It’s Friday, the Independence Day getaway beckons, and so I wanted you to feel special with a super-sized version of AMR, with all of the best rooftop-banger tracks to emerge from the alt world this week. Cue 'em up and get loose.
Moses Sumney - "Doomed"
There’s a cinematic magic to Moses Sumney’s voice, and while last year’s Lamentations EP presented a loping showcase for it, "Doomed" feels like his most successful work yet. The ambient but structured synths wave in and out, and Sumney takes turns surfing them and then submerging, locating a startling nexus between his vocal and his instruments’ sin waves. This is emotional stuff, and the video is adequately watery for a man with this much tearjerking flow.
Mal Devisa - "You Are My Sunshine"
Mal Devisa was born with the name Deja Carr, though there’s others that will come to mind in her fluid, heartfelt hip hop. Names like Lauryn Hill (for her genre-fused flow from rap to soul), or Sonic Youth (the alt.rock gods she casually name drops in the first verse). "You Are My Sunshine" takes a simple, bright-lit sample and makes it a showcase to her many talents. Like this? Check out her album Kiid on Bandcamp.
Half Waif - "Cary"
"Cary why’d you let me grow / why’d you let me grow up?" Lyrical recriminations and hypnogogic synths make quite a bed on this track by Nandi Rose Plunkett who is a member of the ascendant indie outfit Pinegrove and records her own stuff as Half Waif. If you remember Brooklyn indie circa 2010 you may hear some Twin Sister in this one (and that’s a great thing!), but Half Waif is a swooning gem of its own cut, all told, bringing together low-key dance elements and emotional curiosities in its own tidy bundle. Great track, keep an eye on Half Waif.
Liars - "Cred Woes"
Liars are the experimental project of Angus Andrew, who now runs this show alone after a slow attrition of the band’s other members over a run of incredible albums that have inspired everyone from Thom Yorke to, well, everybody who likes twisted rock sounds. Angus delivers the first track of Liars’ solo era in "Cred Woes," a mix of syncopated lyrical snot, "My Sharona" guitars (find them at the 2:00 mark), and a modular synth arpeggio that will not leave its head, if you let it in. That last clause, by the way, describes most of Liars, so if you are interested in letting some twisted stuff into your head, please visit the full-length albums They Were Wrong, So We Drowned, Drum’s Not Dead, Sisterworld, et al. Those are old Liars albums. The new one, Theme From Crying Mountain, is out August 25th via Mute.
Toro Y Moi - "You And I"
Chaz Bundick aka Toro Y Moi has a soft-pop r&b side and "You And I" is that guy to the max. Chaz’s studio moves are an '80s masterclass (keyboard sounds, a heavy dose of reverb, crisp percussion), and his dance moves are that special brand of nerd-sensual. I think maybe that’s a perfect descriptor for this whole project, which has given us so much goodness and clearly won’t stop anytime soon. Breakups rarely sound this good. Toro's Boo Boo LP is out next week on Carpark.
The National - "Guilty Party"
Debonair crafters of late-night whiskey ruminations and AMR regulars, the National have a new album on the way. We’ve already heard, please welcome "Guilty Party," an even more emotional cut about a relationship fizzling out. "Another year fizzles away…I don’t know why I care." Man. That relationship is not one I’d want to be in, but being a fan of The National remains one of the most secure places to be in the music world. New album Sleep Well Beast is out September 8th. It will be big.
Matthew Dear - "Modofinil Blues"
If you’re into the "cognitive-enhancing drug" racket, you may know something about Modofinil. Matthew Dear didn’t know much about the pill before taking it one day, and he tells NPR that the comedown inspired this creepy electronic cut. It’s paranoid, sexy, creative, urgent, and strangely addictive, which is to say, it is a very successful song about being on drugs. Matthew Dear is a guy you should know if you like suited-up and eccentric synth works. As a leading light in the genre for years, he’s made released a few albums is own, and for the DJ Kicks series, and under his Audio alias. "Modofinil Blues" is a return to his name, and how.
inc. no world - "Living"
inc. no world used to be inc., and before that I fell in love with them as Teen Inc. The brothers Andrew and Daniel Aged have a special way in the studio, where they seem to capture the best of soul, funk, r&b, and slick session-cat styles into an own under-appreciated confection. "Living" is for you if you like D’Angelo, or Jamie Lidell, or any other artist who can flip a beat or an augmented arpeggio in the process of making an ear worm. There’s a warm glow at the center of this one, with "You change me" being an operative lyric. This is the title track from a new EP, out this August. More of this please.