After the breakneck pace of new releases in the first quarter of 2015, these past two months have been relatively quiet. But what April and May have lacked in big name releases, these two months have graced us with some stellar under-the-radar releases. My Morning Jacket, Hot Chip, Torres, and Unknown Mortal Orchestra are just some of the artists who released an album these past couple of months, while A$AP Rocky and Chance The Rapper each leaped back onto the scene with their respective At.Long.Last.A$AP and Surf LPs. May also brought us closer to imminent releases from Jamie xx, Hudson Mohawke, and Miguel, all artists responsible for some of the best singles from the previous 30 days.
TOP TRACKS FOR MAY 2015
1. A$AP Rocky ft. Joe Fox, M.I.A. & Future, “Fine Whine”
It still amazes me how Postiljonen did not become bigger after the release of their blissful, serene debut LP Skyer. While that release continues to be an undiscovered gem, the Swedish group is gearing up for a new release, and they have set “Wait” off into the world. “If I give my heart away / it will only start a fire,” Mia Brox Bøe breathes into the track; and we watch the spark grow into a flame.
A$AP Rocky’s great new LP At.Long.Last.A$AP features many songs deserving of recognition. But the songs I keep gravitating towards include the new version of “M’s” – which features Lil Wayne in an appearance that harkens back to the rapper’s prime – and “Fine Whine” – a collaboration with the previously obscure Joe Fox, as well as the previously very well known Future and M.I.A.
Both can be found via streaming services Spotify and TIDAL as well as for purchase through iTunes.
Class Actress and Elizabeth Harper return with “More Than You,” her first single since the still-wonderful 2011 album Rapprocher.The song is backed by one of Harper’s strongest melodies to date, and the way the production blends and melts her vocals together help further the blurred aesthetic of her 2011 release. “You got me overthinking / New York City drinking / Never wanting nothing like I want you,” she sings on the chorus, in a way that makes it hard to tell whether she’s rueing letting go of her lover or letting herself go for love.
In the context of 1989, “Bad Blood” always stood out, considering the song was placed next to the Haim-inspired “I Wish You Would” and the moonlit glow of “Wildest Dreams.” “Blood”‘s cheerleader stomp and vocal chants share more in common with “Shake It Off” and “Hollaback Girl” than it does the pop sheen of “Blank Space” or “Style.”
The single version of “Bad Blood” exchanges Swift’s opening two verses for new ones from King Kunta himself, Kendrick Lamar. The move – it turns out – works wonders for the track. On the album version, Swift is undeniably hurt and insulted from being double-crossed (presumably by Katy Perry), so much so that it threatens to dwarf the song’s bombast. With assistance from Kendrick Lamar, however, Taylor Swift is able to soar above the fray, far away from the explosive devastation below. Significantly, Lamar helps explicitly convey what was first only hinted at on the original; Swift successfully avoids being plagued by the bad blood infecting her rival. “Still, all my life I got money and power / And you have to live with the bad blood now,” raps Lamar, subtly echoing the Swift-adored “Backseat Freestyle” in the process. She’s having too much fun with her friends to worry about her enemies.
There aren’t many better ways to thwart audience expectations than how Destroyer does it on the just-released “Dream Lover,” the first single from the first Destroyer album since Kaputt (2011). Where that album floated and glided, “Dream Lover” jolts and shakes, right from the very beginning. Dan Bejar doesn’t allow the breakneck pace to slow down, somehow turning the song into something even more urgent by the time the track hits its finale. It’s hard to hit a climax when there’s seemingly nowhere to go but down, yet Bejar uses his fiery opening as a gateway to explore even rockier terrain later on. For an act we thought we had figured out, Destroyer and “Dream Lover” is as bold and convincing of a reintroduction as anyone could have possibly imagined.
Poison Season is out August 28 through Merge/Dead Oceans.
Hudson Mohawke made a name for himself with his collaborative EP as TNGHT alongside Lunice, and since then, his pummeling, sledgehammer electronica has left stars such as Kanye West and Pusha T to insist on spending some studio time with the budding electronica artist. Thus far, the tracks from Hud Mo’s forthcoming Lantern has shown the producer deviating from what turned him into a commodity – from “Very First Breath,” “Ryderz,” and the Antony Hegarty-assisted “Indian Steps.” But on “Scud Books,” Hud Mo synthesizes his many inspirations into a purifying, eye-opening instrumental that reasserts his place in electronica’s hierarchy.