In the last full month of the semester, it’s easy to lose the motivation to study while dreaming of the warm summer months. Our music for this week includes both upbeat tracks and mellow tunes to carry you through the ups and downs of the last few weeks of the school year.
Perfume Genius – “Slip Away”
Perfume Genius has ditched his typical formula of abbreviated and sullen piano ballads for a full, grandiose sound on his new album “No Shape,” slated to be released May 5. Seattle-born Mike Hadreas, who performs as Perfume Genius, has embraced studio-sized production in the past but never to the arena-ready scale demonstrated on his latest single, “Slip Away.”
It begins as a twinkling baroque pop tune but after the first chorus, there is no mistaking the song’s enormity: a wall of guitar, synth and percussion take over. The song’s energy intensifies as Hadreas sings, “Don’t look back, I want to break free/ If you’ll never see ’em coming/ You’ll never have to hide.”
Hadreas has said it’s a problem when when people are constantly “magnifying” how gay couples are different from other couples. He seems to address these sentiments in his new single, which deals with unabashed displays of love, despite the judgmental looks around them.
Like many of the songs off his last album “Too Bright,” Hadreas’ melancholy delivery allows you to feel each ache in his voice. His previous forays into fully orchestrated pop music have sounded sinister, and this track is no exception.
Perfume Genius plays at 9:30 Club May 15. Tickets are $21. The single “Slip Away” was released March 21.
Sarah Jarosz – “Your Water”
Sarah Jarosz, a singer-songwriter from Texas, came into the music scene in 2009 when she released her first album “A Song up In Her Head,” which included the Grammy-nominated song “Mansinneedof.” An accomplished musician, Jarosz plays mandolin, guitar, clawhammer banjo and octave mandolin, making her sound distinct from anyone else that rolls through the District.
The album “Luck Mansion Sessions” is a collaboration between Sarah Jarosz and Parker Millsap. The first track, titled “Your Water” starts slow with a pairing of jazz style electric guitar and acoustic guitar. Millsap’s voice starts the track in a raspy voice, with Jarosz joining on the line: “Your water/ your water/ It floods my memory and it clenches my soul.”
In typical Jarosz style, the verses are separated with a myriad of twangy instruments layered over each other to give the song a bluegrass-around-a-campfire feeling.
The song is under three minutes, so you might feel like listening to its calming soulful message on repeat a couple times. Like many of her other songs and collaborations, “Your Water” showcases Jarosz’s adorable southern twang that works well with her many songs about love.
Sarah Jarosz will perform at The Birchmere in Alexandria April 25. Tickets are $29.50. Luck Mansion Sessions was released March 10.
The New Pornographers – “Whiteout Conditions”
Veteran power-pop ensemble The New Pornographers are treading familiar ground on their newest record “Whiteout Conditions.” The Canadian indie rock group has remained true to their knack for catchy melodies while incorporating more electronic sounds since their 1999 inception. The new album’s title track, with its danceable sound and stellar vocal performances, will surely appeal to both hardcore fans and newcomers to the genre.
The band dynamically switches lead vocals with A.C. Newman belting the verses while the chorus is sung in a trademark twang by Neko Case and Kathryn Calder. The two perform crisp vocal harmonies reminiscent of 80s bands like The Bangles.
Despite the high energy and glossy instrumentation, the lyrics speak a tone of sadness, where Case sings, “Only want to get to work/ But every morning I’m too sick to drive.” Leave it to these power-pop wizards to make such a sugary sweet tune about abysmal realities.
The New Pornographers will be playing at 9:30 Club April 28 and 29. Tickets are $38. Whiteout Conditions will be released April 7.