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Kim Gordon, Jenny Hval, and Nocturnal Habits Top Our Songs of the Week (9/16)

Here are 10 songs that might leave both you and Jack White tearing up a bit

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Jack White recently came out of relative hiding for a performance on Jimmy Fallon’s Tonight Show, fighting back tears on acoustic performances of “Love Is the Truth” and The White Stripes’ “You’ve Got Her in Your Pocket”. And if an old pro like Jack can still get caught up in the beauty and power of music, what excuse do any of us possibly have? With that in mind, we think you might just find an emotive experience somewhere in our latest batch of new songs, so make sure to have your handkerchief handy.

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10. Wrekmeister Harmonies – “Light Falls I — The Mantra”

Wrekmeister Harmonies // Sasha Geffen

Photo by Sasha Geffen

Wrekmeister Harmonies mastermind J.R. Robinson left Chicago for the great wide open of Oregon recently, and the big-sky feelings permeate the first taste of his upcoming Light Falls. “Light Falls I — The Mantra” eschews the push-and-pull of orchestral metal and focuses mostly on the pull. Robinson, bandmate Esther Shaw, and guests Ryley Walker and Cooper Crain (of Cave and Bitchin Bajas) build a stretched, gentle drone, Robinson speaking in a low rumble: “Stay in, go out, get sick, get well, light falls.” It’s an understated, softer version of what you might expect from Wrekmeister Harmonies, but suffice it to say there are plenty of beautiful moments here — and some serious surprises later in the record. Light Falls is available in full today via Thrill Jockey. –Adam Kivel

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09. Peals – “Become Younger”

peals become younger Kim Gordon, Jenny Hval, and Nocturnal Habits Top Our Songs of the Week (9/16)

Baltimore duo Peals prepped their sophomore album — Honey, out September 16th via Friends Records — to be full of refined pop melodies. William Cashion (Future Islands) and Bruce Willen (ex-Double Dagger) took their time over the last three years in Willen’s home to create cuts that mimic the album’s title. Just look at “Become Younger”. The song keeps a sweet melody as a constant while guitars trickle downwards in a stream-like fashion. It’s hazy and lush, the type of bare-bones song that makes you feel content as it traps you in its sticky fingers, in a rare moment of reflection that lasts for six minutes. Sometimes you need a break from it all. “Become Younger” offers you that with a side of inner peace, too. –Nina Corcoran


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08. Tinashe – “Company”

Tinashe

The follow-up to Tinashe’s 2014 record, Aquarius, has fallen prey to some serious delays, but at least in the meantime she’s putting out some serious jams. If Joyride carries half the sultry groove of the new “Company”, it should be a real spicy one. The ode to no-strings-attached lust continues to position the R&B singer as an heir to the Janet Jackson/Madonna line, a sultry trap-esque production rolling underneath her slinky delivery. Listen in over at HotNewHipHop. Joyride should be out sometime this fall, likely with a whole bunch more anticipation boiling up under the nation’s collective collar. –Adam Kivel 

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07. Kevin Morby – “Tiny Fires”

Kevin Morby // Photo by Kris Fuentes Cortes

Photo by Kris Fuentes Cortes

We’ve been caught in the ebb and flow of Kevin Morby’s music ever since he put Singing Saw out earlier this year. The Bob Dylan look-alike has more folk up his sleeves, and as any true performer does, he’s too excited about the song to wait until a future record to share it. Standalone “Tiny Fires” graced the live stage several times at this point, but its recorded version sees Morby capturing its sunny tones with perfect production and a glean in his lyrics. “I never crossed a river so wide, so wide/ I never echoed through a valley/ But oh you know/ I’d walk for miles just to see it,” he sings. “Though it’s not my style/ I could be it.” While guitars cascade behind him in a country waterfall, Morby seems more wishful than ever — and we can’t help but think this side of him should stick around. –Nina Corcoran

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06. Albert af Ekenstam – “Made of Gold”

albert af ekenstam Kim Gordon, Jenny Hval, and Nocturnal Habits Top Our Songs of the Week (9/16)

So free yourself tonight,” pleads Albert af Ekenstam through aching, yet earnest emotive suffocation. He understands how precious pain can become, to the point that it weighs us down, like gold, when the emotional labor of treasuring despair doesn’t shine anymore. “Made of Gold” appears on his upcoming debut album, Ashes, due out October 14th. With much of the album rebuilding from the ruins of losing his mother early in life, we meet the artist attempting to relight the embers with brooding piano suspended beneath a layer of gorgeous, heartfelt vocals. From Gothenburg to Stockholm, Albert af Ekenstam brings the influence of Bon Iver into a room with Mogwai and Explosions in the Sky — a contrast that only makes his pop balladry more affecting. –Lior Phillips


