Bibio // À tout à l’heure
Bibio, aka Britain’s Stephen Wilkinson, is set to release his new album Silver Wilkinson on May 14. "À tout à l’heure" (which is French for “see you later”) is the first taste, bridging Bibio’s looped-based folk past with a warbly electronic beat. The video is thirteen years in the making:
“Many years ago I was in Wolverhampton library looking for music to take out. I was in the cassette section and there was an album cover which stood out to me - it was the self-titled album by ‘Free’. The cover is of a blue sky and a naked woman’s silhouette striding over the camera. Her silhouette is transformed into a hole in the sky showing the stars, or perhaps a ‘window’ onto the heavens.…”
RIP Jason Molina
It’s weird coming back to the real world after rock-and-roll fantasy camp, aka SXSW. Monday morning broke beautifully in Austin, but soon came the gloom—Jason Molina passed away Saturday night due to complications from his well-publicized alcohol problem. The frontman for Songs: Ohia and Magnolia Electric Co. seemed to permanently live in the gloom. His songs are bone-chilling and harrowing, with the kind of truth-saying power only a poet could muster.
Just last year, Molina wrote this heartfelt letter to his fans, describing his condition and his hopeful recovery. It’s always moments like these that make me feel like a jerk for not listening/cherishing/loving a person while they’re still here because just like that they can be gone.
"I will be gone / But not forever."
Molina’s music always sounded best deep into the night—the lonely, mystical sounds sync up so well with the darkness. When I pull late-night shifts on the radio, I often cue up “Farewell Transmission” as my last song for obvious reasons; that song keeps great company just before dawn. Perhaps Molina saved his best advice for last, repeating the word over like a mantra as the song dies out:
The Baptist Generals // Dog That Bit You
…And just like that, the Baptist Generals are back. Ten years to the month after the release of No Silver/No Gold, the Denton, TX outfit return with some news: a brand-new record is on the way. Sub Pop will drop the awesomely-titled Jackleg Devotional To The Heart on May 21. Famed North Texas producer Stuart Sikes—who’s helmed records by the White Stripes, Cat Power, and Modest Mouse—captured the band, which has added a robust lineup of Denton/Dallas musicians to complement Chris Flemmons and Jeff Ryan. First up is "Dog That Bit You," a strummy jam led by orchestra stabs and Flemmons’ surprisingly hi-fi voice. It’s good to have them back.
Brazos // How The Ranks Was Won
Martin Crane is something of a known quantity in Austin, having released a steady stream of home recordings under his own name and the Brazos moniker. But now he looks set to make a national splash, which only seems right for a guy that opened for Grizzly Bear, Wye Oak, the National, and Vampire Weekend following the release of 2009’s Phosphorescent Blues. Saltwater drops May 28 via Dead Oceans, the second offering from Brazos and first since Crane decamped for New York a few years ago.
"How The Ranks Was Won" finds Crane’s folk-pop in higher definition, accompanied by a video that’s rich with hand-made imagery. "It’s the first time I’ve ever made any kind of video/film/moving image," says Crane, "And I wanted to make something so saturated with messages that the viewer has to decide which message to pay attention to. I like the idea that it can be unpacked in slow motion. In this way it is interactive - you can explore it."
Kurt Vile // Wakin On A Pretty Daze
Philly’s “constant hitmaker” returns April 9 with Wakin On A Pretty Daze, out via Matador. Kurt Vile's pop smarts have always been rolled with a stoner's haze, and that's certainly apparent with Daze's first single. "Wakin On A Pretty Day" kicks off the record at a languid stroll, but Vile is a canny artist. He knows how to capture your attention at first listen: there’s the grungy blast of "Hunchback" off 2009’s Childish Prodigy, and the dreamy beauty of "Baby’s Arms" off 2011’s Smoke Ring For My Halo.
Despite his laid-back demeanor, Vile has a way of spotlighting specific emotions. “Day” is the sound of a lazy, cloudless Sunday—radiant, but bittersweet in its fleetingness. The song unfolds slowly, but it’s as focused as a nine-and-half guitar jam can be.