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“Ruth” by Michael Cera // True That (Available Now via Bandcamp)

Last night, Michael Cera dropped a surprise album entitled True That. Yep, that Michael Cera. It’s not a total surprise, I suppose as Cera has long dabbled in music and music related projects, but this is his solo debut and it’s surprisingly solid. The 18 tracks that make up True That are generally sweet, lo-fi, bedroom pop in the vein of Coconut Records and Mimicking Birds. Still not sold/? Check out one of the album highlights, “Ruth” - a gentle acoustic number that sounds like a cool autumn evening feels. 

“Hold On, We’re Going Home” by Vancouver Sleep Clinic & GXNXVS // Originally by Drake (2014)

I’ve been waiting for some new Vancouver Sleep Clinic for a short while now, and today I got another taste to hold me off for a while. Following their brilliant single, “Collapse”, Vancouver Sleep Clinic has teamed up with fellow Australian, GXNXVS for a dark, electro-tinged cover of Drake’s “Hold On, We’re Going Home”. The collaborators slow down the tempo and amp up the slow-jam feel, with Tim Bettinson’s vocals providing a killer r&b take that calls to mind Justin Vernon vernon’s more soulful moments. It’s a fantastic take on an already great track. Check it out now!

“Take My Breath Away” by Tashaki Miyaki // Under Cover Vol. 2 (Out Now via Bandcamp)

Californian dream pop trio, Tashaki Miyaki know their way around a bleary eyed, shoegazey pop song. They do wonderful work all their own, but they also have a particular way with covers. In fact, they’ve recently dropped their second covers EP, which contains covers of bands as varied as Prince, The Buzzcocks, The Velvet Underground, and even Berlin - of the 1986 smash, “Take My Breath Away”. In fact, it’s that Top Gun featured classic that the band takes for a spin here on this particular cover. They shy away from the synth-orchestra of the original and dial it back to a intimate and woozy, dream pop lullaby that feels like some long lost 1950′s teenage ballad. It’s a spectacular version. Of course, that’s not all there is on the album - swing over to the band’s Bandcamp page, where you can sample the rest of the album, and even download it for a name-your-price-fee. You won’t regret it. 

“Fade Into You (Mazzy Star cover)” by Maximo Park // Too Much Information (Out Now // 2014)

Apparently, this little gem slipped past me upon it’s initial release a couple of months back . No matter, it’s never too late to fall in love with a new song. Maximo Park is most well known as a post punk / art rock band that makes frenetically paced songs with killer melodies. Perhaps it’s knowing their usual sound that makes this gem feel so different. Eschewing the jagged, playful guitar work of previous songs, the band’s take on Mazzy Star’s modern classic, “Fade Into You”, is a haunting acoustic beauty with a slightly ominous undertone. It’s really pretty incredible to hear. Personally, I haven’t really kept up with band beyond their debut, but hearing this, I’m wondering what other excellent b-sides they might have floating around. 

“Let it Happen” by Tame Impala // Let It Happen - single (2015)

While there is no official announcement of a new album, Tame Impala are back with a doozy of a new track. “Let it Happen” is a stellar slice of psych pop with a disco beat and some pretty-as-all-hell electronic atmospherics - not to mention that excellent breakdown in the band’s back-half. The band also announced a batch of tour dates for the summer and it’s festivals. You can download the track and grab those tour dates at the band’s site

“Smells Like Teen Spirit” by Howling // Smells Like Teen Spirit - Single (2014 // Out Now)

Consider this another contender for your Halloween mixtapes. This version of Nirvana’s genre defining hit comes courtesy of Howling (RY X & Frank Wiedemann), and if you’ve ever wondered what “Smells LIke Teen Spirit” would sound like as a sprawling, nine-minute, dark house jam, layered with pitch black atmosphere - look no further. Howling’s take manages to sound one part gleeful dance resurrection and three parts sinister soundtrack to some eastern European horror flick that will give you nightmares when it’s not beckoning you to your friendly goth club.                              

