House Playlist: Beirut, CSS, Pictureplane, Real Estate, and The Stone Foxes

It’s quite a surprise to hear the surfy members of Real Estate take a feather duster to their garage-bound instruments.


Beirut, “Port of Call.” “Port of Call,” the closing track from Beirut’s forthcoming The Rip Tide, is a profoundly touching and melodic account of a solemn shoreman’s pining for unreachable adoration. The band’s always elegant string and horn sections work together brilliantly here with singer Zach Condon’s gentle vocals. Wherever The Rip Tide may take Beirut and their dedicated fanbase, “Port of Call” will undoubtedly act as an unsinkable lifeboat. Mike LeChevallier

CSS, “Hits Me Like a Rock.” While they’ll likely never regain the recklessness and lack of conventionally good musicianship that made early singles like “Music Is My Hot, Hot Sex” and “Let’s Make Love (And Listen to Death from Above)” so charming, “Hits Me Like a Rock” suggests that CSS has figured out how to make a more polished style work for them. The arrangement sounds like every ’80s pop stereotype, and frontwoman Lovefoxxx makes a line like “It’s been a while since I heard that song/It made me sweat when I sang along” sound both nostalgic and straight-up sexy. Jonathan Keefe

Pictureplane, “Black Nails.” Pictureplane’s new album, Thee Physical, is much more accessible than his previous output, but the standout “Black Nails” proves that he hasn’t wholly abandoned his grimy trance past. Over cut-up catcalls and whispers, Pictureplane offers the nastiest synth beats he can wrench out of a computer. The brief flashes of ’90s-style dance-pop found on the track are enough to make even the most jaded hipster wax nostalgic for rave culture. Michael Kilpatrick

Real Estate, “It’s Real.” It’s quite a surprise to hear the surfy New Jersey group taking a feather duster to their garage-bound instruments and cleaning up their sound (courtesy of Kevin McMahon’s sharp production skills). “It’s Real” is a tidier rebirth of the genre trademarks that made the band’s debut significant: endlessly hooky guitar lines; steady, charismatic percussion; and frontman Martin Courtney’s tender vocals delivered sans the baby-talk style that’s become so popular with indie-pop acts lately. The song’s hook is essentially wordless, but by the time it arrives, it hardly needs any words anyway; the musical world surrounding it is generous enough to compensate. ML

The Stone Foxes, “Psycho.” “She don’t think/She don’t drink,” bemoan the three voices of the Stone Foxes in “Psycho,” the band’s latest single. And with their laundry list of things “she” won’t do, which includes going home with them, Aaron Mort and brothers Shannon and Spence Koehler dive headlong into their real pursuit: a warbling mass of fuzz, all classic-rock throttle and overblown harmonica. From the tremolo-laden blues voltage of Quicksilver Messenger Service to recently expired torchbearers Sleepy Sun, the San Francisco trio revels in its hometown’s heritage of psychedelia. While Psycho underscores a missing, singular voice (something that sets their peers-in-sound Cage the Elephant a notch above), there’s fervor in their populist shout. M. Sean Ryan

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