Mandatory Music: The Decemberists, Liars, Chvrches + More
With the Autumn air turning increasingly crisp, this week's installment of Mandatory Music focuses on a handful of just-released songs that are pensive, ethereal and adventurous -- the perfect soundtrack for a meandering stroll through the changing leaves or, if you're on the West Coast, um, maybe watching 'Legends of the Fall'?
'Make You Better’ from 'What a Terrible World, What a Beautiful World'
We were there when the Decemberists frontman Colin Meloy formally introduced the world to the band's upcoming seventh album, 'What a Terrible World, What a Beautiful World,' by busking on a Brooklyn street corner. (Check out our exclusive videos to prove it.) During that impromptu performance, Meloy played a solo acoustic rendition of the album's lead single, 'Make You Better,' but now we've got the full studio version, too. Although the song starts out sounding sparse -- with just Meloy's voice over acoustic guitar -- it gradually grows to include the full band including delicate harmonies by multi-instrumentalist Jenny Conlee. Give it a listen.
'Poison Bender’ from 'I'm No Gold' single
No strangers to experimentation, Liars out of New York City recently shared 'Poison Bender,' a B-side from their remix-heavy 'I'm No Gold' EP. A brand new composition, it's built upon a deep, droning and distorted bass foundation that only relents when layers upon layers of vocals by frontman Angus Andrew take take over. Although it's definitely heavy on the atmospheric electronic elements we've come to expect from Liars, it also boasts some of the more organic and "real" sounds they've unleashed in a while.
'Every Age’ from 'Vestiges & Claw'
It's been about seven years since we've had new music from Swedish singer-songwriter Jose Gonzalez (of course, that doesn't include two albums by his original band, Junip). 'Vestiges & Claw' is said to have been influenced by American folk music, ’70s Brazilian productions and West African desert blues (that old combo again), but the first song released, the ballad 'Every Age,' sounds a lot like the Gonzalez we already know and love. The video for the song is equally as moving as the music, featuring authentic footage from a camera launched into orbit. If you don't get chills, you must just be very, very warm.
'Dead Air’ from 'The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1' soundtrack
The Lorde-curated soundtrack to the upcoming 'Hunger Games' sequel is already sounding so decent, it might prompt more Hollywood producers to enlist 17 year-old girls to oversee the music in their blockbusters. But Lorde (who just turned 18 this week) is far from your average teenager and 'Mockingly Part 1' is far from your average movie. In addition to her own 'Yellow Flicker Beat' and a new Chemical Brothers song, we've now got the third song from the soundtrack -- 'Dead Air' by retrofit Scottish electronic outfit Chvrches.
'Come Pick Me Up’ (Ryan Adams cover) from 'While No One Was Looking: Toasting 20 Years of Bloodshot Records'
Ryan Adams' 'Come Pick Me Up' from his 2000 debut, 'Heartbreaker,' is a slow-building, harmonica- and banjo-tinged ballad that set the tone for the former Whiskeytown frontman's ensuing and prolific solo career. Adams has said the song title came from the 1999 album of the same name by North Carolina indie rockers Superchunk, so it was only fitting that the band would choose that song from the extensive Bloodshot Records catalog to cover for the upcoming tribute album, 'While No One Was Looking.' In the hands of Mac McCaughan, however, the song is turned into an uplifting, energetic power-pop anthem.