By Spencer. Today, we’re kicking off a brand new feature on S&N: The Consumer. This is a space where our S&N contributors can give a brief sampling of some of the recent releases we’re listening to right now — not full album reviews, just a taste. Today, I’m looking at a few recent favorites from Glass Animals, Alcest, Sturgill Simpson, and Broken Twin.
Glass Animals – Zaba: Glass Animals are an English band hailing from Oxford, and you can hear some of that in their sound. Nobody does melody like the Brits, and Glass Animals are no exception. But what sets them apart from their more dreary brethren is their use of rhythm. Jungle drumbeats and sprawling percussion are everywhere on Zaba, their June debut, and the result is surprisingly fun: twelve driving, almost sensual songs that would be perfect for a small house party on a warm summer night. (Hence the inclusion of the single, “Pools,” on S&N’s Summer At Night mix last month!) Fans of The XX, Bombay Bicycle Club, or Local Natives will be right at home with Glass Animals.
Glass Animals – “Pools”
Alcest – Shelter: French shoegazers Alcest started out a decade ago as a black metal band, but you’d never know it from their latest effort, Shelter. The songs have long instrumental stretches that hint at Alcest’s past life, but what you’re more likely to think of is Sigur Ros mixed with a few dashes of early Smashing Pumpkins and a sprinkling of Coldplay’s theatrics. The lyrics veer between French and English, but they’re not really the point; anything this band has to say, they say it with mood and atmosphere. It’s an impressive reinvention for a band that’s over a decade old, and I’m looking forward to hearing more.
Alcest – “Voix Sereines”
Sturgill Simpson – Metamodern Sounds In Country Music: There’s “country music” — that tired, hokey Nashville shit that long ago devolved into cheap Jeff Foxworthy humor about sexy tractors and beer-drinking horses — and then there’s country music, the singular American artform that still speaks to our country’s soul and our small town, blue collar roots. Kentucky’s Sturgill Simpson falls into that latter category. Recalling the best of Waylon Jennings or Hank Williams Sr., this is dirty, old-school country. But lest you think this is just another throwback, listen closer to the high-minded, esoteric lyrics — like on “Turtles All The Way Down,” an ode to classical creation myths. This is the kind of music Rust Cohle might listen to while carving up empty cans of Lone Star with his pocketknife. Which is alright, alright, alright by me.
Sturgill Simpson – “Life Of Sin”
Broken Twin – May: Broken Twin is the stage name for Danish singer/songwriter Majke Voss Romme, who might be my newest musical crush. (No disrespect to CHVRCHES’ Lauren Mayberry — you wore your crown well). Setting aside that small dose of objectification, though, Broken Twin’s music might be even more beautiful. Centered around Voss Romme’s quavering voice, with only the thinnest instrumentation as accompaniment, the ten songs on May are so delicate they feel like they might break. It’s mood music, to be sure, but if you enjoy Lykke Li or Bon Iver’s quieter stuff, and you need a little alone time with your thoughts, May is the perfect soundtrack.
Broken Twin – “Glimpse Of A Time”