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Best New Tracks

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The best new tracks from Pitchfork, the most trusted voice in music.
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Sampha Finds A Kindred Spirit in Curtis Mayfield on “Close But Not Quite”

12 Mai 2017 - 10:00pm

On his 1970 song “The Makings of You,” soul singer Curtis Mayfield struggled to convey the depths of his emotion: “The love of all mankind, should reflect some sign of these words I’ve tried to recite/They are close, but not quite.” His insecurity was beautiful; when love truly takes hold, it can render you speechless.

Those words, and Mayfield’s distinctive falsetto find new life on “Close But Not Quite,” the title-track from producer/XL founder Richard Russell’s new collaborative EP for his Everything Is Recorded project. The song features Sampha, another reflective soul singer, whose recent debut Process carried the same air of meditation. Russell was struck by Sampha's falsetto, which bore similarities to Mayfield—but Sampha was largely unfamiliar with the soul legend.“I haven’t listened to too much Curtis Mayfield,” Sampha told the New Yorker. “From what I understand, [he] was quite a gentle soul, in an era where a lot of soul artists were quite macho.” After Russell played “The Makings of You” for Sampha, the two decided to record a song centered around the chorus and melody of the Mayfield cut.

As a result, “Close But Not Quite” is a duet of sorts, as Sampha’s delicate tone and Mayfield’s soaring voice accentuates Russell’s piano-driven instrumental. Amid well-placed strings and light drums, the music encases Sampha, creating a natural synergy between he and Mayfield. Lyrically, the song picks up where Process left off, with Sampha shuffling through his past. “I’m not one to go to church,” the singer admits. “But you made me believe in something more than hurt.” Sampha and Mayfield are kindred spirits, two souls who sound perfectly aligned. Forty-seven years removed from "The Makings of You," Mayfield helps Sampha find his own words.

Categoria: Rock news

Fleet Foxes’ “Fool’s Errand” Is Full Technicolor Folk

12 Mai 2017 - 7:40pm

Fleet Foxes have a knack for making frustration sound appealing. In many of their songs, desire is consistently hindered by reality, yet their grand sound renders simple moments triumphant. Take their epic “Helplessness Blues,” which begins with frontman Robin Pecknold’s existential admission of insignificance before soaring into an anthem of self-reliance. “Fool’s Errand,” the second offering from upcoming album Crack-Up is an addition to their collection of jovial letdowns.

“Fool’s Errand” is about disappointment, yet it is imbued with an uplifting confluence of melody. Full bodied drums and bright keys take the sepia tone of their more acoustic work and adjust it for full Technicolor. Pecknold sings of seeking a “sight dream” he never reaches, yet continues to try: “Blind love couldn’t win/As the facts all came in/But I know I’ll again/Chase after wind,” he says with levity despite the heavy circumstances. After three-and-half upbeat minutes, “Fool’s Errand” closes with subdued piano, a melancholy departure that lies somewhere between dejection and acceptance—an acknowledgement that all frustration eventually must subside.

Categoria: Rock news

The National Return With Grave New Song “The System Only Dreams in Total Darkness”

11 Mai 2017 - 9:30pm

“We’re in a different kind of thing now,” Matt Berninger notes in the chorus of the National’s new song, “The System Only Dreams in Total Darkness.” It could be his way of addressing the dark turn things have taken in the four years since the band’s last album, Trouble Will Find Me. But “The System” is also a different kind of thing for the National. While many of their songs, records, and even the trajectory of their nearly 20-year career could be described as a slow build, now they’re not wasting any time. “The System” sounds heavy and urgent and surprisingly aggressive—and not just because of Aaron Dessner’s gnarly guitar solo in the middle.

There’s a bit of Spoon in the song’s disjointed swagger, but the National retain the elegance that’s been their calling card since the Alligator days. Drummer Bryan Devendorf still finds unexpected patterns to propel Berninger’s understated melodies: the sneakers-in-a-dryer wallop of 1980s Grateful Dead might be the only thing the band’s retained from their recent Day of the Dead sessions. Here, they all sound more energized, jutting forward with a slick confidence. “I can’t explain it any other way,” Berninger repeats desperately in his highest register as the band hits the song’s emotional peak. Together, they sound wide awake and ready to fight away the darkness. 

Categoria: Rock news

The New LCD Soundsystem Songs Were Worth the Wait

5 Mai 2017 - 6:00pm

The anxiety of aging has fueled some of James Murphy’s best work, from his debut single, “Losing My Edge,” to the middle-aged gut punch that is “All My Friends.” So it only figures that, six years after LCD Soundsystem played what was supposed to be their farewell concert, Murphy sounds more haggard than ever on “American Dream,” one of two new songs from LCD Soundsystem’s forthcoming comeback album, released this week as a digital “double A side”. A woozy waltz for analog synths and chintzy rhythm box, the song cryptically recounts the morning after what sounds like the worst one-night stand ever, as the narrator, LSD coursing through his veins, looks in the mirror and watches his beard crawl across his face. As mid-life crises go, David Byrne’s iconic “How did I get here?” pales in comparison to Murphy's acid-fried vignette.

