On "Everything," Case Studies continues their exploration of post-Basement Tapes Americana. Swaying, drunk, ramshackle, a little countrified, a little bluesy, a little rocking, this one has more concern for the right emotional take than the right instrumental one. Keep it in your pocket for your next road trip.
Hugest duh ever if you read this website consistently, but my most anticipated mainstream-y album this year has been The-Dream's IV Play. Yet since I'm sensitive and don't have a bath at the office, I'm not listening yet. In the meantime, get sultry and complex with "Where Have You Been" – a duet between Terius and Kelly Rowland. It's about love, sure, but also codependence and some of the darker pitfalls that pop-up when you just need somebody.
On the Kingdom edit to Cassie's "All My Love," the original gets clipped-out, fried and thoroughly crunched into a futuro-R&B sex explosion. Death to all genres – raise a glass to human emotion and late-night grinding.
Download: Cassie - All My Love (Kingdom Edit) [Zippyshare]
Hit that third record and it's time to go mature. It's one of the oldest tricks in the rock LP handbook, but Smith Westerns pull it off with poise, impeccable production and some of the most timeless-sounding summer songs I've heard in awhile on Soft Will. "3am Spiritual" is your example – flighty, dreamy, anthemic and rippling with just enough '70s-aping guitar leads to encourage a Sunday where kissing is the only thing on the agenda.
On "Battle Funk," New York psychedelic warriors NYMPH return to provide a set of freak explosions, mountainous crescendos, Afrobeat extensions and pointillist guitar dots. It's crazy but it all feels intensely spiritual as the track glides around in a tangled cluster in sync with the noise-weapon vocals of Eri Shoji. Some mind expansion necessary, but the payoff is worth it.
My recent punk obsession Tweens mixes their usual snot with some tears on the rough and charming "Don't Wait Up." The guitars, still dirty as hell, echo and sputter, while the vocals exude just the right amount of loneliness to draw you in for a sucker punch.
Five years later, the disco is still icy. Italians Do It Better (and production mastermind Johnny Jewel) are finally releasing After Dark 2 on May 17 and this Mirage record, "Let's Kiss," leads the way with glacial funk about falling in love on the run. "Go like a record lady" through a chilly vocoder is an old trick, but there's no need to obscure a frozen feeling.
On "Step Right Up (Pour Yourself Some Wine)," Alex Bleeker – aka the anchor of Real Estat – joins his Freaks to pay tribute to Neil Young and strum-laden relaxation. It's a simple, resonant song tinged with melancholy yet also directly reflective of its relaxing, bleary-eyed title.
On "Always," Friendzone continues pushing their flighty button-mashing to new heights. It's like a sample funhouse filled with kaleidoscopes, a clattering beat underneath and eventual key-horn melody to make the proceedings appropriately operatic.
Even at its barest moments, Julianna Barwick's music is just utterly beautiful. With little more than layered voices and ambient instrumentation, it's emotionally immense yet also escapist in a unique, gut-wrenching way. Her new LP, Nepenthe, is out August 20 on Dead Oceans, and your first taste is the mountainous aural xanax of "Forever." Listen and preview the album with the teaser above.