Thursday, 31 May 2012

Oneohtrix Point Never announces collaborative remix EP, and shares track

Oneohtrix Point Never's most recent album Replica made it onto my list of favourite albums of 2011, so a remix EP of four Replica tracks made in collaboration with other musicians has piqued my interest. If it hasn't yours then I implore you to check out the first track of Dog In The Fog below, a remix of the title track by Matmos which features Limpe Fuchs ("Replica" was also my first ever Single of the Week):

Dog In The Fog is released on Daniel Lapatin's own Software Records on the 12th June. Here is the tracklist:

1. "Replica" (w/ Limpe Fuchs) (Matmos Edit)
2. "Replica" (ft. Roger Robinson) (OPN Edit)
3. "Remember" (Surgeon Remix)
4. "Nassau" (Richard Youngs Remix)

Dan Deacon announces new album, and shares new track

Dan Deacon's new album is called America, and is his first on Domino Records, and the first since 2009's Bromst. Will definitely be looking out for this one. The first single, "Lots", is below, as is the tracklist for America, out 27th (UK) / 28th (US) August:

1. "Guilford Avenue Bridge"
2. "True Thrush"
3. "Lots"
4. "Prettyboy"
5. "Crash Jam"
6. "USA I: Is a Monster"
7. "USA II: The Great American Desert"
8. "USA III: Rail"
9. "USA IV: Manifest"

Listen to the new Beck single on Third Man Records, and hear him rap with Childish Gambino

Beck's just released a single with Jack White on White's Third Man label. "I Just Started Hating Some People Today" is a great country rocker with a unique surprise at the end. It's backed by "Blue Randy". Both tracks are below:


Jack White's not the only musician Beck's been collaborating with. Childish Gambino's put up a new track on his website featuing Beck rapping for the first time in ages, called "Silk Pillow". Check it out.

UPDATE: Turns out Beck also produced "Silk Pillow" himself. Even more reason to try it.

Big Boi announces new album, and releases single with Theophilus London

Big Boi's new album is called Vicious Lies and Dangerous Rumours, not Daddy Fat Saxxx: Soul Funk Crusader as was previously understood. The album follows 2010's very well-recieved Sir Lucious Left Foot: The Son Of Chico Dusty, but no release date has been scheduled yet (and considering the problems in releasing that album, I hope more info arrives soon). However a collaborative track with Theophilus London has just dropped (though what connections it has to the new album are uncertain), called "She Said OK". Stream/download below.

Music Video: The Walkmen - "Heaven"

Music Video: El-P - "The Full Retard"

Tuesday, 29 May 2012

The Walkmen - Heaven added to 2012 Recommended Albums

I can't honestly say I've dug too deeply into the Walkmen's discography (not enough hours in a day). I was introduced to their music through their 2010 album Lisbon, which unfortunately didn't resonate with me well. But I was still pretty excited to hear Heaven after they released the title track as the lead single. Clearly a standout track, "Heaven" builds beautifully over crystal-clear guitar arpeggios, to the point where Hamilton Leithauser's emotions are set free at the chorus: "Don't leave me/ You're my best friend/ All of my life/ You've always been".

Leithauser must have one of the best voices in modern rock, the way he accentuates every syllable to convey the drama of the music, and the stories behind it. Because Heaven is full of great stories, principally dealing with themes of love and heartbreak. "Southern Heart" is a particularly tender acoustic ballad in which Leithauser croons his desire in the face of his lover's infidelity. Every moment is paired with backing that when compared to previous attempts is very straightforward. This is not only provided by the band but also producer Phil Ek and guest backing vocalist Robin Pecknold (Fleet Foxes).

The complex artistry of Lisbon may have reached saturation; the Walkmen were of course trying to mature with that album but somehow to me it didn't feel as dynamic or exciting as it could have. Instead it seems that taking the most immediate path with their songs has paid off well, and has allowed their music to remain fresh and exciting. Heaven is out now via. Bella Union/ Fat Possum, and is still streaming over at NPR Music for the time being; give it a listen here if you haven't already.

