Summer Spins: vol. I
by Kate Leib on July 2, 2014
Posted in: Music, My Shows, Pop, Rock
Welcome to the first edition of Summer Spins, WRMC’s round up of the best new tracks buzzing around the station. During our break from programming we received a ton of great new music in the mail from our lovely promoters. With teetering CD stacks on deck and coffee on ice, your summer managers have been sorting through all the mail to find the best of the best for our Top 30 charts and the rotation shelf. For our inaugural post, we’ve picked a smattering of choice tracks from the past month that will be sure to dominate dance parties, road trip mixtapes, backyard barbecues, and of course, the WRMC airwaves all summer long.
Zola Jesus, “Dangerous Days” Nika Roza Danilova, who records under the moniker Zola Jesus, just released the first single from her forthcoming album, Taiga, due out this October. For Danilova, the album title “represents a feral, untapped world that could happily exist without us.” Taiga, meaning “boreal forest” in Russian, is a familiar environment to Danilova. The landscapes of Northern Wisconsin, where she grew up, and those of Russia, her ancestral homeland, are dominated by the coniferous and notoriously cold biome. On “Dangerous Days” Danilova’s vocals soar over a pounding electro-pop beat, and as usual, she never comes down:
Soft As Snow, “Glass Body” Perhaps a nod to “Soft as Snow (But Warm Inside)“, the highly erotic opening track of My Bloody Valentine’s 1988 debut album, Isn’t Anything, this Norwegian duo’s moniker lends itself to preconceived expectations of sounding soft and ambient, or like their music is drenched in layers of reverb. While the lone drum machine at the beginning of “Glass Body” beats reminiscent of MBV’s uptempo percussive intro, the rest of the song is a totally different synth-pop crescendo that climaxes higher than Kevin Shields could ever describe. The track’s dark and rumbly synths are graced by the beautiful voice of Soft as Snow’s Oda Egjar Starheim, who happens to sound a whole lot like her Scandanavian compatriot, Lykke Li, circa 2008’s Youth Novels. The damn catchy first track of Soft as Snow’s debut album due out July 21, “Glass Body” is guaranteed to keep you cool in the summer AND Warm in the Winter.
Parquet Courts, “Dear Ramona” On the third track of their stellar new album Sunbathing Animal, Parquet Courts narrate the story of Ramona, an über aloof “hypnosis poet” who wears “dark sunshades at night”, (hello Corey Hart reference) has an air of self-delusion and probably lives in Brooklyn. As the guitars plod along we learn that Ramona is never gonna open up (no!) thanks to a catchy call and response chorus. With deliberately unrhymed lines like “She fixes breakfast for two in the morning and drinks dark coffee at night / Whoever she might be going to bed with, you can read about that in her moleskin” one might expect the song to sound awkward and forced, but vocalist Andrew Savage delivers his punch line with the perfect amount of urgency and nonchalance. Perfect for your summer slacker soundtrack (soundslack?).
Owen Pallett, “I Am Not Afraid” Pallett’s new album, In Conflict, had me at the first track, and I was continually blown away by everything that followed. Album opener, “I Am Not Afraid” sounds simultaneously self-assured and frantic, the lyrics drawing from Pallett’s stream of thoughts as well as a conversation with a friend. A fitting emotional dichotomy for an album about conflict (among other things), but Pallett’s expression conflict feels as fluid as his exploration of gender. Take a quick look at the In Conflict lyric poster that is now hanging on the WRMC office door (or the album artwork pictured bellowed) and you’ll notice that the first lines of “I Am Not Afraid” include the use of the gender nonspecific pronoun ze, and later the pronouns they and them. Also, Brian Eno sings the chorus which is cool I guess.
Grimes, “Go” Grimes performed this song and two other new tracks at Govball this past June, and after seeing her live I can confirm that she is a mermaid goddess. The official recording of “Go” dropped (for free!) last week and my co-manager Chad has refused to listen to anything that isn’t “Go” ever since. This single marks Grimes’ first studio recording since 2012’s much loved Visions, and has received mixed reviews from critics and Grimes devotees due to its reliance on generic dubstep drops and potential for daisy-crowned, drug-addled mass appeal–criticisms to which Grimes has repeatedly responded “haha” via twitter. Regardless of how “Go” might hold up against well worn favorites like “Oblivion”, “Genesis”, or “Vanessa” the cult of Grimes is about to get a lot bigger, and I wouldn’t be surprised if this EDM-laced banger will be a cross-campus hit at both The Mill and Atwater come fall:
A Sunny Day In Glasgow, “The Body, It Bends (ペルセポネが帰ってきた!)” According the language school student I just kidnapped, the Japanese characters in parentheses translate roughly to “Persephone is back!”, which is good to know considering my ongoing quest to decipher A Sunny Day in Glasgow’s brilliant but often muffled lyrics. As the ancient Greek myth goes, Hades, lord of the underworld, abducts Persephone to the great discontent of her mother, Demeter, and only upon Persephone’s return does Demeter allow the barren earth to bear vegetation. Thanks to some dumb pomegranate seeds, Persephone must spend one third of the year in the underworld, hence the reason for winter months. According to Ovid, Persephone’s imprisonment was more like a half year, but that’s because Ovid knew what was up with Vermont winters. On A Sunny Day In Glasgow’s latest album, Sea When Absent (currently charting at #1 in the station and sporting a well-earned grade of A on the WRMC rotation shelf) the collective returns bearing dream pop to brighten the corners of the underworld’s cavernous grottos. “The Body, It Bends” sounds like a spring thaw, beginning with a creaky Built to Spill-esque guitar riff that spills into an echo chamber brimming with angelic vocals, plucky guitars, a well placed trumpet or two, and layers upon layers of warm and watery reverb.
That’s all for now! For more new music, check out this week’s Top 30 Chart for all the hottest albums spinnin’ at WRMC.