There’s a lot of music out there. To help you cut through all the noise, every week The A.V. Club is rounding up A-Sides, five recent releases we think are worth your time. You can listen to these and more on our Spotify playlist.
Wye Oak, “Fortune”
Since the 2018 release of The Louder I Call, The Faster It Runs, the majestic dream-pop duo Wye Oak has been busy with other things—Jenn Wasner touring with Bon Iver, Andy Stack making his solo debut as Joyero. But with an ambitious tour planned for early 2020, the pair has started rolling out new Wye Oak material, beginning with the single “Fortune.” Though it could easily stand alone as an acoustic Wasner song, it’s clad in a stunning arrangement full of great parts: that tectonic groove, that ground mist of synthesizer, and especially that guitar, which—this is going to sound random, but you’ll flip when you hear it—sounds like they froze the woozy sax from The Psychedelic Furs’ “Dumb Waiters” with liquid nitrogen. It’s also one of those songs that has A Moment that pushes it over the top: that post-chorus plunge, when the music pours back in like a controlled avalanche. It’s hard not to think of “Fortune” in terms of geology; this is the sound of a band that knows it can provoke the sheer physical awe of cliffs and canyons at will. [Brian Howe]
Beck, Paisley Park Sessions
Beck was the first artist to record in Paisley Park’s main studio after Prince’s death, and he used his time there to cut something Prince hated: covers of Prince songs. That doesn’t stop Beck’s medley for this Amazon Music exclusive from being fun and loose: Stringing together the best bits of four incredible songs—“Raspberry Beret,” “When Doves Cry,” “Kiss,” and “1999”—is hardly the recipe for a somber celebration. (He even nails the weird vocalization at the beginning of “Doves.”) Sure, it’s easy to sound great when you’re covering some of the greatest pop songs ever, but that’s no reason not to. Beck also dives briefly into his own catalog for this session, which includes tight full-band versions of his Odelay classic “Where It’s At” and the slightly slept-on “Up All Night,” from 2017’s Colors. It’s all in service of a brand-new Beck full-length, Hyperspace, which is out today. [Josh Modell]
Look for our full-length review of Hyperspace in the coming days.
Haai, Systems Up, Windows Down
Once a week for two years, Haai took to the famed London club Phonox to spin DJ sets lasting a whopping six hours. The Australia-born electronic musician’s newest release, Systems Up, Windows Down, celebrates her next big move: signing to the legendary Mute Records. A 40-minute “EP” unveiled alongside the announcement, Systems pulls listeners into Haai’s twisted late-night realm of thumping bass clatter; double-time digital kicks; and samples of African, Turkish, and East Asian music. The samples jolt these songs to life: On “6666,” fragmented voices bounce around gruff bass throbs and drum-machine triplets like bodies writhing on a dance floor. After the music of “CHONKIBOI” drops out to leave just a chanted, shouted sample for 45 seconds, the return of the track’s spasmodic synth drones and incisive bass throws the party into overdrive. Music this intense and cerebral makes six-hour DJ sets fly right by. [Max Freedman]
We’re collecting our A-Sides recommendations over on a Spotify playlist updated every Friday. Tune in and subscribe here.
Ratboys, “Alien With A Sleep Mask On”
It was only a little over a week ago that Ratboys released “Alien With A Sleep Mask On,” the first single from the band’s next LP due out in 2020, but I’ve already probably contributed roughly a hundred of its total number of plays on Spotify. After the gentler alt-country vibes of much of the band’s earlier work, the anthemic rock promise lurking below the surface has arrived, transforming this song into a fully realized power-pop gem that wields its crunching, distorted chords with cathartic abandon. Julia Steiner’s voice still walks the delicate line between frail and fierce, the better to deliver this sly ode to not quite feeling all there. If this is the direction the band is moving in for the upcoming album—and judging from the superb, electric live sets it’s been delivering in recent months, it is—let’s hope it doesn’t stop. [Alex McLevy]
Andy Stott, It Should Be Us
There’s only one instance where lagging makes a video game better: when you’re tripped out, watching the graphics blur and flash simultaneously, and you feel like you’re moving at the speed of light. It’s a disorienting visual that makes you inordinately aware of the pace at which you’re existing, and it makes the world you’ve otherwise become accustomed to turn into a foreign landscape. Andy Stott’s new EP, It Should Be Us, is the musical equivalent of this. The Manchester producer teased the nine-song release as “slow and raw productions for the club,” and he’s not wrong. But for those already familiar with Stott’s work—namely the abrasive, metallic, frigid clangs-turned-techno of 2012’s Luxury Problems and 2014’s Faith In Strangers—It Should Be Us will sound hazy and, for him, somewhat gentle. It’s a welcome shift from his previous albums, and a rare instance where the feeling of the world melting in slow-mo as you race ahead feels enthralling. [Nina Corcoran]