Nine Inch Nails, “Everything”
I first heard about this song when my friend Evan tweeted about it: “Whoa, this new Smash Mouth song sucks. Oh wait, it's Nine Inch Nails. Everything is wrong.” I assumed he was exaggerating about the Smash Mouth thing. He was not.
Neko Case, “Night Still Comes”
Like a good rock critic, I’ve been dutifully buying Neko Case albums for more than a decade. I like all of them, but if I’m being honest, the only Neko Case song I’ve ever truly loved is “Deep Red Bells,” from 2002’s Blacklisted. I’ve been waiting for Case to return to that song’s bottomless spookiness on another track, but she’s never quite gotten there. “Night Still Comes” (from the new The Worse Things Get, the Harder I Fight, the Harder I Fight, the More I Love You, out September 3) doesn’t quite get there, either, though the opening line (“My brain makes drugs to keep me slow”) at least enters the same ballpark.
Parquet Courts, “You’ve Got Me Wonderin’ Now”
Bands have been writing “You’ve Got Me Wonderin’ Now” since at least 1977 — and most likely 1966 and probably 1955 and possibly 1938. I could attempt to explain why this song still works, but it might be more helpful to simply direct you to the 54-second mark so that you can play the 20-second guitar solo on repeat until all other 20-second guitar solos are pulverized from your memory banks.
Yuck, “Middle Sea”
Bands have been writing “Middle Sea” since 1991, then stopped for several years, and now Yuck is doing it again. I could attempt to explain why this song still works, but it might be more helpful to point out that I turn 36 next month.
Tedeschi Trucks Band, “Made Up Mind”
Susan Tedeschi and Derek Trucks formed the ultimate contemporary blues-rock power couple when they got married in 2001, though it wasn’t until 2010 that they officially bonded their respective bands into a single 11-piece jam/jazz/soul revue. The group’s sophomore effort, Made Up Mind, isn’t the dynamo that the 2012 live album Everybody’s Talkin’ is, but the title track spotlights why this team works so well together as musical partners. Basically, he can do with a slide guitar what she can do with her expertly weathered pipes — they grizzle in perfect harmony.
It’s no small compliment to this profoundly sludgy doom metal outfit that “Woodbine” is 9:23 and feels twice as long, and makes you wish it were twice as long as it feels. Credit the surprisingly spry rhythm section, as well as singer Dorthia Cottrell’s near-pretty howls. Thankfully, there’s a song on Windhand’s stellar second record Soma (due out September 17) that’s actually three times longer than “Woodbine,” and it feels 18 times as long.
Nathan Salsburg, “First Field Path”
This Kentucky guitarist plays like I wish I could live my life — unrushed, unworried, and graced with simple elegance.
Volcano Choir, “Comrade”
I’m a long-standing member of the Bon Iver fan club — as a Wisconsin native, it’s practically required by local edict — but even I’ll admit that parts of 2011’s Bon Iver sounded like Invisible Touch. (That’s not an entirely negative comparison, but still.) So it’s a relief to hear Justin Vernon connecting with Peter Gabriel–era Genesis on “Repave,” from the upcoming Volcano Choir LP Repave (due September 3). Vernon, at heart, is a prog-rocker, constantly questing for weird sounds and bizarro song structures in lieu of more straight-forward and immediate hooks. But he’s also a sucker for grand emotional payoffs, which “Comrade” provides once that huge chorus kicks in.
Touche Amore, “Just Exist”
Touche Amore’s lead singer, Jeremy Bolm, might be self-obsessed, but at least he’s unafraid to ask the big questions about himself. On “Just Exist,” the first single from this L.A. post-hardcore outfit’s scintillating forthcoming release Is Survived By, Bolm hollers, “I don’t know what my legacy will be,” which is a concern typically voiced only by PED users and Kanye West. But what Bolm’s really concerned with is the ultimate existential fear — disappearing forever.
The Sadies, “The First Five Minutes”
So American sounding that they’re from Canada, the Sadies have been blending Byrdsian folk-pop with foot-stomping country, psychedelic surf rock, and spaghetti Western drama since the late ’90s. They’ve never made a record that was less than very good, and that streak continues with the upcoming Internal Sounds. For the uninitiated, the suite-like “The First Five Minutes” is a handy primer for the band’s whole career.