The Stranger receives an overwhelming amount of music. We sift through the deluge daily and sometimes we discover diamonds. Starting today, we'll be presenting the week's finest specimens on Slog, to help you bolster your digital and/or physical collection.
Chastity Belt, "Different Now" (Hardly Art). The first single from Chastity Belt's I Used to Spend So Much Time Alone (out June 2) sounds like the chillest anthem about trying to get your adult shit together to hit these parts in some time. The easy-going jangle and lope, the deadpan vocals by Julia Shapiro, the thorny, existential lyrics—all of this proves Chastity Belt are developing into a NW version of the Feelies. What a brilliant concept—even if it's completely unintentional.
Fleet Foxes, "Third of May/Ōdaigahara" (Nonesuch). Former Stranger intern Robin Pecknold and company return from a six-year hiatus with an orchestral folk-rock epic that prefigures the Seattle-affiliated group's third album, Crack-Up (out June 16). There's a shaggy expansiveness here that hints at cosmic Chris Bell and John Martyn territory without quite capturing the transcendent vibe those guys summoned at their peaks. Still, it's an ambitious, nearly hymnal song (about Pecknold's "unresolved, unrequited" relationship with band mate Skyler Skjelset), and it's one of Fleet Foxes' best.
The Bug Vs Earth, "Don't Walk These Streets" (Ninja Tune). British rhythm polymath producer Kevin Martin (aka the Bug) and Seattle avant-rock mystics Earth link up for a second time, following their 2014 collab EP, Boa/Cold. A teaser from Concrete Desert (out March 24), "Don't Walk These Streets," is nightmare dub that's heavier than a Black Sabbath boxed set. Martin and Earth main man Dylan Carlson conjure a sense of blasted desolation with hollowed-out bass tones, ill guitar radiation, and beats that all but put a toe-tag on you. Bless this damned hellscape.
somesurprises, "mayor skipped town/srs drms" (Eiderdown). The lead-off track from somesurprises' debut album, Serious Dreams, this song instantly ensnares you in the Seattle band's intimate yet starry soundworld. Natasha El-Sergany's vocals and keyboards and Josh Medina's guitar epitomize ethereal and aquatic tonalities, offering ultimate escapism and beautiful reveries. For fans of Mazzy Star and MV & EE.
Lusine, "The Lift" (Ghostly International). The deepest, most psychedelic track from Seattle electronic musician Lusine's melodically rich new album, Sensorimotor (which features former Stranger contributor Trent Moorman on drums), "The Lift" cruises elegantly, like if Steve Reich had a disco-house phase. This is the track DJs should play right before they want to burst into peak-time mode, as it really primes the pump for a climax.
Noteworthy March 10 album releases: Elliott Smith, Either/Or: Expanded Edition reissue; Damaged Bug, Bunker Funk (Castle Face); The Shins, Heartworms (Columbia); somesurprises, Serious Dreams (Eiderdown); Raekwon, The Wild (Ice H20/EMPIRE); Jim O'Rourke & Kassel Jaeger, Wakes on Cerulean (Editions Mego); Cameron Avery (Tame Impala), Ripe Dreams, Pipe Dreams (Anti-); Laura Marling, Semper Femina (More Alarming); Shobaleader One/Squarepusher, Elektrac (Warp); Shelby Earl,
The Man Who Made Himself a Name (Savage Man)