Imogen Heap / Frou Frou are touring the U.S. in 2019, which is big news for reasons I shouldn’t have to get into. (I did type a few paragraphs legitimizing a claim that she’s the most influential B-list indie star of the aughts, but I won’t labor the point.) See? Things are looking up. Never mind that the tour is named for (/funded by) some weird company whose mission includes the word ‘blockchain.’ I have no idea what the hell it is, but I hope I can see the show without having to find out. Nostalgia: brought to you by Tech!
To continue our year-end coverage coverage, many good best-of lists came out this week. Here are my faves: Gorilla vs. Bear songs, Tiny Mix Tapes cover art, Jon Caramanica & Parales’s album/song lists for the NYT. I agree with more of Pitchfork’s albums than songs, but for better or worse both are inherently valuable in their own right (clocking the zeitgeist.) Now, to address the songs of 2018 which no one seems to acknowledge are still being released every day.
Charlotte Gainsbourg: “Such a Remarkable Day”
Few legendarily famous children have had such a spotless oeuvre (particularly a musical one) as Charlotte Gainsbourg, who returned last year with Rest, her first album in seven years and a great one at that. “Such a Remarkable Day” is the lead single off a five-track EP to be released on Friday and, as Rest did, features the steely production of Ed Banger Records’ SebastiAn. “Remarkable Day” is terribly enjoyable; even if it is (possibly, maybe) a cast-off from the Rest sessions, that doesn’t make it any less of a banger. SebastiAn’s production is sinister and driving; Gainsbourg is nonchalant but not detached; everything is as it should be.
Lambchop: “The December-ish You”
I’ve been listening to a bunch of Thou’s Magus this week (one of my favorite loud albums of the year) and perhaps because of this I’ve been particularly entranced by Lambchop’s return single “The December-ish You.” Far from Thou’s lumbering anger and scratchy textures, “December-ish” unfurls in a way that reminds me of the best dreamy Flaming Lips album cuts circa Soft Bulletin/Yoshimi. Without meandering, frontman Kurt Wagner plods along in a lightly auto-tuned voice. And it’s over a lush jazzy landscape that’s more like something you’d see out a car window than something you’d walk through on a wooded trail. Nothing ever gets out of hand, but it doesn’t exactly keep quiet either. Following Wagner’s feature on the excellent 2018 DJ Koze album Knock Knock, March will see the release of their 13th album, This (is what I wanted to tell you).
Dave Harrington Group: “Well”
Remember Dave Harrington? The non-Nicolas Jaar half of Darkside is prepping to release the second record of the Dave Harrington Group, an ensemble including people whose names I don’t know but probably should. Album opener “Well” is bright, gleaming and over in 1½ minutes. The playing is light-speed quick and crisp. Snatches of marimba, fuzzy bass and wiggly guitar bring to mind Ponytail and Matmos’s work with So Percussion. It’s a good statement piece — and as a snippet of only the first 100 seconds of the album, who knows where this thing is headed next. We’ll find out soon enough: Pure Imagination, No Country is out Feb. 1.