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“How’s It Going to Be” by Widowspeak // Originally by Third Eye Blind

Well, this is certainly a little unexpected. Widowspeak recently dropped their fantastic new album, All Yours - but they’ve also done a couple of home recordings for a short but sweet EP called Two Covers. The first is a sweetly, somber Tom T. Hall cover, and the second is this haunting, dust blown take on the 90′s pop hit, “How’s It Going to Be” by Third Eye Blind. In typical Widowspeak fashion, it’s fucking gorgeous. Give it a spin. 

“Salt” by Alex G // Beach Music (Out 10.9.15 via Domino Record Co)

Here’s another new taste from the forthcoming big label debut of the extraordinarily talented Alex G. Much like the beautifully infectious, “Bug”, before it, “Salt” is a textured slice of bedroom pop. Unlike that track, “Salt” is more introspective and melancholic - sweet, but somber and darker than before. It’s a fantastic cut, and only adds another layer of excitement to my anticipation.

“Halloween” by Siouxsie & the Banshees // Juju (1981 / Polydor Records)

It’s really not Halloween unless I’ve blared this post punk classic about fifteen thousand times. I’m always surprised by how many folks have managed to miss this brilliant gem over the years. It is pretty much everything you’d want in a Halloween jam - energetic, exciting, and darkly alluring. 

“Red Eyes” by Alice Boman // Originally by The War on Drugs (2014)

This is certainly an interesting little thing. Lo-Fi folk musician, Alice Boman has recorded a cover of one of the best tracks of year, The War on Drugs’ “Red Eyes”. Boman strips the track back to just voice and piano, and yet still manages to capture the song’s intensity. Naturally, the energy of the original is also, in turn, transformed from a Springsteen by way of My Bloody Valentine type urgency, to a more method slow burn, but it makes this version of Boman’s a haunting beauty. Definitely give this one a chance. It’s pretty wonderful, front to back. 

“Soaker” by Alex G // DSU - Unreleased B-Side (Out Now via Orchid Tapes)

Earlier this year, Alex G released his excellent Orchid Tapes debut, DSU - a collection of melodically rich, lo-fi beauties. After spending the past few months continuously returning to those tracks, I am excited as all hell to hear a new, previously unreleased track from the same sessions, in the form of the sweetly melancholic ballad, “Soaker”. It’s a cracked and weary bedroom pop gem that runs just over a minute and a half - leaving you wishing for it to be three times that length. It’s the kind of delicate, heart on sleeve bedroom pop that feels destined to be part of your new favorite mixtape. Stream it now from Soundcloud.

“Love is a Battlefield” by Halloween, Alaska // Liberties (2013 // Amble Down Records)

I’m a bit late to the party on this particular track, but better late than never when you’re handling quality Pat Benatar covers. This time last year, Halloween Alaska released a covers EP titled, Liberties, which found the Minneapolis based indie rock quartet taking on Portishead, Sade, Neko Case, Journey, Stevie Nicks, and of course, the aforementioned Pat Benatar. It’s only six tracks deep, but the band makes the most of it, blending dreamy, melancholic indie with downtempo electronic and folk-infused chamber pop to offer some truly excellent covers. I’ve been a big Pat Benatar since I was a kid and my older sister played the hell out every Benatar jam she could find. Here, Halloween Alaska deconstructs the new wave power ballad into a ghostly whisper - hypnotic in it’s hushed, late night coming-down execution that calls to mind the work of composer, David Holmes (“Out of Sight”, “Ocean’s Eleven”, “Hunger”). It’s a gorgeous slow burn. Give it a listen. 

“Stranger in Moscow” by Tame Impala // Originally by Michael Jackson (Original 1996 // Cover 2014)

Well, this is an interesting choice for a cover. Kevin Parker, Tame Impala frontman, has shared a cover of Michael Jackson’s 1996 single, “Stranger in Moscow”,  on his Soundcloud page. Unsurprisingly, it’s an atmospheric and hypnotic beauty. The swirling, psych pop production is extremely effective against the original’s melodically rich composition. It’s kind of one of those great examples of how solid songwriting just translates well. Parker doesn’t have to do a whole lot to make it sound very much like one of his own, but at the same time, when heard side by side with the original, it’s still quite similar - yet, on the outside you wouldn’t expect MJ and Tame Impala to have all that much in common. It’s a pretty killer take all the same, and a nice little one-off from the Tame Impala crew.

