Jams of the Week: The glorious returns of Xtina, Soundgarden and Yo La Tengo
Ke$ha - "Die Young"
Can't say I'm impressed with the lead single from Ke$ha's second proper album, "Warrior." I understand that she got her big break singing the hook on a corny Flo Rida song, but does she really have to jack the guitar part from a different corny Flo Rida song and graft it into some microwaved dubstep leftovers? Supremely catchy and pristinely produced, but where's the personality? Ke$ha's previous singles got up in my grill with 20-karat diamond between the teeth; "Die Young" feels like Ke$ha on autopilot, no longer crass in subject matter but certainly crass in its blatant pandering for airplay. (I hated "Tik Tok" at first for the opposite reasons, so maybe this will grow on me?) The album drops Dec. 4 on RCA.
Christina Aguilera - "Your Body"
Xtina's new single, on the other hand? Instant favorite here at Jams of the Week HQ. The video is totally absurd, with our heroine assassinating various dudes in a flurry of blue paint splatter and pink confetti, but it's apporpriate since the song sounds just like blue paint splatter and pink confetti. Her new album, "Lotus," is due Nov. 13, also on RCA. (Huge fourth quarter for them if A$AP Rocky actually drops before year's end too.)
Yo La Tengo - "Stupid Things"
Another near-perfect song from one of indie rock's all-time greats. Yo La Tengo's continued excellence brings me deep satisfaction, as does news of a new album coming next year. Until then, "Stupid Things" is coming out as a single Oct. 2 via Matador. (Note: If you don't have Spotify or don't want it to open on your machine right now, you can also listen here.)
Soundgarden - "Been Away Too Long"
One more big comeback single for the week, this one from arguably the greatest Seattle band of the grunge era (although damn if this piece doesn't make a strong case for Alice In Chains). Calling the lead single from your first album in 16 years "Been Away Too Long" is kind of hokey, but, well, it isn't a lie. Nothing fancy here, just satisfying crunch from the eternal Kim Thayil matched with trademark Cornell aggro-howl. (They were made for each other.) The album, entitled "King Animal," is out Nov. 13 on Seven Four/Republic.
Neil Young and Crazy Horse - "Walk Like a Giant"
Seems appropriate to follow up that last track with this one considering Neil Young's "Godfather of Grunge," here's a new one from a band even older, even crustier and (certainly) even more legendary than Soundgarden. Exceptional whistling in this one. The suitably psychedelic "Walk Like a Giant" comes from "Psychedelic Pill," Young's first album of originals with Crazy Horse since 2003, out Oct. 30 on Reprise.
Lana Del Rey - "Ride"
This Rick Rubin-produced ballad captures another glimpse of the Lana we knew and loved. (Though to be fair, the more we knew, the less we loved.) It's part of the new material to be included in the deluxe "Paradise Edition" of "Born to Die" that Interscope is releasing Nov. 13.
Weekend Money featuring Heems - "Yellow"
More great off-kilter, free associate, pop-culture-inspired rap from Greedhead, the label run by Heems of Das Racist. He shows up here to assist NYC duo Weekend Money, one of whom is an Iraqi who goes by the name Baghdaddy. (The other is MC Ne$$, who has been known to kick it with Dead Prez.) You can hear Weekend Money's new mixtape "Naked City" for free right here.
WIN WIN - "AFTER THE WAIT"
"SALT DAYS+," the first single from WIN WIN's new album "Double Vision," showed them ably grabbing the baton from LCD Soundsystem. Second single "AFTER THE WAIT" does nothing to dispel that notion, infusing the trusty formula with some Paul Simon-esque tropical pop chops. The album drops Oct. 16 via Vice.
Crystal Castles - "Wrath of God"
Crystal Castles doing what they do, which involves deploying sleek, icy synth sounds in the spookiest possible manner. The trio's third self-titled album (or "III") is coming Nov. 6 through Casablanca/Fiction/Universal Republic. Before that, the always entertaining Ethan Kath and Alice Glass will be back at the Newport Oct. 10.
Miguel - "Adorn"
This track isn't new, but I would be remiss not to shout out "Kaleidoscope Dream," the spaced-out, rocked-up R&B opus Miguel is releasing next week. How good is this album? It's even better than Frank Ocean rapping. It may even be better than (gasp!) "Channel Orange," Ocean's cult favorite, critical darling LP that looks like the consensus album of the year. Make no mistake, I love "Channel Orange." But seriously, listen to the Miguel album. Hopefully more on that next week, if I can find the time to do it justice.