David Byrne, "This Is That" (Nonesuch). I'm mainly recommending this song as an excuse to encourage you to read David Byrne's enlightening 2012 book, How Music Works, which I'm currently reading and enjoying. As for "That Is That," it's an odd, minimalist curio from the former Talking Heads frontman's new album, American Utopia (out March 9). Recorded with Oneohtrix Point Never (aka Daniel Lopatin), the song's tune is cautiously optimistic and subtly mournful, and its timbres sound both ancient and 21st-century digital. The guy who wrote "I Zimbra"'s voice is taking on an increased fragility with age (he's 65 now), adding greater poignancy to this slight composition. Byrne plays May 24 at the Paramount Theatre (it's already sold out).
Laurie Anderson & Kronos Quartet, "CNN Predicts a Monster Storm" (Nonesuch). Because the times call for some portentous, grave, and beautiful chamber music by some of the most skilled musicians of the last four-plus decades. Because these "upstarts" in Godspeed You! Black Emperor, Sigur Rós, and [insert your favorite orch-pop/rock group here] need to recognize the true masters. Because new music from Laurie Anderson is an event. "CNN Predicts a Monster Storm" (great title) appears on Landfall, which comes out today.
Drinks, “Real Outside” (Drag City). Cate Le Bon and Tim "White Fence" Presley are Drinks, and you need to gulp what they're pouring. "Real Outside" is quirk-rock extraordinaire, featuring guitar figures that clang and sneer at the intersection of Snakefinger and Zoot Horn Rollo. Structurally, the song possesses the intimate insularity of Young Marble Giants, but Le Bon's voice is slightly more extroverted than Alison Statton's. I want to imbibe more.
Bardo Pond, "This Inner Light" (Chunklet World Industries). Philadelphia's longest-running psych-rock band (I think) return with a split single with Major Stars on Henry Owings's Chunklet World Industries label. "This Inner Light" is a slow-burning cauldron of mastodon-groan guitars, distant tom hits, and vocalist Isobel Sollenberger's stoned, philosophical utterances ("One must not unresistingly let oneself get swept along by unfavorable circumstances, nor permit his steadfastness to be shaken/He can avoid this by maintaining his inner light/With this attitude, he can overcome even the greatest adversities," etc.). There's something comforting and enriching about Bardo Pond's 27-year quest to create the most transcendent sludge anthem. This isn't quite it, but it's a worthy plunge into the staticky mire.
Moaning, "Tired" (Sub Pop). Seattle's most famous label is angling for a slice of that hot, hot shoegaze-rock action, and I'm here for it. Moaning are three young LA dudes—Andrew MacKelvie, Sean Solomon, and Pascal Stevenson—who were probably born after Loveless came out, but they've got a natural facility for shoegaze's gauzy, benumbed melodic majesty and guitar tones that signal the righteousness of the melancholy sigh. Recommended if you like 14 Iced Bears, early Boo Radleys, Pale Saints, and staring forlornly at the ground.
Noteworthy February 16 album releases: Laurie Anderson, Landfall (Nonesuch); Car Seat Headrest, Twin Fantasy (Matador); Belle & Sebastian, How to Solve Our Human Problems (Matador); Ought, Room Inside the World (Merge); Dabrye, Three/Three (Ghostly International); U.S. Girls, In a Poem Unlimited (4AD); Brandi Carlile, By the Way I Forgive You (Atlantic/Elektra); Peter Astor, One for the Ghost (Tapete); Superchunk, What a Time to Be Alive (Merge); Loma, Loma (Sub Pop); Born Ruffians, Uncle, Duke & the Chief (Paper Bag); Tal National, Tantabara (FatCat); I'm with Her, See You Around (Rounder); The Orielles, Silver Dollar Moment (Heavenly/PIAS); Shannon & the Clams, Onion (Easy Eye Sound/Nonesuch); Miracle, The Strife of Love in a Dream (Relapse); Nipsey Hussle, Victory Lap (All Money In/Atlantic); Fischerspooner, Sir (Ultra); Marlon Williams, Make Way for Love (Dead Oceans).