Song of the Week: Nine Inch Nails – “LESS THAN”

At this point, whatever Trent Reznor writes for Nine Inch Nails, the only constant will be a sinister vibe. Otherwise, all bets are off. Take “LESS THAN,” from the band’s upcoming EP, Add Violence.

Continue reading “Song of the Week: Nine Inch Nails – “LESS THAN””

Song of the Week: Filthy Friends – “The Arrival”


I’m always a bit cautious when it comes to supergroups. More often than not, the band never equals or exceeds the sum of its parts. But if “The Arrival” is anything to go on, Filthy Friends will not disappoint. The combination of Corin Tucker (Sleater-Kinney), Peter Buck (R.E.M.), Bill Rieflin (King Crimson), Kurt Bloch and Scott McCaughey (Minus 5) boil down their personalities into a short, punky blast.

Tucker’s belting howl remains as powerful as ever. But the song’s grungy chords give her space to ebb and flow in her delivery. When the chorus comes in, the famous jangle of Buck’s guitar enters the scene, a bit harsher than with R.E.M. Outside of his solo work, it’s been years since we’ve heard that tone. Its return is very welcome. Put these elements together with the earthquake of Minus 5 and the roustabout drumming of Rieflin. What do you get? A melodic, lively announcement of a new supergroup on the scene. Filthy Friends have arrived.

Their debut album, Invitation, is out on August 25 via Kill Rock Stars.

Song of the Week: TORRES – “Skim”


“Skim” by TORRES (AKA Mackenzie Scott) is a bundle of tightly-wound nerves. Its motorized beat hits like a jab to the gut. The singer-songwriter reinforces the sensation with synth swells and distorted guitar lines. The riffs she plays stand out for how mechanical and sparse they sound. Then there’s her voice, calm and collected until her desire and emotions break through. “There’s no unlit corner of the room I’m in/I’m only the skim of what has already been,” she sings.

As Scott said on NPR about the song, “It’s basically about exploring all the dark corners of the mind and of the subconscious, and making sure that you’re not fooling yourself, you’re not hiding from yourself. There’s nothing worse than being unaware of what’s inside your own head, inside your own spirit.”

From the opening click to the high-strung guitar solo at the close, “Skim” brings claustrophobic confusion to the surface. As the first taste of TORRES’ third album, following the excellent Sprinter, it’s both an internalization and elevation of her sound and her soul.

Song of the Week: Arcade Fire – “Everything Now”


Arcade Fire are back! And they’ve been listening to a lot of ABBA! The title track for their latest album, Everything Now, doubles down on the disco vibe they cultivated on their last record, Reflektor. But it’s also got more of a lived-in, natural feel. You can hear each contribution to that feet-moving sound, such as the sunrise piano, acoustic strums and speeding strings. There’s even a bit of a Toto sound in the flute segment!

Plus, as with the best Arcade Fire songs, it’s got a chorus that’s made for a crowd to shout along. Win Butler sings about how the accessibility of all media at all times is a road that it’s impossible to turn back from. Not a frivolous topic, but the music itself makes this one of the band’s most radiant anthems. Plus, it’s produced by Pulp’s Steve Mackey and Daft Punk’s Thomas Bangalter! No wonder it makes you want to dance!

Everything Now is out on July 28 through Columbia Records.

Song of the Week: Courtney Barnett – “How to Boil an Egg”


Technically, the latest release by Courtney Barnett is an old-new song. The Melbourne singer-songwriter used to perform “How to Boil an Egg” at open mics years before she started recording music. She brought it out of storage and updated it for the Milk Records & Bedroom Suck collaboration, Split Singles Club. Her knack for melody and rambling, clever lyrics were intact even back then.

Over a scratchy, upbeat guitar riff, Barnett sings about picking herself up out of a lull and getting to work. But it’s easier said than done. As she sings, “Pull yourself together, pick myself apart/ Nothing lasts for never, so be still my bleeding heart.” Like all her music so far, it’s got the melody, drive and words that hit the right parts of your brain.

“How to Boil an Egg” is available now.

Song of the Week (5/12/17): The National – “The System Only Dreams In Total Darkness”


It’s been a few years since we’ve heard new music from The National. After 2013’s excellent Trouble Will Find Me, the five-piece lived life and worked on side projects. As news trickled out about their seventh album, the band aimed for an evolution in their sound. If this song is anything to go on, they’ve succeeded.

Continue reading “Song of the Week (5/12/17): The National – “The System Only Dreams In Total Darkness””