The Talkbox dissects under-the-radar upcoming fall releases

The Talkbox dissects under-the-radar upcoming fall releases

By Dan Willis & Shawn Cooke / The Pitt News Staff

After a mostly cool summer for new music releases, a whole bunch of artists will be rushing to drop albums in the coming months before they head out on fall tours. Although some of the more high-profile releases  — such as new records from Flying Lotus, Foo Fighters, SBTRKT and that Taylor Swift will garner all the attention, there are just as many under the radar picks worth a listen. The Talkbox breaks down a few advance singles from Zammuto, Perfume Genius and Celestial Shore, and they (mostly) agree on the level of anticipation for each of their forthcoming records.

Zammuto — “Io” — new album Anchor, released Sept. 2

Dan: High on the heels of two other official pre-release singles — the overcast, circuital “Great Equator” and the groovy, mercurial “Hegemony” — Zammuto has dropped the most unexpected song of his career, “Io.” In less than three minutes, this former Books member seamlessly blends outer-space field recordings, clumsy new-wave drum machines, fiddle breakdowns and uncharacteristically enthusiastic vocals that border on being Wilson Pickett-esque. But thanks to the itchy, synthetic groove and socioeconomic undertones that run throughout, it slaloms through its disparate influences with remarkable ease, and the result is both the most madcap and immediately lovable tune to come from the project thus far.

Shawn: I’ll admit it —this my first run in with the Zammuto project — and my only exposure to Nick Zammuto other than The Books’ Thought For Food, so “Io” hit with a considerable impact. It’s a painfully infectious song, and the ’80s kitsch winningly has a much more cheeky presence than artists who faithfully attempt to recreate the decade (see: Twin Shadow). I keep coming back to the refrain, “People say I ain’t got no soul / but who knows, because it seems like an unintentional response to a recent Britt Daniel interview during which he said, in reference to soul, “You just know it when you hear it. Or when you don’t.” Zammuto seems to decide that he has a little soul by the song’s final refrain, judging by the swap from drum machines to the real thing.

Perfume Genius — “Queen” — new album Too Bright, releases Sept. 23

Shawn: I guess this is who passes as “singer-songwriter” in 2014, but back in my day (before we were born), Michael Hadreas on “Queen” would have been classified as a full-fledged pop star. Then again, if scornful observations such as “No family is safe / When I sashay” can still maintain relevance nowadays, then his chances of pop credibility would have been slim-to-none before our time. The whoosh and massive synth storm that follow the chorus suggest that he’s aiming for no less than these aspirations on Too Bright — without compromising the disturbing and pointedly discomforting subject matter he fine tuned on 2012’s Put Your Back N 2 It. One of those songs worked its way into a Honda TV spot, so the leap won’t feel unnatural.

Dan: There was something so incredibly earnest about Put Your Back N 2 It, and I think a lot of it had to do with restraint. “Hood” has all the potency of the most sprawling Elton John power ballads, but it’s distilled down to less than two minutes. And excluding the rapidly cut five-second climax, its now-legendary music video had a grand total of four shots. It was a crisp, delicate and shockingly honest album that found the deepest tragedies of the queer experience and exploited them with tear-jerker after tear-jerker, without ever taking the easy route of bombast. This song is just so clumsy and insincere by comparison. It’s not bad, but it just makes me miss the vulnerability of his earlier stuff.  

Celestial Shore — “Creation Myth” — new album Enter Ghost, releases Nov. 11

Dan: Abandoning the psych-pop frills of their debut, Celestial Shore’s new track “Creation Myth” sounds at first like a straight-ahead garage rock tune, until it finally reveals its mathy knots. But before more avid listeners have a chance to crunch the numbers, the song cuts away to an eerily sing-song mantra about evolution. It’s a disorienting and choppy effect, until these two elements superimpose, and the puzzle pieces arrange themselves into a gloriously infectious conclusion, overflowing with the clarity of revelation and the gratification of a good plot twist. A bold move for a lead single, but it pays off.

Shawn: This is definitely a welcome change for Celestial Shore. The steady 4/4 of garage rock clashing with math isn’t a natural fit, yet they pull it off surprisingly well. When both sections collide around the two-minute mark, it feels like one of those goofy mashup videos, but instead you’re stuck trying to figure out just how it could all fit together. That they keep it trimmed to a tight three minutes is all the more impressive.

Editors Note: The release date for Celestial Shore’s Enter Ghost has been changed from Oct. 14 to Nov. 11. It has been adjusted in the story above.


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