Welcome back to The Verge’s weekly musical roundup. I’m Jamieson, I’m still your host, and this week we’re celebrating the fact that some of the finest purveyors of ‘00s indie rock are still churning out new material. Okkervil River and Wolf Parade are back with unexpected new material, My Morning Jacket are pulling the tarps off decade-old demos; and younger bands like Modern Baseball and Twin Peaks are keeping the flame alive. It was a good week for guitars. And if you could care less about a solid week for rock music, that’s fine, too: there are new singles from Clams Casino, Sampha, and T.I. available for your listening pleasure.
Remember to subscribe to our Spotify playlist if you haven’t already — it’s updated weekly! Let’s go:
BADBADNOTGOOD ft. Sam Herring, "Time Moves Slow"
Toronto jazz combo BADBADNOTGOOD are releasing their new album IV on July 8th, and the guest list is killer: Kaytranada, Mick Jenkins, rising Toronto singer Charlotte Day Wilson, and avant-garde saxophonist Colin Stetson are helping bring the album to life. Future Islands’ Sam Herring shows up on single "Time Moves Slow," and you can almost imagine him fronting the band in some abhorrent velvet blazer, singing about love and loss into the bottom of a whiskey glass. It’s a smooth song, but the melancholy is palpable.
Brand New, "I Am a Nightmare"
Brand New’s second one-off single in as many years is an absolute ripper, the kind of song that deserves a place in a hockey arena — or a hockey video game soundtrack, at the very least. (I think my Canadian roots are showing.) It doesn’t get much more satisfying than that lead guitar line, but putting "I Am a Nightmare" on repeat mostly leaves me wishing the band would get it together and release their fifth LP already. (It’d be their first since 2009’s Daisy.) The only thing better than one song like this is a dozen, right?
Clams Casino, "Blast"
Michael Volpe hasn’t released anything as Clams Casino since 2013’s Instrumental Tape 3, largely because he’s had his hands full producing beats for everyone from FKA Twigs to A$AP Ferg and Vince Staples. "Blast" is the first single from his upcoming debut studio album 32 Levels, and it’s proof that Volpe’s wordless hip-hop — glacial, syrupy, and totally menacing — still packs a punch. (The album’s coming out on July 15th.)
Modern Baseball, "Just Another Face"
"Just Another Face" closes out Modern Baseball’s harrowing new LP Holy Ghost, and I can’t imagine a better spot for it. It’s a song about staring your demons dead in the eyes and deciding you’re not going to let them get the best of you: "If it’s all the same, it’s time to confront this face to face / I’ll be with you the whole way." It does so while acknowledging that any meaningful act of self-improvement needs both time and support to last. Shout-it-out anthems aren’t usually this honest about the hard work that goes into making your life better.
My Morning Jacket, "Golden (Original Demo)"
Okay, this one isn’t exactly new — "Golden" originally came out 13 years ago as part of My Morning Jacket’s It Still Moves, the album on which the band’s fattier-than-fried-chicken Southern rock started to take flight. But the album’s being reissued next week — and remastered, which is a blessing given the original’s muddy sound — along with frontman Jim James’ 10 original demos, one of which is for "Golden." It’s a chance to hear a modern classic in its purest, most spare form, and it’s a real treat, even if it’s lacking the steam-engine chug (and crazy high note) of the studio version.
Okkervil River, "Okkervil River R.I.P."
Will Sheff hasn’t released an album as Okkervil River since 2013’s The Silver Gymnasium, but that’s going to change later this year when Away comes out on September 9th. "Okkervil River R.I.P." is the lead single and opening track, a luminous meditation on aging and disconnection that references everything from Yo La Tengo’s "Big Day Coming" to ALS. "I realized I was writing a death story for a part of my life that had, buried inside of it, a path I could follow that might let me go somewhere new," wrote Sheff in a statement about the album. If this is the end of Okkervil River, he’s going out on top: this song is gorgeous and affecting.
Sampha, "Timmy’s Prayer"
British soul singer Sampha has kept pretty quiet since releasing the Dual EP in 2013: he’s collaborated with Katy B, SBTRKT, and even Kanye West, but hasn’t had much to say as a solo artist. That changed this week with the release of the subdued "Timmy’s Prayer," a single that’s supposed to precede the release of an album later this year. "I’ve had a lot to process these past couple of years, as we all do, and it’s hard to articulate sometimes," wrote Sampha in a short message accompanying the single. "I wanted to say thank you to all the people who’ve shown me so much love and support. I’m looking forward to start sharing my music with you again."
T.I. ft. Marsha Ambrosius, "Dope"
This new T.I. single is remarkable because it hangs on the sampling equivalent of a unicorn: the tasteful, interesting use of an Aaliyah song! (You can thank Dr. Dre, who manned the boards for this one.) The beat is so opulent, it makes it hard for me to focus on what T.I. and Marsha Ambrosius are actually saying. I get caught up in the texture of their voices and how they slot into the beat’s smooth glide. This is luxury coupe music.
Twin Peaks, "Holding Roses"
"Holding Roses" is a shambling highlight from Twin Peaks’ new album Down in Heaven, and it reminds me of a Real Estate song that rolled around in the mud and sat out in the sun to bake dry. There’s a little crust on that sweet central melody, you know? I love the pinging piano that emerges in the chorus, too. It’s insistent and surprising, the sour tang that emerges in a glass of good lemonade.
Wolf Parade, "Automatic"
The boys are back! As a Canadian kid who grew up headbanging to Apologies to the Queen Mary and At Mount Zoomer, I’m contractually obligated to get really hyped over Wolf Parade’s new EP, their first release after coming out of an extended hiatus. (The band’s last full-length is 2010’s up-and-down Expo 86.) "Automatic" kicks the door down as the opening track on EP 4, and it crams everything you love about the band into two and a half minutes: stomping rhythm, lascivious guitar interplay, impassioned barking from Dan Boeckner. If he and Spencer Krug needed a little break to come back with this much heat, I’m not going to complain one bit.
Here’s the running This Is Your Next Jam playlist — have a great weekend!