Takako Minekawa & Dustin Wong - Party on a Floating Cake
Virtuoso guitarist and former Ponytail and Ecstatic Sunshine man Dustin Wong has just released an album with Japanese artist Takako Minekawa (the latter’s first in 13 years): Toropical Circle is available digitally now, through Plancha.
Streaming above is a track from the album, a mix of Wong’s trademark clean and intricate guitar lines and effortless rhythms, Minekawa’s ethereal, piercing vocals and some high-pitched synth squelches. It threatens to morph into something else entirely towards the end before cruelly reaching its conclusion, leaving us with a host of unanswered questions.
Coloured Clocks - Maze
Ok so it’s a bit all over the place this record, but peaking out from behind the slightly out of sync instrumentation like glorious sunshine from behind an angry looking raincloud are some real songwriting chops, smothered in a luxurious psychedelic butter. What we know thus far: Coloured Clocks is 26 year-old James Wallace from Melbourne. He’s currently working on his third long-player, tentatively entitled All Is Round. Maze, streaming below, is taken from his most recent effort, Nectarine (2013), available as a free download here.
Polytype - Cyclone
Here’s a cool little track from a new five-piece from Utah called Polytype. It’s a case of ‘band name signals content’ – all glitchy and Alt-J like in its stuttering rhythms. There’s a full length due in the summer, entitled Basic//Complex – feel the aesthetic reverberating – and not much more to go on currently, but definitely worth penciling in to the ‘bands to watch out for’ jotter.
Trivial Shields - Camelot
Christian Carpenter, aka Trivial Shields, divides his time between Oakland, California and Istanbul. Musically his debut single, streaming above, brings to mind Thom Yorke’s solo experimentations, a sultry vocal providing the sweet icing on a multi tiered cake of lush electronica, with satisfying live flourishes serving as glace cherries. Really, really good stuff.
Lightning Dust - Diamond
Cracking song here from Vancouver twosome Lightning Dust, something of a departure from the organic electro-folk of their eponymous 2007 debut and 2010’s Infinite Light, though the spine-tingling Arcade Fire-esque melodies remain. Josh Wells’ bouncy keys wrap themselves around Amber Webber’s honeyed twang and his own basic beats like pastry round a dubious looking pork sausage. The result is just as delicious.
Fantasy, the duo’s third album, is out June 24 via Jagjaguwar.
Derby Sunshine - Bedford
London-based producer Luigi Buccarello, aka Derby Sunshine, first came to our attention last autumn via a neat Vadonimessico remix. Since then things have being going well for Luigi - he spent much of March in New York playing shows - and it shows in his music. On Bedford, Buccarello’s euphoric synths sound bigger than ever; he even makes a dull commuter town to the Northeast of London sound like the kind of place you could fall in love. Buy the track here.
Ferns - And It Looked Like this
While many in the UK are metaphorically ‘losing their shit’ over yelping post-punk vestibules Savages, we prefer to get our dose of razor-sharp, female fronted rock ‘n’ roll from across the pond, in the form of Brooklyn four-piece Ferns. Fronted by Kelly Jackson, the quartet has just released a mini LP entitled Whatever We Plan, the opening track of which is streaming below. We think they’re infinitely more fun and melodic than their UK counterparts. Just don’t tell anyone we said that - we sense a lynching.
Travis Bretzer - Hurts So Bad
We love that this record from Canadian lo-fi chap Travis Bretzer sounds like it was recorded on a dusty old four-track rescued from an amphetamine-fried uncle’s mouldy attic, however deliberate that sound may be. Hurts So Bad, streaming below, is one half of a double A-side w/ Billy & I, released May 6 on Cool Delta. There’s also an album to come in the summer. The NME have compared Bretzer to Elvis Costello; he describes his music as ‘wuss rock’. It sounds like neither.
Anna Hillburg - Anna Hillburg
The blurb accompanying the eponymous debut solo album from Bay Area musician Anna Hillburg (also of Dreamdate) invites comparisons with ‘the classic pop sensibilities of Harry Nillson, the romantic drama of Fleetwood Mac, the confessional lyricism of Joni Mitchell … the effortless hooks of Paul McCartney’. While such comparisons may be a tad on the ambitious side – for now at least – no finer set of songs have we heard this year, thus far. What’s more, we’re dying to find out if that is in fact a dress Anna is wearing on the sleeve (above) or a luxurious silk dressing gown – we’re preying for the latter.
Anna Hillburg is out now on California Clap.
Sonny & The Sunsets - Dark Corners
By all accounts the new record from San Francisco’s Sonny & The Sunsets comes from a very dark place – death mainly – not that you’d guess from the sunny disposition and quirky lyrics of lead single, Dark Corners. ‘I come from the planet of dogs … And I walk on your streets … And I can’t wait to find … My little place in your weird world’ sings Sonny Smith, as new wave bass, Lou Reed guitars and dancing synths envelope his extra-terrestrial words. The album, Antenna to the Underworld, is released June 11 through Polyvinyl.