Welcome to the first full week of 2019! It is always the best feeling to see the new singles and album announcements breaking out into the world around this time each year. We are off to a particularly good start this week with three KCRW favorites back in action with some of their best work to date.
Nick Waterhouse – “Song for Winners”
It’s been nearly two and a half years since the release of Nick Waterhouse’s exquisite third record, Never Twice. Receiving notice of the first single from his forthcoming album at the very beginning of 2019 felt like a surefire indication that this would be a very Happy New Year indeed.
Waterhouse has taken plenty of time to meticulously shape his throwback soulful garage rock vibe in a way that always sounds fresh and exciting. With each release, his sound gets deeper and more defined with the results always a pure joy to encounter. For his upcoming fourth record he’s chosen the title Nick Waterhouse. I tend to have mixed feelings generally about self-titled albums, but when they come along this far into a career I’m always intrigued. To call your record by your own name at this point indicates a deeply personal and intimate listening experience to come. “Song for Winners” is a delicious first taste.
Y La Bamba – “Cuatro Crazy”
There’s a delicate, hypnotic quality to Y La Bamba’s latest single, but its aim is far from lulling you into complacency. Calling their new album Mujeres (Women) with lead singer/songwriter Luz Elena Mendoza declaring its mission statement “Soy como soy” (“I am what I am”), Y La Bamba are clearly out to attract anything but passive listening. “Cuatro Crazy’s” deceptive gentleness rather cleverly (not to mention seductively) insists upon the closest possible attention from all who find themselves in its path.
Neon Indian – “Heaven’s Basement (Theme from 86’d)”
Alan Palomo (Neon Indian) has always trafficked in loving deference to the sounds of the 1980s, perhaps never more so than here on the theme song to his first narrative short film 86’d (which appropriately enough takes place in 1986). The film offers a queasy trip through skillfully interwoven late night vignettes at a deli, but the lyric version of its theme stands well on its own as a great pop song. It wears its film soundtrack boldness with great pride, and even goes so far as to cheekily offer a melodic hat tip to a titan of the era – David Bowie’s “Fashion.”