Beach House – Saturn Song

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It turns out that Beach House and space go together more or less perfectly. Beach House’s “Saturn Song” is a part of the Lefse Records Space Project compilation, supposedly utilizing recordings from the Voyager space probes, and once it starts it makes plenty of sense. Beach House’s use of deep dreamy synths and Victoria Legrand’s otherworldly vocals come together to create something vivid. A gentle guitar riff and dripping keyboard loop are in and out of the song as well. Legrand’s singing is put through various effects to the point that it almost sounds like another synth, or as if she is singing through a telephone. The lyrics are fit for the isolation of deep space, as she croons, “I just don’t matter / Out on my own.” There may not be a beach in space, but there is Beach House, who utilize the Voyager space probe audio so well on this song that it is indistinguishable from their own sounds.

Check out Beach House’s “Saturn Song” below, and look for Space Project from Lefse Records, out April 19th via Lefse.

STREAM: Beach House – “Saturn Song”

Real Estate – Behind That Locked Door (George Harrison Cover)

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Where George Harrison is lush, Real Estate is stripped down. While George Harrison channels the rolling hills of the English countryside, Real Estate mine the boredom of East Coast suburban cul-de-sacs. Yet, both Harrison and Real Estate possess a sort of sad but sweet disposition, a soft-spoken, understated intelligence. And it’s this central quality that makes their unique versions of guitar pop, new and old, so captivating.

I was quite thrilled to see a cover of George Harrison’s beautiful “Behind That Locked Door” pop up on my Soundcloud feed with Real Estate’s name attached. “Behind That Locked Door” was composed by Harrison as a song of encouragement for his friend Bob Dylan, who — at the time of the track’s release on Harrison’s epic All Things Must Pass — was struggling to overcome his camera-shy tendencies and get back in the limelight for another tour with The Band. This latest rendition is handled with care by a confident but reverential Real Estate. Stream below, and you’ll find the integrity of Harrison’s ukulele-meets-banjo, country-road-meets-island-breeze vibes fully intact.

STREAM: Real Estate – “Behind That Locked Door (George Harrison Cover)”

M83 – I Need You

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Since the release of their last album Hurry Up, We’re Dreaming, M83 have managed to stay busy by trying their hand at soundtrack work. While their prior film work suffered from some unevenness, new release  “I Need You” from the Divergent soundtrack is more in line with their usual quality. M83 has always been a cinematic band, and here they harness that energy for an explosive 3 minutes. The song starts quietly enough with some ambient synths, piano chords and soft vocals. Then it all comes together with a heavy drumbeat and thick guitar riff as Anthony Gonzalez’s vocals rise to a shout. The track also acts as continuing proof that M83 might be the only band who know how to properly apply a saxophone in modern pop music. It’s an M83 song, so it might be best listened to with the windows down on the freeway at 3 am. Anthemic, beautiful and hopefully a preview of more to come.

Check out M83′s “I Need You” below and look for the Divergent soundtrack, out March 11th.

STREAM: M83 – “I Need You” 

Mr Little Jeans – Good Mistake

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Mr Little Jeans might be most well known at this point for her inventive cover of Arcade Fire’s “The Suburbs.” With new track “Good Mistake,” it should be clear to anyone that this is no one hit wonder. The song has a funky dance beat and ominous synths which loop and repeat underneath her whispered vocals. The beat builds and she lets loose for the chorus. The instrumental break in the middle of the song is an undeniable groove. It would be a bad mistake to bet against Mr Little Jeans, who looks like she’s on her way to big things.

Listen to “Good Mistake” below and check out the Good Mistake EPavailable now.

STREAM: Mr Little Jeans – “Good Mistake”

Pillar Point – Echoes

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Coming from Seattle, Pillar Point gives a surprising impression of an artist who can see the sunshine. While new track “Echoes” is certainly expressive and emotional, that emotion definitely tilts in a hopeful direction. Over a quick hitting beat and warm synths, Scott Reitherman sings in a calm, even voice and describes the effects of a nameless “she.” Whether it makes you nod along or just sway, it’s a lovely release that has confidence in what it’s doing and the way it’s doing it.

Check out “Echoes” below and watch for his self-titled debut album, Pillar Point, out February 25th via Polyvinyl.

