New Music Roundup: Chvrches, Cloud Nothings, Mykki Blanco, Sun Kil Moon, Cult Leader

by | Jan 31, 2014 | MUSIC

We ran across some pretty great stuff this week. Pretty much every track here is essential listening, or at least crazy enough that you’ve gotta hear it once. So scroll down and check ’em out!


We ran across some pretty great stuff this week. Pretty much every track here is essential listening, or at least crazy enough that you’ve gotta hear it once. So scroll down and check ’em out!

Chvrches – Bela Lugosi’s Dead

Goth fans, don’t freak out too much about this, but Scottish trio Chvrches have transformed the Bauhaus classic “Bela Lugosi’s Dead” into an upbeat goth-pop dance number. Recreating the 10-minute postpunk horror epic as an upbeat four-minute romp takes serious imagination, and will no doubt have denizens of Fallout howling for Lauren Mayberry’s blood, but if they chill out and listen first, they may find this synth-driven tribute (gulp) growing on them. Mayberry’s high-winsome vocals couldn’t be more different from Peter Murphy’s sepulchral croon, but mixed with the lilting and somewhat–dare I say it?–bouncy guitar-keyboard melodies provided by her bandmates, they add up to an enjoyable little pop tune that you’ll probably appreciate more if you ignore the unmistakable lyrics and enjoy on its own merit. The new tune comes from the soundtrack to Vampire Academy, a soon-to-be-released film adaptation of the popular young adult book series. The soundtrack will be out on February 4, and in addition to Chvrches’s Bauhaus cover, features contributions from Sky Ferreira, Iggy Azalea, Natalia Kills, Katy Perry (what? She has a few good songs…), and more. You can pre-order it from Amazon HERE.

Cult Leader – Skin Crawler

Here’s a brutal new track from most of the remaining members of Utah’s Gaza (minus that guy who did that terrible thing). With Gaza bassist Anthony Lucero switching to vocals and guitarist Michael Mason and drummer Casey Hansen sticking around, the instrumental legacy of that band remains intact, and they put it to powerful use here on “Skin Crawler.” Lucero proves to be an excellent vocalist in his own right, and his angry howls go well with the dark, chaotic riffage laid down by the rest of the band on this track. Hansen is all over his kit, and the constantly changing whirlwind of riffs doesn’t really solidify until the song’s last 30 seconds, when the band resolves into a brutal breakdown that is over way too quickly. There’s more to come–Cult Leader will release their debut album, Nothing For Us Here, April 15 on Deathwish Inc. No preorder info available as yet, but keep an eye on Deathwish’s website for more info.

Mykki Blanco – She Gutta

Is this trap shit? Is it cloud rap? We don’t know quite how to categorize this tough-as-nails new track from Mykki Blanco, but one thing’s for sure: it’s dope. Blanco, an NYC rapper leading the charge for greater queer visibility in the hip hop scene, goes in hard on this spaced-out, spooky backing track from The-Drum’s Jeremiah Meece. And if you’re open-minded enough to accept a rapper that presents a profile different from your average macho male posturing, there’s a lot to like here. Blanco brags hard on this track, mixing bitchy superiority with a don’t-give-a-fuck swagger that’s undeniable. This track just might be from her supposedly forthcoming debut album, Michael (which is the crossdressing rapper’s given name), but there’s also word of a mixtape planned for this year entitled Cosmic Angel II: Let Big Sister Teach You. Regardless of how “She Gutta” is eventually released, though, you can download it for free from that Soundcloud embed above, so get on that right now.

Cloud Nothings – I’m Not Part Of Me

Ohio rockers Cloud Nothings scored a lot of new fans with their third album, 2012’s Attack On Memory, and it’s time to find out what they can do for an encore. Fortunately, “I’m Not Part Of Me” sounds even better than the highlights from their breakout album, so if this song is any indication, upcoming fourth album Here And Nowhere Else will take things to an even higher level for this no-frills trio. The production on this track, while still not flashy, is fuller and more refined than that of their previous album, and when it’s combined with singer Dylan Baldi’s assured vocals and some catchy riffing, the result is a track you don’t ever want to end. For that reason, it’s drawn-out final section is a delight, becoming the surprising highlight of an already delightful tune. Cloud Nothings will release Here And Nowhere Else on April 1 via Carpark and Mom & Pop Records–you can preorder it via iTunes HERE, or grab the vinyl and/or CD versions from Cloud Nothings’ website, HERE.

Sun Kil Moon – Ben’s My Friend

Mark Kozelek of Sun Kil Moon, who has previously recorded under his own name and, most famously, as Red House Painters, has been getting more and more straightforward as his career rolls on. His forthcoming album, Benji, the sixth he’s released under the Sun Kil Moon name, takes things to a whole new level, though, as its lyrics take the form of Mark telling you stories as he strums his acoustic guitar. “Ben’s My Friend” is the most extreme example of this phenomenon, beginning as it does with Kozelek letting you know that he wrote it because he needed one more song to fill up the new record. He then proceeds to detail the events of the day on which he wrote the song, culminating with a story of going to see the Postal Service because that band’s singer, Ben Gibbard, the “friend” of the title, had given him backstage passes. In the end, though, Kozelek’s too tired and annoyed by the crowds to bother meeting up with Gibbard, so he gives his passes to “two cute Asian girls,” and heads home. “Ben’s my friend and I know he gets it,” Kozelek sings, and relaxes in his hot-tub. The song is acoustic, but features a full backing band, including the rather surprising addition of a few wailing sax solos. But as unexpected as those are, they work, reminding me more than anything of Nick Drake’s classic 1970 LP Bryter Layter. Everything I’ve heard from the new Sun Kil Moon has sounded great, really, and based on Kozelek’s track record, I’m expecting a thoroughly enjoyable album. Benji will be out February 4 via Caldo Verde–preorder it on CD from the label HERE or on mp3 from iTunes HERE.

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Email me your songs, and I’ll write about them: andrew@rvamag.com. Have a great weekend, everyone!

Marilyn Drew Necci

Marilyn Drew Necci

Former GayRVA editor-in-chief, RVA Magazine editor for print and web. Anxiety expert, proud trans woman, happily married.




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