Single of the Week: Amber London - "Low MF Key" (prod. SpaceGhostPuurp)

SpaceGhostPuurp may be preparing to release his official debut on 4AD later this year, but he hasn't forgotten about his peers from the Raider Klan. Amber London is a Raider Klan MC who takes her influences from golden era West Coast hip-hop. Her 1994 EP is defined by "Low MF Key", a track that also appeared on producer Puurp's God Of Black mixtape. The instrumental is unlike Purrp's usual beats, but sounds like an authentic slab of 90's G-Funk, with Amber London providing great flow and personality. All in all a great single from an equally impressive EP, so good it appears again so there's no need to repeat once the tape ends.

Download Amber London - 1994 EP here

Monday, 28 May 2012

Japandroids - Celebration Rock and Big K.R.I.T. - Live From The Underground streaming at NPR Music

I should point out that at this time the Japandroids album stream appears to be broken in that the track "Continuous Thunder" replaces "Younger Us". Fortunately "Younger Us" was released ages ago and can be downloaded below. Just pause the stream at 21:52, play "Younger Us" and pick back up at 26:50. Not ideal, and hopefully it'll be fixed soon.

UPDATE: Japandroids stream appears to have been fixed.

Here's Celebration Rock, which comes out next Monday via. Polyvinyl.

*Japandroids - "Younger Us"

No problems with the Big K.R.I.T. stream. Here's Live From The Underground, also out next Monday via. Island Def Jam.

Single of the Week is back tomorrow, so come back to fnd out what it is.

Sunday, 27 May 2012

Laurel Halo - Quarantine and King Felix - Spring EP added to 2012 Recommended Albums

King Felix - Spring (EP)

Laurel Halo first caught attention with her 2010 EP King Felix, a name she has revived for her EP Spring, released on Mute's new imprint, Liberation Technologies. Presumably the pseudonym is to clarify the seperation in this release to her Quarantine album, as the lack of omnipresent vocals immediately show. The main track is "Spring 01", a droney synthscape which expands with the complex beat stuttering beneath it, Aphex-style. The other three tracks support it well, in particular "Spring 03", a seven-minute remix of the first track that adds even more pecussion, giving it almost a footwork quality.

Laurel Halo - Quarantine

As with Spring, Quarantine marks another left turn for Laurel Halo. This time her vocals are pushed to the forefront of the mix, and comandeer almost every moment of the album. Her voice sounds clear and powerful, mostly unaffected by effects but often multitracked to sound multi-faceted. She often sings with an urgency The space left is filled with mysterious, fantastic layers of drones, which show the strongest resemblence to her science fiction inspirations out of her discography so far. It does sound like a soundtrack to a movie never made, in the best way possible. Although the beats on the album are subdued they remain as complex as ever, making Hyperdub Records a logical home for the album. Especially as its detachment from the majority of modern music means it sounds like nothing on Earth.

Stream Quarantine below:

Friday, 25 May 2012

The Video World of Father John Misty

This is a new feature I want to try to talk about new albums through the series of music videos released around them. For many musicians visual flair is important, and by working with their directors they can present their view of how they see their music illustrated, thereby creating a "world" for their album or artist persona to inhabit.

Father John Misty - Fear Fun
Anyone who has seen Fleet Foxes live (or at least seen recorded performances) will probably be aware of the presence of their drummer J. Tillman, who often brought a charm and humour to their set's shadier moments. This large personality, when coupled with the fact Tillman had released several solo albums prior to Fleet Foxes perhaps spelled the inevitability that Tillman would leave the band to focus on his solo work. Fear Fun is the first album to be released post-Fleet Foxes on Sub Pop Records, and also the first under the pseudonym Father John Misty. Let's take a look at the visual side of this reincarnation.

"Hollywood Forever Cemetery Sings" (dir. Noel Paul)
Tillman himself is not seen much in this first video. Instead the focus is on Parks & Rec star Aubrey Plaza, who begins mischevious, bored, upset and self-destructive but eventually murders someone out in the open. The video introduces some of the main themes to be found in both the visual style and music of Father John Misty: namely the marriage of rural American iconography with effortless sleeze, cool and excess, shown here by the party scene. Tillman provides his own bare-footed cameo at the end of the video, setting himself up to be the central figure of this Tarantino-esque cool for later videos by slinging Plaza over his shoulder and into the back of his van.

