New Music Weekly 27 | Sufjan Stevens, Hamilton Leithauser & Stranger Things

New Music Weekly is your one stop shop for new releases in the world of music each and every week. From the best of the best, to some of the rest, Mark Conroy is here to give you the lowdown on what you might have missed. This week: Sufjan Stevens, Hamilton Leithauser, Sleigh Bells & More…

Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds ‘Holy Mountain’

It’s not at all conspicuous that Noel Gallagher would release the lead single of his forthcoming album just a few short days after his brother Liam released an LP of his own. Regardless of the motive behind its timing, ‘Holy Mountain’ is a rollicking rave up, if a bit ordinary. It’s the musical equivalent of joy-ride on an empty road – all acceleration without any complex turns. There’s hoary hand-claps, Beach Boy backing vocals and the kind of lyrics that offer none of the smarmy substance of one of the man’s tweets. Still, it’s fun in throwaway, Slade kind of way.

Sleigh Bells ‘And Saints’

Just a year after their last record, the American noise-pop duo will release a new so-called mini album entitled Kid Kruschev. ‘And Saints’, a synth pop slow burner, is that forthcoming release’s first single. Built off a steady foundation of forbidding, and ever present bass-line, the track is minimally moving with a hint of gothic atmosphere – even if it suffers from sounding like an intro to a better song.

Sufjan Stevens ‘Wallokowa Lake Monster’  

Sufjan Stevens’ newest release is a leftover from 2015’s emotionally wrenching and exquisite Carrie & Lowell. A B-side it may be, but a B-side from one of the decade’s best records is still going to better material than most artists can offer. And if only for that gorgeous extended outro, ‘Wallokowa Lake Monster’ is worth your time. Its final two minutes sound like a warped version of a top-tier Danny Elfman soundtrack with celestial choral work and cinematic electronics offering up glimmer of hope in a dissenting mortal world. Lyrically, Stevens uses Dungeons and Dragons references to tell a symbolically tragic hero’s journey involving himself and his mother—who’s passing provided Carrie & Lowell grief stricken core. It’s cryptic but caring, as Sujan Stevens once again demonstrates his uncanny ability to be equal parts delicate and devastating.

Porches ‘Country’

Aaron Maines of the synth solo act Porches has announced the project’s third album this past week and gave us the record’s first single. A low-key departure both lyrically and sonically, ‘Country’ is enjoyably slight if perhaps a bit too unassuming. It’s serene and able to cultivate it’s own distinct kind of atmosphere that Porches is known for.

Hamilton Leithauser ‘Heartstruck (Wild Hunger) Ft. Angel Olsen’

What happens when you get two of the best voices in all indie music and put them together in one song? A rather good effort, it turns out. After that excellent collaborative album with Rostam last year, Hamilton Leithauser now turns to Angel Olsen for some assistance. Like the tracks on I Had a Dream That You Were Mine, ‘Heartstruck (Wild Hunger) is another contemporary spin on the classic shooby doo wap sound. This time though, Olsen’s masterfully measured lilt is an effective counterpoint to Leithauser’s lovely, laborious holler.   

Kyle Dixon and Michael Stein ‘Walkin’ in Hawkins’ (Stranger Things Season 2 OST)

Netflix’s sci fi mega-hit Stranger Things will return this Halloween and there will be an all new soundtrack to sink our teeth into. Kyle Dixon and Michael Stein of S U R V I V E once again capture the decade’s neon splattered vibes with ‘Walkin’ In Hawkins’. Rich in atmosphere, the tracks bopping synths and steely Vangelis instrumentation scream brightly lit fluorescent hues in an otherwise dark alley. Listen to the song here.

John Maus ‘Teenage Witch’

John Maus was once a keyboardist in Ariel Pink’s Haunted Graffiti, so it’s no surprise that his own music shares much of Pink’s Lo-fi, chirpy charm—this isn’t to say his own work does stand out; Maus’ ‘Hey moon’ being one of the most mournfully majestic tracks of the track of the decade. Newest single ‘Teenage Witch’ is a vibrant dose of analogue synth pop. It’s cheery but never runs the risk of cheap sentimentality. Like his contemporary Pink, Maus makes the most mawkish elements of 80’s new wave pop and with a wink and smirk, turns it into something that sounds lovely but harbours some sinister depths.   


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