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New music recommendations: The Dead Weather, Restorations, and, yes, Taylor Swift

New music recommendations: The Dead Weather, Restorations, and, yes, Taylor Swift


Haters gonna hate, amirite?

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Every week, a veritable flood of new music is released to the world, and with it the tyranny of choice rears its ugly head. There's only so many hours in the day, so where do you focus your listening energies? That's where our Verge New Music Recommendations come in: it's our entirely subjective, non-comprehensive attempt to throw the favorite new songs and albums we've stumbled upon this week your way. Of course, we're barely skimming the surface here — feel free to throw any auditory discoveries you've made this week in the comments, and get busy listening.

The Barr Brothers — "Static Orphans" / "Love Ain't Enough"

The Barr Brothers have quite the winding origin story. Brothers Andrew and Brad started the jazz-fusion jam band The Slip late last century, and then the band hit its peak with an incredibly accessible and beautiful move into indie rock on 2006’s Eisenhower. Unfortunately, The Slip never recorded another album, but Andrew and Brad put together a new project under their shared name. Nothing released under The Barr Brothers moniker has matched the heights of Eisenhower, in my opinion, but the opening duo of songs from the group’s latest record Sleeping Operator comes closest. The two songs flow as one continuous piece of music and sound like a gentler, more folky version of The Slip — but with the same unmistakably unique attention to building a song up from minimal pieces. The resulting construction always ends up being hard to get out of your head, and "Love Ain’t Enough" is no exception. — Nathan Ingraham

Caribou — Our Love

Here’s your headphones album for the week. Caribou mastermind Dan Snaith is always keeping himself busy, releasing albums under a variety of monikers, but this is the first proper Caribou record since 2010’s Swim. Like its predecessor, Our Love is a mesmerizing blend of drum machines, oddball electronic sounds, cut-up vocals, and other minimalist instrumental pieces that end up coming together in a way that feels a lot bigger than you’d expect. Standout tracks include the title track and "Back Home," but this is really best heard as one continuous piece of music. It’ll be the perfect thing to wake up to this Sunday morning. — N.I.

Creepers — Lush

San Francisco-based Creepers are a lot more accessible than their name (or the rotting skull artwork on their new album Lush) would have you believe. It’s a surprisingly tuneful psychedelic / shoegaze affair, and while the vocals aren’t always quite hooky enough to carry some of the songs, the walls of melodic guitar are more than enough to make up for it. It’s certainly a friendlier face than the one put on by Shiv Mehra and Daniel Tracy main project, the black metal band Deafhaven. — N.I.

The Dead Weather — "Buzzkill(er)"

It’s been well over four years since The Dead Weather, one of Jack White’s numerous side projects, released a full-length album. Supposedly, there’s a new one coming in 2015, and the band has just released the first single from its next release. "Buzzkill(er)" doesn’t stray far from the stomping, blues-driven sound that is the hallmark of most of White’s projects — in fact, it actually feels a bit more straightforward than most of the songs on their 2010 release Sea of Cowards. As someone who enjoys White’s musical stylings but doesn’t really care for his voice, the combo of the group's bluesy songwriting with Alison Mosshart’s vocals is a winning combo for me. — N.I.

Drake — "6 God"

Drake can always be counted on to impress even with we’re laughing at (with?) him. Mr. Champagne Papi dropped three surprise tracks last week, and the best track is probably "6 God." Don’t get us wrong, the other two are great. But the fact that this braggadocious little single features a sample from Donkey Kong Country 2 is what really sets it apart. — Kwame Opam

Fugazi — "Merchandise" (1988 demo)

Fugazi, those DIY champions of the hardcore / punk world, have been on hiatus since 2003, but the band has put an exceptional effort into cataloging every phase of their career — the band eventually wants to release a recording of every single concert they ever performed. Now, the band is looking even further back — Fugazi will release its first demo tapes from 1988 in November. As a preview, check out this original demo version of "Merchandise" from the band's classic first album Repeater. Now granted, Fugazi’s always been a fairly low-fi band, and as such the demo here doesn’t sound significantly different from where the final version ended up — but it’s still a great inside peek of the band taking its first steps together in the studio. — N.I.

Restorations — "Tiny Prayers"

This Philadelphia band’s LP3 is the rock record I thought we weren’t going to get this year: giant, tuneful, and frickin’ loud. "Tiny Prayers" is as good a place to start as any, as singer Jon Loudon howls like an orc wounded in battle about how isolated he feels. The circular guitar riff will lodge in your head, and the drums will make you wonder when you can see this band live. — Casey Newton

Taylor Swift — 1989

Look, just skip the first track. 1989 is Taylor Swift’s first "official" pop album and is likely to sell over one million copies in just a week. But it gets off to an awful start with "Welcome to New York," an opener that’s by-the-numbers and woefully bland. The Village Voice aptly describes it as a "lab-engineered New York anthem." Thankfully once you’ve jumped over it, you’ll realize 1989 doesn’t contain many other misfires.

Starting with "Blank Space," Swift delivers just what you’d expect: a string of infectious hooks and soon-to-be hit singles. "Style" is the standout, so it’s no surprise that Target has already latched onto it for a commercial. There’s not a trace of Nashville on 1989; this is no country-pop crossover. 1989 is a tight package of formulaic pop laced with synths and flashy vocal production at every turn. Listen to the first half and you’ll get pulled into its melodies — but the second half can’t quite hold up. Regardless, 1989 will almost definitely become 2014’s biggest album and help recharge a sagging music industry. Putting all that aside, it’s also a perfectly listenable collection of pop songs — if you can shake off the haters and their hate, hate, hate, hate, hate. — Chris Welch

(N.B. - Taylor Swift isn't a fan of streaming music, not even her older catalog, so for now you'll have to get your hands on 1989 the old-fashioned way.)

Teachers — "Cruel Cold Winter" (basis for Kanye West's "New Slaves"

There's like two seconds of "Cruel Cold Winter" during which you might not know what song you're listening to. This is the song that Kanye West sampled to create the underlying beat for Yeezus’ aggressive and minimalist track "New Slaves," but as you'll quickly see, he didn't take much more than those few opening notes. Still, it's pretty fascinating to hear what inspired West (and, I suppose, what didn't). — Jacob Kastrenakes