Deafheaven (Photo: Randi Sumner)
Deafheaven (Photo: Randi Sumner)

Editors’ Picks is a new feature collecting music that we’ve been enjoying recently.

Ben: I’m normally a “the weirder the better” kind of guy, but I’m really digging Eleanor Friedberger‘s Personal Record. Friedberger’s solo songs might sacrifice some of The Fiery Furnaces’ weirdness, but her measured indie pop rewards close listening. “When I Knew” is an early highlight, with the singer-songwriter offering a series of colorfully-detailed vignettes tempered by a playful unwillingness to offer the whole story. What’s more, the final one actually takes place in the Castro! Friedberger is performing at The Independent with TEEN on Saturday night.

Anna: After doing some research on songs we could use for our first dance during our upcoming wedding, it looks as if my husband-to-be and I have settled on the most likely candidate: The Magnetic Fields‘ “The Book of Love,” from 1999’s 69 Love Songs. In our exploration of this song, however, we found ourselves also considering (as silly as it may sound) Peter Gabriel’s cover of the song – a version without Stephen Merritt’s iconic baritone, but with lush symphonic accompaniment and some additional lingering on the final line (“you ought to give me wedding rings”). Either way, re-visiting “The Book of Love” from a new perspective brought forth an entirely fresh appreciation of the overall emotional weight offered by 69 Love Songs. Here’s Stephen Merritt performing “The Book of Love” live on WFUV in April 2012:

Jason: My day job has been absolutely insane lately, and I’ve found that few new records compliment a fast pace in a vast cubicle farm better than GRMLN‘s debut LP Empire, released June 4 on Carpark Records. As has been said ad nauseum at this point, the record reminds me of my early experiences with indie rock back in olden days (that’s the ’90s for you youngsters), with a lo-fi, pop punk energy that’s hard to deny, replete with power chords and frenetic rhythms against the backdrop of a powerful bass. You can buy or stream Empire through all of the usual avenues, and Yoodoo Park (the man behind GRMLN) has made three tracks available to stream via Carpark’s SoundCloud page (and you can download two of ’em for free). Listen to all three (“Teenage Rhythm”, “Do You Know How It Feels”, and “Hand Pistol”) below.

Christian: I’ve been writing nonstop at work lately. With this newly found desk time I’ve been able to comfortably explore Rdio through my headphones without the usual questioning eye from my coworkers. Upon suggestion from one of our producers I checked out the latest release from San Francisco’s own Deafheaven. Sunbather is a fantastically driven album that’s got a mix of everything for everyone: layered guitar metal, poppy interludes, and vocals that act more like an instrument than a centerpiece. It’s pummeling, yet refined. It’s the perfect writing soundtrack and one of the best albums I’ve heard all year.

Now if only I could get Rdio to stop playing Elton John every time Sunbather ends I would be all set.

Zack: Riding the wave of trendy odd-pop groups led by queen Grimes, Canada’s Majical Cloudz craft dark ballads with a minimalist touch — stripping out all but the most essential sounds, which leaves listeners locked in a dark room with crooner Devon Welsh’s emotionally direct poetry. It’s no wonder that when the duo perform live, Welsh stands front and center, clutching the microphone to his chest and staring into the eyes of the audience — just fucking staring for minutes at a time, not blinking, an exercise in restraint and social rebellion. I don’t like eye contact either, but I listen to Majical Cloudz because this is a band that stares down shit music and makes it leave the room. Hip isn’t in the Majical Cloudz lexicon. Fearlessly great music is, though.