Good morning and welcome to a new edition of the Captain’s Log, a monthly-ish series in which I tell tall tales of the various indie rock, electronic and pop siren songs I heard echoed across the ocean by a chorus of whales as I navigated the briny deep with a parrot on my shoulder and a dream in my heart. It’s been a while since we’ve gathered here to discuss new bands, so some of these are newer than others, but rest assured, I have been keeping my ears open for you. This month’s edition is particularly important because St. Vincent, so let’s not waste any time:
St. Vincent – Birth In Reverse
This song begins, “Oh, what an ordinary day. Take out the garbage, masturbate.” While we have your attention, now would be a good time to tell you that Ms. Annie Clark is on a new label (Loma Vista) and will be releasing her brand new self-titled record Feb 25 (Feb 24 in the UK, where time travels faster). According to her press release, she “…wanted to make a party record you could play at a funeral.” This first song is filled with crunching guitars and driving percussion and devolves into a curiously-timed fantastic mess of chirps and drones, so we’re already off to a good start.
Courtney Barnett – Avant Gardener
If I had to put my money on one of the new artists presented in this collection, it’d be this one. This 25-year-old Austrlian (via Melbourne) was heavily buzzed at this year’s CMJ Music Marathon, and I can’t put her double EP A Sea of Split Peas away. Something about the spacy groove and detached confessional lyrics on “Avant Gardener” remind me in a twisted way of a darker mid-90’s Sheryl Crow, which is a serious compliment.
Joanna Gruesome – Madison
These guys get +10 points for the name, which is just as clever and enjoyable as their debut record Weird Sister. These Welsh weirdos allegedly met in anger management, and they excel at churning out jagged, fuzzy hooks and pairing them withd charming lyrics about fighting homophobia, chasing your own mental illness around with razorblades and not going to school.
Blood Orange (f/ Samantha Urbani) – You’re Not Good Enough
Once upon a time I dated a gorgeous Sagittarius whose all-time favourite song changed approximately twice a week. For a month or so, she was really into Samantha Urbani’s band Friends, which meant that I listened to them constantly in an effort to understand the inner workings of this fickle girl’s brain. When she inevitably dumped me a few weeks later in search of new adventures, all I had left was a bruised ego and a couple of Spotify playlists. Certainly coulda used this Prince-inspired track from Dev Hynes’ project Blood Orange, but I’ll be sure to keep it on hand for future breakups. Blood Orange’s new record Cupid Deluxe is filled with the smooth R&B sounds Dev’s poured into his other projects (like a little singer named Solange you might have heard of), but with a spirit that’s uniquely his.
Anna Calvi – Piece By Piece
If you like the swagger of PJ Harvey mixed with the earnestness of the softer, more emotional Yeah Yeah Yeahs songs, I have a feeling you will have positive feelings about Anna Calvi’s new record One Breath. I could not decide which song I liked the most (because I am deeply in love with all of them) so I am presenting you with one of the stranger tracks, which burrows itself into your brain atop stumbling percussion, whispery vocals and the occasional string section (?!). Check out the record’s other standout track “Cry” – I think One Breath may be the last of my favourite records from 2013.