Essential Tracks This Week: Jamie xx & Robyn, Fontaines D.C., and more

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Jamie xx and Robyn

The first day of summer carries certain implications for Essential Tracks, namely that said tracks better be worthy of summer jam status. This week’s batch certainly delivers, or at least 60 percent of them do. The other two are a bit too dark or abstract for that summer playlist, but then again, that’s never been a problem for us in the past. This week’s batch of Essential Tracks includes a big-name electronic collaboration, fog-pop jangle, a bright anthem from one of our favorite contemporary post-punk bands, and more.

Jamie xx & Robyn – “Life”

I don’t think there was any possibility that this song wouldn’t top our Essential Tracks this week, just based on personnel alone. It’s been nine years since Jamie xx’s debut In Colour, and the new single from his upcoming follow-up features Robyn belting and chanting over an infectious house groove. It’s playful, joyful, made to be enjoyed through physical movement, and that’s very much the point. “I just want to see how ‘Life’ gets people dancing this summer,” Robyn said in a statement. From a song like this, overflowing with funk and energy, I don’t think sitting still is even a remote possibility.

In Waves, on September 20 via Young

Fontaines D.C. – “Favourite”

The first single from Fontaines D.C.’s upcoming album Romance, “Starburster,” found the Dublin post-punk group delving into a sinister, beat-driven sound reminiscent of Primal Scream at their noisiest. But their latest is a swing toward a dramatically different direction, layered with bright guitar riffs and an endearing vocal refrain from Grian Chatten: “You’ve been my favorite for a long time.” It’s a charming, sweet and wonderfully infectious song from a group whose previous album, Skinty Fia, found them at their darkest and most intense. Which doesn’t mean Romance won’t likewise lean in a similar direction, but this is a catchy, summery breath of fresh air.

From Romance, out August 23 via XL.

Armand Hammer & RP Boo – “Blood Running High”

The Red Hot Organization has an impressive track record of bringing together artists for unique charity tributes since the ’90s, and for the past year they’ve been focused on delivering a series of albums with contemporary artists interpreting the music of Sun Ra. “Blood Running High” comes from a Kronos Quartet-curated album, Outer Spaceways Incorporated, pairing the mesmerizing lyricism of billy woods and Elucid with the frantic footwork production of RP Boo against a backdrop of performances and spoken-word recordings from Sun Ra himself. It feels like it’s drawn from the same outer space travels that Sun Ra evoked in his music, but with its own modern, abstract spin. It’s a trip.

From Outer Spaceways Incorporated: Kronos Quartet & Friends Meet Sun Ra, out now via Red Hot.

Chime School – “Give Your Heart Away”

We recently included Bay Area janglers Chime School in our list of some of our favorite albums on the Slumberland label, and now they’re preparing the release of another new record later this summer. Their new single, “Give Your Heart Away,” is another fitting addition to the venerated indie imprint, its bright pop melodies and shimmering sheets of guitar reminiscent of SLR alums like The Pains of Being Pure At Heart as well as ’80s-era favorites like The Go-Betweens. It’s a perfect bit of guitar-driven sweetness for this first day of summer.

From The Boy Who Ran the Paisley Hotel, out August 23 via Slumberland

Poison Ruïn – “Confrere”

A year after making their Relapse debut with Harvest last year, Philly medieval punks Poison Ruïn are prepping the release of a new EP, and its leadoff single is a ripper. Pairing their signature dungeon-synth ambience with crusty, old-school punk rock, “Confrere” finds the group at their best, firing on all cylinders while draped in chain mail and shooting arrows at invading hordes. It’s eerie and lo-fi as ever, at the sweet spot of where punk meets early heavy metal, and as a heatwave washes over the East Coast, it offers the briefest glimpse of autumnal gloom.

From Confrere, out August 2 via Relapse.

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