We get a lot of records sent to us here at The A.V. Club. Fortunately, we end up liking some of them. That’s why we launched Playlisted, to share our latest recommendations of tracks music fans have to hear.
Paloma Faith, “Picking Up The Pieces”
In preparation for tonight’s Olympics Opening Ceremony, this week’s Playlisted kicks off with a song by Britain’s next big star. Filling in the gap left by the vocal-chord-challenged Adele is Paloma Faith, who has pipes like Duffy, eyeliner like Amy Winehouse, and hair like Peg Bundy. While her debut record isn’t out in the U.S. until November, it came out earlier this summer in the U.K. and, like One Direction, she’s a big deal across the pond. (She even ran the Olympic torch earlier this week, in 6-inch heels, no less) “Picking Up The Pieces” is a break-up ballad in the style of “Someone Like You,” but a little more kicky. With almost 2.5 million views on YouTube for the video pre-U.S. press attack, “Picking Up The Pieces” could be one of those songs to get into now before you’re forced to have an opinion about it later.
2 Chainz, “Birthday Song” featuring Kanye West
2 Chainz’s debut solo full-length, Based On A T.R.U. Story, comes out August 14. While rappers like Chief Keef are signing big money deals at 17, 2 Chainz is 36 and no stranger to rap’s up and downs. In the mid ’90s, as a member of the duo Playaz Circle, he signed to Ludacris’ label Disturbing Tha Piece, where he put out several decently received records under the name Tity Boi, including the hit single “Duffle Bag Boy.” He decided to change his name and go solo in 2011, opting for the more family-friendly 2 Chainz. Since then he’s signed to Kanye West’s G.O.O.D. records and gotten in tight with the Chi-town impresario, who appears on this track commiserating with 2 Chainz about their love for big-booty girls.
Ben Gibbard, “Ichiro’s Theme”
From the complete opposite end of the musical spectrum comes Death Cab For Cutie frontman Ben Gibbard’s homage to Ichiro Suzuki, who was traded by the Seattle Mariners to the New York Yankees this week. Gibbard is a huge baseball fan and an even huger Mariners fan, and recorded this song a few years back but never released it. When this week’s news hit he put the saccharine ditty online for fans to sing along while crying.
Southeast Engine, “Old Oak Tree”
While those vocal chords are warmed up, check out Southeast Engine’s “Old Oak Tree.” The Ohio band’s last record, 2011’s Canary, is thematically based around Appalachian Ohio during the Great Depression, and the group’s new EP, Canaanville, follows that folkloric vein. Packed with harmonica and handclaps, “Old Oak Tree” is a sweet little tune about love, death, and small-town living.
How To Dress Well, “Cold Nites”
Vulture says How To Dress Well’s “Cold Nites” sounds like “If R. Kelly moved to Greenpoint,” but both R. Kelly and the Brooklyn neighborhood can only wish they were this dark and foreboding. The solo project of producer Tom Krell, How To Dress Well is responsible for insanely intricate, ethereal music laced generously with touches of soul. New single “Cold Nites” is no different from any of his previous work, but that doesn’t make it any less fantastic. It’s the perfect Friday comedown from a long, hard week.