The biggest local music headline is that arena-packing Brooklyn noise-pop duo Sleigh Bells just announced a new record, Bitter Rivals, scheduled for an October 8th release. This is their third record in four years, an impressive workrate in an era where long, long touring gaps are the norm for bands who can make their bank headlining big rooms. Though guitarist Derek Miller is credited as the album's producer, it was mixed by Andrew Dawson, a rap producer who most notably had a hand in recent Kanye releases Yeezus and Watch the Throne.
Watch the video for the album's title track below, and we'll discuss:
Dawson's involvement might suggest a desire for slick modernism following the shoe gaze-y swirl of last year's well reviewed, but somehow sort of insta-forgotten Reign of Terror. It's unclear that this is a positive correction. The shoegaze thickness of songs like the terrific goth-prom anthem "You Lost Me" was that album's best aspect. Sweet, thick guitar textures plus memorable pop hooks is a formula that's all too rare, if you ask me. "Bitter Rivals" starts with a "Faith"-y George Micheals strum and an ill-fitting Dickens quote before blasting your eardums with hyper-compressed, clunky chanting that eventually segues into a legit-sticky R&B chorus. It's catchy enough, I guess? But it might not be all that good, really? Hopefully they've got more interesting tunes lying in wait.
Another instantly successful Brooklyn duo, Cults, is sending an October record our way (on the 15th, to be exact). "High Road" is the second single from their sophomore record Static, following the upbeat firstie "I Can Hardly Make You Mine." This one's got a sturdy mid-tempo beat holding up its spaced-out guy/girl vocals. It's a'ight, I guess? Like, baseline a'ight, but a little too '07 blog-rock-y to really blow anybody's hair back? Unless we've all been hiding our desire for a Peter Bjorn & John revival and no one has had the guts to mention it?
There's suddenly a new Pixies EP in the world, their first proper release in 22 years! It's a notion that would have once been met with a grand flutter of thinkpieces, like surprise new records from My Bloody Valentine and David Bowie did earlier this year. But there's just something about the way Black Francis has lingered on the reunion circuit so long, the way old toxic band dynamics led Kim Deal to flee for the Breeders, again, that stops this from feeling like a generous gift to long-time fans. It's more like he had to release new music to justify keeping this thing going. "Indie Cindy", the song released to announce EP-1's existence, sounds sort of Trompe Le Monde-ish, which is fine. It's definitely kind of fun to hear B.F. rant in his cranky hobo fashion. ("You put the cock in cocktail, man!") The problem is slow chorus parts that are pretty, well, it pains me to say this, but there's an unfortunate whiff of hair metal power ballad sludge to them, right?
Where's the new music that's an unqualified, non-mixed bag of goodness, you may ask? Well, at Spin this morning, there's another new streaming track from Kathleen Hanna's Greenpoint-based alt-rock phoenix, The Julie Ruin. Like everything we've heard from their new record Run Fast (out this week, you know), "Just My Kind" is a lot of fun. It's mixed by James Murphy, who specifically seems to be having the time of his life perched behind the decks on big release after big release these days. It's not the dance-floor filler you might expect him to work on, though. Instead the song has a sweet, swaying, 60s-ish romanticism. It's a nice sign of versatility from Hanna's new band, given that their previously released tracks had more than a few strands of Le Tigre DNA. There's probably been more than one love song secretly written for the Beastie Boys' Ad-Rock over the years, but this is the only one by a 90s icon who is actually married to him. So, it wins.