"Nancy From Now On" (dir. Amy Cargill & Josh Tillman) 
Powerful images of womanhood are again leading the way in the video for the Bee Gees-flavoured second single "Nancy From Now On". This time a woman in fetish gear leads Tillman though a series of loving punishments including sitting on his face and cutting his hair ("Sim Sala Bim"?), before he gets bored with her and moves onto other women. Use of environment is key here, and a return from the downtown bar to the (open door) bedroom shows the eventual resolution, and matches the song's theme and lyrics perfectly.

"This Is Sally Hatchet" (dir. Grant James) 
  Easily my favourite of the three videos, "This Is Sally Hatchett" sacrifices the rural elements and pushes forward the underlying noir cinematography of previous videos to the forefront. There's a narrative that makes litle sense, starting with Tillman cutting off his finger with a pizza slicer and then target practicing in the restaurant's basement with a girl with back tape crosses covering her nipples. Every detail contributes to this twisted, noir image: the pentagram cut into the pizza, the poster for Jean-Luc Godard's Breathless, and most of all the closing shot of Tillman, with the shotgun, sunglasses and the cigarette being lit with a gun-shaped lighter.

Thoughts on Fear Fun
It's a really solid album, with a lot of variety in songwriting and themes, and great vocals and personality that's easy for fans of Fleet Foxes and American indie folk and rock to enjoy. Ultimately what lets it down for me is the production; although Phil Ek's mixing has bought Tillman's songs up to a professional quality Fear Fun sounds perhaps too shiny for the majority of the tracks. This worked well for Fleet Foxes previous studio album Helplessness Blues (produced by Ek), but I don't feel compliments the one-man rough-and-ready style of this project. Regardless it's still a very worthwhile listen and can be streamed in full below. It's out now on Sub Pop/Bella Union.

Sunday, 13 May 2012

2012 Recommended Albums

After months away I've decided on yet another new format/system. The albums I've enjoyed the most will appear here on a continuing thread, along with a brief description and links to tracks and music videos (but I'll try not to get it cluttered). I've also made a page for upcoming releases I'm anticipating, and any relevant info, tracks and videos released ahead of its arrival. I hope there will also be time/space for longer reviews and features in the future too. And if you reckon I've missed something message me or leave a comment here and I'll respond.

Steve Albini engineered sophmore LP from Dylan Baldi and co., Attack On Memory serves as a great modern punk record, spanning eight firey, emotionally-friendly tracks.
Music Video: "No Future / No Past" 

Fans of synthy, syrupy new Romantic-obsessed tunes should definitely check out Something, which contains what will probably remain some of the best of this year.
Interactive Music Video: "Met Before"

Himanshu - Nehru Jackets (mixtape)
(Download link)
Debut solo mixtape from Das Racist's Himanshu, produced entirely by Mike Finito. Heems is joined by a plethora of guests to make one of the most hard-edged, consistent Das Racist releases.

Track: "You Have To Ride The Wave ft. Danny Brown and Mr. Muthafuckin' eXquire"

Sharon Van Etten - Tramp
Her third album in four years, Tramp showcases Sharon Van Etten at her most potent and dangerous. A potent set of confesional breakup songs, produced by Aaron Dessner of the National.
Music Video: "Leonard" 
Perfume Genius - Put Your Back N 2 It
The second Perfume Genius album gives singer Mike Hadreas a stage to present a multitude of swift musical statements, whilst documenting the darkest recesses of the human psyche.
Music Video: "Hood"

Frankie Rose - Interstellar
Ex-Vivian Girl drops her band The Outs to craft an exceptionally dreamy post-punk album. Interstellar never strays from either its prettiness or its poignancy, and superbly demonstrates a musician evolving into their own unchartered style.
Music Video: "Gospel/Grace"

Grimes - Visions
("Genesis" Single of the Week feature)
Grimes stands tall as one of the most creative one-woman bedroom projects, offering an effervescent yet melancholic gothic pop album that refines previous efforts and provides some of her biggest singles to come so far.
Music Video: "Oblivion" 

