Every Tuesday our music writers Deborah Sengupta Stith and Eric Webb take over Austin360’s Periscope account spinning a mix of the week’s new releases, popular and underground alike for 360 First Spins.
Our first impressions of this week’s new tunes? It’s a good week for mediocre pop and a great week for interesting R&B and electronic stuff. Check out our Spotify playlist featuring a mix of this week’s tunes, plus more new music released this month.
Nate Ruess “Grand Romantic” – Listen on Spotify
DSS: The thing Fun.’s lead singer does well is grandiose pop-rock delivered with seize the day, heart on the sleeve emotion. The best tracks on this album are the ones that could be the soundtrack to a post-millennial “Dead Poet’s Society.” Some of the slow stuff, including the lightly twangy Beck collab “What This World is Coming To” (which will be all over rock radio this summer), gets a little too sappy for me.
EW: The cover instantly turns me off, which I realize is not fair. I’m willing to give it some time to grow on me, but from the days of The Format to the first Fun. album to the second one to that grating single with Pink, Ruess’ has gone schmaltzier and schmaltzier. I’m not feeling it.
Beck “Dreams” (single) Listen
EW: I have been waiting my whole life for a Beck song that I really, truly like. This reminds me of Darwin Deez crossed with Mark Foster (which is not fair, because both of those guys bite on Beck pretty hard.) Love the nervous guitars and the soft bridge that leads into his most radio-friendly chorus since “Loser.” It’s all of the weirdness of Beck, but for the masses (me).
DSS: I’m not a huge Beck lover. This is better than a lot of his stuff but I probably won’t be putting it on any of my playlists any time soon.
Adam Lambert “The Original High” Listen
EW: The thing about Adam Lambert is that he is a bad boy, but a bad boy by way of “American Idol.” (All the profanity seems shoehorned in to meet a quota.) Hardly anything on this album transcends shiny gay club stock beats, but Lambert’s clarion voice elevates it. There are a couple standouts, though: “Ghost Town” is giving me Sam Sparro “Black & Gold” vibes, and “Rumors” (featuring my patron saint of self-destruction, Tove Lo) is deliciously Weeknd-esque.
DSS: This is standard radio ready pop straight out of the music machine.
Hudson Mohawke “Lantern” Listen
DSS: The Scottish EDM producer delivers a rich platter loaded with enthralling, experimental atmospherics. The music veers from jarring discordant changes into lush and lovely soundscapes and back again. Great collabs with Miguel and Jhené Aiko come as a fantastic bonus. The album stands up without them.
EW: Before this, I had only a vague, elementary understanding of what a Hudson Mohawke was. Now that I know he doesn’t sound like Zedd, I have to say I’m pleasantly surprised with how subtle this is in places.
Ben Browning “Turns” Listen
EW: If you like Cut Copy, you’ll love the guy from Cut Copy’s solo album. “Turns” is synthpop with cheerful sleaze, drawing on some of the ’80s aerobic video charm of Miniature Tigers’ “Mia Pharaoh.” “Friends of Mine” recalls Cut Copy’s “Lights and Music,” and “Life Dudes (Tripping Through Royal Park)” is a stargazing MIDI dream.
DSS: This definitely makes my beachy, summer fun playlist.
Miguel “#wildheart” teaser tracks Listen
DSS: Miguel’s new album drops June 29, but with five standout tracks dropped on Spotify today, color me teased. I think the return of D’Angelo has pushed the bar for modern R&B and soul music stratospherically. These songs find the falsetto crooner, skipping obvious constructs to present deeply stirring, musically challenging love songs ready to disrupt the bedroom music industry.
EW: I’m glad Miguel never takes the easy way out on his tracks. Makes me feel like he respects me. In a sexy way.
Hilary Duff “Breathe In. Breathe Out.” – Listen
EW: This is the store-brand version of glossy celebripop. I don’t expect Hilary Duff to turn out anything artistically adventurous, but I would hope for at least a couple of things on par with “Come Clean.” (IT’S A LOW BAR, I KNOW.) Everything sounds the same, with Garage Band beats bought in bulk and apathetic vocals. It seems like HilDuff was going for Carly Rae Jepsen, but she ended up with Costco.
DSS: Kind of like being trapped in the bubblegum-scented hair accessories section of your local Claire’s Boutique.
Mates of State “You’re Going to Make It” (EP) Listen
DSS: I liken this to a summer cocktail, a bit syrupy, but fun. After you knock a couple back, you’re dancing in spite of yourself.
EW: They have no idea what kind of band they are anymore, do they?
Verité “Sentiment” (EP) Listen
EW: While not terribly original, Verité is at least doing glitzy-glitchy indie pop very well. There’s more than a little MS MR in “Wasteland,” which nails the sound Ryn Weaver is trying to nail, and there’s a lot of MS MR in “Colors,” which sounds like a really fun “Secondhand Rapture” bonus track.
DSS: There’s a dark undercurrent that I appreciate, but I feel like I’ve heard these songs before.
Alpine “Yuck” Listen
DSS: I’m not sure what’s going on in Australia right now, but there’s a ton of super interesting new music coming from down under (see also: Hiatus Kaiyote, Courtney Barnett). This six-piece indie pop outfit has crafted a truly enthralling collection of soulful pop songs.
EW: Slinky, neo-soul beats with cooing bedroom vocals makes for delicious dissonance. It’s like Eisley covering FKA twigs.
Kasey Musgraves “Dime Store Cowgirl” Listen
DSS: Dear Kasey Musgraves, you are always welcome in the Austin City Limits.
EW: If we keep playing the individual tracks on each episode, we’ll cover the whole album eventually, won’t we? Fine with it.