Brit songwriter Jake Bugg often taps into the folkloric qualities of rock 'n' roll, and there's no better example of his strengths than when he strips it down (ahem) and flexes those acoustic muscles. In this case, it's "Lightning Bolt" – a frenetic rocker that rambles and shows-off Bugg's chugging guitar and drawling way around a sharp melody.
Sometime last year, a weird thing happened to me: I began to miss Devendra Banhart. I don't mean that as a diss, really! I just didn't know he had cemented his place in my bearded Mount Rushmore. But it's a good, fine thing we're hear today with a new single from his upcoming Mala in the form of the dusty, wigged-out pop number "Never Seen Such Good Things." At one point, he sings, "If we ever make sweet love again, I'm sure it will be quite disgusting." That should be more than enough. Welcome back, hombre.
Well, ain't this one just a dagger to the heart. On "He Took You In His Arms," Bill Ryder-Jones of The Coral fame steps out as a songwriter while wielding his masterful composition abilities as a devastating weapon. It's the first salvo from the upcoming A Bad Wind Blows In My Heart, which is forthcoming from Domino imprint Double Six Records.
In an era of middlebrow digital effects and laptop trickery, I'm more into rawness than ever – particularly the strength of a unique human voice. It seems like Mackenzie Scott, recording here as Torres, has one of those voices. The 22-year-old Nashville songwriter uses little more than a winding guitar and a dynamic vocal range to flip a poignant domestic moment into absolute drama. Her self-titled debut is out January 22 via relevant digital outlets.
Grouper returns with the heavenly "Vital" – the first salvo from her upcoming The Man Who Died In His Boat LP, which collects unreleased recordings from around the time she released the folky, ambient milestone Dragging A Dead Deer Up A Hill. Hear more February 4 via Kranky, and read an explanation of the album's admittedly-wild title to whet that appetite a little more.
It was only last week that I made fun of Christmas music for being universally awful. Of course, right on cue, Damien Jurado shows up with this new original called "Kalla Has" that is a complete chamber-pop heartbreaker and makes me want to throw a tree through my window. More practically, the song features Kyle Zantos and strings by Sam Anderson, and you can also scope the Christopher Harrell-directed video above while you download below. How's that for ya Christmas?
Light In The Attic – probably the best reissue label going right now – has had one of its hottest years in 2012. Take this recent revisit of the previously-unknown A Fire Somewhere by Ray Stinnett – a vast, homespun LP that dances around rock, soul, folk and everything else that seems timeless nowadays. "Honey Suckle Song" is loping, countrified and natural, forming a perfect organic combo for fans of artists like The Band.
I'm eagerly awaiting the next missive from the ever-mysterious (but oh so excellent) songwriter Cass McCombs. Until then, we have "Empty Promises" – a grimy, psychedelic, pop-oriented number with spiraling guitars, anchored bass and Cass absolutely going-off lyrically.
Fleetwood Mac are clearly having a moment. And yes, they've always (maybe secretly) ruled, but now even our less pop-inclined experimentalists are revisiting the dramatic group's majestic, insular songs with fresh takes. Here's another one from Rumours Revisited – Julia Holter's spooky, pulsating, harmony-heavy turn on "Gold Dust Woman."
Will Oldham and Dawn McCarthy are apparently doing an entire album of Everly Brothers covers, which I can wholeheartedly support as a concept – especially since it also gives fans a crack at a holiday single for the ages in the duo's take on the 1972 song "Christmas Eve Can Kill You." Check out their cover and new video, which was shot by Lara Miranda during the track's recording sessions in Nashville. The single is out November 20 via Drag City.