We’re back with another edition of Frankly Good Tunes, a weekly music recap series from the Frankly Music team. Each week we’ll be highlighting some of our favorite new tracks. More in-depth looks into our favorite albums are sure to follow.
Following the kickoff of festival season with Coachella (two weekends back to back) and Record Store Day this past Saturday, the 22nd, we’ve got quite a few tracks to share with you. Here are five of our Frankly Good picks from this week.
Track: "Thinking of a Place"
Artist: The War on Drugs
Rumors of The War on Drugs' major label demise are unfounded. Since leaving Secretly Canadian (s/o to Bloomington!) and signing with Atlantic Records, the band has been the subject of much handwringing in the indie rock community. What would the influx of resources (and corporate input) do to their sound? Even on Secretly, a small indie label (that boasts an extraordinary roster), the band's sound was hazy and expansive, and they built on it with each successive release, culminating in 2014's sublime Lost in the Dream. But a group's major label debut is a flashpoint, the "Before and After" photo. What would Atlantic do to The War on Drugs?
With the release of the Record Store Day single "Thinking of a Place", the answer is, reassuringly... nothing at all. Adam Granduciel still has full reign over his group's direction, and "Place" picks up right where Dream left off in 2014. It's 11 minutes of the band's patented hazy-yet-focused heartland rock, with all of their sonic benchmarks firmly in place. '80s synths fade in and out before the song settles into a laid-back groove that seemingly picks up momentum the longer it goes. Guitars awash in reverb and modulation add an ethereal element to the track before Granduciel's Dylanesque whine emerges from the fog to grab you. Fuzzed-out guitar solos and a lonely, wheezy harmonica step forward as the track chugs along like an Amtrak across a wide open American expanse. The lyrics are evocative and tender: "See it through my eyes, love me like no other/Hold my hand and something turns to me/Turns me into you." There is a real longing and yearning here, a sadness that's carried Granduciel through this journey he's on.
"Thinking of a Place" is The War on Drugs at the height of its powers, a perfect summation of Granduciel and co.'s career. It's unclear if this track means a new record is imminent. What we do know is that Atlantic's big budget and an army of A&R men haven't affected what made this band so great in the first place. If anything, Granduciel's been given an even bigger canvas to paint on, and an even larger darkroom to develop his photos. If this is the first post-Atlantic "After" photo, the results are promising.
Track: "Love Is Love"
Album: Love Is Love
The Brooklyn-based group, Woods, bring us a new album as a response to the 2016 elections. The title track is echoed through the EP “...say that love is love...how can we love with so much hate.” It can come off as more than a little cheesy but Woods manages to pull it off but weaving their psych-folk feel with some new loose funk elements that work to brighten the sound.
Love is Love comes out of a dark period of the 2016 election but goes beyond that as a reminder that we can prevail through dark times by working together and loving one another. Sometimes it’s good to have a reminder of the old cliches. We recommend you hit the “play” button on this groovy EP and start your spring days off right.
Track: “Comanche Moon”
Artist: Black Angels
Austin psychedelic rock band The Black Angels have released their newest effort, and with it comes the track “Comanche Moon”. Here we see the band (as far as I’m concerned) at peak form. In one moment this track simmers in dark psychedelia, showcasing the band’s haunting vocal harmonies, the depth of their arrangements. In the next, a switch is flipped, and the track lurches forward in unison, the guitars reminding us just how distorted they can get.
This track sees clearly both polarities of The Black Angels sound. As the song progresses, they manage to combine these two extremes together, showcasing a choice ability to filter a certain musical idea so that it can be blended with another. On first listen, this track seemed undecided about what it wanted to be, but with further listens I’ve come to admire the coherence that it finds in the simple addition and subtraction of sounds.
Track: "Morning Of"
Artists: The JuJu
Dropping his pseudonym, Donnie Trumpet, for his birth name, Nico Segal brings us his latest album. The Social Experiment member’s latest project, The JuJu, is an experimental and modern jazz instrumental album that does not disappoint. The opening track “Morning Of” explores a collage-like landscape where each musician's contribution flows between jam and cohesive flow.
It’s been a great couple years for modern jazz and we are looking forward to what Nico and his crew have in store for us on the next project.
Album: Out In The Storm
Last week, Waxahatchee released the first single off their fourth record Out In The Storm, which is set to be released this July. The album draws inspiration from ending a relationship and the aftermath of the breakup. “Silver” tells the story of falling out of love with a partner, being able to see the world outside your partnership, and thus, be able to enter the storm without breaking down. The guitar-driven, indie rock tune (reminiscent of Doolittle-era Pixies) rings with the emotional intimacy that we have come to expect from Katie Crutchfield. Detailed, poignant, and packed with subtlety, “Silver” gives us the power to “go out in the storm” without fear that we will be swept up in a tornado of our emotions.