Weekly Tune-Up: Tunes for your week by Beacon, Diiv, Junior Boys, Animal Collective + more

A playlist of 15 tunes to launch you into the week. Spotify playlist included.

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It's been a colder than usual start to February. Good thing we've got some new music to keep us warm and toasty. I've had February 5 circled on my calendar for quite a while, and this past Friday's release day didn't disappoint. Three big albums came from Junior Boys, Diiv and Beacon, and they all lived up to the hype with the best tunes so far in the year's first quarter. Let's skim the highlights below. 

Brooklyn quintet DIIV has returned with a colossal new double album, Is the Is Are. Frontman Zachary Cole Smith and his bandmates have managed to deliver another immaculate dream-pop effort, with precise guitars layered over thick bass lines to create an incredibly consistent album spanning 17 tracks. The lyrical content is sometimes deep and worrisome, evoking past heartaches or difficult periods, but its woozy intoxicating sound makes for pleasing, easy listening overall. I wouldn't be surprised to see Is the Is Are on many best-of lists come year end.

Junior Boys are buzzing, and so am I. The Canadian duo released long-awaited fifth LP, Big Black Coat, this past Friday and it's the perfect comeback album after a five-year absence. Jeremy Greenspan's breathy vocals coast comfortably against chilled-out machine drum beats and washes of synths, while the purely instrumental tracks find the Boys playing well with some beautiful empty space. Deciding what cut I wanted to include this week was the only difficult choice. The opening track, "You Say That," won out for its fantastic production and earnest lyrics. Well done, fellas.

Thomas Mullarney III and Jacob Gossett are Brooklyn duo Beacon. Escapements is the new shiny sophomore outing they released on February 5 as well. An escapement is a vital component to keeping a mechanical watch or clock accurate. According to Mullarney, escapements were the inspiration to his album because, "Friction and changes in amplitude over time mean every escapement, no matter how well crafted, will lose its accuracy and effectively slow down time via its own decay." Some deep thoughts from the lead singer that seem to fall into every crevice of Escapements. Sparse drums, spiraling synths, scattered bleeps and Mullarney's gentle voice are the sonic themes here, most of the tracks evolving slowly but finishing on a high. Escapements is a serious album for late nights and dim lights. I'm not sure you can convince me there is anyone else making better ambient R&B right now than Beacon. 

1. DIIV, "Healthy Moon"
2. Junior Boys, "You Say That"
3. Drake, "Summer Sixteen"
4. Beacon, "Escapements"
5. Lushlife Feat. CSLSX & Ariel Pink
6. Porches, "Underwater"
7. Animal Collective, "Lying in the Grass"
8. Sunflower Bean, "I Want You to Give Me Enough Time"
9. Kevin Gates Feat. Trey Songz, Ty Dolla $ign & Jamie Foxx
10. Miike Snow, "I Feel The Weight"
11. Caveman, "Never Going Back'
12. Summer Heart, "Pretty Haze"
13. James Supercave, "Burn"
14. Pete Yorn, "Halifax"
15. Money, "Hopeless World'


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