BEST OF… FEBRUARY 2015

fatherjohnmisty-emmatillman
Father John Misty

What turned out to be a quiet month in music – well, quiet relative to the frenetic opening to the year – February 2015 was not without some wonderful new tracks and albums. But the month really belonged to live events such as the Super Bowl, SNL 40th Anniversary Special, the Grammys, and Oscars. And from Missy Elliott’s much deserved return to the spotlight, to the Grammy snoozefest, John Legend & Common’s stirring Oscar performance of “Glory,” to Kanye West’s blistering unveiling of “All Day” at the BRIT Awards, there was certainly a lot to talk about.

But even in a slow month of recorded material, we were blessed with new singles from Chromatics, Kendrick Lamar, and Sufjan Stevens, along with some unexpected jams from Kotomi, Meek Mill, and Róisín Murphy.

And, oh, yeah. Some dude named Drake dropped a new record on iTunes and Spotify out of nowhere.

Here’s the best of February 2015.

BESTOF2015

FEBRUARYSONGS

1. Alabama Shakes, “Don’t Wanna Fight”

On their debut single “Hold On,” all Brittany Howard could do was fight. Fight for relevancy. Fight to be heard. Now, after the critical and commercial success of their debut LP, Alabama Shakes are back, and aren’t interested in fighting for the respect they deserve.

2. Chromatics, “Just Like You”

3. Drake, “Energy”

4. Father John Misty, “True Affection”

5. Florence & The Machine, “What Kind of Man” (Nicolas Jaar Remix) Continue reading “BEST OF… FEBRUARY 2015”

CURRENT: Fred Thomas – “Cops Don’t Care Pt. II”

The brutally honest “Cops Don’t Care Pt. II” is one of the most devastating songs released this year. Fred Thomas addresses a litany of social injustices and hypocrisies, all of which you can gleam from a cursory look at Mother Jones or Salon. While Thomas doesn’t provide anything explicitly new in the nation discourse, the matter-of-fact way in which Thomas delivers the song’s lyrics is impossible to ignore. When he sings, “They don’t give a fuck about us,” it has all the energy of a sing-a-long refrain. This is the sound of frustration on the brink of resignation.

At 1:47, the song breezes by like a chain of thoughts. Even for Thomas, as much as he’s willing to admit that the powerful, “don’t give a fuck about us,” he’d rather not dwell on that harrowing revelation. “Cops Don’t Care” doesn’t change the conversation. Thomas knows that’s not what we need; we just need the conversation to continue.

All Are Saved is out 7 April 2015 via Polyvinyl.

CURRENT: Florence + The Machine – “What Kind of Man” (Nicolas Jaar Remix)

Florence + The Machine’s music is held together by Florence Welch’s majestic vocals and the equally bombastic productions which decorate that voice. The lead single from their forthcoming new LP, “What Kind of Man,” plays by this template, for better and worse. It’s epic scale is a thing to wonder, but without any lulls it all becomes somewhat monotonous. On his recently released 12-minute remix of the track, Nicolas Jaar provides the song with a mix that is certainly in line with the track’s large scale. But Jaar unleashes new qualities with his mix, filtering Welch’s vocals, making them somehow more powerful.

The remix weaves in and out of its multiple moving parts, clutching on to certain grooves the way James Murphy would on LCD Soundsystem records. For an artist with an enormous amount of excellent solo material, “What Kind of Man” fits nicely among his other standout remixes, including Grizzly Bear’s “Sleeping Ute” and the entirety of Random Access Memories (Daft Punk), completed with collaborator Dave Harrington as Darkside. Like those past releases, the “Man” remix shines because of its ability to convey new meanings, to reinforce the original’s aim. “What kind of man, loves like this,” Welch implores. On the original, that was the exclamation of a freshly wounded soul hunting her attacker. Here, she’s dismissive of any previous lover, on the prowl for a lover deserving of her. A man who finally shows a love like this.

CURRENT: Passion Pit – “Where the Sky Hangs”

Think back to the best moments in Passion Pit’s discography: “Little Secrets”, “Moth’s Wings”, “Constant Conversations”, “Cry Like a Ghost”. At their best, Passion Pit’s music bubbles over with an energy usually reserved to a schoolyard playground. That spark is found in spades on the recently release “Where the Sky Hangs”, which is as lively and exuberant as the band’s music gets. The verses recall the downtempo strut of “Conversations”, but Michael Angelekos is as upbeat as ever. “I’ll take all that I can get / Just don’t make me go,” he sings on the chorus. Three albums in, and Passion Pit has proven they deserve to stay.

Kindred is out 21 April through Columbia.

CURRENT: Róisín Murphy – “Gone Fishing”

“Gone Fishing” marks Ireland’s Róisín Murphy’s return to the music stage after a seven year hiatus. The time off hasn’t silenced her ambitions, with “Fishing” among the year’s coolest, most assured releases. The song recalls Jai Paul’s DIY, blurred soundscapes and Neneh Cherry’s confident, unobtrusive vocal stylings. In other words, “Gone Fishing” is a synthesis of the various strands of electronica that have arisen in the years since her Overpowered release. Now that she’s back, Murphy is ready to show us her big catch.

Hairless Toys is out 11 May through Play It Again Sam.

CURRENT: Modest Mouse – “The Ground Walks, with Time in a Box”

At the rate they’re releasing new tracks, there won’t be anything new left to hear when Modest Mouse finally drops Strangers To Ourselves on 17 March. That’s a problem we’ll come to at a later time, but for now, I’ll be too busy dancing to their most recent teaser, “The Ground Walks, with Time in a Box”. While previous releases “Lampshades on Fire”, “Coyotes”, and “The Best Room” featured the band working well within the lane they helped construct, “The Ground Walks” finds the band going for something bigger, as much as it does harken back to their past discography. After an eight year hiatus, Isaac Brock and company know well enough that the ground, and time, waits for no one. Thankfully, they still have a lot left to say.

CURRENT: Sufjan Stevens – “No Shade in the Shadow of the Cross”

Sufjan Stevens’ return to his acoustic-based roots is as welcome as it is devastating on Carrie & Lowell‘s first single, “No Shade in the Shadow of the Cross”. While he has always used poetic language in his songwriting, “Cross” finds Stevens examining some his darkest subject matter. “I’ll drive that stake through the center of my heart … Fuck me, I’m falling apart” he sings near the song’s end. There’s no hiding behind religious idols. Here, Sufjan Stevens steps out of the shadows and into the dark.

Carrie & Lowell is out on 31 March via Asthmatic Kitty.