The Kills are still badass, raw demos from Kendrick Lamar and two artists to keep an eye on
The Kills: Doing It To Death
With a macabre, clever video to match their song title, The Kills' latest "Doing It To Death" takes funeral procession choreography to new heights. From sidestepping pallbearers to a smoke-filled eulogy, it steers clear of disrespect in lieu of celebrating physical and sexual effort—altogether making for a beautiful video supporting an entirely enjoyable track. Their fifth record Ash & Ice releases this June.
Kendrick Lamar: untitled unmastered.
Two weeks after his jaw-dropping, incendiary Grammys performance that called on viewers to open their eyes to injustice, Kendrick Lamar releases—with just one Tweet—the eight-track album untitled unmastered. (streamable on Spotify and Apple Music). As the title indicates, each track is simply numbered, accompanied by the date it was recorded (track 7, labeled 2014-2016, was a two-year process). The album's already been quickly devoured, with many considering it to be an addendum to last year's To Pimp a Butterfly—with similar jazzy bursts, social commentary and internalized angst (update: Lamar has confirmed on Twitter they are demos from To Pimp a Butterfly in raw form). What's certain is that Lamar revels in his experimentations, unfettered by commercial success or expectations, to create music of the times.
Big Thief: Real Love
We only first heard Brooklyn-based Big Thief back in last October (opening for Here We Go Magic at Bowery Ballroom) and were enraptured by their charged passion and freedom onstage. Since then, the band—led by songwriter Adrianne Lenker—has signed with Saddle Creek and announced their debut album, Masterpiece, set for release 27 May 2016. Off of it, they share their second single "Real Love," with a haunting melody from way up above that slithers, with precision, into hardcore rock out moments. It's a loaded slow-burn that tugs the strings but will also win you over. You're a Big Thief fan now.
Mitski: Your Best American Girl
New woman crush alert: New York-based Mitski Miyawaki, who goes by her first name when singing songs about her flaws and feelings (keeping the rhythm with her bass). Her latest, "Your Best American Girl," has a bit of a false first impression: seemingly delicate on its front, it builds into an apex of screaming guitars and Mitski brooding on her identity as “half-Japanese, half-American but not fully either," as well as a punk-rock artist—mocking the white men who crowd the genre. Puberty 2 (the album cover was made by hers truly) releases 17 June 2016 on Dead Oceans, and there are plenty of tour dates leading up to it—including multiple SXSW performances.