1. Julien Baker “Sprained Ankle” (From “Sprained Ankle”)
Julien Baker is only 19 years old, but her songs sound as self-assured and lived-in as someone twice her age. The title track from her new record is melancholy, melodious, and gorgeous. It’s a bit disarming to hear a teenager sweetly intone that she wishes she “could write songs about anything other than death”, but Baker manages to pull off lines like this without it seeming like a woe-is-me diary affectation.
2. Grimes “Flesh Without Blood” (From “Art Angels”)
Claire Boucher, AKA Grimes, has been teasing a new album for a long time now, and supposedly scrapped an entire record’s worth of songs when they didn’t live up to her personal expectations; but “Flesh Without Blood” hints that the wait is probably going to be worth it. The song is maybe the strongest realization yet of her pop sensibilities, and there is no reason why her music couldn’t reach the skyscraper heights of pop stardom. It doesn’t hurt that the music video is one of the best of the year.
3. Beach Slang “Hard Luck Kid” (From “The Things We Do To Find People Who Feel Like Us”)
James Snyder is a pop-punk lifer in his late thirties who found his greatest success yet with his new band’s recent EPs, which channeled Paul Westerberg (and maybe even a slight tinge of early Goo Goo Dolls-by-way-of-Westerberg) nostalgia into highly resonant and brief anthems full of vulnerability and hooks. The new album is a continuation of these themes, and Beach Slang proves that there is still plenty of water in that well.
4. Oneohtrix Point Never “Mutant Standard” (From “Garden of Delete”)
Daniel Lopatin has been releasing his heady mix of avant-garde, synthesized oddities under the Oneohtrix Point Never moniker since 2007, but even after all the time I have spent with these records, I still can’t quite get my head around what he does. I mean that as the highest form of compliment, because he has created a world that is incredibly dense, nuanced, malleable, and distinctly his own. In this way, perhaps his closest antecedent might be Autechre—another endlessly experimental group that has managed to change and stay the same for more than two decades now. This second single from his forthcoming album is one of Lopatin’s most ambitious compositions yet, and, like all of his best work, it takes some time before you can begin to get a grasp on what is going on.
1. Lisa Germano “My Secret Reason” (From “Geek The Girl”)
2. Julien Baker “Sprained Ankle” (From “Sprained Ankle”)
3. Chromatics “Into the Black” (From “Kill For Love”; Neil Young cover)
4. Jenny Lewis “She’s Not Me” (From “The Voyager”)
5. Grimes “Flesh Without Blood” (From “Art Angels”)
6. Liz Phair “Go West” (From “Whip-Smart”)
7. The Goo Goo Dolls featuring Paul Westerberg “We Are the Normal” (From Superstar Car Wash”)
8. Beach Slang “Hard Luck Kid” (From “The Things We Do To Find People Who Feel Like Us”)
9. Paul Westerberg “It’s a Wonderful Lie” (From “Suicaine Gratification”)
10. Squarepusher “Iambic 9 Poetry” (From “Ultravisitor”)
11. Oneohtrix Point Never “Mutant Standard” (From “Garden of Delete”)
12. Suicide “Dream Baby Dream” (From “The Second Album”)
Christopher Piercy used to blog at Silence in Architecture and his mother keeps hoping he will revive the site. In the meantime, for a glimpse of how music has impacted his life, you can read “A Personal Music History” which he wrote a few years ago. It also explains quite a bit about our weird family.