With new music releases dropping on Fridays, we’ve shifted 360 First Spins, our weekly new music show on Periscope, to Mondays. Going forward, music writers Eric Webb and Deborah Sengupta Stith will take over the Austin360 Periscope account around 1:15 p.m. each Monday to listen to and review new music from the weekend. We’ll put our favorite new songs from the week into the 360 Mixtape. Consider it your new music soundtrack to get you through the week.
NEW ALBUMS and EPs
Wondaland presents ‘The Eephus’ – Listen
DSS: True confession: I’m a huge Janelle Monae stan and I couldn’t be happier that she has her own imprint. The debut EP from Wondaland mixes the club bangers we’ve already heard (“Yoga,” “Classic Man”) with smoky R&B, dream pop tracks that offer a lovely and sublime way to lose yourself.
EW: I am intrigued that these songs seem connected by a stylistic thread, even though there are a variety of artists. Seems like Cindy Mayweather has a strong guiding hand. I’m digging the “sexy movie montage soundtrack” vibe.
Teen Daze ‘Morning World’ – Listen
EW: The term “sweater rock” fits this album better than a wool cardigan that you forgot was dry clean only. Similar to how the Wondaland EP has a strong identity, this whole album sounds like variations on the same shoegaze theme. There are little subtleties everywhere, from fuzzy guitars on “Pink” to a synthy wash on the title track to pianos in some places to twinkling baroque pop flourishes elsewhere. We’ve listened to a lot of lazy summer jams lately, and these are among the finest.
DSS: There’s a nice variety to the tracks here, and some interesting harmonic choices.
B.o.B. ‘Psychadelik Thoughts’ – Listen
DSS: As far as radio rappers go, Bobby Ray is one of my favorites. “Underground Luxury” was a very good commercial rap album. For some reason, on this one, he decided to leave his “A” game rhyme style behind to instead focus on his singing, which is a shame. He doesn’t have a particularly impressive singing voice. On some tracks, like the sufficiently danceable club jam “Hourglass,” he pulls it off. But for the most part, it feels labored, unsatifying.
EW: B.o.B remains my favorite rapper with a Rivers Cuomo collaboration in his discography. That said, this is bit of a contrived effort, if not a sincere one.
Melanie Martinez ‘Crybaby’ – Listen
DSS: Martinez has a nice vocal quality and a lot of potential, but I’m not entirely on board yet. It’s something about her branding. Martinez, a former contestant on “The Voice,” is only 20 years old and the fact that’s she’s barely legal makes the creepy, sexualized fun house/pre-K nightmare vibe unsettling.
EW: This “precious Juggalette” schtick is nothing that I want to come within a mile of. Spooky-baby vocals and creep-pop need to stay in whatever dark corner Martinez found them in.
Grace Potter ‘Midnight’- Listen
DSS: I haven’t given this album a good full listen, but my first impression is a lot of the songs start from interesting musical ideas, but then segue into a generic and predictable adult contemporary rock radio chorus.
EW: Either Potter or her producer had some noble creative intentions here, what with the Ratatat-esque sounds and Motown dalliances. Either Potter or her producer chickened out, and she ultimately stays in her lane halfway through each song. But I agree: It could be worth another listen. I’m willing to eat my words.
FKA twigs ‘M3ll155x’ – Listen
DSS: Twigs takes future R&B to incredibly challenging places. Sometimes it works very, very well and I love the way she’s using her success to eschew easy formulas, but some of the dark, industrial atmospherics on this EP are very inaccessible. Her diehard fans will feel the whole package, but the rest of us might struggle.
EW: Ever the art school kid, our twigs. I feel like I’m not supposed to be listening to this, or like I should be at a gallery opening. There’s a little bit o’ Purity Ring-style witch house seeping in, methinks.
New Politics ‘Vikings’ – Listen
EW: The best soundtrack for convincing girls to go up to a rooftop pool with you, “Vikings” is a hilariously un-self-aware follow-up to “A Bad Girl In Harlem,” which had an infectious single and a curious deviation into Limp Bizkit territory. “Girl Crush” is the best track, which is saying something, because it is a pre-fab Kohls commercial jam with Avril Lavigne handclaps. Two things: 1) The band is from Copenhagen, so there are some hilarious botched metaphors in the lyrics, and 2) I will probably hate-listen to this album at least a couple more times before the summer is over.
DSS: Now I need a jello shot. Why do you do these things to me, Eric?
Chvrches ‘Never Ending Circles’ – Listen
EW: Take my money. This single very much serves as a bridge between the dark whimsy of the band’s debut album and the righteous anger of “Leave a Trace,” the first single off of the upcoming “Every Open Eye.”
DSS: I love the way their grandiose pop shimmers with hints of Celtic magic. Can’t wait to hear the full length.
Lana del Rey ‘High By the Beach’ – Listen
EW: Since Our Lady of del Rey turned out to be popular beyond most people’s wildest dreams, it seems her label has given her a wide berth of creative control. Not quite the grandiosity of “Born To Die’s” high points, not quite the sonic Quaalude of “Ultraviolence,” this track shows that she’s tweaking and fine-tuning her hip hop noir even further. It seems to be moving in an intriguing direction.
DSS: Turns out stoned by the beach is the least tedious mope variation Lana del Rey indulges in. I almost like this song. Almost.
Wavves ‘Heavy Metal Detox’ – Listen
EW: This is a Wavves song! Do you like Wavves? I sure do!
DSS: Fun stoney, surf jam to take out the summer.
James Vincent McMorrow ‘How to Waste a Moment’ – Listen
EW: He’s got a big, heavenly voice, but instead of his usual Bon Iver soundalike gems, this one is dipping its toes into the How To Dress Well/James Blake R&B pool.
Gavin James ‘Bitter Pill’ – Listen
EW: For the Hozier fan who finds manbuns too sexually agitating, but is too discerning for Ed Sheeran. James opened for Sam Smith at the Erwin Center on Saturday, and he’s got a fine voice and affable charm. I picture a smash teen movie soundtrack spot in his future.
DSS: This guy, Hozier and Ed Sheeran all fit into a triple A rock radio version of New Sincerity that has massive commercial appeal.
Listen to the best tracks this week below.