california native michl lives just east of los angeles in the inland empire, firmly insulated from the sunnier attributes of coastal life. his debut single, “kill our way to heaven,” is appropriately nocturnal; trebly guitars work in lockstep with a throbbing, subterranean bass line to create a brooding aura well-suited for michl’s debauchery-laced confessional. take a listen to “kill our way to heaven” below.
2014 is all but in the books, and so we’re naturally turning our intention towards 2015 and all of the music it will potentially bring. everyone is on the edge of their seats for the new kanye west album, and modest mouse’s first record in eight years should be interesting, but here are ten other acts with music coming out next year that we can’t wait to digest. read on.
chvrches – after touring relentlessly for nearly two years behind their excellent debut the bones of what you believe, glaswegian trio chvrches has returned to the drawing board to work on a follow-up. no word on when that album will show up, but new songs that showed up on the re-worked drive soundtrack and the lorde-curated hunger games: mockingjay – part 1 may be indications of what’s to come.
daughter – everything that daughter has touched has turned to gold, including a couple of remixes and re-workings of songs off of if you leave with a ten-piece chamber orchestra in tow. like chvrches, daughter just finished up a pretty extensive tour in support of their excellent debut, and the trio is holed up somewhere overseas working on a follow-up.
deafheaven – “from the kettle onto the coil” was the only offering from deafheaven in 2014, and the song yields absolutely no indication of what their impending new album will sound like. regardless of the final product, it will be interesting to see what the genre-defying san francisco outfit comes up with on their third try.
elvis depressedly – we were supposed to hear new alhambra before this year was over, but mat cothran and company chose to sign with run for cover records to allow for wider dissemination of the record, among other things. elvis depressedly’s much-anticipated new album will be out sometime in the spring of 2015, and we have the excellent “no more sad songs (n.m.s.s.)” to tide us over for the time being.
frank ocean – frank ocean’s follow-up to 2012’s channel orange was purported to be done this past april, then it was due out sometime this past summer; now, who knows. ocean did release a snippet of a new song called “memrise” last month, enough to set the internet on fire, but there’s still no concrete release date for his new album. then again, dropping something completely unannounced seems right up his alley.
james blake – james blake’s third album is reportedly seventy percent complete and should see a release sometime in the spring of 2015. blake has been quietly building anticipation, teasing the prospect of collaborations with justin vernon and kanye west along with releasing a short ep entitled 200 press. expect a single sometime early next year to dictate the aesthetic of the impending album.
kendrick lamar – kendrick delivered some promising material in 2014 but failed to provide what everyone wanted: the follow-up to good kid, m.a.a.d city. his new single, “i,” seemed to indicate a departure from the grim undertones of his masterful 2012 concept album, but the untitled track lamar revealed on the colbert report swiftly contradicted that notion and leaves the tone of his new record completely up in the air. but who knows when that will surface.
panda bear – noah lennox is releasing his fifth solo album, panda bear meets the grim reaper, on january 13th via his new home, domino records. the world always seems game for a new panda bear record, and it’s been about four years since lennox has delivered. armed with the strong singles “mr. noah” and “boys latin,” grim reaper is poised to be one of the early standouts of 2015.
teen daze – if all goes to plan, we’ll be able to hear not one but two new projects from teen daze in 2015. he recorded the follow-up to his 2013 magnum opus glacier in san francisco this fall, and he’s also slated to release a placeholder ep entitled a world away for his european tour this winter.
their/they’re/there – this chicago trio is kind of like a birthday cake: the individual ingredients might not be significantly appetizing, but the sum of all its parts is quite desirable. their/they’re/there released a pair of eps in 2013 that hinged largely on the impeccable guitar work of matthew frank, and rumor has it that they’ll offer forth a full-length sometime next year.
today is ella yelich-o’connor’s eighteenth birthday, a perfect occasion for the artist who performs as lorde to share the music video for “yellow flicker beat,” a pillar of the hunger games: mockingjay part i soundtrack. lorde tapped emily kai bock for the director’s chair, yielding an end result that has appropriately been drawing comparisons to the work of david lynch. her singular form of dancing is on full display as well, and it’s further emphasized by the rather maximalist approach to the hook for “yellow flicker beat.” maximal in comparison to lorde’s usual minimalism, at least. check out the video below.
slow magic has been unbelievably consistent this summer, releasing a new track from his upcoming full-length how to run away at the end of each month. august is no exception; today the mysterious producer has shared “waited 4 u,” his brightest and most upbeat single yet. those adjectives are relative, however, as “waited 4 u” still hinges ever so slightly on slow magic’s penchant for eerie, trembling melodies. how to run away is out via downtown records september 9th. stream “waited 4 u” below.
brian batz makes music under the moniker sleep party people, but his given name never seems to be that detached from his project. there’s never been any question about the identity of the man behind the music, and batz even goes so far as to post every sleep party people song on a soundcloud account bearing his name. personally, if i were responsible for something as breathtaking as the music of sleep party people, i would want direct credit as well. on the project’s newest album, floating, batz ups the ante and creates one of the year’s best amalgamations of pop music and ambient sounds.