STREAM: Pillar Point – “Echoes”

Sylvan Esso – Coffee

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Sylvan Esso released their newest track “Coffee” earlier today. Even though it’s only their third release so far, 2014 is already looking bright for the Amelia Meath (formerly of Mountain Man) and Nick Sanborn (formerly of Megafaun) collaboration. “Coffee” takes everything they were doing so well on their first tracks, and does it even better. Meath’s vocals lace through Sanborn’s layered, bass-heavy production with even more insistent, addictive delicacy. “Coffee” is a love song for all seasons — blazing summer (where the coffee is cold) or wild winter (where the coffee is warm). On a polar vortex snow day like today, hold your warm coffees a little closer.

Catch Sylvan Esso live at DC9 on January 28th and pre-order their newest 12″ here, including the unreleased “Dress,” while you stream “Coffee” below.

STREAM: Sylvan Esso – “Coffee”

Youth Lagoon – Worms

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Having avoided a sophomore slump with Wondrous Bughouse, Youth Lagoon seem poised for even more success going forward. New track “Worms” comes from an upcoming compilation on Lefse Records, and it provides a nice taste of what Trevor Powers might have in store for us. The song seems slightly darker in tone than many of their previous works, with the warped vocals and actual recordings from outer space giving it a psych-pop MGMT vibe. Distorted guitars and synths and a skipping drum beat provide support for a beautiful piano melody. It’s a definite evolution for the band as they manage to keep the important parts of their sound and still add elements that we haven’t heard before. It’s only January and Youth Lagoon are already impressing after a big 2013.

Check out “Worms” below and watch out for the Lefse Records Space Project compilation

STREAM: Youth Lagoon – “Worms”

Blood Cultures – Mercury Child

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It’s been four months since mysterious New Jersey based Blood Cultures released his (their?) debut track “Indian Summer.” For anyone who heard that sleek, booming production, it’s been four months of distinct anticipation. New song “Mercury Child” is along the same lines; it’s awash in synths humming and jumping over a heavy drumbeat and thick bassline. The vocals are dreamy and delicate, recalling Neon Indian’s Alan Palomo, or maybe Jai Paul.

It’s difficult to find things with the power to surprise anymore, let alone to stay secret for more than a few months. This is pure musicianship. It doesn’t get much purer than a musician with no Facebook, no prior reputation and even no face giving us songs when he feels like it. If you found “Indian Summer” to be a delightful earworm, then “Mercury Child” will be another morsel to tide you over until his next release. Check it out below.

STREAM: Blood Cultures – “Mercury Child”

Nick Leng – Crawled Out Of The Sea

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It’s too cold outside. Don’t dance too hard––you won’t melt, just shatter. Nick Leng’s “Crawled Out of the Sea” is the quiet thawing out necessary for the coldest day of the year. Leng released this song in the heat of summer, a warmth that carries over in his track’s gentle layers, underwater bliss and slowly emerging beat. An experimental artist from San Diego, specializing in “chill out ambient drones over trippy stuttering beats,” Leng has released a handful of singles over the last months, hopefully with more to come. Until then, stream “Crawled Out Of The Sea” below.

 STREAM: Nick Leng – “Crawled Out of the Sea”

A Sunny Day In Glasgow – In Love With Useless

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A Sunny Day In Glasgow have gone through a couple of personnel shakeups over the years, but the common thread through them all (aside from guitarist/songwriter Ben Daniels) has been the group’s brand of expansive, slightly twisted dream-pop. “In Love With Useless (The Timeless Geometry In The Tradition Of Passing)” hits all of the notes the group tends to hit, only more boldly and with more precision. It’s full to bursting, fuzzy and cavernous, but also catchy and sweet. The rhythms set toes to easily tapping and beg for a calm play on a lazy drive on a sunny afternoon, but the song is not satisfied being so simple. The intermittent static underneath the vocals in the chorus is slightly jarring and trippy (in a good way), and there’s a solid minute near the end of the otherwise very poppy track that descends into beautiful, dissonant cacophony. It’s trancy and hazy and pretty and enormous. Stream it below.

STREAM: A Sunny Day In Glasgow – “In Love With Useless (The Timeless Geometry In The Tradition Of Passing)”