What a week for independent-minded consumers of alternative music content. Or, to put it in non-industry terms: This was an exciting week in indie! Alternative-world A-listers released crazy new videos, lead singles from long-gestating albums, and/or staked further claim to their voices as solo artists. That sentence contains a whole lot of drama, and it's all unpacked below.
Father John Misty, "Total Entertainment Forever" (Feat. Macaulay Culkin)
Yes, this video stars that Macaulay Culkin, of Home Alone aftershave-on-the-face fame, playing a crucified Kurt Cobain in virtual while lollygaggers pause to take selfies. Such is the sardonic post-modern world of the Harry Nilsson-tipping smirk-pop titan Josh Tillman aka Father John Misty, whose journey from erstwhile Fleet Foxes drummer to SNL-headlining talent has been breathtaking and endlessly absorbing. And if he keeps making videos like this, I guess it really will be total entertainment forever. Keep your eyes peeled for cute socio-political references herein, like a Richard Spencer face-punch with cameras rolling, and more. Thanks, FJM.
The former Vampire Weekend multi-instrumentalist/producer/songwriter/superb human Rostam Batmanglij has kept busy since leaving his Grammy-award winning Columbia U mates, working with everyone from Charli XCX and Santigold to Francis Starlite and Frank Ocean, but his solo work under the name ROSTAM is the most undiluted dose of what makes his POV so special. "Gwan" features the sort of high-class sting arrangements that have typified VMPRWKND's most Ivy League-feeling tracks (and my favorite non-album version of "Campus," which you'll have to research to find) while Rostam sings sweetly about the contents of his heart. The recipe may not be mold-breaking, and neither is the format for the filmed-at-double-speed/played-at-half-time video of our hero traipsing around the big city, but like that blonde mohawk on Rostam's head, "Gwan"'s audio/visual combo represents a singular twist on the tropes of yore. Happy to have this man singing his truth.
Phoenix - "J-Boy"
All hail, the return of the the world-conquering Parisian synth-pop purveyors Phoenix! The band is following up 2013's Bankrupt! with Ti Amo on June 9th, and the lead single "J-Boy" stutters and over a mid-tempo disco strut, the sort of cut you want to drop just as you step on the the after-after-hours party dancefloor. Its cushiony groove and twinkling synths are a good bed for Thomas Mars to work out a strange syncopation through the verses and, as always, an earworm of a hook. Be careful, Phoenix will be on the hunt for album of the summer.