We haven’t heard from Chris Cohen since 2016’s As If Apart, so I’m scrambling to reabsorb all those old songs from his first two LPs. Today we’ve got a brand new single from Chris, and what a special gem it is. It walks that fine line between NPR-core (the indie rock your dad thinks is cool) and artfully branded pop music. It’s got a nice little sax solo that adds texture to the track, wrapping itself around Cohen’s mellowed vocal tones. The percussive element gives the track a jazz club vibe…and while I’m laughing in my head at the inclusion of the instrumentation, it’s what makes Chris’ work so intriguing; he captures this curmudgeon with his songwriting like so few ever do. Let’s hope there’s more to come from Chris in 2019.
It’s been a hot minute since we’ve heard from Juan Wauters; his last release was back in 2015 with Who Me. But, worry no more, as he’s finished up some traveling through Latin America and will return with La Onda de Juan Pablo. His travels began in Puerto Rico, where the following tune was begun; he was struck by a couple of characters playing boleros, thus crafting his own. It immediately has this almost traditional light-hearted vibe, particularly in the supporting vocals. You’ll also note that Wauters is singing entirely in Spanish, something that continues through the whole of the new album. I know I’m fond of the style, and if you find yourself in the same boat, look for the new album on January 25th via Captured Tracks.
Indigo marks the fourth full-length studio release of Wild Nothing, the moniker for Jack Tatum’s sonic explorations in the realm of shimmery indie rock. We’ve seen Tatum’s style change with each release; a devotee to growth and expansion, Tatum is not one to rest on the early success of the band, but has pushed himself in entirely different directions. Indigo sees yet another direction, but one that functions essentially as a patchwork quilt of past soundsyou can hear elements of prior albums, but Tatum has reimagined them into an album that burns brighter and bigger than the past.
Opener and lead single, “Letting Go,” positions Tatum to soar higher on this release than before. The guitars, ever jangly and bright, ease past fans into the sound. While familiar to Nocturne at first, the track then surges into infectious pop with the choral hook. Tatums vocals are high and resonate starkly at the top of the mix, cueing us into the glossy production that is present all over Indigo.Here is a more proto-typical pop song than weve heard from the dark and simmering Wild Nothing and it’s refreshingly glorious. Not to be outdone by sultry, “Partners in Motion,” whose echo-y percussion and vocal effects make for a 80s synth banger. When Tatum sings lines like, “I had a temper/but now I’m delicate,” the vocals are doubled over and drenched with reverb, urging you to join along. A toe-tapping bass line, playful and snappy guitar licks, and saxophone flesh out the tune into something great.
While the production on this album is glossy and clean, were not so far away from the humble beginnings of Geminithat we feel alienated by Tatum’s new sound. On the contrary, at a cursory listening this record is very easy to cling to with its catchy choruses, danceable synths. You get swoon worthy moments all across the eleven tracks, but probably the most sincere chunk of is the combination of “Shallow Water” and “Through Windows.” Both songs dive into what it means to be in a loving relationship through life on the road, the former a sweeping ode and the latter a tightly wound jam. With lines like “When I’m home/ there’s nothing I’m looking for/ that you havent already found,” Tatum crafts the wonderfully genuine “Shallow Water” as a number about being off the road and completely comfortable with another, the kind of love that people yearn for. Conversely, you get “Through Windows,” about being on the road and not wanting to give it up, but recognizing at some point Tatum will give it up, but that wont be entirely a loss: “Quit this circus life/ and take off my shoes/ I’m still paying what I owe/ to be noticed by you.”
It’s not all sunny pop though–the brightest gem, for me, is “Canyon on Fire,” which is a guitar heavy track that you are immersed in for its five-minute duration and then immediately play again. A brief moment of pause between the previous instrumental interlude of “Dollhouse” washes over you before the squall of electric guitar announces itself with a roar. Soon, you’re hit with dueling riffs that perfectly compliment each other while an even bass line chugs away and airy percussion keeps everything just on the verge of chaos. Tatum weaves us a picture of Los Angeles through his eyes, each line hitting with a soothing cadence that provides lovely juxtaposition to the snarling guitars. He asks, “Who would I be without you?” addressing a love or potentially the city itself, and then answers the question with “Someone I dont know,” acknowledging that Tatum is married to the subject–be it LA or a significant other. That kind of bond has made it impossible to imagine life otherwise. This all takes places within a simmering bridge before the track surges once more into full volume for a glorious victory lap. “Canyon on Fire” merges Tatum’s impeccable songwriting with the infectious guitar riffs from Nocturne-era to make for the best track on this album.
