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Saturday, December 7, 2019

New sounds from Armada of Secrets, Michael Stipe, The Who, The Lone Bellow, Cold War Kids

Armada of Secrets: Make Me Over

You may have caught this track on one of our now-nightly trips on The Detour. Now we're highlighting it in our New Music bin. Vocalist Caroline Kabera and bassist Carl Dawkins met in music school after Kabera immigrated to London from Burundi. Armada of Secrets has been an on-and-off project over several years, and this release is the first to reach our ears. It has a distinctive drum-and-bass-driven, soulful rock sound, with a lyric that the duo says reflects "the desire we have to remodel ourselves ... It brought all of our anxieties, fears, and accomplishments (and even lack of) to the forefront."

Michael Stipe: Your Capricious Soul

The former R.E.M.-er just released his first solo single on his own website, with proceeds going to the climate activism group Extinction Rebellion. The song references the planet's distress (“the birds are dying / or they might as well be”), but that's just one of the themes Stipe touches on in his oblique way. Pitchfork calls the track "sonically dazzling," adding that it "feels less like a big new gesture than a continuation of Stipe’s thoughtfully wayward pursuit of his post-R.E.M. muse."

The Who: All This Music Must Fade

On their new album, called simply Who, Pete Townshend and Roger Daltrey follow in their own footsteps, with the latter giving voice to the former's thoughtfully cynical lyrics. And they turn that cynicism on themselves in tracks like this one, which borrows sounds and phrases from Who classics while dismissing them as ephemeral. “I don't care / I know you’re gonna hate this song ... It won't light up your parade/It's just simple verse.” Elsewhere on the album, the veterans look back on their early days as "snotty young kids" who found themselves successful and rich - and grew old in spite of themselves: "We tried hard to stay young / But the high notes were sung." If this turns out to be the last Who album, it seems an appropriate sign-off.

The Lone Bellow: Count On Me

There's no trace of cynicism in this I've-got-your-back declaration from the trio of Zach Williams, Kanene Donehey Pipkin, and Brian Elmquist. Singing in harmony, they promise to be there when you "need an arm 'round your neck / Somebody you can talk to." Rolling Stone calls it "a message of reassurance in a troubled world," as well as "a pulsing, high-energy song." We can easily imagine it becoming a cathartic sing-along at live shows.

Cold War Kids: Dirt In My Eyes

The California band's latest release, New Age Norms 1, is the first of a planned trilogy of relatively short (8-song) albums. We previously featured the first single, "Complainer," and now we're picking up this equally ear-catching track. Glide Magazine calls it a "shimmering and propulsive ... dance-rock hybrid.

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