Grizzly Bear and Unicorn Kid have done me a huge favor. I am, of course, assuming that they know of my column and timed the release of their latest songs in order to be included in this week’s edition of Listener’s Digest. That is the most logical explanation for this fortuitously timed new song, right? Of course I am right; in fact I am right 85% of the time. The other 15%? We never speak of that, ever. Do you hear me? We never speak of what happened that night. If anyone asks, I had nothing to do with the nuclear meltdown in Japan. Nothing! Anyway, another week means another selection of great new music.
Grizzly Bear – “Yet Again:” It is instantly obvious that this is a shift towards something more accessible for Grizzly Bear. A straight forward rock song is new territory for the band, currently finishing up their fourth album. However, "Yet Again"retains the melancholic minor-chord mood the band has been cultivating over the years. While "Yet Again," is new territory, Grizzly Bear appears confident and the song is excellent. Brooding and haunting, the guitars swirl and crash around Ed Droste's vocals until finally coming apart at the end, the stormy crash reminding you that this is still a Grizzly Bear song.
Dum Dum Girls – “Lord Knows:” A slow, sultry track off of their forthcoming EP, Dum Dum Girls continue to establish their growth as a band. Band leader Kristin Gundred's evocative vocals carry the song, which is backed by a subtle guitar line and plodding drums. A bridge featuring only Gundred's vocals demonstrates her strength as a writer of moody and atmospheric rock songs.
JJ Doom – “Guv’nor”: A new collaboration between the enigmatic MF Doom and Jneiro Jarel, "Guv'nor" features Doom rapping over a very brief sample looped to a twitchy and percussive effect. The beat is consistently on the brink of being terribly annoying, but never quite reaches that point, somehow, in turn, making it a very captivating. An array of brief vocal samples and screams end the track on a weird note.
Unicorn Kid – “Need U:” In a certain way, the over the top maximalist sound of Unicorn Kid makes a lot of sense, coming across as the logical coming together of a certain style and sensibility. This new single, released only a few hours ago is jubilant, with a breathless quality running throughout. At times, "Need U" seems like it can barely keep up with itself as blaring synths and samples seem to pile on top of each other with little moment for air.
The Sea and Cake – “Harps:” This new song from the Chicago veterans is considerably different from the Unicorn Kid track and may be a good breather. The Sea and Cake have been consistently putting out great music since the mid-90's. A breezy and smooth song, "Harps" is standard material for The Sea and Cake. However, in their case, consistency is not a bad thing. Actually, the prominent synth line is a new addition to their sound, one that works well.