Mitski hypnotizes, Animal Collective transcends and Courtney Barnett gets to the point
Each and every week the JME team handpicks the juiciest new tunes from local, regional, national and international artists to concoct the tasty, tall-glass-of-a-listening-experience that is our Fresh Squeeze playlist. Each song is chosen with intention. And so we often feel like they are worthy of a broader discussion (or at least a bit of context).
Here are three new songs (all of which appear on our latest Fresh Squeeze playlist) that the JME team just won’t shut up about.
“Prester John” by Animal Collective
Sparkling beats and ethereal tones float in and out of rich harmonies on experimental-noise-pop group Animal Collective’s latest release “Prester John,” the lead single on the quartet’s first studio album in a half decade, Time Skiffs, due out in February on Domino.
Featuring whirring, intermittent synth lines anchored to tasteful bass runs, the group lays a meditative foundation for enlightened hymns like “Treating everyday / As an image of a moment that’s passed,” all of which morphs into a repetitive chorus “Prester John is breaking down, down / His heart is breaking down, down,” the band transcending beyond any concrete thought. In Eno-esque fashion, Animal Collective fills the last minute and a half of “Prester John” with atmospheric ambiance. With “Prester John” Animal Collective seems on a journey from primal screams toward a place of ripened wonder. We’ll gladly hitch a ride.–Rain Henderson
“Heat Lightning” by Mitski
Last month, singular singer-songwriter Mitski announced the forthcoming full-length Laurel Hell. While the record’s first two singles, the dancey “The Only Heartbreaker” and the balladic “Working for the Knife,” signaled a decidedly-‘80s direction for the artist, Mitski’s latest, the contemplative R&B-esque number “Heat Lightning,” foreshadows a more nuanced work. An ode to insomnia, “Heat Lightning” builds a lush and hypnotic soundscape for Mitski to hover over, embodying the “sleeping eyelid in the sky” referenced in the song. “And there’s nothing I can do / Not much I can change,” Mitski sings on the track. “Can I give it up to you / Would that be okay? / There’s nothing I can do / Not much I can change / I give it up to you / I surrender.” After three engrossing tracks, we can certainly surrender to the fact that Mitski’s about to have a hell of 2022.–Matthew Shaw
“Here’s The Thing” by Courtney Barnett
Courtney Barnett possesses a mesmerizing ability to wrangle simplicity in its rawest form, bending it to her will and charging it full of emotion like a magician of realness. On “Here’s the Thing,” the third song off her latest album Things Take Time, Take Time, the Australian singer-songwriter/rock-n-roller comes in light and airy, fingerpicking her electric guitar while she lays it on thick with the words (“Here’s the thing, I can’t stop thinking about you”). Often succinct and to-the point, Barnett’s lyrics flirt with sarcasm in a singular deadpan. On “Here’s The Thing,” she unveils a level of vulnerability that wasn’t necessarily hiding, but feels refreshing in its plainness. The line, “I don’t know what to say, you’re so far away, and I don’t want to be annoying,” could easily be a generational slogan for modern romance.
Though it’s tinged with the kind of melancholic isolation you’d expect from a touring musician (or anyone who lived through the last two years, let’s be honest), “Here’s The Thing” retains a hopeful, communicative lightness that reflects Barnett’s signature fascination with the little things. The mood may be sentimental, but it’s far from sappy. It’s a thick track, layered in nuance, that evolves through two sultry instrumentals that pass the mic to Barnett’s guitar chops. But no spoilers here––give it a listen and prepare to feel something.–Glenn Michael Van Dyke
Want a full glass of Fresh Squeeze? Dig into our playlist below.