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Best New Releases for Week of Feb. 21, Part One – Fun, Princeton, Wild Nothing, Grimes, Perfume Genius, Dirty Ghosts

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This week’s Best New Releases is an interesting mix of anticipated new releases from artists such as Fun, Princeton, Grimes, Perfume Genius, Wild Nothing, and Dirty Ghosts. We wanted to focus on the top releases in this post, so there will be a Part Two shortly that contains all of the other top singles from new albums out this week, including songs from Archers of Loaf, Lambchop, Tindersticks, and many more.

Fun-Some-Nights
With February rapidly coming to a close, bands and music fans are gearing up for the beginning of the festival season – SXSW in March; Coachella in April. With winter (what winter?) soon to transition to spring, artists and labels are rolling out more new albums, EPs and singles.

For example, the week of Feb. 14th new releases, brought amazing new albums from bands like Shearwater, Band of Skulls, Phenomenal Handclap Band and Young Magic; and the week of Feb. 7th, there were acclaimed new albums from Dr. Dog, of Montreal, The Twilight Sad, Sharon Van Etten, Ben Kweller and more.

The lead-off song for this week’s Best New Releases is by the band Fun, featuring special guest Janelle Monae on vocals. The track, “We Are Young,” keeps circling back and finding it’s way onto IRC’s Twitter and Facebook – mostly because it’s so incredibly infectious, we love it, and so do a lot of listeners, just based on how many times it’s been streamed and downloaded. “We Are Young” really took off in large part because it is featured in a series of new Chevy Sonic commercials, which ran twice during the recent Superbowl broadcast. Well, this week is the official release of the album, Some Nights, that the song appears on. But it’s not the only great track on Some Nights. Currently, it’s the No. 1 MP3 on Amazon.

“We Are Young”fun. (featuring Janelle Monáe) from Some Nights

Good to great new album; pretty bad album cover (album covers matter even in the 'digital' age)

L.A. Indie Pop Band Princeton Release Follow-Up to 2009 Acclaimed Debut

Los Angeles band Princeton has been a favorite ‘indie’ pop band at IRC for a number of  years, especially thanks to their spectacular 2009 debut album, Cocoon of Love. Princeton consists of twin brothers Jesse (guitar, vocals) and Matt Kivel (bass, vocals), plus members Ben Usen (keyboard) and David Kitz (drums). The commonalities between Princeton and some of the other highlighted bands in this week’s Best New Releases, are interesting, to say the least. Together with Wild Nothing, Perfume Genius, and to some extent, Grimes, there are similarities in style, time lines of the artists’ ascent, and when they released their official first albums.

In fact, Princeton’s first lead single, “Shout It Out,” off their ’09 debut album, seems on the surface to be the original question to Dirty Ghosts‘ (artist featured below) new lead single, “Shout It In.” Now Princeton has released their new, sophomore album, with the title track, “Remembrance of Things to Come,” as the lead single. The song has all the elements of a great indie pop song that fans have come to expect from a clearly talented, and increasingly popular, band.

“Remembrance of Things to Come”Princeton from Remembrance of Things to Come

Bonus Track: “Florida”Princeton from Remembrance of Things to Come

Flashback Track: “Shout It Out”Princeton from Cocoon of Love

Flashback Track: “Clamoring For Your Heart” - Princeton from 2011 single

Princeton’s 2012 Tour Date Schedule


One-Gal Band Grimes Officially Drops Her 4AD Records Debut LP

From Montreal-via-Vancouver, Grimes, the moniker of the one-woman musical dynamo Clarie Boucher, officially dropped her third album, and debut LP with 4AD Records this week. After the re-issue of her first two albums, and a successful North American tour opening for Lykke Li, last year, Grimes built up a strong fan following that continues to grow. Increasingly known for her ethereal and electro pop fusion of contemporary instrumentation with classical, lush vocals, synths and choppy beats, Grimes new album, titled Visions.

“Oblivion”Grimes from Visions

Double-shot: “Vowels = Space and Time”Grimes from Visions

Grimes 2012 Tour Dates Schedule

wildnothingnowhere

Wild Popularity of Wild Nothing Gets New Boost from New Single, “Nowhere”

Musician Jack Tatum is the man behind Wild Nothing from the college town of Blacksburg, Virginia, and one of our favorite one man bands of the past few years. In the summer of 2009, he began recording dream pop demos at home during a time when the C86 movement was experiencing yet another revival that produced a sleuth of new one man bands, duos and groups across the United States playing lo-fi, raw dream pop.

Some of his demos, including a cover of Kate Bush‘s “Cloudbursting,” made the rounds on the important ‘indie’ music blogs, and within weeks Wild Nothing signed with Captured Tracks. Prior to the release of “Cloudbursting,” Wild Nothing’s first single, “Summer Holiday,” was all over the place during the summer of 2009, including right here on IRC. As with many one-man, or one-woman, bands in recent years that quickly became popular on the blogs, and beyond, the label wasted no time getting Tatum hooked up with a live band.

Flashback Track: “Summer Holiday”Wild Nothing from Gemini (2010)

As one of the most anticipated debuts of 2010, Gemini, was released in the spring of 2010, paired with appearances at SXSW that made Wild Nothing, along with other relative newbies like Washed Out, Beach Fossils and Memory Tapes, one of the most talked about bands at the annual music event in Austin, an event, not unlike CMJ in New York, that can launch artists from relative obscurity to the lime-light of the indie music, and even mainstream music, press and blogosphere.

