It's the July edition of Listen Up! Our monthly list of new releases we think you should check out. Scroll through for our take on what's good and listen to this month's playlist.
By Luke Graves
Natalie Prass – The Future and The Past
Directly or indirectly, we as Americans have all been impacted by the results of the 2016 presidential election, with an outcome that continues to throb and ache like a dull shot in the arm. In response, music (and art in general) has seen an upwelling of creative energy, and many voices both new and familiar are speaking up in the current socio-political climate. One such voice is that of singer-songwriter Natalie Prass who scrapped the initial follow-up to her stunning 2015 debut to address the cavalcade of emotions that followed in the wake of the election.
On The Future and The Past, Prass pens funk-fueled feminist anthems of solidarity and slinky, lushly-orchestrated ballads calling for change. The Richmond native’s sophomore release also honors the Golden Era of recording with a vintage feel and velvet wall of sound that harkens back to the days of analog equipment, hand-painted billboards lining Sunset Strip, and pulsing studios teeming with living, breathing players. And it’s this liveness that permeates throughout The Future and The Past, an electric record of personal recalibration and reflection on one’s place in the world today. Pause for a moment. Connect with your surroundings. Just listen. Then, go be human and act humanely.
The Future and The Past released on June 1 via ATO Records.
Sean Nicholas Savage – Screamo
“Just a singer, everyone knows more about music than I do, I don’t know what I’m singing about, everybody else knows more, they know more than I do,” bemoans the Montreal-based balladeer Sean Nicholas Savage on his new record, Screamo. What could I possibly say that Savage himself hasn’t already communicated through his own music, and much more beautifully at that? Here on his thirteenth album, the prolific pop poet scores the days of our lives, crafting nostalgic snapshots of youthful angst and adventure that are simultaneously saccharine and melancholic. Savage’s filmic compositions cascade out with the fabulism of a John Hughes feature, timbres of 80s daytime television, and a palpable, searing emotion—our romancer’s hotly yearning vocals more prominent and raw than ever before—providing the perfect soundtrack for hazy daydreams and sultry summer nights.
Screamo released on June 15 via Arbutus Records.
Mikaela Davis – Delivery
Like a fleeting encounter that leaves you breathlessly searching “Missed Connections,” Mikaela Davis’ debut album is an enchanting introduction that refuses to be forgotten. Produced by the singular John Congleton (Angel Olsen, Lana Del Rey, The War On Drugs), Delivery winds through a crowded dance floor with a cool confidence, showcasing Davis’ bewitching vocals and chops as a classically-trained harpist, often pushing the boundaries of genre and the instrument itself. Flitting between indie rock, baroque pop, psychedelia, and folk with the swagger of a seasoned veteran, the Rochester-based multi-instrumentalist draws immediate comparison to the likes of Stevie Nicks, Kate Bush, and Joanna Newsom—though Davis is also quickly making a name for herself in the pantheon of western New York rockers such as Kim Gordon and Lydia Lunch (in addition to the contemporary musical landscape at large), with an eclectic, fuzzed-out sound and ear for memorable melodies.
Delivery released on July 13 via Rounder Records.
Oneohtrix Point Never – Age Of
What began with a number of rhythmic experimentations and texturally-based EPs from avant-garde musician Daniel Lopatin, has now reached its fiery climax one decade later under the moniker of Oneohtrix Point Never. Through his various creative endeavors Lopatin has garnered well-deserved recognition in recent years, collaborating with a myriad of artists, including Anhoni, David Byrne, Iggy Pop, and Nine Inch Nails, composing the award-winning score for 2017’s Good Time, and securing a Mercury Prize nomination along the way. OPN’s tenth album, Age Of, is a dizzying, post-apocalyptic listen and the composer/producer's most ambitious work to date.
Weaving Early music with international influences and his unique brand of computer music, Lopatin threads together disparate sounds and historical references into one cohesive work with masterful vision. Age Of’s nightmarish electronic hellscape is painted with traditional world instruments, contorted synth lines, pitch-shifted text-to-speech snippets, datamoshed viral video samples, and bone-rattling barrages of digital noise. Additionally, Lopatin’s own vocals are emphasized here for the first time, our admin emoting in autotune about nuclear annihilation, among other topics. The record’s aptly-titled closer, “Last Known Image of a Song,” feels like the wheezing death knell of the Internet itself before being engulfed in a vat of molten steel Terminator 2-style. Will we hear more from Oneohtrix Point Never in the future? That remains to be seen, but Age Of on its own stands to be a near-perfect auditory encapsulation of the Information Age and a graceful conclusion to the Oneohtrix saga ten years in the making.
Age Of released on June 1 via Warp Records.
Also check out:
- Dirty Projectors – Lamp Lit Prose (July 13, Domino)
- Gorillaz – The Now Now (June 29, Parlophone)
- Jim James – Uniform Distortion (June 29, ATO)
- Johnny Marr – Call The Comet (June 15, New Voodoo Records)
- Kamasi Washington – Heaven and Earth (June 22, Young Turks)
- Mazzy Star – Still (June 1, Rhymes of an Hour)
- Protomartyr – Consolation E.P. (June 15, Domino)
- SOPHIE – OIL OF EVERY PEARL’S UN-INSIDES (June 15, Future Classic)
Luke Graves is a latchkey printmaker and occasional writer of words based in Nashville. See more from Luke, here.
Listen Up! is brought to you by Original Fuzz Magazine. Find more articles in this month's issue, here.