Big K.R.I.T. - 4eva N a Day (mixtape)
(Download link)
Before coming Live From The Underground Big K.R.I.T. takes us through the highs and lows of a day on his third and most consistent mixtape, 4eva N a Day. His debut can't come soon enough.
Music Video:"4evaNa Day (Theme)"

Daniel Rossen - Silent Hour/ Golden Mile EP
("Saint Nothing" Single of the Week feature)
Daniel Rossen sidesteps his Grizzly Bear and Department of Eagles duties to release his first solo EP, yet retains his mesmeric style and craft for songwriting.
Track: "Silent Song"

The Men - Open Your Heart
As its name and cover suggests, Open Your Heart is a much warmer and straightforward album than last year's often solitary-feeling Leave Home. It's also as varied and as fun as the Men have sounded yet, and an essential record for the modern rock and punk canon.
Track: "Open Your Heart" 

Zammuto - Zammuto
Nick Zammuto has found a new conduit for his post-Books musical output. His solo album is playful and expressive whilst continuing to walk the tightrope between acoustic and electrronic music, yet has a strange organic quality of its own.
Music Video: "The Shape Of Things To Come" 

Death Grips - The Money Store
Death Grips delivered what I thought to be the best album of 2011. With The Money Store they may have made one better. A thrilling, disturbing and compelling beast of a record, that resets the bar for hardcore hip-hop. With No Love scheduled shortly, 2012 may be the year of Death Grips.
Music Video: "I've Seen Footage"

Torche - Harmonicraft
Harmonicraft sees Torche inventing a whole new way of combining heaveanly with heaviness. It may be the cutest metal album on the block, but packs an irresistible euphoric weight you won't find elsewhere, along with the most badass album art you're ever likely to see.
Track: "Kicking"

Burial - Kindred (EP)
The dubstep giant's most recent release proves that he is able to step out of the comforts of his signature sound. Three long, progressive sections make up over 30 minutes of essential Burial, the most unique item in his discography so far.
Track: "Kindred"

Lone - Galaxy Garden
An eclectic yet stunning display of 90s-inspired house and rave, with BoC-style textures; fans of Lone should know what to expect by now. Galaxy Garden is a vibrant statement of Matt Cutler's signature sound, highlighted by collaborations with footwork master Machinedrum.
Track: "Crystal Caverns 1991"

El-P - Cancer For Cure
For over ten years El-P has been respected as one of the best lyricists and producers in underground rap. On Cancer For Cure he is on fire in both respects. A loose concept album about truth, lies and the systems in charge, C4C is an angry, socio-political tour-de-force that doesn't let up.
Music Video: "The Full Retard"

Beach House - Bloom
Although not the monumental forward leap Beach House's 2010 favourite Teen Dream was, the refinement in songwriting and subtlety in dynamic shift Victoria Legrand and Alex Scally have made with Bloom is enough to make another special, unmissable effort.
Music Video: "Lazuli"

Dave Aju - Heirlooms
Using instruments and samples of his late father's jazz recordings as inspiration, Heirlooms is a compelling record of pristine microhouse and contorted funk from the mind and body of Dave Aju. Narrated with powerful, Sun Ra-like vocals, it could become a classic.
Track: "Ms. Reposado"

Killer Mike - R.A.P. Music
El-P's other concern in 2012 was to produce the entirety of Southern hip-hop veteran Killer Mike's R.A.P. Music. A career highlight for both figures, this unexpected partnership brings the classic album within Mike's grasp, and the recognition he thoroughly deserves.
Music Video: "Big Beast" (ft. Bun B, T.I. and Trouble)

Laurel Halo - Quarantine /
King Felix - Spring (EP)
After experimenting for a number of years, Laurel Halo releases her debut album on Hyperdub. It's beautiful yet threatening, vocal-led, science fiction-like ambient music, which takes her a step away from the equally fantastic Spring EP she released a couple of months prior as King Felix, which substitutes the vocals for intricate dubstep beats.
Track: "Light + Space" (from Quarantine)

The Walkmen - Heaven
Seven albums in and the Walkmen are showing no signs of leaving. Heaven may be their most mature and straightforward album to date but it's a card they play well, as the quality of songwriting here has arguably never been better.
Music Video: "Heaven"

