Friday, March 4, 2016

This Week in Music: Ray LaMontagne, Nada Surf, Miike Snow, Dead Stars

Posted By on Fri, Mar 4, 2016 at 11:00 AM

A lot of artists are dropping music today, March 4. If you need help deciding which albums to delve into and which ones to ignore, here are the thoughts I, someone who has very limited professional musical training, had while listening to the singles off a few noteworthy March 4 releases. 

Ray LaMontagneOuroboros
If you like folk blues, jazz, (good) John Mayer and/or Ryan Adams, you will like Ray LaMontagne. Listening to Ouroboros  "Part Two—In My Own Way," was probably the most chill six minutes of my whole day, thanks to the tune's jazzy drums, smooth slide guitar and LaMontagne's hazy voice. It sounds like beach music, but isn't annoying or trying-too-hard (I'm looking at you, Nada Surf). "Part One—Hey, No Pressure" wasn't as fulfilling a listen, but LaMontagne's rolling guitar riffs and soft lyrics make the track, again, pretty damn relaxing. Definitely give the rest of Ouroboros a listen if you need to drift away mentally for a bit. 

NADA SURFYou Know Who You Are
"I don't mind if it's raining, I don't mind if it's hot, I don't mind what you're thinking." Many thought-provoking proclamations similar to these streak You Know Who You Are's lead single, "Cold To See Clear." Sung in lead vocalist Matthew Caws' high-pitched, wavy voice and backed by arpeggiated guitar riffs, the song, unsurprisingly, sounds like a (mediocre) musical embodiment of the beach. "Believe You're Mine" has similar forgettable lyrics and electric guitar. The tracks aren't completely awful to listen to if you overlook how stupid the lyrics actually are, which makes me think that You Know Who You Are will be the type of album that either scores a movie in the likes of Aquamarine or plays softly whilst cramming for a test. 

Disclaimer: I'm not the biggest Miike Snow fan (aside from "Animal," of course—that's a classic). That said—the singles preceding iii's release are pretty mediocre, even for Snow's basic electro-pop sound. Lead single "Heart is Full," starts interestingly enough, with a woman, backed by '60s-sounding trumpet, singing, but it quickly turns into one of those GANGSIGNS-esque, old-meets-new remixes, and it just doesn't work. "The Heart of Me," contrastingly, starts with a Charlie XCX-brand echoing of electric ohs, which fill every lyric break in the song. Every. Single. One. Miike Snow then asks his presumed lover to want him, because he only wants them. The track is a pretty strong indicator that the rest of iii  will sound like an '80s-obsessed raver's wet dream. If you're into that, though, power to you. 

DEAD STARSBright Colors
Dead Stars' Bright Colors singles all sound like every garage-punk song you blasted on your portable Sony CD player back in 2003. The repetitive guitar riffs and simple, whiny punk lyrics in "Unpopular," "In My Mind" and "Calm Punk" aren't that exciting or different by any means, but they do make for pretty good 2016-brand throwbacks. 

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