It (ft. Miguel)
Oof, I’ve had a wild weekend of fun that’s spilling over into Monday, and I’m feeling a little worn down today as a result. Having your mind blown by Sigur Ros and then reveling in the communal joy that is a U2 show can really take a lot out of you. But I’m ready to spend some time with Phoenix tonight, which should be another celebration that’ll have me cursing Tuesday morning. Anyways, enjoy the great stuff loaded into today’s Pick Your Poison, which includes downloads from Fronds, Kazyak, Parker Longbough and Sebastian Blanck (ft. Hannah Cohen). In the Soundcloud section after the jump, stream songs from Amelia Airhorn (The Knocks + Skylar Spence), Bok Bok, Front Porch Lights, Gundelach, Jay Prince (ft. Shakka), Katie Von Schleicher, Luna (covering Fleetwood Mac), matt pond PA, Misty Coast, Partner, Simian Ghost, and Slow Skies.
There’s warmth radiating out of Anna of the North’s new song “Lovers,” even as its synths tend to take on an almost icy distance. It’s her vocals that really re-center it, I think, in the most lovely and sensual way. Speaking of lovely and sensual, Mutual Benefit are doing more of what they do best, which is stunningly gorgeous folk music. They’re taking on a full album cover of Vashti Bunyan’s 1970 classic Just Another Diamond Day, and you can get a sample via “Jog Along Bess” below. A little more upbeat and catchy is the new single from synth-pop scenesters VHS Collection, which might make a nice addition to your summer playlist. Other tracks in this set come from Beauty Sleep, Cousin Stizz (ft. G-Eazy), Gang of Youths, Institute, Novo Amor, SahBabil, Shanti Celeste, Tora and more!
Anna of the North – Lovers
Mutual Benefit – Jog Along Bess (Vashti Bunyan cover)
VHS Collection – So I Met Someone