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Matador

Spoon Announces New Album 'Hot Thoughts,' Drops Title Track

Music News, New MusicWeston PaganoComment

The idea of a new Spoon record is a hot thought indeed, and following their top quality 2014 release They Want My Soul, Spoon has returned to "old friends" Matador Records to give us just that.

Due out March 17, the watercolor covered LP Hot Thoughts has a tracklist and title track available now, and, while there are no full tour details yet, they have announced a residency at their hometown SXSW festival in the days leading up to the release as well.

"Hot Thoughts" sees Spoon continue co-production with Dave Fridmann (The Flaming Lips, MGMT, Tame Impala) for a jangly yet tight single unafraid to embrace danceability at no expense to rock sensibility. Listen below.

Hot Thoughts:

  1. Hot Thoughts
  2. WhisperI’lllistentohearit
  3. Do I Have to Talk You Into It
  4. First Caress
  5. Pink Up
  6. Can I Sit Next to You
  7. I Ain’t the One
  8. Tear It Down
  9. Shotgun
  10. Us

'Teens of Style' Is Rebirth of Car Seat Headrest's Furtive Journey

Music ReviewSean McHughComment

Is there such thing as an overqualified musician? Does releasing eleven albums without any label backing constitute a titan of recording? What the hell does Car Seat Headrest even mean?

Rhetoric aside, Will Toledo is a millennial marvel - the twenty three year old man behind the automotive-comfort nom de plume Car Seat Headrest has recorded and released eleven albums since 2010. October 30th will mark Toledo’s first album released with a label, Teens of Style. Out on Matador Records, TOS is a refurbishing of some of Toledo’s more prominent tracks from his extensive pre-existing discography.

Perhaps the preeminent bedroom-based producer of the Twenty Teens, Toledo’s work as Car Seat Headrest runs the gamut of musical inspirations. With songs reminiscent of Weezer, Brian Wilson, Daniel Johnston, and Beck, TOS acts as a proper retrospective of Toledo’s growth as a writer and performer. Songs that had once been released under the pretense of personal amusement and catharsis from life in Leesburg, Virginia have been repurposed as a formal introduction of Car Seat Headrest to the indie masses.  

TOS opens with “Sunburned Shirts,” an ambient psych rock track that first appeared on Toledo’s 2013 release My Back Is Killing Me Baby, is retooled as an aloof and apologetic narrative that blows itself up halfway through, becoming a raucous convulsion of surf guitar and filtered vocals.

“The Drum” (My Back Is Killing Me Baby, 2013) ushers in the Matador era of Car Seat Headrest angst, having abandoned his moniker-earning recording practices (recording in the back of his family car) and traded them for full-fledged production that asserts Toledo’s truest feelings of boredom and self-awareness.

Many songs on TOS exhibit Toledo’s distinct perspective of detachment from certain banalities of life, such as “Something Soon” (My Back Is Killing Me Baby, 2013), with its Brian Wilson-esque harmonies that veil indefinite boredom with lines like, “I want to sing this song like I’m dying.” Or “No Passion” in which Toledo remarks on trite millennial discontent, remarking, “Still alive / No perspective / Album is over / Go to bed sober.”

Other songs on TOS offer bleak insight into Toledo’s heightened self-awareness. “Time to Die” (Monomania, 2012) is an offertory of alienation and frustration with the divergence taken early on in others’ lives – “All of my friends are getting married / All my friends are right with God.” The sole new song for TOS, “Bad Role Models, Old Idols Exhumed ("Psst, teenagers / Put your clothes back on"), extends these emotions that Toledo has undoubtedly run into with his increasing acclaim, indicating passive aggressive tendencies like “I’m going to delete you,” as a means of escape.

Toledo’s solitary and honest dissemination of his inner-workings, up to this point, have been undoubtedly impressive, with Teens of Style acting as the punctuating mark on Car Seat Headrest’s furtive journey. In his typically prolific style, Toledo has already announced Car Seat Headrest’s next Matador release Teens of Denial which will feature all new material, but for now, Teens of Style will surely be an introduction and continuation of a budding indie luminary.

Find Company in Majical Cloudz's Crippling and Cathartic 'Are You Alone?'

Music ReviewWeston PaganoComment

You can sense the music that Majical Cloudz creates staring into your soul the same way you feel Devon Welsh’s unblinking eyes piercing and stitching you up all at once. The sound of Majical Cloudz is bathing in that small, warm patch of light streaming into an otherwise dark room. There are icicles on the mantel.

Are You Alone? takes off where the Montreal duo’s preceding Impersonator left off; a paradox of bare-bones, minimalist soundscapes ebbing with lush depth that are somehow simultaneously tranquilizing and uplifting. Welsh’s immaculately vulnerable monologues and unflinching vocals are gently bold, and they drive their synth lullabies forward with severe care. Calculatedly organic, passionately controlled, it’s a journal reading in a dream.

Not much has changed in that regard; it’s still quintessentially Majical Cloudz. If anything, this new record has shrunk the band’s dynamism to an even narrower midrange. Gone are the pitter patterings of “Mister” and the thick locomotion of “Childhood’s End.” Even the already opaque and pale cover art of it’s predecessor is scaled back to a purer incarnation sans artist name. It’s austerity at its most suffocating.

"Will you let me change? / I want to but I think you want me the same,” Welsh asks on “Control.” And it’s a fair assumption. While there is certainly little evolution here, who can complain when the niche carved out is so compelling and captivating even at it’s most static? Majical Cloudz may need to diversify at some point in the future to keep the fast-paced music world interested, but that time is unimaginable as of today. In “Heavy,” he concludes with calligraphic repetition, "You gotta learn to love me / Cause I am what I am.” 

And what is he? Undoubtedly an acquired taste for some, yet his lyrical content is not that far removed from the pop platitudes of Top 40 with lines like, "And we're going downtown / Cause we feel like running around / Is it really this fun when you're on my mind? / Is it really this cool to be in your life?” in lovely standout “Downtown.” The uniqueness in Welsh’s artistry is not necessarily every sentiment in itself, but the crushing sincerity and earnestness in which they are mined and delivered.

Welsh's simplicity is always innate and genuine, never formulaic. It’s as if his words are leaking out of a very well-produced private tape recorder one’s stumbled upon in the night. Though Are You Alone? as a whole is an offer of companionship, there is still a sense of shouting into the void as the title track implores, "What's the point of a sad, sad song / Do You hear what I'm saying / Or not at all?" 

There is at least one change since Impersonator, however, and that is somewhat of an upward emotional turn. While the previous record is near end-to-end misery, Are You Alone? often transitions into glimpses of sanguine, childlike wonder. "And if suddenly I die / I hope they will say / That he was obsessed and it was okay,” he admits. His obsession is crippling and cathartic and carries over to the listener by IV.

The first time I heard leading single “Silver Car Crash” I was strapped to a Boeing in the process of taking off. What ensued was a fitting 4D experience, literally soaring along with the track’s whirring body and Smiths-esque, morbid confessions of adoration. As the pressure pushed me back down into the seat to spite the adrenaline I wondered how much of it was my own inertia and how much of it was Welsh himself, slowly constricting around me. I hoped my vessel would fare better than his own vehicle's violent end.

"And I know love is worth it / I am in perfect love with you / But I am dead already / And I am bleeding onto you / I hope you won't forget me / I am so hopelessly for you" he asserts in his final breath. It's Welsh at his most overbearing, and yet his tight grip is irresistible. Unlike "Bugs Don't Buzz," Are You Alone? might just end with a smile, even if it's a crooked one softly broken on the dashboard.