Filler killer

Because don’t we have enough of it anyway?

Filler killer
“For the World Is Hollow,” Library Card [Bandcamp]

It’s possible you noticed there wasn’t a newsletter last week. The reason I skipped it is because: The playlist was terrible.

Here’s how that happened: I begin each week gathering new tracks, anything that catches my ear in one way or another, and start compiling them in a playlist. At the end of the week, I start pruning, removing anything that just doesn’t hold up, that doesn’t really go anywhere, and often that takes the playlist down to a reasonable 10 or 12 songs, and that’s what I end up posting.

But this week, I kept pruning, and pruning, and I was left with a mere three songs to share, which hardly seemed worth the electricity to send it. So, I kept a couple tracks, spiked the rest, and now here’s the new (and really not new at all) music that’s the best of two weeks, rolled into one. (Spotify / Apple Music)

“Boys,” Amen Dunes

More Amen Dunes, really? Yes, really, especially with how those drums layer in at 1:15. Yes. Beautiful, and beautifully random, like what (I’d like to imagine) Syd Barrett’s final, acrimonious rehearsal with Pink Floyd—where he led the band through an ever-changing, unlearnable song he called “Have You Got It Yet?”—might have sounded like under happier circumstances.

“Mourir Demain,” Corridor

Serious “White Room” feelings at the intro, which had me running as fast as I could away from this song—but the way everything hits around the midpoint, going from happy to moody (isn’t happy a mood?) and never looks back is such a natural, powerful segue.

“Erotomania,” Love Child

Welcome to my newsletter about new music, where I am including a song from a band that broke up in 1992, and who I’ve never heard of before. Maybe it’s not a surprise, as at the time I was worshipping only at the altar of shoegaze. (I guess you look down instead of up.) A new compilation revives this truly amazing track from a band that apparently spent years on the cusp of breaking though.

“Soul-net,” DIIV

I have spent years disliking this band. Maybe my expectations have always been a little too high because they’re doing all these things I would otherwise gravitate toward—goth-y, shoegaze-y dream pop—and even named after one of my favorite Nirvana songs. It’s always sounded good on paper, but never on record. (Or for that matter live, where I’ve groaned my way through seeing them twice as an opening act.) But this song, now this is different. I love it, wholeheartedly. Something unlocks the band for me here, that swing, the drums lazing a step behind, and the distorted guitar punching in with so much emotional heft. My retraction is forthcoming.

“You Will Follow Me to Hell (Night on Earth),” Pink Milk

There was a time when I was deep into anything and everything 4AD (a bit more on that later) where my appetite for obscure ethereal and darkwave was suppressed only by my lack of music-buying funds. (Compared to today, when the entire Projekt Records catalog is on Spotify.) This song recalls some of the very best of that particular moment in music, honed into a haunting, pristine mood.

“I’m really trying to catch up with you soon,” Armbruster

An ambient psychedelic journey that wraps up in just over three minutes all sounds about right. It does exactly what it sets out to do, and in this bite-sized format, does a lot without overstaying its welcome. There’s a restraint I love in that, more Music for Films than for Airports.

“Your Time,” Prize Horse

What a fascinating combination of sounds here—and here’s the callback to 4AD, specifically what came after its darker/dreamier era of the Cocteau Twins, Dead Can Dance, et al, which would have been the 1992-93 era that introduced the Red House Painters. This song (and the newly released album it appears on) hearkens back to that moment in many ways—the complexity and the way the instruments and moods shift as they trail the vocals—but updated with slightly harder, more emo inflections.

“For the World Is Hollow,” Library Card

So much anarchy and noise to love in this song, but the way those drums hold it all together, it’s some wonderfully controlled chaos. Sometimes music videos get it right, and this is one of those times—show us those drums. (You can practically hear David Letterman asking, “Are those your drums?” afterwards.)

“L'île aux bleuets,” Bibi Club

Let’s get it out of the way, and this is not an insult, but there are strong Stereolab vibes here (French vocals, insistent rhythm), but that’s only a starting point for something that gets a lot more interesting and nuanced than it lets on at first.

“Lunaria Swirls,” Feyleux

My algorithms are unafraid to pummel me with early ’80s-inspired darkwave club tracks. So I have heard the dreck, and this is certainly not it. Yes, it’s playing well within the boundaries of the genre, but there’s a real sincerity to the track, and that one chord change does so much to take the song to a uniquely warm place.

“5,” Dali de Saint Paul, Maxwell Sterling

“Ruin porn set to music” is how I like to think of this genre, which manages to wrench moments of beauty out of some real desolation. It’s enjoyable, even momentarily peaceful, despite every warning that it shouldn’t be any of those things at all.

“Twilight,” Body/Negative

A heartfelt, tape-hiss-laden cover of the Elliott Smith song that was released posthumously on From a Basement on the Hill. I’ve always loved this track, even though I never knew that particular album all that well—it’s a bit over-tinged by the sadness of his passing. Anyway, this is the second release from a forthcoming album of covers by Body/Negative, the first being “Song to the Siren,” which means a lot in my book.