In October of 2010, Wild Nothing released the Golden Haze EP, that was well received, but the tour following its release was considered by many to be lackluster Sometimes that’s what happens when a so-called ‘bedroom’ artist gets overly hyped fast, and with no live performance experience set out on a cross-country tour. On top of that are the pressures to do more and more tours and performances because, for many artists, that’s where the money is made – it’s certainly not flowing in like it did in the days of vinyl. Put it altogether and it really wasn’t a surprise to see 2011 go by without another album or EP from Wild Nothing. People simply wanted more great new songs fast, but that’s not how the truely genius magic happens for most artists.

That said, there are sure to be a lot of WN fans happy with the official drop off the new single, “Nowhere.”

“Nowhere”Wild Nothing from Nowhere 7″


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Seattle’s Perfume Genius Follows Up Acclaimed 2010 Debut

Yet another one-man band project, Perfume Genius, is the moniker of Seattle solo artist, Mike Hadreas, who we featured in December 2010 upon the release of his widely praised debut album, Learning. Like Wild Nothing, Hadreas started out with home-made recordings a few years ago and fairly quickly shot up into the indie rock stratosphere, thanks to coverage on many influential blogs that featured Perfume Genius’ lo-fi, DIY taped demos, such as “Mr. Peterson” and “Learning.” Matador Records wrote of their relatively new roster addition, “[Hadreas is] one of the most endearing and quietly forceful performers today.”

While the name is not as ‘cool’ as Wild Nothing, Dirty Ghosts or Grimes, Perfume Genius already has a successful musical career,  especially since he writes his own tortured lyrics, piano and other notes for his songs, performs them and sings. A talented artist, which Hadreas clearly is, naturally gets more credit for writing his own lyrics and song compositions, but also deserves even more points for playing an instrument and singing at the same time.

In both the blogosphere and mainstream media, Hareas’ lyrics and voice have been compared to Elliott Smith, Cat Power and Sufjan Stevens. We can definitely hear the Elliott Smith in the painful writing; Cat Power in the heartfelt vocals and sad piano melodies and a likeness in the singing of Sufjan Stevens. This week, Perfume Genius,  released his sophomore album, Put Your Back N 2 It, and the lead single, “Hood,” clearly show a maturation in his abilities as a singer/songwriter and musician. The album title below links to the buy page for the MP3 Amazon Exclusive Version of the new Perfume Genius album via Matador Records.

“Hood”Perfume Genius from Put Your Back N 2 It (Exclusive Amazon Version)

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Dirty Ghosts One-Woman Band Project of Allyson Baker Drops New LP

In 2006, Allyson Baker, a fairly well-known punk and hardcore teenage Toronto guitarist, and later one-half of San Francisco‘s sludge-blues combo Parchman Farm, recreated herself, along with her musical duo partner, Carson Binks, to create a new entity, Dirty Ghosts. Together they changed things up a bit, writing rhythmically driven new songs built around intricate drum loops pieced together by Aesop Rock.

dityghostsbandBecause they couldn’t find a vocalist they agreed on, Baker decided to get the nerve up to be a vocalist for the first time in her musical career that started when she was only 17 years old. But in 2011, Binks broke off from Dirty Ghosts to join another band.

With little other choice, Baker took over Dirty Ghosts on her own, and with help of a drummer, began experimenting with other sounds – discordant disco mixed with dub funk, such as on the lead track, “Shout It In,” from the just-released new album Metal Moon. viaLast Gang Records.

Dirty Ghosts performed live last evening for San Francisco’s Noise Pop Festival, which will also includes shows from The Flaming Lips, Built to Spill, Princeton, Grimes, and Cursive, to name a few.

“Shout It In”Dirty Ghosts from Metal Moon

Upcoming: Other New Releases for Week of Feb 21st including Lamchop, Damien Jurado, Tindersticks, Archers of Loaf, and many others, plus the Best DIY Releases of 2012 (So Far) and the VII installment of Best Songs of 2012.

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11 Comments

  1. I had no idea that song was by fun. I love their songs and I would love to see them live. I believe they’ll be in Detroit April 15th.

    • Hey Joe: Have to admit that we didn’t hear the album the song is off of until after the fact. It’s impossible to listen to hundreds of albums a month unless someone has nothing else to do but that. LOL. But yes, they are a great band of well respected, long-time musicians. Plus, the reason you never thought it could be by them is totally understandable – it just happens to have a hook that embeds. The only dilemma of course is the never-ending question many “indie” bands in recent years have had asked about them: Did they sell out? Are they now too commercial to be considered “indie”? Indie is a malleable word, without question – nowadays it seems to be whatever is not mainstream, even though it, at times, rubs shoulders with mainstream, the fact that they’re still not known by the majority of music listeners by name is, to me, an indication that they are definitely not mainstream, but maybe also no longer “indie”; it’s a lot harder to call Kings of Leon, The Decemberists, Arcade Fire or Vampire Weekend, maybe even Bon Iver, “indie” any more.

      • I’ve never been one to say that an Indie band has sold out just because they’ve become popular or signed with a major label. If you like their music then what’s the problem? That’s just how I feel about it.

        • Totally agree Joe, but there are some legit comments from fans who were with a DIY band from the beginning who feel betrayed later on when “their band” sells their song to a commercial, TV show or movie, etc. Personally, I have mixed feelings so it’s hard to not contradict myself, which I’m aware of. But the bottom line is you’re right – if you like the music, who cares if someone labels them as “selling out”? It’s the politics of the music culture – some people want their favorite artist to keep touring in a van, living in a basement apartment, staying small (because that way they feel it’s more ‘their’ band, and I can understand the point to a point) and not ‘cashing in’ on their talent.

  2. I really love wild nothings “Gemini” but i didnt know they were singed with cap tracks along with some of the best such as beach fossils, the beets, ganglians. Really cool stuff

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