Best cure for a fake-news hangover in this age of discontent: Spin some mind-cleansing tracks from these up-and-coming artists. By Mark Dowden
Proudly Southern, gay, Christian, post-punk, recovering from addiction and just months out of her teens, Julien Baker embraces what to some would seem contradictory strands of identity. Her songs are raw and intimate, giving the listener the sense, as writer Rachel Syme put it, of “eavesdropping on someone else’s prayers.” Concerned with themes of brokenness and redemption, Baker’s lyrics are fresh and honest. This latter-day pilgrim also happens to be highly listenable. The album: Turn Out the Lights Go-to song: “Appointments” Deeper dives: “Sour Breath.” Also check out “Blacktop” from Baker’s first album, Sprained Ankle.
Their hiatus may not set a record, but close: Slowdive, an English “shoegaze” band, went 22 years between recording sessions. The reunited band’s self-titled album, released last spring, shows the benefits of aging—or maybe just the benefits of creating art outside “The Scene That Celebrates Itself,” which the music press turned into a pressure cooker. On the new Slowdive, you’ll find meticulous songwriting and musicianship combined to produce a beautifully textured collection of tunes. The album: Slowdive Go-to song: “Sugar for the Pill” Deeper dives: “Slowmo” from the new album, “Celia’s Dream” from Just for a Day
ROSTAM As the musical leader and producer of Vampire Weekend, Rostam Batmanglij employed hand drums, harpsichord and strings to create a cheery, distinctive, genre-blurring sound. As the solo act Rostam (preferring to be mononymous), he brings the same signature techniques to his debut album, Half-Light. Rostam’s vocal style—somewhat hushed and often near-mumbling—is decidedly un-Vampire, but it’s pleasing and well-suited to his lyrics, which paint soft images of past memories. The album: Half-Light Go-to song: “Bike Song” Deeper dives: The short, haunting “I Will See You Again.” Also sample “In a Blackout” from Rostam’s collaborative album with Hamilton Leithauser.
| ANDRISEN MORTON
The title Aromanticism, or the inability to experience romantic love, telegraphs this album’s bleak lyrical point of view. But singersongwriter Moses Sumney’s mood isn’t one of despair. In the solitary life, he seems to find both comfort and challenge. And so he wraps his blues in a package that sounds downright romantic, compact of dreamy harmonies, warm strings and Sumney’s own emotive, falsetto crooning. The songs may pack a series of existential bummers, but they also have the power of sonic seduction. The album: Aromanticism Go-to song: “Self-Help Tape” Deeper dives: “Plastic” and “San Fran,” both from the EP Mid-City Island
PLAYLIST RULE #1: DO NOT BE BORING
There are two kinds of playlists—the kind that makes an unobtrusive background soundtrack (meh) and the kind that keeps you on your toes, reaching to adjust the volume with each new song. This is the latter kind, with recordings that span seven decades and cover genres from R&B to trip-hop. “Jenny of the Roses” by Hiss Golden Messenger “Little Sally Walker” by The Rivingtons “Let Me Go” by Cake “Roadless” by Frightened Rabbit “Witness” by Benjamin Booker “Foggy Day” by Beegie Adair
“Barefoot Desert” by King Gizzard & the Lizard Wizard “I Must Be in a Good Place Now” by Bobby Charles “Salt Pork, West Virginia” by Louis Jordan “Lebanese Blonde” by Thievery Corporation “Sunshine Superman” by Donovan “Girlfriend” by Matthew Sweet
3/12/18 8:29 PM