Caribou – Can’t Do Without You


 I think the main appeal with Swim –  Caribou’s magnificent 2010 album  – was how Dan Snaith created electronic pop music that wasn’t constructed and arranged like electronic pop in any traditional sense. Undoubtedly, this had a lot to do with him spending the prior decade crafting albums that jumped from a wide set of styles and genres, often with a psych- prefix attached. In this respect, “Can’t Do Without You” – Snaith’s first release under the Caribou alias in four years – is possibly the first time he approaches a new song without any major alterations in sound or direction. Not a big surprise considering the success and impact of Swim – still, I’m not saying that “Can’t Do Without You” could’ve been lifted right of that album. The atmosphere here is warmer and less intimate, and if Swim was borne out of the desire to create “dance music that sounds like it’s made out of water”, then “Can’t Do Without You” is the sound of music splashing against rocks inside a cave.

With news that Caribou’s sixth album Our Love will feature Owen Pallett and Jessy Lanza amongst its collaborators surely means the finished album will sound more multicolored and kaleidoscopic, or as the bio depicts the new album as Caribou’s “most soulful record to date, chock-full of heartfelt lyrics and organic nature which cuts through bubbling synths and blissful euphoria of their synthetic construction”. We have to wait until October to hear the final result, but  in the meantime, “Can’t Do Without You” is no doubt a wisely chosen first single that serves a not-so-subtle reminder of everything that made Swim one of 2010’s true highlights.

Our Love is out October 6 in UK/EU and October 7 in US/Canada via Merge and  October 3 in Germany via City Slang.


Wye Oak – Glory


Early records from Wye Oak mined sullen textures blanketed by guitars and more “traditionally” layered instruments, hence their slicker and synthier sound on “The Tower” took me somewhat aback. But it also made me inclined towards the band in ways I haven’t before. Shelving guitars for synthesizers seems to be the scheme for many bands these days, still as opposed to countless others, this venture from the Baltimore duo feels – so far – unusually successful. As already could be felt during the early stages of their career, writing songs with a strong sense of melody seemed to come invariably easy for Wye Oak. But on “The Tower” and likewise on newest offering “Glory”, this trait is magnified and expressed with substantially more sanguine arrangements. In all fairness, “Glory” might not be as commencing as “The Tower”, but it’s the most melodiously outspoken music they’ve carved out this far.

Wye Oak’s new album Shriek is out April 28 via City Slang in UK/Europe and the day after in the US via Merge Records.


Kevin Drew – Mexican Aftershow Party


At this point is hard to guess how Darlings, Kevin Drew’s first solo album in seven years will end up sounding like. His former single “Good Sex” was possibly his stickiest, most hook-laden track of his entire career, while new single “Mexican Aftershow Party” works as a fascinating contrast – a brooding synthesizers driven track, on where Drew finds himself in an odd crossfire between Purple Rain’s half-spoken, half-sung lyrics and Bear In Heavens’ suggestive take on rock vs. synth-pop.


Kevin Drew – Good Sex



My long time fascination with Kevin Drew and Broken Social Scene never seems to cease. I could write lengthy essays on why I think BSS should be regarded amongst the most imperative bands of our time, or how I’m still baffled by how few people in this part of the world (read Scandinavia) can name one of their songs, or even know who Kevin Drew is. If you happen to be one of those unfortunate human beings, then his 2007 solo debut is actually good place to start. In addition to unloading elegant dips into familiar BSS terrains, I hold that Spirit If… was the most capable and lasting set of songs the former BSS singer and chief songwriter has been involved in since 2005’s crucial Broken Social Scene. I say this without taking anything away from Forgiveness Rock Record, the bands rock solid swan song, it’s just that time has treated it less gently than most of their other outputs.

Four years have passed since we’ve heard from Drew, but on Mach 18, Arts & Crafts along with City Slang, are set to release Darlings, his second solo album. “The record is a celebration of memories. It’s about the rise and fall of love and sex, in my own life and in today’s society” he recently explained. Lead single “Good Sex” clarifies further with its socio-sexualized lyrics; “Good sex should never make you feel hollow / good sex should never make you feel clean”, Drew croons over precise piano loops and resolute drumming. By the time you reach the chorus; “But I’m still breathin’ with you, baby” you should already be convinced that this is the stickiest, most hook-laden song Drew has ever written.

“Good Sex” was released a few weeks back and gets now a remix by long-time BSS producer Dave Newfeld, who turned it into a beat and percussion heavy affair. It’s a spirited and glowing take on the original, perhaps more reminiscent of Broken Social Scene sprawling aberrations than the original, and as such, it’s equally brilliant. Stream both below.


Wye Oak – The Tower


With a few exceptions, every successive release from Baltimore’s Wye Oak has sounded more polished than the one that came before. The duo’s latest, 2011’s Civilian, was hitherto their finest set of songs; perfectly balanced, neither to fuzzy nor to clean. Even so, their new single, “The Tower” is a strong departure from their former selves. Heavy on the synths and a bounce akin to “The Logical Song”, “The Tower” carries truckloads of warmth and pleasant harmonies. According to Jenn Wasner, one half of the duothere won’t be a single guitar lick on their upcoming record. Going by “The Tower” it might not be as a bad move as it sounds. The more I listen to this the more it makes sense. This is eye-catching stuff that I see myself listening to all year long.

Wye Oak’s new album Shriek is out April 28 via City Slang in UK/Europe and the day after in the US via Merge Records.


The Notwist – Kong


As I recently wrote, German electro-pop pioneers, The Notwist, are well on their way to follow-up 2008’s severely underrated The Devil, You + Me. Following the intense and claustrophobic “Close To The Glass”, new single “Kong” is more for the heart than the hips. Built on steady drumming and jangly guitar play, it resembles the directness of “Good Lies” and “Gloomy Planets” – two of the best moments on their former album.

Whatever foundation, their tuneful melancholia has unceasingly held their albums together. So far, these two new cuts – although very different — suggest that Close To The Glass will be well worth the six years long wait; out Feb 25 via Sub Pop in US and Feb 24 via City Slang in Europe.



The Notwist – Close To The Glass


2002’s Neon Golden, the breakthrough record of German post-grunge-rockers turned electronic-laptop-pop pioneers, The Notwist, was a worldwide crossover wonder that contained the excellent “Pilot”, one of my favorite track of that year, and one that certainly helped making glitch-pop into a thing in 2002/2003. It took them six more years to follow it up with The Devil, You + Me – an album that went down fairly unnoticed and remains shamefully underrated. Unfortunately – and as a fairly obvious explanation – in-between these two releases, the larger portion of the indie crowd had since long moved on from the glitchy pop music that The Notwist together with acts like The Postal Service help pioneering.

Not counting an unfortunate movie score, The Notwist are getting ready to release their first album since 2008, and by the sound of its title track, they seemed to have undergone a relatively hefty transformation. “Close To The Glass” is a piece of monotonic production rooted in the minimalistic club scebe. The textures are tense, muddy, and by their standards, fairly violent. In the U.S, Sub Pop recently declared that they’ve signed The Notwist by stating that “Every once in a while, we take a break from all that t-shirt stuff and we get to sign an artist that we’ve been huge fans of for years – artists with an established fan base who would be welcome at any record lapel that they please.” I can relate to their sentiment; a new The Notwist album is definitely worth getting bonkers over.

Close To The Glass is out February 24 I Europe via City Slang and February 25 in US via Sup Pop.