In the end, Indigo, is a well written record about love and being deep in the waters of it. Unencumbered by irony and disdain in an otherwise bitter world, the soaring pop of this album makes for a sincere feel-good (and just damn good) eleven tracks of escape, though far from devoid of introspection. Tatum has found his stride, crafting a collection of songs that youll find hard to turn from. Indigo is both intimate and lofty, hoisting you up with each track as it flies to new heights for dream pop.
It should probably come to no surprise to us, by now, that Molly Burch would charm us all over with her latest single. For my two cents, I love the playful, almost tropicalia-esque guitar chords being used in the distance. It plays as the great set-up for the deep smoky tones that dominate the various verses in the album. She also takes on a more crystaline vocal during the chorus, once again illustrating what a powerful music tool Burch’s voice can be. Her new full lenght, titled First Flower, will be released by Captured Tracks on October 5th; it’s probably going to be ridiculously good.
It’s interesting to listen to early recordings of Wild Nothing and see just how far Jack Tatum has come in songwriting, in regards to both skill and style. I love the way he sets you up in this song to get hit over head with the natural hook; he spends the first minute and a half with this brooding sensation with twinkling guitars ringing in the far off. Your settled, and probably enjoying the new track’s dreamier quality…and then the tune jumps in with a more pronounced punch amidst twisting and turning guitar lines…somehow it feels more powerful than anything he’s crafted. All things are pointing towards Indigo being a sensational hit when it drops August 31st via Captured Tracks.
It’s never a bad day for a Molly Burch tune, especially as she’s just announced her second LP is coming our way in October. This new track opens up with this sparse bit of instrumentation, allowing light guitars to twinkle amidst the percussion. Once the song moves along, Burch’s vocals take on the sublime and the guitar is ever-present; I like the tones operating here, particularly the cosmic leaning guitar chords. Her new album is titled First Flower, and it’s slated for an October 5th release via Captured Tracks…not to mention a huge tour including a post at ACL Festival.
One of the hot tickets on the ATH docket has all of us anticipating the new record form Wild Nothing. It’s been interesting to see Jack draw from his various influences and meld that into his own sound. Here, you hear a certain nod to any dance number in a Hughes movie, even adding in the textured horns for maximum jazz hands effect. The vocals have a bit of a warp to them too, displaying just another trick Tatum uses to look back. Indigo, the new album, will drop on August 31st via Captured Tracks, giving us another glance back.
Who thought summer wasn’t going to be filled with hits? We’re stoked to share with you this new Wild Nothing track, the first bit of new music since 2016’s Life of Pause. I’m immediately hooked here, with the drum work coming in behind sharp cascading guitar lines. There’s a synth wash over the mix, allowing Jack’s voice to sort of ride a wave of cresting atmospheric beauty. The chorus is the perfect dose of pop, warm and memorable, akin to the recent work of PoBaH; it might also be my favorite tune from the band since Gemini. This new track will feature on the band’s new LP, Indigo, which is being released by Captured Tracks on August 31st.
Up until now, I felt like I had New Zealand’s Wax Chattels pegged; the band offered a heavy hitting blend of noisy rock, sans guitars. Now, they’ve unleashed this dense new track from their forthcoming LP, and while it surely holds some of the noisier elements, the opening 2 minutes reveals a soft belly that I wasn’t expecting. Amanda Cheng haunts this tune, letting her voice drip all over, even when the band begin punishing your ears with electronic noise and pounding rhythm section. I like a band that can stretch their sound, and I’m always a sucker for a group on Flying Nun/Captured Tracks; their self-titled debut drops May 18th.
Not too long ago the youngsters in Mourn were dipping their toes into the indie pond with a huge push from their label Captured Tracks. Now, a few years on, and grappling with success, the band returns with Sorpresa Familia. Our first listen has these jagged guitar lines, almost as if the band were branching into the realm of art punk; the lyrics even at times seem to have a sort of call and response fashion. But, what ultimately makes this song so infectious, along with the video, is that it captures the band as a joyful entity; the line of “what a shame” shouted at full force while the band follow it up with boisterous handclaps…it’s okay to have fun, I promise. Look for their new LP via Captured Tracks on June 15th.