Listen to these songs and more on The A.V. Club’s Spotify playlist, updated weekly with what we’re listening to.
Junkie XL, Tomb Raider soundtrack
Like most weeks, the past few days have been a constant alternation between lengthy classical, orchestral, and ambient works I cue up when I’m deep in the middle of writing. My recent find is the new Tomb Raider soundtrack from Tom Holkenborg, a.k.a. Junkie XL. Holkenborg has been doing film work for some time now, collaborating with composer Hans Zimmer and working on films like Inception and Dark Knight Rises for Christopher Nolan, though his most familiar work in recent memory is probably that awesome Wonder Woman theme from Batman V Superman and Justice League. What’s making the Tomb Raider score really work for me is the sprawling variety of music he created for it. The music swings broadly from very traditional, swooping orchestral Hollywood music to thundering drum tracks clearly influenced by Pacific Islander drumming to moments of almost glitchy electronic bending of the instruments. It’s engaging without being overwhelming, and diverse enough that I don’t get bored with any one sound for too long.(Plus, if you get curious about the making of it, Holkenborg goes in-depth on the process during the newest edition of his “how-to for composing” YouTube series, Studio Time.)
My other big discovery this week was Lume, a three-piece from Chicago that craft the kind of dark, pensive, slow-paced rock I rarely see pulled off with such affecting force. The new single “Unending,” off the band’s upcoming album Wrung Out, is what caught my attention. The record was created shortly after the band members lost three good friends in rapid succession to drug abuse and suicide, and while all the songs deal with the tragedy of loss, the struggle of honoring their memories, and the transformation of grief, “Unending” is written from the POV of one of the deceased friends. It develops slowly, nothing but solitary guitar and bass notes with spare vocals for almost two and a half minutes, but as the drums build with funereal rhythm, it eventually explodes into a gloriously cathartic finale, incorporating harmonies and blaring distortion (with nearly Chelsea Wolfe-esque levels of darkness). I look forward to getting to know this band much better. [Alex McLevy]
Roc Marciano, “Corniche”
Roc Marciano’s new record came out a few months ago, but I only got around to listening to it this week. This is not, for once, because I am lazy, forgetful, and stupid, but because the record wasn’t available: He was only selling physical CD copies of it only, and at $30 a pop, demanding we discuss their worth. I don’t have a CD player anywhere anymore, or else I would’ve considered it. Thankfully, it’s streaming now, and I can finally confirm that it is yet another excellent Roc Marciano record. He first surfaced with 2010's Marcberg, a grimy, sparse take on classic New York hip-hop—bleak as hell, with darkly witty lyrics spat out like koans over shattered violins and neo-noir ambience. Last year’s Rosebud’s Revenge expanded on that, and the new (and newly available) RR2 does some more. There’s not much in the way of progression here, but there’s so little else out there like him that it’s worth grabbing in whatever form you can, even at $30. Anyway, I don’t have a lot to say about “Corniche”; it’s a great track, with an assist from the likeminded Action Bronson. [Clayton Purdom]