Welcome to FUZZY MEADOWS, our weekly recap of this week's new music. We're sharing our favorite releases of the week in the form of albums, singles, and music videos along with the "further listening" section of new and notable releases from around the web. It's generally written in the early hours of the morning and semi-unedited... but full of love and heart. The number rankings are arbitrary and we sincerely recommend checking out all the music included. There's a lot of great new music being released. Support the bands you love. Spread the word and buy some new music.
*Disclaimer: We are making a conscious effort not to include any artist in our countdown on back-to-back weeks in order to diversify the feature, so be sure to check the "further listening" as well because it's often of "countdown" quality too.
1. TWO INCH ASTRONAUT | "Play To No One"
Classic rock, "Mall Rock," Oldies, Third Eye Blind... whatever the inspiration for "Play To No One" is, it's a damn near perfect song. Two Inch Astronaut have been making tangled post-hardcore at its best for the better part of the decade and they've never sounded better than when stretching out into new territories. While last year's Personal Life hinted at the band's penchant for softer pop tendencies, the trio have wandered further down that rabbit hole throughout Can You Please Not Help.
"Play To No One" is the ultimate example, a song that approaches pop-perfection with sarcastic bite and spurts of jagged punk that go a long way to shape the songs character. Sam Rosenberg's jangly melody is filled with syrupy hooks and Beach Boys infused harmonies as he sings of entitled musicians, falling flat on your face, and well... the electric slide. The shimmering pop focus is undeniable, but this is still Two Inch Astronaut and the wandering rhythm is played with an incredible spasticity thanks to Andy Chervenak and Matt Gatwood's loose and jazzy attention to detail. It's a smash hit for a world that's just not ready. - Dan Goldin
2. PALM | "Walkie Talkie"
What makes a Palm song work is that, on first listen, it seems as if no two parts really go together. Palm’s songs are chaotic and off-kilter, rarely adhering to any conceivable form. And while that invariably recalls flashes of math-rock’s elite, there’s a strange pop-sensibility that undercuts it all. “Walkie Talkie,” the first song from the band’s upcoming Shadow Expert EP is perhaps the heaviest Palm’s ever gotten, with all those sharp, staccato guitar stabs sounding like a less distorted take on a Converge song. But the band’s biggest asset is that it’s capable of making all of that feel harmonious. Palm may make art-rock, sure, but it doesn’t get hung up on that first part. The pieces they're painting may be abstract, but the longer you sit and stare the more the form unveils itself, and the more these seemingly errant brushstrokes make perfect sense. - David Anthony
3. GNARWHAL | "Light-Up City"
"Light-Up City," the third single from Gnarwhal's upcoming new album Crucial is a patient song... at least from the outside. Sure the duo of Chappy Hull and Tyler Coburn are forever ripping their way forward from the onset, but instead of their usual chaotic pummel, the song takes its time to get there. Full of tightly wound knots and shifting rhythms, it burns with a delicate fury, erupting on a sea of fills and a dense fog of caterwauling guitar. Embracing the expansive restraint and explosiveness of Drive Like Jehu, Gnarwhal add to their sonic intensity by pulling it back, yet remaining as unpredictable as ever. It doesn't get much better. - Dan Goldin
4. COOL GHOULS | "Gord's Horse"
San Francisco's Cool Ghouls have set themselves apart from the pack over the years, a band that can seemingly do it all from organic rock 'n' roll to fuzzy psych, garage punk, Americana, folk, and distorted lo-fi pop. The difference between them and their peers lies in the songwriting. There are a lot of folks that can shred through blistering psych pop, but there are far less who can write Nuggets style hits as consistently as Cool Ghouls. The band has consistently evolved since their first release, pushing new grounds with each album (check out last year's Animal Races). Set to release Gord's Horse, a new tour only cassette, the album's title track is true dusty Americana brilliance. Led with twangy acoustic guitars, tambourine shakes, and plenty of country fried reverb, it's Cool Ghouls at their finest, an easy riding outlaw ballad layered to harmonious bliss. - Dan Goldin
5. PALEHOUND | "Room"
Palehound is at its best when embracing raw simplicity and honest reflections. "Room," the second single from the band's upcoming album A Place I'll Always Go captures that essence better than most, a song thats stripped down and beautiful, built on an almost twangy guitar line and Ellen Kempner's gorgeous vocals. A celebration of queer love and healthy relationships, "Room" floats in a thick haze with guitar hooks that are as mesmerizing as they come and an absolutely masterful performance from Palehound drummer Jesse Weiss. "Room" is the type of song you can fall in love with, and a reminder of what makes Palehound such a special band in the first place. - Dan Goldin