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05. D.R.A.M. – “Cash Machine”

D.R.A.M. // Photo by Philip Cosores
Photo by Philip Cosores

We’ve loved D.R.A.M. for quite a while (seriously, I don’t think “Cha Cha” has ever left my brain), and it’s good to see the dude is getting some national love. His collab with Lil Yachty, “Broccoli”, was the proof that the dude does indeed do real-ass music, but “Cash Machine” further cements it. Think this success is changing D.R.A.M.? This one suggests so, yeah: “Now it’s ironic cause I only conversate with those hundreds.” Walloping piano, some cash machine sound effects, and Big Baby’s rough-hewn crooning complete a sweet picture of a guy on the come-up. —Adam Kivel


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 04. Christine and the Queens- “Sorry”

photo by philip cosores

If anyone’s going to cover Queen Bey, only one French sensation could take the throne: Christine and the Queens. Héloïse Letissier triumphs on every decibel, covering “Sorry” in the BBC Radio 1 Live Lounge. Stacking and slapping thick retro synths atop soulful funk bass “middle fingers up,” she wailed through twisting loops, “put them hands high,” and off went those hips. “Wave it in his face,” she drops, rejecting the problems that weigh us down in life and claiming back the power that’s rightfully ours. The funky riff-bonanza is cut through by French verses that spill into Letissier’s new lyrical adjustment: “I cry … I cry …” she taunts, the pace slowing to let her resolution emerge in flawless clarity. Think Future Islands’ Letterman dance-o-rama meets Blood Orange’s passion bubbling beneath Robyn’s power vocal. –Lior Phillips


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03. Nocturnal Habits – “Good Grief”

 Kim Gordon, Jenny Hval, and Nocturnal Habits Top Our Songs of the Week (9/16)

Hidden beneath the grunge wave and the rise of snappy pop, the ’90s gave birth to an alt-rock band named Unwound that, as I’ve unfortunately learned over the years, fewer people hold close to their heart as they should. The band was ripe with subtle innovations, keeping an eerie darkness to their sound while writing vocal melodies that would get stuck in your head. Now, after hiding from the scene for years, Justin Trosper and Sara Lund of Unwound team up with Dale Crover of the Melvins to form Nocturnal Habits. True to form, the band picks up where Unwound’s Leaves Turn Inside You left off, and “Good Grief” makes a point to note that. It’s brooding and suspicious — a hint of what’s to come on their debut LP, New Skin for Old Children, out October 28th via Glacial Pace. Even though technically light instruments like violins and triangle scatter across the track, it still pummels like a weight, particularly when the chorus collapses to suck the life out of you. This, out of all of the ’90s comebacks, may be the best yet. –Nina Corcoran

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02. Jenny Hval – “Period Piece”

Jenny Hval // Photo by Lior Phillips

Photo by Lior Phillips

“Don’t feel afraid, it’s only blood.” Artists are meant to feel unafraid at all times, taking opportunities we can’t crack to symbolic and revolutionary heights. Jenny Hval’s songwriting thrills with its honesty and enraptures with its lyricism, supporting Blood Bitch, her upcoming September 30th release. To let it flow freely, “Period Piece” uncovers the truth that our inhibited society keeps concealed: talk of menstruation. As she raises effortless waves of sound for her journey, Hval calls out any voices that could restrict her. “But all I feel is connected,” she calls, her appeal transforming into a source of power. The bubble and scrape of twitchy electronics frame her perfectly, the almost monastic chorus that joins her acting as a powerful platform. –Lior Phillips


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01. Kim Gordon – “Murdered Out”

Body_Head,_Kim_Gordon,_Supersonic_festival_2012

When you make music that sounds like you’re giving an acid bath to the contaminated world around you, interrogating your own life by looking inward while the outside world burns — then, hell, you can tackle anything, right? That’s how it feels listening to Kim Gordon’s “Murdered Out”, a potent, sludge-y number that rattles in its cage from the first few moments. “Black matte spray,” Gordon murmurs, letting it out deliberately between clenched teeth. Over rasping guitars and a drum loop courtesy of Warpaint’s Stella Mozgawa, Gordon excavates the bittersweet contrast of returning home to her native Los Angeles and finding out that it’s changed, people are rejecting the mainstream, murdering the “rules,” and breaking out. —Lior Phillips

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