Bonnie "Prince" Billy
Wolfroy Goes to Town
There's a frustrating thing happening in music criticism circles lately, where, I guess due to the whole race-for-firsties thing everyone's always talking about, many of our most reliable artists are being over-looked in favor of some ostensibly more interesting upstart. It's understandable, of course, but fraught with all sorts of problems—for instance, the likelihood that such an approach would lead to you not paying sufficient attention to Wolfroy Goes to Town, which is the most beautiful and affecting record Will Oldham has made, under any moniker, in quite some time, full of gentle, aching songs with sneakily strong melodies and an incredible combination of warmth and clarity. Watch the video for the excellent first single, "Quail and Dumplings," below.
"I Wanna Be a Cosmonaut"
Even with all the very, very good records that have hit shelves in the past month, and even with all the very, very good records that are scheduled to hit shelves next month, I have probably listened to this one song from 1978 more than any other of late. Riff Raff was Billy Bragg's first band, active for a few years in the late 70s, and they never received much attention, despite the endless charm of this boisterous, snotty punk-rock nugget. The rest of the band's output, which comes across largely as Clash throwaways, lacked the sense of urgency that propels "I Wanna Be a Cosmonaut." The 7" is impossible to find, it seems, but YouTube works just fine in this situation.
The Hive Dwellers
"Lynch the Swan" 7"
Since forming back in 2009, the Hive Dwellers, led by the inimitable Calvin Johnson of Beat Happening fame, have kept a pretty light schedule, only finding the time to release a few songs—first the "Get In" 12" from back in 2010, and now a 7" featuring the track "Lynch the Swan," which is a delectable bit of oddball pop like only Johnson is capable of producing. There is no other artist alive who sounds quite so stately while singing a line that ends with the phrase "choke the chicken." Watch a 2009 performance of the song below, and buy the record here.
"Cowboys in the Void"
By the time they play Glasslands on November 9th, it seems likely that there will be some people paying awfully close attention to Quilt, a Boston psych band set to release their debut full-length on Mexican Summer later this fall. They've got a 5-song EP streaming on their Bandcamp page and—especially on opening track "Cowboys in the Void"—they do a remarkable job incorporating unexpectedly bold melodies while also pushing the psych thing further than most others these days.
Neutral Milk Hotel
"A Baby For Pree"
In anticipation of Jeff Mangum's All Tomorrow's Parties appearances, it seems like as good a time as any to revisit this On Avery Island track, which, clocking in at under a minute and a half, is up there with "Her Majesty" as one of my favorite super short songs ever.
"A Prayer to God"
Another ATP-related pick here. If you've ever want to clear our a turntable.fm room very quickly, look no further. The maniacal refrain of "Kill him, fucking kill him, kill him already, kill him" gets ‘em every time. ("Prayer to God" appears on the album 1000 Hurts, which you can and should buy here.)
"Please Please George"
My colleague, Ms. Lauren Beck (hello Lauren), has been talking about this song for a couple months now, and I've only recently gotten around to listening. It is, as she insisted, very good, assuming you are at least sort of into Ted Leo and/or The Apples in Stereo.
"Modern Aquatic Nightsongs"
We've still got more than a month before Parallax, the new full-length from Bradford Cox's Atlas Sound, comes out, but he's been releasing a steady stream of album tracks, the most recent of which, "Modern Aquatic Nightsongs," is wholly unique in its ability to sound creepy and comforting at the same time.