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Zola Jesus’ “Exhumed” Is a Journey Throu...

When we last heard from Nika Roza Danilova, the music she was making as Zola Jesus was defined by its newfound confidence. “All my music up until now has been bathed in vulnerability, doubt, maybe sadness. I just didn’t want that anymore,” Danilova told Pitchfork in 2014. “I want to feel excited and I want to empower people.” In the years following that interview, Danilova was forced to grapple with death, loss, and “several very personal traumas.” They leave an indelible mark on “Exhumed,” the thundering lead single from her new album, Okovi. Danilova’s discography is...
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Waxahatchee’s “Never Been Wrong” Is Indi...

In indie rock, you can be precious, you can be pompous, and you can be extremely art school, but there is no great way to spin “whiny.” The irony is, complaining is inherent in the genre’s DNA. It goes beyond lyrics, manifesting in guitar tones that simmer with angst rather than exploding with it, like punk often does. So while it may sound like an insult to call “Never Been Wrong,” the opening track off Waxahatchee’s upcoming fourth album, a whiny indie rock classic, it is meant as a compliment to project mastermind Katie Crutchfield. This is how you complain bitterly in...
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Radiohead Revive a Lost Gem in “I Promis...

The best music can seem to stop time. With “I Promise,” Radiohead keep up their recent habit of traveling through time. The band has always repurposed old material for its new records, but “True Love Waits,” from last year’s A Moon Shaped Pool, was different: a radical reinterpretation of a decades-old tune beloved to millions for its previously released live version. Their upcoming OK Computer reissue includes several unreleased tracks of similar vintage, the most storied among them being “Lift,” which represents Radiohead’s road not taken as alternative-rock hitmakers...
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Arcade Fire Stay Epic on “Everything Now...

There’s a pleasant irony in the way Arcade Fire’s most devout followers first heard their new song, “Everything Now.” Shortly after the band released it on vinyl in Spain at Primavera Festival merch tables, fans began circulating a YouTube video filmed on an iPhone of the 12” spinning in a record store, drowned out by people talking over it. It was the kind of promo you can’t pay for (not to mention a metaphor Win Butler would kill for), with every aspect of the song feeling cryptic and mysterious. Is that the riff from “Dancing Queen?” Is that a fucking pan flute? When...
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Lorde’s House Party Ends Pensively...

Imperfection is always a virtue in Lorde’s world—whether it’s the “incorrect songwriting” of her fantastically nonlinear banger “Green Light,” her unchosen solitude on “Liability,” or the manic expressive dancing these new songs inspire within her. She has said that her upcoming second album, Melodrama, charts the trajectory of a single house party, which is a little funny in this context—the searching introspection of these songs doesn’t quite scream “rager” yet. But Lorde is a songwriter who still vividly celebrates out-of-step self-possession. Where does the...
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The War on Drugs Get Whimsical in "...

Across three albums, The War on Drugs have become increasingly adept at reflecting the sound of classic rock through a fog, with songs that grow and fade like living memories. But on their new single, “Holding On,” the band sounds like they’re ready to start over. “When we talk about the past, what are we talking of?” singer Adam Granduciel asks, and the music attempts to answer. There’s a newfound sense of clarity here, from the magnificent production to the ornate instrumentation: They’re not just hinting at influences like Springsteen anymore, but downright summoning...