Lead Single from Florence + The Machine’s Forthcoming Album

Posted in Music on August 24th, 2011 by Tom

London’s premiere siren and her crew are back at it again, and not a moment too soon. I was pretty tired of the radio and TV continually reminding me how good Lungs was. I should know; Florence + The Machine were one of the first groups I ever discussed back when this blog was just starting to become a ‘music blog’, and that was July, 2009.

The final single from Lungs was released a full year afterwards, in the summer of 2010, and even now in 2011 the album’s popularity shows no signs of waning. It’s a tribute to the craftsmanship that went into that record, but it’s also annoying to watch mainstream media get all excited about a record that’s nearly two years old. If it was a child, it would be speaking, for pete’s sake…

Enough ranting though. Just when you thought you were sick of F+TM though, they drop a brand new track off their forthcoming album that’s due out November!

‘What the Water Gave Me’
[ mp3 ♫ ]

I gave the aforementioned Lungs a brief spin while I was typing this up so I could compare the new track to the older material. It holds up pretty damn well, and given the previous discussion, that’s saying something.

What the Water Gave Me‘ is a little darker in tone than their past work, and that works wonders for the group’s sound. It’s got a little more grit to it, and then at about the 2:20 mark we trade out the familiar ethereal synthesizers for an honest-to-god guitar. The addition of such a traditional element to the band’s pallet of sounds gives it a previously unaccessed degree of dimension that simply sounds great.

Expect big things in November. Enjoy this in the mean time.

Florence + The Machine – ‘What The Water Gave Me’
(via UK iTunes) – [You might need to set up some proxy devilry to get the above link to work; otherwise sit tight for the track’s release in other countries]


Best of 2010 Errata, Vol. 2: Future Islands

Posted in Music on August 22nd, 2011 by Tom

After stumbling upon Future Island’s 2010 effort In Evening Air only 48 hours ago, I already have realized it belongs among the Errata of my ‘Best of 2010’ list.

What prompted this investigation was hearing so much buzz in the music blog circuit about Future Islands, culminating with the post over at my new favorite blog, The Wounded Jukebox. So I figured I might as well look into it and pulled up Future Islands on Spotify (which I should probably do a post on in and of itself; suffice to say it is useful as hell).

In Evening Air had me captivated in only a few mintues. It’s been said countless times, but merits repeating: the utterly bizarre timbre of Samuel T. Herring’s voice is captivating to say the least. Apparently the group also kills live, but I’ll need to get back to you on that. The most accessible, and thus far my favorite, track of the album is ‘Tin Man‘.

‘Tin Man’
[ mp3 ♫ ]

Opening with the whimsical electronic marimba, the percussion is sparing and synthetic, but that’s because most of the rhythm comes from the synthesizers and the bass (though for the life of me I can’t really say which is which). On the first few listens, the lyrics are damn near indecipherable, and initially that’s fine because the pure emotion behind the track is more than enough to carry it.

After a few listens though, along with a peak at the liner notes, reveals a lyrical styling that seems as wise as it does cryptic:

And time – goes by
And you’ve got a lot to learn, in your life
And the heart’s not inside
And I’ve got to find the one that’s just right

The title track is a minute-long interlude of a sparse melody whose echoes seem to bounce of the walls, and the placement of which marks a nice halfway point in the album.

One thing I’ve noted about almost all the tracks is that even if they aren’t aggressive, punchy numbers, nothing’s really all that slow. I really appreciate that, because I seldom care for tracks by synth-heavy bands that assume a slow track instantly grants them a certain automatic degree of emotional gravitas.

Future Islands provides a spectrum of tunes that vary in tone but not in intensity; tracks that sacrifice pace more than make up for it in depth. It’s this attribute that provides the glue that really holds the record together.

My second favorite track is the opener, ‘Walking Through the Door’, whose closing stanza of

And I’ll hold your hand- as I walk you through that door
And I’ll hold your hand as you held my hand as I walk you through the door

Is executed so well that I won’t even ruin it for you here. Find the track and listen to it and love it.

The last thing I want to share today is one of the later tracks, titled ‘Vireo’a Eye‘. What struck me about this song was how completely forlorn it’s message is despite being housed in a no-nonsense synth-pop framework.

‘Vireo’s Eye’
[ mp3 ♫ ]

The bass line is unrelenting, propelling you through the narrative, with the vocals cresting at the chorus, lamenting

We, we’re not kings here.
We’re not kings here.
We’re just strangers.

There’s nothing frilly to it, but it has a pure, almost refined quality to it. Along with that, it’s a melancholy tune with such a catchy beat that I can’t help but find it one of the most interesting of the batch.

By my reckoning, Future Islands still owes their highest highs to New Order and that band’s immediate contemporaries and progeny. That said, the road taken to get to those places is entirely new and worthwhile unto itself, making this album a must for anyone remotely interested in that flavor of “post-wave” or whatever we’ve decided to call it.

I’m excited to spend more time with In Evening Air as well as On The Water when it drops later in October, something I have no doubt will be discussed here in due time as well.

Future Islands – In Evening Air


New Single from M83’s Forthcoming Album

Posted in Music on August 9th, 2011 by Tom

October seems like a long ways away, especially when French strato-pop group M83 drop such enticing teasers like ‘Midnight City‘ for their Hurry Up, We’re Dreaming, which isn’t released until later that month.

‘Midnight City’
[ mp3 ♫ ]

I love the backing beats on this track, even if they seem a little over-the-top at first listen. The lyrics are haunting without being scary, and the song has drive without being obviously dancey, which is a pretty neat trick if you think about it.

The song has an rather alien feel to it as well, aided not in the least by its spooky cover art (see link below). Throw in a sax solo reminiscent of the Psychedelic Fur’s ‘Heartbeat’ and I can’t help but love this song ten times ’til Tuesday. The album should be spectacular, if this is any indication.

M83’s Official Page

Single Shot: ‘Future Starts Slow’

Posted in Music on August 3rd, 2011 by Tom

So I heard this song while I was trawling through the blogosphere the other day, and it reminded me that I needed to follow up on The Kills.

Since I heard it, I’ve had ‘Future Starts Slow‘ stuck in my head almost constantly. There’s something simple and elegantly grimy about the track that I am just totally digging.

‘Future Starts Slow’
[ mp3 ♫ ]

No fancy guitar runs or excitable percussion, just a rock-steady drum-bass-guitar pace that gives pause only at the bridge, where for the briefest of moments the song changes tone. Blink and you’ll miss it though, because it’s back to form right after, and the song finishes strong.

It’s a really fun track, and I’m excited to spend more time with Blood Pressures.

The Kills – Blood Pressures