“Dreams” by Emily Reo // Originally by Fleetwood Mac

Last year, Los Angeles based singer/songwriter Emily Reo, released the excellent LP, Olive Juice. That playful dream pop collection spawned a remix collection that dropped last month, and featured some pretty great reworkings. All that would be just great, but after perusing Soundcloud this evening, I noticed this fantastic cover from Reo, taking on a Fleetwood Mac classic. Produced by Andrew Sardinha (who worked on Olive Juice), Reo puts a hazy, electro pop spin on “Dreams”, shifting it into a sort of neon-hued, late night dance floor ballad - which turns out pretty spectacular. Definitely give this a couple of spins. 

“Lie” by Younger Still // Lie - Single (2014)

It’s hard to beat that feeling of discovering something new and exciting. In the case of Younger Still, an excellent young band from Kent, Ohio - the discovery sort of fell into my lap (or mailbox, actually). Heading back through the tracks posted on Soundcloud, the band has a short but sweet catalog of demos that is punctuated by the stellar new single, “Lie”. The track has a lovely little mid-tempo pulse that is wrapped up in glimmering surf pop guitars and a hazy hum of dreamy textures - but it’s the infectious melody and instantly memorable vocal hook that stays stuck in your head like a warm memory of summers past. It’s a terrific sound and it’s being done with an ear for excellent songwriting, which makes Younger Still stand above a lot of the other young bands dabbling in similar sounds. Check these guys out and follow them on Tumblr and Soundcloud, because they’ve got something special and hopefully we’ll be hearing a lot more of that very soon. Highly recommended for fans of Craft Spells,  Big Troubles, and Beach Fossils

“Multi-Love” by Unknown Mortal Orchestra // Multi-Love (Out 5.26.15 via Jagjaguwar)

It’s probably best you just hit play and get a piece of what Unknown Mortal Orchestra is up to as of late. The band has always played in funky, psychedelic waters, but rarely has it ever been this straight up funk-y. With a janky, stutter step beat, deep-end bass line, and swirling, hypnotic synths - the band is stepping beyond being simply infectious; going full blown psych pop/funk ear candy. Good luck not hearing this one all day long. 

“Ontario Gothic (Alternate Version)” by Foxes in Fiction // Ontario Gothic (Japanese Edition) (2014)

Once again, any opportunity to draw more attention to a favorite album of the year is an opportunity that I will take. Of course, when the material is something as extraordinary as this alternate take on the title track from Warren Hildebrand’s new Foxes in Fiction album, it goes without saying that it deserves your attention. This version of “Ontario Gothic” trades in the crisp, shimmering beauty of the original for a hazy, lo-fi daydream take that manages to easily maintain the power of the original. It’s hard to sound more intimate than some of the heart-achingly lovely material on the original release of Ontario Gothic, but this alternate take might just do that. The alternate version is now available for download via Hildebrand’s Foxes in Fiction Soundcloud page (click Read More info for a mediafire link). You will want to be grabbing this one as soon as possible.

* EDIT: My apologies for not having proof read the post before it went up this morning. I was far too tired to be in the proper headspace to be doing write ups. It’s since been adjusted.

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“REALiTi” by Grimes // Previously Unreleased (2015)

It’s been a little while since Grimes scrapped her plans for a follow-up to her astonishing debut, Visions, but here she is back with a taste of what might have been. As she has moved on to another go at her proper follow-up, she has decided to release a previously unreleased (and unfinished, according to her) track called “REALiTi” to satiate the hunger for newness from her fans. She had previously spoke of how the scrapped sessions were for an album that treaded into the pop world more directly, and “REALiTi” certainly feels like that. That being said, there’s nothing remotely wrong with it because it’s a fucking killer track - infectious, pop-savvy, and dance-able, but still maintaining Grimes’ wonderfully fresh fingerprint. I kinda love it, and am holding out hope that we’ll continue to here more of her abandoned work as she continues to work on her proper follow up. Highest recommendation.