Friday, 18 November 2011

Album of the Week: Drake - Take Care

I know, hardly surprising. To my credit my internet speed has limited my choice somewhat. Drake hardly needs any introduction: Toronto rapper plus R&B singer who made a name for himself largely on the popularity of his first album Thank Me Later. His follow-up album Take Care sees the light of day after the continuous leaking of singles, that hardly remove a sense of scope from the 18-track, 80 minute album. Drake's improvement as both a singer and a rapper can probably be best observed when compared to his collaborators, both outrapping Lil Wayne and holding his own against the other great R&B artist of 2011, the Weeknd. Not just a lot of care but also money has gone into the production of this album. Drake reunites with previous producers Noah "40" Shebib and Boi-1DA, but equal highlights go to Just Blaze and Jamie xx's beats. Despite its length Take Care has some of the year's best chart singles either out already or soon to be released. It's probably safe to say Drake's made it by now.

Take Care by Drake is out now on Cash Money/Universal Republic/Young Money Entertainment.

Tuesday, 15 November 2011

Single of the Week: Nicolas Jaar - Don't Break My Love EP

It took me a while to bring myself to listen to the new Nicolas Jaar 2-track EP, simply because after hearing Jaar's debut Space is Only Noise only twice through when it was released at the start of the year I didn't get what the fuss was about. Needless to say that album is due for a timely revisit (after all December's coming soon and we all know what that means). I've barely been able to help myself from playing "Don't Break My Love" and its b-side "Why Didn't You Save Me" over the last few days. True, they both play the same kind of tricks, by layering intricate Aphex Twin-like drum patterns over meandering synthetic melodies, and dissolving into silence before conquering with an infectious vocal hook. Still when they're executed in such a way it's tough not to admire. Admire and repeat. James Blake fans ought to pay attention. I'm really hoping for a 12" release of this single. Badly.

NICOLAS JAAR / Don't break my love EP by Clown & Sunset

Don't Break My Love by Nicolas Jaar is availlable for free download now, courtesy of Clown & Sunset.

Friday, 11 November 2011

Album of the Week: Russian Circles - Empros

If I'm being honest, this new Rusian Circles LP, Empros, has been the only metal album I've properly enjoyed this year. In fact this is the first metal post on this blog. Empros, Chicago post-metal trio Russian Circles' fourth studio release is a 45 minute, six track titan of a record. There's a real sense of interplay between the three musicians, especially the rythm section of Brian Cook and Dave Turncrantz. As a result the loud and quiet moments (there are often several per track) sound equally dynamic and compelling, and at times adventurous and beautiful. A must for metal fans, as well as fans of post-rock and other instrumental music.

*Russian Circles - "Mlàdek"

 Empros by Russian Circles is out now via Sargeant House

Tuesday, 8 November 2011

Single of the Week: A$AP Rocky - "Bass"

A$AP Rocky's mixtape LiveLoveA$AP is on the tip of many people's tounges as of five minutes ago, and although not an entirely compelling listen for one blogger there are some pretty great standouts nonetheless. To me this mixtape's greatest asset is in the beats and beatmakers Rocky chose to work with. Regulars may be aware of my appreciation of up-and-comer Clams Casino's previous releases this year, and with "Bass" he has suitably altered his hazy, intoxicating trademmark style to make room for Rocky's verses. In future 2011 may be seen as a great year for hip-hop; A$AP Rocky and Clams Casino will be two names at the top of the list of artists that will prove it to be so.

A$AP Rocky - "Bass"

"Bass" features on A$AP Rocky's LiveLoveA$AP mixtape, download it for free here.

Friday, 4 November 2011

Album of the Week: Atlas Sound - Parallax

As I mentioned on Tuesday, this week has been kind to new releases so it was hard for me to come up with a 'winner' for this week. Hopefully my fanboyism of both Bradford Cox's Atlas Sound project and his band Deerhunter haven't influenced the decision too much. Cox has been gradually releasing Parallax tracks over the last few months, but this hasn't distracted from hearing the finished article. The album is made up of mostly quiet yet potent songs: here Cox uses multiple layers of both acoustic and electric guitars, sparse percussion and of course reverberated vocals to create what he himself usually describes as "ambient punk". Cox's idol Scott Walker's influence is clearly felt, but so are the voices of Peter Gabriel ("Te Amo"), Conor Oberst ("Mona Lisa", warmly greeted from its appearance on last year's Bedroom Databank series) and Lou Reed ("Lightworks"). Simply put, Cox is one of the best songwriters around, and Parallax only strengthens that claim.

Parallax is released on 7th November via 4AD. Visit the Parallax website here to stream and download "Terra Incognita". Even if you don't want the track check out the website anyway. I thought it was pretty cool.

Tuesday, 1 November 2011

Single of the Week: El-P - "Rush Over BKLYN"

We are currently undergoing the resurgence of El-P. This is a good thing. The ex-Company Flow member has enjoyed recent guest spots on releases by the likes of Das Racist and Mr. Muthafuckin' eXquire, and looks to release a new solo record, Cancer for Cure, sometime next year. In August he released the first single from that album, "drones over BKLYN", via Adult Swim's singles program. Now, using the new sample-clearing service Legitmix, El-P provides his own remix of the track entitled "Rush Over BKLYN", incorporating a sample of 70's prog giants Rush's "Tom Sawyer". Makes me think that DJ Shadow ought to have called El for his latest album with the prog-metal sounds he was using on his recent album. Next year can't come soon enough.


All proceeds from the sales of "Rush Over BKLYN" go towards a fund to benefit DJ Mr. Dibbs, currently suffering from liver disease. You can purchase the track here.

Here's the original, "drones over BKLYN":

Sorry I missed Album of the Week last Friday, had stuff on. Tom Waits' Bad as Me if you're interested. Won't happen this week, there's too many good releases right now.