Welcome back to The Verge's roundup of the most important music from the week that was. I'm Jamieson, I'm still your host, and I’m looking forward to this Sunday night’s MTV Video Music Awards hijinks. Between the performers and the presenters, almost every member of the musical elite will be there — and you’ll find one of them in the selections below, too. As per usual, there's a Spotify playlist at the end for your listening convenience, and you're also welcome to share your own favorite cuts, comments, and complaints in the comments. Let's go:
AFX, "simple slamming b 2":
Richard D. James has been on a tear since making a comeback with last year’s Syro, his first full-length as Aphex Twin in 13 years. The EP-length Computer Controlled Acoustic Instruments pt2 followed shortly after, and now James is back with Orphaned Deejay Selek 2006-2008, his first release as AFX in almost a decade. "simple slamming b 2" is one of the best tracks on the EP, and it does exactly what it says on the package: you’re pinned to the wall by a relentless, mechanical rhythm within a few seconds, the sort of "simple slamming" that underpins James’ alien synth work. This song was ostensibly made between 2006 and 2008, but you could have added or subtracted a decade and I never would have been able to guess. All of James’ work has that rootless, detached quality.
Baroness, "Chlorine & Wine":
Baroness are a moody Virginia foursome that like to dance around the edges of "metal," coloring that genre with rock, folk, and progressive elements. A month after releasing double album Yellow & Green in 2012, the band was involved in a severe car accident in England. "Chlorine & Wine" is their first bit of music since that accident, and it’s also the lead single from their new album Purple, which is due out on December 18th. If you were scared off by the use of "metal," above, don’t be: this is curious, warm, and approachable music, with a real sense of scale and some fantastic riffs. I’m glad the band’s back to full health and recording again.
Carly Rae Jepsen, "I Didn’t Just Come Here to Dance":
I’m sure you’re sick of seeing Carly Rae Jepsen in this space, but forget about that for a second: The sun’s still high in the sky, E•MO•TION’s still fresh in our ears, your friends are still wondering why you’re listening to the girl from "Call Me Maybe" so much. "I Didn’t Just Come Here to Dance" is a bonus track, and it’s pure house heaven: hammy keyboard melodies, a delirious vocal take, references to ostensible dancefloor gods Joe and Tino. You’re going to like this song, even if you’re neither Joe nor Tino.
Deradoorian, "Violet Minded":
Deradoorian has popped up here before too, and her new record The Expanding Flower Planet is now available in full if you’re interested in hearing more. This is my favorite song on it, one that combines the intricacy and melody of her work as a member of Dirty Projectors with the placid, psychedelic feel of her solo work since. The clusters of vocal harmony on this song are rich, full-bodied, layered — you can hear something different every time you rewind, and it’s irresistible.
Floating Points, "Silhouettes":
This is the first single from the British producer’s debut full-length, Elaenia, which is coming out in November. It’s not a true single, though — it’s just folding in pieces of a much longer track, "Silhouettes (I, II, III)," one whose three phases stretch over almost 11 minutes. If you like the jazzy, luxurious feel of the video, I recommend giving the extended version a spin. It does justice to Shepherd’s ambition, gives the song bigger peaks and valleys, lets you immerse yourself like you’re sitting at the bottom of a swimming pool. (It’s included in the full playlist below.)
Julia Holter, "Sea Calls Me Home":
Speaking of water: the ocean’s never sounded more inscrutable, or appealing, than on this new single from Julia Holter. (Between this and the new record from Deradoorian mentioned above, it’s a good week for art-pop.) I love when artists do what Holter does here: render the everyday arcane, the natural mysterious. It can turn a place you know and love into something completely new if you hear it in the right spot. I don’t get to spend a lot of time near the water, but hearing Holter holler, "I can’t swim! Its lucidity! So clear!" could get me to find some sort of deeper meaning in a kiddie pool.
Justin Bieber, "What Do You Mean?":
If you’ve managed to remain unaware of this song’s existence despite using the internet regularly in the last week, I applaud you — Bieber’s enlisted the help of everyone from Ben Stiller and Alec Baldwin to Britney Spears and Martha Stewart for its promotion. Is "What Do You Mean?" worth all the hype? I can’t make that decision for you, but this song is just fine: it’s buoyant, capably sung tropical house. Bieber still doesn’t have heft in his voice, but he’s acquired a little bit of grain, and he knows enough to coast and let the featherlight arrangement do the work. It’s no "Where Are Ü Now," but it doesn’t have to be; I’m sure it’ll be everywhere in no time.
Mick Jenkins, "Get Up Get Down":
Chicago rapper Mick Jenkins released a new EP last week, Wave[s], and this is my favorite thing on it. It moves through two phases, opening with bubbly, kinetic neo-soul before scaling back and letting Jenkins take the reins; I can’t decide which I like more. He has a resonant, impactful voice, and he flips the titular chart from a near-inspirational burst of joy into something dark and boozy. It’s a neat trick from a promising artist.
OMI, "Hula Hoop":
There’s life after "Cheerleader"! I have to give OMI a ton of credit for "Hula Hoop," a song that builds on the glory of his massive summer hit without copying it outright. It’s going to make great fodder for remixes, because there are a ton of little catchy bits embedded within the song that aren’t getting used to their full potential; it’s got the same genial, romantic feel that made "Cheerleader" this summer’s fidelity anthem. And OMI sounds fantastic, stripped of affectation and sitting right at the front of the mix. Summer’s almost over, but the sun feels a little warmer when I listen to this.
I’d love to go out on that note, but we’re closing with something a little moodier. Sexwitch is a new project from Bat for Lashes’ Natasha Khan, collaborator TOY, and producer Dan Carey, and its debut EP (out September 25th) is a collection of six ‘70s psych-folk covers pulled from all over the world. "Helelyos" is a 40-year-old Iranian song, but it sounds like it could’ve come from Khan’s pen yesterday, with the sort of intensity and enigmatic energy that made The Haunted Man such an exciting listen.
Here’s this week’s playlist — have a lovely weekend!