“Honey” is the kind of song that you don’t realize that you’re missing in your life until you hear it. A slow burning, melancholic vocal laid against a distorted, reverberating guitar strum that calls to mind artists like Neko Case, Jack White, and Jeff Tweedy at their most sad and alone. Then again, Mackenzie Scott (Torres mastermind) sounds not much like those artists, instead just exists in that sort of power-in-simplicity circle that those artists tend to swim. She’s got something special here and that’s for sure - invoking sounds like mid-90’s alternative rock ballads and 00’s indie rock balladeers, but with her own brand of power. I’m excited to hear more. I couldn’t recommend this track enough.
“His Eye is on the Sparrow” by Active Child // His Eye is on the Sparrow (Online Single) (2013)
Active Child (Pat Grossi) is back with his first new track in a while and it’s a gorgeous, stirring, track based on the hymn, “His Eye is on the Sparrow”. As you’ve come to expect from Pat Grossi, the track features his stunning falsetto multitracked to sound like there’s a half dozen choral vocals belting out a gorgeous ballad - only this time around he’s only backed by a piano and not the waves of synths and strings that accompanied much of his previous work. It’s a lovely track. Definitely worth a few dozen spins.
“WiseMan” by Frank Ocean // Django Unchained - Unused Track (2012)
Much has been made about the soundtrack to Django Unchained, and how Frank Ocean had written a stellar track that never made the final cut. Now, you can hear that track courtesy of Ocean’s tumblr - and it is indeed pretty fucking stellar. Clocking in at just under 4 minutes, and packing an emotional punch courtesy of a haunting, melancholic production and Ocean’s stunning vocals (and writing). The song might not have found a home in the film, but surely it will find it’s home on thousands of blogs and music sites in the coming days. It’s something pretty special.
“All Waters” by Perfume Genius // Put Your Back N 2 It (2012)
It’s nice to see Michael Hadreas’s Perfume Genius is back with more of his delicate beauties about insanely depressing and or highly sexualized topics. There’s definitely something charming about his compositions, and quite often something somber and haunting as well. This new track from the forthcoming release continues his use of gloomed out synths and simple production to nail home the bare bones beauty of his work. Definitely worth a few spins. For fans of Antony and the Johnsons, (early) Sufjan Stevens, and (solo, ballad-y) James Blake.
“Young Blood” by Birdy // Originally by The Naked and Famous
Further proof that when you can write an incredible hook, it will translate wherever you would like it to go. Birdy doesn’t really change up the original all that much, but where there was previously an exuberant electro pop anthem, now stands a somber ballad (luckily, that synth line is still very much intact). It’s a great cover. Check it out.
Daniel Blumberg is already behind one of the best albums of the year with Yuck’s self titled album, but now he’s released his solo side-project, Oupa, and it’s a straight up gem. Like the title track that was released back in March, “Driving” is a somber, lo-fi, piano ballad but it showcases Blumberg’s incredible gift for melody. It’s a gorgeous, heartbreaker of a song, and after a few more listens, I might find myself with Oupa’s release high up on my best of the year. Highest Recommendation.
“How They Want Me to Be” by Best Coast // How They Want Me to Be (single) (2011)
Here’s a lovely new track from Best Coast that was just posted on their Soundcloud page about 30 minutes back. It does all of the things that I like best about a Best Coast ballad, keeps it slow, catchy, and loaded up with pretty harmonies. Give it a go. I’ve got a feeling this one is going to catch on like wildfire.
“You Are” by Built to Spill // Ancient Melodies of the Future (2001)
It’s really hard to beat a Built to Spill ballad. Doug Martsch is a wizard at that sort of thing. The slow, somber waltz into the guitar explosion. He fucking kills it everytime. I haven’t listened to much Built to Spill in the past year, but the past couple of days has found me digging out the old goods and holy shit they’re just so damn good. They absolutely still hold up completely. I can listen to this forever.