On their latest LP, The Invisible Way, minimal Midwestern indie trio Low (would you still know what I meant if I called them “slow-core”?) got a hand from one of their musical peers with a similar grasp of sound and space. The album was produced by Wilco’s Jeff Tweedy, and is streaming in its entirety this week via NPR Music’s First Listen series. NPR’s Stephen Thompson writes:
Low songs don’t often change tempo noticeably, instead achieving tension through variations in volume. But that seemingly limited framework still provides ample room for experimentation: Low can be a sweetly chiming pop band, or it can seethe and unsettle with an almost industrial buzz. It can express emotion by drawing out the barest fragment of a phrase, or it can expound thoughtfully on life, death, secrecy, war and the way humanity collides with itself.
Listen to the album in its entirety here. Low’s only Philadelphia appearance in the near future is the just-announced in-store set at Manayunk record shop Main Street Music; the free show happens next Monday, March 18th, at 7 p.m.
A unique fusion of old Philly soul and 21st century hip-hop, the new collaborative LP Adrian Younge Presents The Delfonics pairs the singer of the Philadelphia International Records legends (who has sung hooks for Ghostface Killah and had his music reworked by The Fugees, among others) with producer Younge and his band. The album premiered today on NPR Music’s first listen series, and NPR’s Frannie Kelly praised the “cross-generational link” crafted by the record:
Younge and Hart are holding fast to the qualities of The Delfonics’ music from 40 years ago — Hart’s piercing falsetto, the surf-guitar licks, the heavy pauses. But Younge in particular has also taken note of the power found in those sounds when rap producers stripped the flourishes away and roughed them up. Gone are the big orchestral openings. These are tight little songs with a fat bottom end, a bass line that can’t be ignored and enough skank to make felt the strains of reggae that bubble up in hip-hop.
Listen to Adrian Younge Presents The Delfonics here, and watch the band perform its signature tune “Didn’t I Blow Your Mind This Time” below.
Cerulean Salt is the second album from Katie Crutchfield’s Waxahatchee, and the first to take her songwriting out of the solo-guitar realm since the days of her DIY punk band P.S. Eliot. The album, due out March 5 on Don Giovanni Records, premiered this week in NPR Music’s First LIsten series, which said Crutchfield “addresses teenage flux with seasoned songcraft.” NPR’s Otis Hart writes how the album unshyly addresses the lows of young adulthood: “loneliness, fickle feelings, anxiety, self-doubt.”
We all encounter these emotions at various points in our lives, but most of us tend to quarantine them, lest anyone realizes how truly messed-up we feel inside. Crutchfield — or, more accurately, her songwriting — thrives on those periods of fragility. Her characters are almost always ambivalent, sophisticated adolescents wrestling with an uneasy mix of emotions. Happiness is a moment’s peace; love a two-state solution.
The Alabama native, currently living in Philadelphia with her twin sister Allison of the band Swearin‘, is about to head down to South By Southwest in support of Cerulean Salt, and plays a tour kickoff / album release show at West Philadelphia’s Golden Tea House on Friday, March 1. Go deep and listen to the album here.
Philadelphia native Bilal will release his new album A Love Surreal on February 26th but you don’t have to wait that long to listen to the record in full – NPR is currently streaming the funky R&B effort in their First Listen feature. Bilal, who quickly fell into the Soulquarians scene with The Roots, Erykah Badu and D’Angelo in New York City after graduating from Philadelphia’s High School for the Creative and Performing Arts, smooths his funky style with bright, psychedelic overtones on this latest effort while the lyrics explore the many facets of love. Stream “West Side Girl” below and stream the full record here.
Nothing like a bit of heavy, layered grunge listening to start off the week. Ahead of its release on March 5th via Matador Records, NPR is streaming Chelsea Light Moving‘s self-titled debut as a First Listen. The newest Thurston Moore project has been in existence for just about a year under this moniker, though the band members have been playing together as Moore’s touring band for a while; filling out the space behind the Sonic Youth founder’s vocals and guitar playing are Samara Lubelski on violin, Keith Wood on guitar and John Molony on drums. As expected from the four tracks that have been floating around for several months, Chelsea Light Moving is a confluence of the varied musical streams Moore has paddled down over his long career. Some tracks are melodic, thoughtful and poetic, while others harken back to his avant-garde punk roots and still others cross over into blown-up distorted freak-outs (and some, like “Alighted,” zig-zag back and forth between all of these).
Chelsea Light Moving will be in town at Union Transfer on April 3rd with Talk Normal. Tickets and information for the all-ages show can be found here. Watch a video for “Burroughs” below and stream the full Chelsea Light Moving LP here.
Unknow Mortal Orchestra releases its new album, II, on Tuesday, February 5th on Jagjaguwar Records. Originally from New Zealand, UMO is the brainchild of Ruban Nielson and is based out of Portland. Stream the album in its entirety via NPR Music here. Stephen Thompson sums it up:
It’s hard to place Unknown Mortal Orchestra’s songs on a timeline: There’s uncertainty baked right into the band’s name, but its sound also shape-shifts frequently through the worlds of brittle indie-pop, Nuggets-era retro psych-rock, vintage soul and something more alien altogether.
Stream the album here. Unknown Mortal Orchestra play Union Transfer on Friday, March 1st with Wampire and Foxygen. Go here for tickets and more information about the show.
Lord Huron is a Los Angeles based band fronted by singer-songwriter and artist Ben Schneider. Listening to the band’s music one is magically swept into a dreamy world influenced indie island pop, Fleet Foxes harmonies, and Graceland styled grooves. Over several gorgeous EP’s and now with the band’s debut, Lonesome Dreams, they’ve realized a unique musical voice. The album is being released Tuesday, October 9th. WXPN Welcomes Lord Huron to Kung Fu Necktie on Monday, October 8th; it’s a show you don’t want to miss. You can listen to Lonesome Dreamshere via NPR Music.