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Mandatory Music: Blur, Twin Shadow, Passion Pit + More

Pennie Smith

At this point, it wouldn’t be all that shocking to find out on a random Tuesday that Led Zeppelin, the White Stripes and the surviving members of Nirvana all spent seven months collaborating on an album that would be released 12 seconds later via some obscure file sharing service.

Blur‘s unexpected reunion album announcement stole all the headlines this week, but it was far from the only news. Check out their new song along with four others in this week’s installment of Mandatory Music:


BLUR

‘Go Out’ from ‘The Magic Whip’

Damon Albarn must’ve made a New Year’s resolution to be more productive. Either that or somebody’s been slipping 5-Hour Energy into his tea. After teasing long-awaited new music from Gorillaz, he and the rest of Blur shocked everyone by announcing they’d release a new album (their first since 2003 and first as a fully-functioning unit since 1999) this spring. They literally just finished The Magic Whip this week, which is especially surprising considering Albarn said back in July it could be “one of those records that never comes out.”

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PASSION PIT

‘Lifted Up (1985)’ from ‘Kindred’

After months of online hinting, indie-dance outfit Passion Pit finally shared the first music from their upcoming third full-length this week and, from the sound of “Lifted Up (1985),” it sticks close to the breezy pop formula that shot them into the stratosphere. The visualizer for the song (below) features the Kindred artwork in motion and it’s pretty cool unless you’re easily weirded out by some kid staring at you for more than four minutes straight.

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TWIN SHADOW

‘I’m Ready’ from ‘Eclipse’

Twin Shadow (a.k.a. George Lewis Jr.) earned his indie cred with sultry synth-pop that felt larger than life, and now he’s finally got all the resources of a major label at his disposal. Although the anthemic “I’m Ready” already has some fans yearning for a slightly less glossy sound, there’s no denying its uplifting appeal. It’s worth a listen to at least decide which side you’ll be on when Eclipse drops next month.

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SURFER BLOOD

‘Grand Inquisitor’ from ‘1000 Palms’

Unlike Twin Shadow, Florida indie rockers Surfer Blood just emerged safely on the other side of the major label ringer and are set to release their third album on the indie Joyful Noise. A press release says 1000 Palms (recorded and produced by the band themselves back home in West Palm Beach) is meant to be a “return to Surfer Blood’s DIY ethos,” and “Grand Inquisitor” is a solid indication the boys did just fine.

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SUFJAN STEVENS

‘No Shade in the Shadow of the Cross’ from ‘Carrie & Lowell’

Even when he’s dedicating an entire album to a specific U.S. state (2003’s Michigan and 2005’s Illinois), singer-songwriter Sufjan Stevens had a way of making the impersonal seem deeply personal. So imagine how honest he’ll be on an album named after his mom and stepfather with “life and death, love and loss, and the artist’s struggle to make sense of the beauty and ugliness of love.”

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Next: Mandatory Music — Florence and the Machine, Jack White + More

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