Banks & Steelz – Giant
Rap legend RZA and Interpol’s Paul Banks started out as friends playing chess together and now they are Banks & Steelz, the best rap-rock hybrid since The Black Keys’ Blakroc. Giant is the opening track off of their forthcoming album, Anything But Words, due August 26 on Warner Bros and it is a juggernaut of an opener. With a dark, driving rhythm reminiscent of Outkast’s B.O.B., RZA comments on how, “things done changed in hip-hop.” We hear him at his most ferocious, as his intensity rises he affects a cracking howl and announces “I’m gonna take full control. Hey, Paul, let ’em know.” Banks’ chorus is initially a braggadocios chant, “We are giant,” and then in the bridge it takes on a new meaning when RZA remarks on the state of our nation and dips into his Wu-Tang vocabulary to comment on corporate greed, “CFOs are after C.R.E.A.M.” This song is very infections and relevant, it lets the world know that Banks & Steelz have arrived and shows these two seasoned musicians in a whole new light.
Angel Olsen – Intern
This spare, airy track is a stark contrast to the lo-fi folk sound of Olsen’s 2014 debut. Lead by a synth pad and gorgeous, layered vocals, this song creates an intimate environment that is occasionally punctured by sharp synth stabs. The lyrics are cryptic yet relatable, as she sings about the struggles of having to, “wake up and be someone.” She draws parallels between work and love, and comments on the harsh realities of both, “Something in the world will make a fool of you.” She declares her motivation, “I just want to be alive, make something real,” and ends the song by repeating, “Pick up the phone but I swear it’s the last time. Falling in love and I swear it’s the last time.” Her sophomore album My Woman, is out September 2 on Jagjaguwar, and if this track is any indication, it will be an exploratory sonic marvel.
Carl Broemel – Sleepy Lagoon
On this song, the My Morning Jacket multi-instrumentalist establishes his own unique style, with just enough similarity to hook any Jacketeer. Sleepy Lagoon is a smooth, bouncy rock song, in which Broemel shows off his composition skills, while practicing restraint. Subtlety is key on this song, even when he rips a wicked guitar solo it blends perfectly and is not overpowering. His second solo album, 4th of July, will be released on his own Stocks in Asia label on August 19. He calls it, “a reflective meditation examining the passage of time.” It’s always a pleasure to see members of existing bands create their own original, musical identities.
DIVAN – Sale of Lakes
This song begins as a dark march trough the woods, lead by crisp guitar licks and a driving drum roll. This dark groove mutates into brightness for a moment then returns, as Jamie Clark starts off singing, “I never notice my mistakes.” We reach the lake where, “I can wash my sins away. It is my fault,” Clark declares defeatedly. He finds some solace in the next verse, leading to the bridge where a cheerful, treble guitar twang lines his lyrics, “It’s not my fault.” This is the first song released by the Irish indie-rock band, formed after their previous projects disband. Their debut album, Modern Knowledge out August 19th, was produced by Menomena and EL VY’s Brent Knopf, and this track proves that it will be a rich and dynamic record.
Teenage Fanclub – I’m In Love
Yesterday, Scottish 90’s rock natives, Teenage Fanclub, treated us with a short, bright burst of retro-rock love. The title says it all, this is joyous, high-energy love song with an antique charm reminiscent of The Beatles or Big Star, escalating to a flawless harmonized guitar solo. The band’s tenth album and their first in six years, Here, is out September 9 on Merge.