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Saturday, July 18, 2020

Our latest new-music picks: Benjamin Gibbard, Future Islands, Finnian, The Beths, Goldmyth

Benjamin Gibbard: Proxima B

The dream of escaping Earth and starting over on another planet is a recurring theme in art, and it seems especially apt today. Gibbard recorded this in isolation at his home in the state of Washington amid the coronavirus pandemic. It was written earlier, inspired by the even larger-scale crisis of climate change. "The ocean's rising and we're all gonna drown / But there's a place where you and I can go / We can start this whole mess all over ... We won't make the same mistakes twice."

Future Islands: For Sure

In its first release in three years, this Baltimore band sticks to its successful synth-rock sound. Rolling Stone sums it up well: "The track boasts a quintessential Future Islands blend of thumping drums, thick synths and a gooey bass line that anchors a swooning guitar. Frontman Samuel Herring delivers another characteristically mighty vocal performance, with Wye Oak’s Jenn Wasner providing back-up on the chorus: 'I will never keep you from an open door / I know, you know / That’s how much I feel in everything you are / You know, I know.'"

Finnian: Fly

We fly to Ireland, where this Dundalk-based singer-songwriter is releasing a debut album that sounds like the accomplished work of a veteran musician. A couple of tracks have been in our playlist since they were released as singles last year, and they have a laid-back, easy sound that characterizes the first half of the LP. But in the latter part of Under the Influence (maybe the flip side of the vinyl?) Finnian stretches out into rockier, rootsier territory. This track features a rollicking barroom piano and a rough-edged vocal: "I'm gonna say goodbye / Wind of change gonna teach me to fly."

The Beths: Out of Sight

The success of their 2018 debut album, Future Me Hates Me, propelled this New Zealand quartet from playing clubs in the Auckland indie scene to international touring. Their new sophomore release, Jump Rope Gazers, "was heavily inspired by trying to maintain friendships from thousands of miles away," according to AllMusic. "The resulting set of songs takes on a yearning, more reflective point of view that makes room for slower tempos." While this collection is a bit less frenetic and more polished that the first, it maintains the band's blend of catchy pop hooks and leader Elizabeth Stokes' casual-sounding-yet-deep lyrics. "Though I know way down that I / Am out of mind, when out of sight," she sings on this track, "I keep a flame burning inside / If you need to bum a light."

Goldmyth: My Mistake

Music from this Utah singer-songwriter has been in our mix since the 2017 release of her debut EP, Faded Dream. Her primary instrument, the harp, is given the lead role on this dreamy new single. "The result is fully consuming, showing a melancholic pop sound with ample depth," writes indie music blog Obscure Sound. Of the lyrics, Goldmyth says: “In the past, I used to take on every crack in a relationship as my own personal mistake. ... This song is the breath of fresh air that surrounded me when I rolled down my window and drove into a new future.”

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