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New music recommendations: Lorde, Röyksopp, The Decemberists, and more

New music recommendations: Lorde, Röyksopp, The Decemberists, and more


It's 'Mockingjay' week, apparently

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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.

2:54 — The Other I

Winter is coming, and the new album from 2:54 will make a good soundtrack for it. Their music has a grand, sweeping, almost cinematic quality to it, and the echo-laden vocals of sisters Colette and Hannah Thurlow make the whole record a haunting affair — the icy, sometimes menacing guitars combined with the mournful yet harmonious vocal performances make the whole thing feel a bit like a beautiful funeral procession. But it's not all a dirge — the one-two combo of "Tender Shoots" and "The Monaco" are unexpectedly among the brightest things the group has done thus far. — Nathan Ingraham

Charli XCX — "Kingdom" (featuring Simon Le Bon)

Songs from the soundtrack for The Hunger Games - Mockingjay Part 1 have been rolling out steadily over the last few weeks, with a host of new entries out this week. "Kingdom" couldn't be more different than Charli XCX's other recent soundtrack contribution, "Boom Clap." This song isn't mean to be a huge dance hit — it's surprisingly intimate and sounds quite different than just about every other song XCX has released in her short but prolific career thus far. The song also features contributions from Duran Duran's Simon Le Bon, a rather unexpected pairing. XCX told Pitchfork she wasn't exactly the biggest Duran Duran fan, but Lorde (who curated the Mockingjay soundtrack) said the song needed something from another time period. The result is one of XCX's more beautifully minimal songs and one of the more upbeat tracks we've heard from Mockingjay so far. — N.I.

Chvrches — "Dead Air"

Yup, it's definitely Mockingjay week — this new Chvrches track is a standout on the Lorde-curated soundtrack from what we've heard so far. Like the group's other recent release "Get Away," this song isn't a radical departure from what made their debut album so memorable, though it's pretty easy to catch some lyrics that could be applied to Katniss Everdeen's plight. However, even if you couldn't care less about The Hunger Games, this song is yet another excellent addition to Chvrches' ever-growing catalog. A new full album can't come soon enough. — N.I.

The Decemberists — "Make You Better"

The Decemberists are well known for their complex concept albums and long, winding, nautical-themed songs — but 2011's The King Is Dead saw the band take an abrupt turn into more concise, immediate, and more catchy territory. Now, with a new album coming next year, the band has released its first single, and it sounds like the Decemberists are heading back down a more moody but no less tuneful road. It's gloomier and denser than most of the songs on their last record, but it's still unmistakable The Decemberists — that might not win them any new fans, but those already on board should be excited to hear them back in fine form. — N.I.

Foo Fighters — Sonic Highways

The new Foo Fighters release is just as much of an example of corporate synergy as it is an album — eight new songs, eight episodes of Sonic Highways on HBO, what could go wrong? Fortunately, the album can be easily enjoyed for its own merits — it doesn't break new ground for the band (and after 20 years, we'd be pretty surprised if Foo Fighters did something truly unexpected), but it's interesting to see them largely working with longer songs here. Five of the eight songs are over five minutes long — we're not talking monstrous Tool-esque epics here, but the song construction is just a bit less straightforward than most of the Foo Fighers' past work. Put aside the HBO show, the "one song in one studio" gimmick, and the plethora of guest musicians on the album, and it's still a damn good rock record in its own right. — N.I.

Lorde — "Ladder Song" (Bright Eyes cover)

We've arrived at the lastest of Lorde's direct contributions to the Mockingjay soundtrack. Just as she did on the soundtrack to Catching Fire, the New Zealand sensation has contributed a somewhat unexpected cover. This year, she went with "Ladder Song" by Bright Eyes, which is the penultimate track on the band’s 2011 album, The People’s Key. In her cover, Lorde ditches the spooky lo-fi piano sound that accompanied Conor Oberst’s voice in the original version and replaces it with haunting organ and some subtle sound effects. The beautifully somber track is rich with all sorts of melodrama, so it should fit nicely into a movie that promises to be full of the same. Note: this appears to be a leak, so it could disappear at any time — but the full soundtrack will be out next week. — Sean O'Kane.

Pink Floyd — The Endless River

As with most things Pink Floyd does, discussions will rage around this album — this time, they'll focus on how much of a "Pink Floyd" album this actually is. Those discussions are pretty much a moot point, in my mind — the band hasn't really existed for some 20 years, and it's been over 30 since Roger Waters left. Take The Endless River for what it is: a chance to hear the primary architects of the Pink Floyd sound get together and make music one more time. The late Rick Wright gets resurrected via old recordings that remind listeners how essential he was to creating Pink Floyd's signature soundscapes, while Gilmour and Mason each get a number of chances to shine, as well. The only traditional song, "Louder Than Words," is a bit overwrought and tries too hard for sentimentality, but the rest of the record has enough high points that bring you right back to what Pink Floyd did so well back in the '70s. — N.I.

Röyksopp — The Inevitable End

Putting aside the questions of whether The Inevitable End will really mark the dissolution of more than two decades of the Norwegian electro-pop duo Röyksopp, the group's new record is another worthy entry in a discography of surprisingly human electronic music. This one goes down a bit of a darker road, much like some of the songs near the end of the group's standout record Junior, and that tone makes it occasionally drag in some spots. Two ponderously long and uninteresting songs ("You Know I Have To Go" and "Compulsion", both featuring Jamie Irrepressible on vocals) damn near derail the entire album, and the five bonus tracks are a tad unnecessary, but fortunately there are still plenty of beat-driven songs from the near future to bob your head to while speeding down a dark road. (Robyn doing vocals on two tracks certainly doesn't hurt, either.) "Monument," "Save You," and "Rong' are easy choices for high points, and "Thank You" is a fitting end if Röyksopp really is going to call it a day. — N.I.