Sufjan Stevens: Chicago (Demo)
More than a decade after the release of Illinois, an album that would embed the name Sufjan Stevens into the brains of indie music fans, the multi-instrumentalist singer/songwriter has revealed an official demo version of “Chicago,” the LP’s most successful track. More than a throwback to a wildly popular song that came to represent the early 2000s for some, the demo offers insight into Stevens’ development. It’s beautiful, but fragile—offering Elliott Smith-like sensations. The prolific creator is hot off the heels of 2015’s critical darling Carrie & Lowell, but this is a nice look back at where it all began for most.
Junior Boys: Big Black Coat
Directed by Tim Saccenti, the just-released video for Junior Boys’ “Big Black Coat” is a little lo-fi, industrial and distorted, but entirely mesmerizing. Apparently born of the Canadian duo’s love of analog and experimental film art, the video complements the song’s blend of minimal, glitchy, synth-heavy pop and singer Jeremy Greenspan’s forlorn vocals.
Anna Rose: Start a War
Beautiful, vocally driven and with delicate instrumentation, “Start a War” by NYC-based singer/songwriter Anna Rose steps away from the anthemic rock tracks of her previous album. With this latest single, off her forthcoming album Strays in the Cut, Rose gently taps into the emotion of loss. The accompanying video, directed by independent filmmaker Shruti Ganguly, channels depth through loss and ultimately hope.
Big Freedia: I Heard
Beyoncé fans heard Big Freedia growling, “I came to slay, bitch! I like cornbread and collard greens, bitch” in the sensational new track “Formation”—those guest verses channeled the angst and attitude of the rapper’s hometown, New Orleans. Now the Queen of Bounce releases something new herself that’s noticeably different from the bass-heavy, knockout club tracks that made her a performer’s performer. The melodious song “I Heard” blends a soaring pop chorus fit for radio play with the rapper’s party-starting charisma, and preps the stage for world domination. Big Freedia’s second full-length album is slated for a summer 2016 release.
Despite Väg frontman Alexander Norberg’s blonde hair and charming personality, he’s no Tom Petty. In fact, he’s more Iggy Pop (shirtless and all), if you dare to make a comparison. We had the chance to catch this Swedish three-piece at this year’s Design Indaba conference (Väg’s drummer, Erik Kockum, also happens to be partner of Stockholm-based creative agency SNASK, along with band manager Fredrik Öst) and all we can say is, they really rock. Singing only in their native tongue doesn’t keep them from making a big statement, and the video for their latest single, “Hornstull,” gives you a taste of how this band singularly jams out.