It’s a new year, so I guess it’s time to start listening to new music. This means less Jenny Hval on repeat. Luckily, I’m met with new music from some beloved and brilliant artists in 2017. I’m also spending part of this month revisiting 2016, just to make sure I didn’t miss any great artists.
May we also remember the music venues Oxford lost in 2016. May you not be forgotten and may more local music venues thrive in 2017.
R.I.P. the Cats Purring Dude Ranch, The Wall a.k.a. Vaporized, Shelter on Van Buren.
Here’s this month in music:
Weyes Blood channels an otherworldliness in all her music. Her transcendent, pensive songs channel soft rock of decades past. Mazzy Star meets Enya in a quiet dystopia. She was recently heard on tracks with Drugdealer and Ariel Pink. But on her own, Weyes Blood, the performance name of singer, songwriter and producer Natalie Mering, evokes a timeless presence in the emergence of vintage sounds in music.
Austra, an electronic project out of Toronto, simultaneously makes one want to dance and makes one want to face and question the world. Like Weyes Blood, Austra’s latest album, “Future Politics,” casts a dystopian veil over the current. Austra tackles some issues with laser focus without missing the opportunity for a good dance beat.
R&B artist Sza just released a single titled “Drew Barrymore.” The song has a beachy flow, reminiscent of another song Sza wrote, Rihanna’s “Consideration.”
The enchanting Flo Morrissey joined Matthew E. White for ten days in Virginia to craft a duet album comprising covers of Frank Ocean, Leonard Cohen, Jamie xx and more. The pair recreates modern and old classics with care, adding thoughtful flourishes when needed. They made the album “Gentlewoman and Ruby Man,” even making a short documentary to shed light on the process. At times, I found myself wishing to hear the voice of young Morrissey more than White’s low, whispery notes.
After the long-awaited release of their third album, “I See You,” the xx is bringing back their beloved sound in a new way and with a new energy. It’s clear that in the five years since “Coexist” the minimalist indie-pop trio utilized time to grow individually. This is especially clear in Jamie xx’s 2015 solo release, “In Colour,” whose upbeat, more danceable sounds make a perceivable appearance on “I See You.” In that respect, “I See You” is a strong break from their former records.
Psych-rock outfit Temples are transporting once again with the release of single “Strange or be Forgotten.” Like the first single released from their upcoming album “Volcano,” “Strange or be Forgotten” sounds childlike and wondrous. Upon its release via Fat Possum in early march, “Volcano” might prove to be just the dose of escapism listeners need as the world transforms. This fall, they announced the release with “Certainty,” a single and music video.
Ghost-voiced singer-songwriter Adam Torres will release an EP titled “I Came to Sing the Song” on February 24. The singer will play twice again in Oxford, with a show at Proud Larry’s and an appearance at Thacker Mountain Radio on March 8 and 9, respectively.