Japandroids - Celebration Rock
If fist-pumping, no-nonsense, good old- fashoined rock and roll is your thing, then Celebration Rock is the album for you. These two Vancouver rockers keep their energy constantly high and their lyrics intense in their short but explosive second album.
Music Video: "The House That Heaven Built"

Hot Chip - In Our Heads
The best Hot Chip album to date also serves as the essential summer record, as each moment the dance-pop fusionists cram into its runtime provide a dizzying rush of everything great about the eighties, with a modern immediacy and euphoria.
 Music Video: "Night and Day"

Fiona Apple - The Idler Wheel...
The multi-talented Fiona Apple returns with her fourth album after a seven-year wait, reminding the world the incredible powers of her challenging, introspective and confrontational songwriting.
Music Video: "Every Single Night" 
Ty Segall Band - Slaughterhouse
Ty Segall provides the ultimate garage rock monster, the first album recorded with his live band and yet another fantastic rock album for this year. Well, some albums rock, and some albums slaughter.
Track: "Wave Goodbye"
Dirty Projectors - Swing Lo Magellan
Refining his songcraft to its simplest yet, and abandoning the idea of concept altogether, David Longstreth has crafted a timeless album of unique moments, that form the latest chapter in the great American songbook. Essential.
Music Video: "Gun Has No Trigger" 

Frank Ocean - Channel Orange
A modern R&B classic, Frank Ocean's major-label debut continues the legacies of both Voodoo and My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy, via the sparkling vulnerability of Stevie Wonder. And thus, a star is born?
Single of the Week feature: "Pyramids"

The Antlers - Undersea (EP)
Proof, should it be needed, that the Antlers have enough ability and musical ideas to execute an EP of continuous themes and elegance, more than many other bands struggle with across a proper-length album. These are 22 minutes you'll want to return to.
Track: "Drift Drive"
Producer supergroup consisting of Hudson Mohawke and Lunice, this short but explosive, humourous and energetic EP shows what a real "dream collaboration" can make. Hip-hop's biggest names may have found themselves a new place to look.
Music Video: "Bugg'n"

alt-J (∆) - An Awesome Wave
A triumphant debut album, An Awesome Wave shows off all of alt-J's quirks through derranged vocals, innovative polyrhythms, smart songwriting and storytelling. Another great album for the summer and one with more than a handful of hits.
Music Video: "Breezeblocks" 

Liars - WIXIW 
"The sound of WIXIW is tense, brooding and claustrophobic; in short the exact result of a band using their previous experience to venture into unknown depths". For Liars "going electronic" doesn't have to be the sign of an ageing band running dry on ideas.
Music Video: "No. 1 Against The Rush"

Ab-Soul - Control System
Of all of the rappers and groups crossing over into the mainstream, there are fewer that suggest they could bring something unique, even necessary than Ab-Soul and Black Hippy. Control System is powerful evidence for both, that could only have someone with passion, humour and an unfaked quirkiness.
Music Video - "Pineal Gland"
Swans - The Seer
The Seer is a masterpiece for Swans, that genuinely does draw from all phases of Michael Gira's musical career: the sounds of a lush plethora of acoustic instrumentation, with the massive force of the central band unit. A sprawling, cinematographic album.
Track: "Mother Of The World"

Wild Nothing - Nocturne
Jack Tatum's lyrics, song structures and tasteful nods to his influences add up to a sincere talent, and there are enough musical ideas happening for the album to work satisfyingly well. Nocturne successfully bucks the "style over substance" argument for dream-pop out of the water.
Track: "Paradise"
Deerhoof - Breakup Song
The joy of Breakup Song is not knowing in what way it's going to go next. After you've realised the formula the album takes, it's simply a matter of following it's windy trajectory wherever it jitters. The message of Deerhoof has always been fun, but Breakup Song increases it's potency to unrelenting levels.
Music Video: "FĂȘte D'Adieu" 
Angel Olsen - Half Way Home
Half Way Home feels like a special album; a strangely nostalgic one at that. This is painful music, and Olsen makes no bones about wanting to break your heart. A welcome discovery, and easily ranks beside the best albums I've heard this year.
Single of the Week feature: "Acrobat"