Singles Roundup

New music from CocoRosie, James Blake, and the Uncluded

“Gravediggress”

CocoRosie, “Tales of a Grass Widow”

The Casady sisters, who perform as CocoRosie, defy any definition or genre. Since they released “La maison de mon reve” in 2004, they have been steadily tuning their experimental sound, relying on a range of eclectic tools that includes a harp and toy instruments. A nostalgic accordion refrain opens their new single, “Gravediggress,” creating a singsong melody which is complicated by an electronic rhythm and beatboxing. Into this mix, the sisters introduce their elusive vocals, mingling Bianca’s angelic solo and Sierra’s throaty interjections to create the unsettling effect that distinguishes CocoRosie as a phenomenal and unique band. “Gravediggeress” is an amorphous, enticing and otherworldly tune that marks the start of a challenging wait for CocoRosie fans until the release of the group’s album in May.

“Retrograde”

James Blake, “Overgrown”

On “Retrograde,” singer-songwriter James Blake’s yearning voice captures a sense of desperate loneliness as it emerges into an atmosphere of disconnected sounds. The deliberate intonation with which Blake utters each falsetto phrase constructs layers of sound that build in intensity until the breaking point before the last minute of the song. He then begins his signature Blake-ian humming, proving his aptitude as a vocalist and demonstrating that he cannot be pigeonholed in the genre of electronic music—he uses his voice too aptly and consciously for that. The vocal loops create an orchestra of multiple Blakes that compound the emotional impact of his lyricism as he croons, “We’re alone now,” and challenges the listener, “So show me where you fit.” “Retrograde” proves that James Blake is coming back to shake the electronic music world and keep redefining its limits and boundaries.

“Earthquake”

The Uncluded, “Hokey Fright”

Kimya Dawson and Aesop Rock’s newly released track “Earthquake,” off their collaborative album “Hokey Fright,” is repetitive and verbose even as it maintains its cutting wit. The playful tone of Dawson’s lyricism is juxtaposed with Aesop’s penchant for aggressive spoken word. The repeating arpeggio of the guitar sets the loping pace of the song. However, Dawson and Aesop’s collaboration is by and large ineffective—when they sing together, their voices create a cancelling effect that prevents the listener from absorbing more than one vocal line each listen. The listener has to either tune in to Aesop and ignore Kimya, or vice versa. Textural chaos and simplistic musical stylings mark the song as quirky and original, but “Earthquake” doesn’t present anything truly satisfying.

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