the lead single grabbed from floating, “in another world,” was – and still remains to be – a delectable earworm in every sense of the term. as the first taste of sleep party people’s new material, the song leans heavily on batz’s signature falsetto while adding strings and groove-heavy percussion over a minor key to make it truly ominous yet simultaneously infectious. the tracklist of floating is more or less aesthetically constructed around “in another world,” which gives the album a logical, if not somewhat predictable, trajectory. the opening triptych of songs are traced by warbly, modest mouse-esque guitar lines that weave expertly through batz’s ethereal voice and the percussion it sits on top of. “a stranger among us” seems to swap the six-string for the sine wave, promptly foreshadowing the electronic turn batz will begin to take shortly.
after pitting a western-themed guitar loop against synthetic strings on “in another world,” batz begins to broaden his horizons, culminating in “i see the sun, harold,” a hazy instrumental that bleeds acoustic piano effortlessly with feedback and other white noise. the song’s counterpart, appropriately titled “i see the moon,” offers an eight-minute detour down the most upbeat road batz travels throughout floating, but the song ultimately proves to be nothing more than a well-structured bypass; floating closes out with “only a shadow” and “scattered glass,” two melancholy cuts that are among the strongest on the album. “only a shadow” adds hesitant, vulnerable vocals to the aesthetic dictated by “i see the sun, harold,” allowing “scattered glass” to provide a huge contrast with its gradual layering and steady crescendo, effectively ending floating on a rather triumphant note.
brian batz is incredibly well-versed in manufacturing emotive songs, and he continues to display this trait on floating. sleep party people’s music is utterly cinematic, and this album is best experienced through headphones in order to appreciate each song’s subtle nuances. keep tabs on floating and try not to fall in love with the album artwork. it’s a harder task than it seems.
to say that pillar point’s debut album is highly anticipated by this site would be a gross understatement. scott reitherman has dazzled with all of his offerings so far, from the straight-ahead “eyeballs” to the slow-jam tendencies of “dreamin’.” a month out from the album’s release, reitherman has shared yet another track, this time through brooklyn vegan; “cherry” is funky, melancholy, and grandiose, and you can stream it below.
2013 has provided a wealth of new music and incredibly important albums for a multitude of genres, but as i reflect on the year’s best offerings i can’t help but to peak ahead and see what 2014 potentially has in store. here’s my short list of bands i’m excited to hear a new album from.
adelyn rose – i guess it’s been less than two years since mezzanine, but it feels like i’ve been waiting on a new adelyn rose record forever. the eau claire outfit has been holed up at justin vernon’s april base for the latter half of this year, perfecting a new batch of tracks. i’ve heard a couple at various live shows, but i’m excited to finally hear another finished project from addie and company.
cloud nothings – remember when cloud nothings was on both editions of my “most anticipated” lists this year? oops. the good news is that the now-power trio posted a short video of them working on new songs in the studio, hinting that dylan baldi will probably dominate my headphones again in 2014. bring it, dude.
foxes in fiction – warren hildebrand enlisted owen pallett to write the string parts for his new album, so i have to hope that the end result will be good. the new york by way of toronto ambient act has had my attention for sometime, and i’m excited to hear a long-overdue full length album from him. the thing could drop tomorrow or in six months; i like a project that keeps me on my toes.
gem club – the boston chamber pop trio’s sophomore album in roses is due out january 28th on hardly art records. if you’ve heard the gorgeous lead single “polly,” you’ll know why i’m looking forward to this record. if you haven’t, head over to their soundcloud and fix that problem.
memoryhouse – memoryhouse played some new songs on npr’s world cafe last month and prefaced them with the announcement that their sophomore album will be out sometime in the spring. i’m always game to see what those two have to offer.
pillar point – i can’t tell you what got me hooked on pillar point, but i can tell you that scott reitherman’s moody synth-pop gave me an entirely new appreciation for the genre. after a strong showing on his debut 7″ single “diamond mine” b/w “dreamin’,” reitherman stepped out of anonymity and announced the release of his self-titled debut full length album, out february 25th via polyvinyl. if that wasn’t enough, he offered up another single, “eyeballs,” which might just be his best work yet.
tenement – get to know tenement. i’ve been following them since they used to play dingy basements and coffee houses around central and eastern wisconsin when i was in high school, but now they’ve signed to don giovanni records and are prepping their first release for that label sometime next year.
tennis – the small sound ep may have served as a filler in between tennis’ second and third album, but it also hopefully forecasted the continuation of sharp songwriting and irresistible pop hooks i’ve come to expect from the band.
vancouver sleep clinic – my favorite new artist of 2013 hasn’t even released a full body of work yet. in fact, seventeen year-old tim bettinson has only announced an ep for vancouver sleep clinic, due out early next year, but that’s enough for me. both “collapse” and “vapour” highlighted his skill as a songwriter and his ability to evoke entire landscapes through three or four minutes of song.
wye oak – a recent feature over at spin revealed that wye oak is working on their fourth album, and that it will be totally different than their previous output. guitars have been swapped for bass guitars, and the keyboard pads will be replaced with more melodic lines. no word on a title or release date, but look for it sometime next year via merge records.
pillar point, the mysterious recent addition to the polyvinyl artist list, will release a 7″ sometime this year. we’ve already heard the a-side – “diamond mine” – and now the seattle synthpopper has shared the flip side with us. “dreamin'” is much more subdued than its predecessor, retaining a post-chillwave feel, whatever that’s supposed to mean. check it out below, courtesy of polyvinyl’s soundcloud page.