Mulling over a single, brooding set of chord changes, the song doesn’t really go anywhere during its languid, six-minute run; instead, it uses that velvety blue mood as the backdrop for some of Murphy’s most self-lacerating introspection yet: “You just suck at self-preservation/Versus someone else’s pain”; “Look what happened when you were dreaming/Then punch yourself in the face”; “In the morning everything’s clearer/When the sunlight exposes your age.” It’s a song about love, self-loathing, and unshakable desire, with bittersweet catharsis coming in the form of the song’s doo-wop-flavored finale: “American dream,” Murphy sings in a frail falsetto, over and over. Whatever the title is supposed to mean, it sounds like shorthand for an existential meltdown.

However broken down he may come across on “American Dream,” though, “Call the Police” finds Murphy and his bandmates raring to go, aiming for the bleachers like they haven’t since “All My Friends.” Like that staple of their repertoire, “Call the Police” is a big, bold anthem with emotion to spare, and near shameless about its grip on the heartstrings. Multi-tracked vocal harmonies, high-necked bass vamps, guitar feedback tangling like downed live wires—they spare no excess in their pursuit of extreme feeling.

Murphy has never been shy about invoking memories of his betters, and where “All My Friends” copped moves from John Cale, “Call the Police” borrows liberally from the melody of New Order’s “Procession” and the swirling guitars of Brian Eno’s “St. Elmo’s Fire.” Some have even heard an echo of U2 in the song’s stadium-sized ambitions and they would not necessarily be wrong. But this is arena rock as only LCD can do it, with an exterior as scruffy as Murphy’s own salt-and-pepper beard. Don’t call it lo-fi, though: Murphy may sound like he’s singing through a broken mic, but the song—mixed by Sound of Silver’s Grammy-nominated Dave Sardy—is as dynamic as you could ask of a contemporary rock recording, with levels upon levels of detail nestled in its folds.

Fans of lyrical exegesis will have a field day: What starts out sounding like it might be the story of the band’s breakup and rebirth becomes, by the end, a full-scale street riot, with people lining up to “eat the rich.” Whatever the hell is going on here, it couldn’t sound timelier. The conditions that inspired “New York, I Love You But You’re Bringing Me Down” have got nothing on the shit-show that is America in 2017, and LCD Soundsystem know it, with Murphy following his voice out to its ragged edge and gazing back at the wreckage in wonder: “There’s a full-blown rebellion.” Early in the song he sings, “The old guys are frightened and frightening to behold,” but Murphy and company have never sounded so invigorated.

Categoria: Rock news

Haim’s “Want You Back” Gives Jackson 5 a Run for Their Money

4 Mai 2017 - 12:15am

Whiplash is starting to feel like a theme of pop in 2017. Lorde defied Max Martin’s pop algebra with the zig-zagging “Green Light,” and now Haim are pulling the rug out from under our feet in the run-up to releasing their second album, Something to Tell You. Last week’s brooding taster track “Right Now” iced an ex who’d come crawling back. It was an understated choice for their big comeback, maybe indicating a rootsier follow-up to 2013’s Days Are Gone—or even, à la Calvin Harris’ earnest Twitter videos of him at the piano, their way of showing off the chops behind their regular pop-locking productions.

“Right Now” was clearly a red herring, or at least only half of the story, as the album’s first proper single, “Want You Back,” pivots in a big way. This time, Danielle Haim’s the one asking for forgiveness from an ex she steamrollered into leaving. It’s fairly brazen to name a song after one of the biggest singles of all time, but unlike the Jackson 5’s charm offensive, there’s a tentativeness to her words. She confesses to being selfish, and outlines the newfound space for someone else in her life. That openness reverberates through “Want You Back”’s verses, which have a Don Henley glimmer and a Christine McVie yearning. But then the chorus swells and shudders like Lindsey Buckingham at his most overheated, sprinkled with jittery digital chatter. Once it hits, Danielle stops explaining herself and pleads her case from the rooftops, backed by her sisters for ballast. On “Want You Back,” Haim’s dueling impulses are a battle played out between the head and the heart.

Categoria: Rock news

DJ Sports Mixes New Age and Breakbeats on the Glorious “World A”

2 Mai 2017 - 7:30pm

It’s hard to judge a DJ by their name, and the case goes double for DJ Sports. The Aarhus, Denmark artist (aka Milán Zaks) is a member of the electronic collective Regelbau, runs the Help Recordings label, and makes lush, new age house and gliding breakbeat that emphasizes mood over all. His songs set a tone and take you far away, and the environment he creates is especially habitable and carefree on his new “World A.”

On “World A,” DJ Sports takes a simple four-chord melody and lets it grow well-worn and familiar, but never tired, over the course of six minutes. The glowing synths hang still, like clouds at sunset, but the lack of change doesn’t diminish their beauty. Behind them is a shuffling, dubby breakbeat, a sputtering groove, and pitched drums. It’s hard to imagine Zaks’ music has anything to do with sports in the traditional sense—there are no air horns or referee whistles or all that much action. Instead “World A” is music that floats away, and DJ Sports is like a house music hang glider, building a vibrant world he can survey from hundreds of feet above.

Categoria: Rock news