This is Music Mondays, a weekly list of music recommendations. I’ll run down the albums, artists, or songs that I’ve been listening to in the last week. Sometimes the recommendations will be dated, sometimes they will be new. Either way, music is great!
The Shins, “Wincing the Night Away”
The Shins is the musical equivalent to a Dr. Seuss book. Their music is whimsical, secretly deep, and transports you to a different place. With the band’s forthcoming studio album “Heartworms,” I’ve been preparing for the release by listening to some of the band’s earlier discography. “Wincing the Night Away” was my first introduction to The Shins, and it’s the album I’ll choose to recommend to new fans. “Australia” is undoubtedly my favorite track. It’s off-the-wall lyrics are a mouthful and make the song borderline impossible to sing along to, but that doesn’t stop me from trying. Songs like “Split Needles” and the beautiful closer “A Comet Appears” are more introspective songs that help diversify the album’s excellent sound. The Shins would be nothing however without lead singer James Mercer. His delightfully optimistic voice is one of the most recognizable in indie rock, and his energy carries “Wincing the Night Away” through to the end. Songs like “Turn on Me” showcase his range and the entire album is a testament to his songwriting talent. When “Heartworms” releases on March 10, it will mark The Shins’ first record in five years, and I cannot wait.
Operators, “Cold Light”
I’m obsessed with “Cold Light.” I have been ever since I first heard it played after an excellent season three episode of AMC’s “Halt and Catch Fire” in October. I unfortunately can’t get into the rest of Operator’s offerings like “Cold Light,” but it doesn’t stop me from returning to this track over and over again. “Cold Light” is a great use of classic ‘80’s synth, nostalgic lyrics, and passionate vocals from lead singer Dan Boeckner. For whatever reason, the song makes me think of high school dances and random summer drives with friends. Lines like “do you wanna take the long way home” will always bring a smile to my face. I can’t get enough of “Cold Light,” and I only hope future Operators music can win me over as well.
March 17 marks another personally anticipated day for music. This is when “Hot Thoughts,” the newest album from Spoon, will be released. Full disclosure, I have never listened to Spoon prior to these singles. However, I am absolutely in love with these tracks, and if the album is anything like them, “Hot Thoughts” will be one of my first favorite albums released in 2017. As far as these two singles go, they sound very similar to indie rock bands like The Last Shadow Puppets by utilizing grand string orchestra samples in “Can I Sit Next to You” and having eccentric lead vocals in “Hot Thoughts.” However, these singles reward repeat listens with detailed production value and catchy guitar hooks. (Specifically, the guitar lick featured after the chorus in “Hot Thoughts” is great. I can’t stop gushing over its strum pattern, especially when mixed with the percussion.) I plan on reviewing the album when it comes out, and I really hope it can live up to the expectations that these singles have set for it.