6. DREAM MACHINE | "All For A Chance"
Embracing the hard rock of the early 70's, Dream Machine is very much an unabashedly retro sounding band. Led by Warm Soda's Matthew Melton and his wife Doris Melton, "All For A Chance" is the band's second single from their upcoming Castle Face debut, an organ heavy dose of vintage joy and stoned leads. Doris takes on lead vocals with a classic psych melody and earworm hook that's warped and catchy, a song that sounds lost in time, full of sun faded grooves and acid laced pop jangle. From the album art to their music video, Dream Machine are digging deep into the past to create something new yet again. - Dan Goldin
7. DAVID NANCE | "Give It Some Time"
Omaha's David Nance is one of the underground's best, a legend in the making. With a restless approach to songwriting, Nance has been steadily churning out records for the past decade or so, a veteran of the cassette scene whose blistering rock stands somewhere between the garage punk of Jay Reatard and the indie cool of Robert Pollard with the heart of The Rolling Stones. With Negative Boogie due out in July, "Give It Some Time" is our first taste of the record, a soulful garage tune that writhes with wild Americana abandon and big rock 'n' roll splendor, blown out at all the right moments and a welcome introduction to anyone just discovering Nance's music. - Dan Goldin
8. GREAT GRANDPA | "Teen Challenge"
At the start of “Teen Challenge,” Seattle’s Great Grandpa immediately tries to throw you off balance. Washes of feedback ping between channels discordantly, but this allows the band to come roaring up the middle, bowling you over with a steady, palm-muted guitar that barrels forth like a freight train. It allows Alex Menne’s lyrics to shine, her sharp wit showing through when she addresses the rest of the band, singing, “Would you give me something on the off beat?” It’s little moments like that, where Great Grandpa pulls back pretenses and stands there transparent in its creation that everything clicks. “Teen Challenge” is a song that’s unconcerned with big, bold statements, instead finding ways to make offhand remarks feel totally deliberate. - David Anthony
9. INSTITUTE | "Powerstation"
Austin punks Institute are back with a new album, Subordination, and first single "Powerstation" is full of the band's signature scuzz, a dirge of filth and detachment. The song starts off simple enough with a galloping power-pop drum beat but it's the guitars that quickly pull the sordid affair together, with a sleazy darkness that drips between disjointed vocals and a constant swarm of distortion. Like a flaming trash heap, Institute rely on squalor and disgust, in this case well aimed at the insecurities of those in power (authorities, government, etc). - Dan Goldin
10. SHEER | "Psychic Quarry" EP
In the year-and-a-half since Sheer released their debut album the band’s undergone a couple member changes. And while it’s impossible to say whether or not that contributed to the evolution of Sheer’s sound, Psychic Quarry certainly feels like a different type of work. The six songs found here are jauntier, less focused on big washes of guitar and more on creating an aura that surrounds the work. But even with their more brutalist tactics at bay, the songs still carry a weight, such as “Shut It Off,” which builds on thunderous drumming and twinkling guitars. Psychic Quarry is another step in Sheer’s evolution, one that’s been mighty fun to watch. - David Anthony
ANNA ALTMAN "Freightliner" LP | SPEEDY ORTIZ "Young Liars" (TV On The Radio cover) | DOUG TUTTLE "Peace Potato" LP | TY SEGALL "Break A Guitar" | WALL "Untitled" LP | SPODEE BOY "Sterile World" EP | MOUNTAIN MOVERS "Vision Television" | DR. OCTAGON "Redeye" | BIG FRENCH "Stone Fish" | LASER BACKGROUND "Dark Nuclear Bogs" LP | PUPPY PROBLEMS "(((((Demos))))" EP | THELMA "White Couches" | PAT KEEN "Chappy Coat" | LINDA FOX "Like New" | IMAAD WASIF "Far East" | PARLOR WALLS "Play Opposites" | J. ZUNZ "Circle of Time" | LITTLER "Bad Hand" EP | KÜKEN "Küken" LP | SUBSTANCE "The Fight for Identity" EP | JOEY AGRESTA "Baby Girl" | SUN YOUNG "Grey" | PJ HARVEY "A Dog Called Money" | PJ HARVEY "I'll Be Waiting" | DEBBIE DOWNER "I Did It All For You" | ROZWELL KID "UHF on DVD" | AMBER ARCADES "Can't Say That We Tried" | DU VIDE "Cherry Coke" | THE BUILDERS & THE BUTCHERS "Never Tell" | KINDLING + KESTRELS "Split" EP | BIG THIEF "Breathe In My Lungs" | ANDERSON .PAAK "Come Down (Remix, feat. Schoolboy Q & Ty Dolla Sign) | THE POISON ARROWS "No Known Note" LP | PROTOCOL "More of the Same to Say [Demo]" EP | SINGLE MOTHERS "Undercover" | TOUGH BOY "I Know Myself" | DOUBLE GRAVE "New Year's Daydream" LP | BEACH FOSSILS "Silver Tongue" | WREN KITZ "Haunted Hole" | THE AFGHAN WHIGS "Oriole" | RIDE "All I Want"