Haven't done much on the blog this week, but I'm making up for it by adding a two hour playlist of the best music of the past month. Many tracks have featured in previous posts, and many have not, those that haven't are linked to other places where they can be heard. I'm also updating the Upcoming Releases page by quite a bit later today.
Japandroids - "The Nights Of Wine And Roses"
The Tallest Man On Earth - "There's No Leaving Now"
Clams Casino - "I'm God"
Matthew Dear - "Her Fantasy" (Single of the Week)
Grizzly Bear - "Sleeping Ute"
Ariel Pink's Haunted Graffiti - "Baby"
Jens Lekman - "Erica America"
Hot Chip - "Motion Sickness"
Frank Ocean - "Pyramids" (Single of the Week)
Bobby Womack - "Whatever Happened To The Times"
David Byrne & St. Vincent - "Who"
Wild Nothing - "Shadow"
Dirty Projectors - "Dance For You"
Fiona Apple - "Left Alone"
Jessie Ware - "Wildest Moments"
Cat Power - "Ruin"
Joey Bada$$ - "Hardknock" [Feat. CJ Fly] (Single of the Week)
Purity Ring - "Fineshrine"
M.I.A. - "Bad Girls - Switch Remix ft. Missy Elliott and Rye Rye"
Nas - "Accident Murderers" (feat. Rick Ross)
Chris Cohen - "Caller No.99"
DIIV - "Wait"
Aesop Rock - "ZZZ Top"
Foxygen - "Waitin' 4 U"
Dinosaur Jr. - "Watch The Corners"
Ty Segall Band - "Wave Goodbye"
In addition I have put together a Spotify playlist of what was available, but note that it's a mostly incomplete version of what's above:
Saturday, 30 June 2012
Saturday, 23 June 2012
That image is the album cover of Channel Orange, the official Def Jam debut for Frank Ocean, which is out on 21st July. Channel Orange will also feature contributions from André 3000, Earl Sweatshirt and John Mayer. Tracklist below shows it will have "Pyramids", and newly recorded versions of "Thinking About You" (Frank's biggest solo hit outside of Nostalgia, Ultra) and "White" from OF Tape Vol 2 featuring John Mayer:
2. "Thinkin Bout You"
4. "Sierra Leone"
5. "Sweet Life"
6. "Not Just Money"
7. "Super Rich Kids" [ft. Earl Sweatshirt]
8. "Pilot Jones"
9. "Crack Rock"
12. "White" [ft. John Mayer]
14. "Bad Religion"
15. "Pink Matter" [ft. André 3000]
16. "Forrest Gump"
Friday, 22 June 2012
Proof that Swing Lo Magellan will not disappoint, as if you needed it. Check out both "Offspring Are Blank" and "The Socialites" from the new album for the first time here.
Thursday, 21 June 2012
Nas's recent singles for upcoming album Life Is Good have ben pretty tasty so far. "Accident Murderers" features Rick Ross and was produced by Salaam Remi and No I.D., and is below:
1. "Kinski Assasin"
2. "Is This the Best Spot?"
3. "Mature Themes"
4. "Only in My Dreams"
6. "Early Birds of Babylon"
7. "Schnitzel Boogie"
8. "Symphony of the Nymph"
9. "Pink Slime"
10. "Farewell American Primitive"
11. "Live It Up"
12. "Nostradomus & Me"
If there's ever a track I've wanted to live up to it's name, it's "Schnitzel Boogie".
Purity Ring are going to have one of the best debut albums this year, no doubt about that. Shrines is coming out on the 24th July via 4AD / Last Gang and every track from it so far has been a blinder. That includes their latest, "Fineshrine", available to stream or download below:
*Purity Ring - "Fineshrine"
Check the Upcoming Releases page for more surrounding the Shrines release and more
Tuesday, 19 June 2012
Download "Hardknock", with the rest of 1999 for free here
Presumably these tracks were left off Clams' recent Instrumental Mixtape 2. Download them one by one below:
"1 Time Remix" [Lil B]
"Never Understand" [Squadda B]
"23 Dollars" [Sha Stimuli]
"Always Have a Choice" [Havoc]
"Coldness" [Sha Stimuli]
"Cold Feet" [Mac Miller]
"Live From Da Hood" [Lil B]
Monday, 18 June 2012
Fiona Apple stands in a peculiar place in the context of pop music. After gathering notoriety in the mid-90s for her single "Criminal" (and steamy accompanying music video), she has rarely taken much effort to become a public figure, instead retreating into her knotty and sparse (in multiple senses of the word) songwriting muse, taking only her more dedicated followers with her. In this sense she holds the polar opposite standpoint in contemporary music to someone like Beyoncé, who started her career at a similarly young age but has only embraced the role of a public figure more with time and age. This is an especially apt comparison when taken into account both women as of now have four solo albums each; however Apple's debut Tidal came out in 1996, whereas Dangerously In Love was released in 2003, just two years before Apple's next most recent album Extraordinary Machine.
Given Fiona Apple's persona on this new album, full title The Idler Wheel Is Wiser Than The Driver Of The Screw, And Whipping Cords Will Serve You More Than Ropes Will Ever Do, there may not be such a surprise to a relative newcomer such as myself that there needed to be a seven-year gap between the albums, or a six-year gap between Extraordinary Machine and the album before that. And it's also clear why her group of fans would stick with her irregularities, not only in her release schedule but in her piano arrangements and lyricism. They all serve as part of her appeal. In her songs Apple sounds vulnerable, lost but more crucially awkward and uncomfortable, most frequently in her relationships. She makes deliberate attempts to strain her vocal deliveries on tracks such as "Left Alone", where she stokes the fire of self-punishment and isolation over clanging minor chords. "Regret" continues in this manner, together they make up some of the darkest moments of the album, far removed from what could be picked up by a casual listener.
Although Apple's lyrics, vocals and piano rightfully steal the show on The Idler Wheel, they benefit greatly from the additions from drummer/percussionist Charley Drayton, who contributes many an interesting sound or idea to the majority of the tracks, from the glass bottles of "Anything We Want", to the unusually sampled machinery detailing the background of "Jonathan". None of these additions are particularly distracting, rather balance ideally between being attention-grabbing and complimentary. The Idler Wheel... is by no means a drummer's album, but has a drummer's love put into it, a useful counterpoint to Apple's jazz piano and voice.
Both musically and thematically The Idler Wheel... isn't something suited to widespread radio play for the most part, which is a shame, because Apple's ideas point towards areas tht have since disappeared from popular music. It's as if she's jumped through time and had no exposure to the last decade or so of music, which would usually be a criticism. It proves to be the album's strongest asset and main selling point however. It's unlikely that it'll find it's way to any more than a handful of teenage girls, but I hope that it does, because in spite of Apple's repeated traumas and mistakes the constant aspect of her personality that shines through is her strength, her bravery and confrontational attitude in her songs. It's no wonder fans that grew up on her earlier albums have stayed with her through to this one, and more importantly she doesn't disappoint them.
It's really difficult to compare The Idler Wheel to anything else out there, yet another dimension to it's appeal. If I was trying to describe it to my friends I would probably just end up with something like "intelligent pop music", which makes it sound as pretentious as it isn't. The only other recent album I could compare it to would be the excellent tUnE-yArDs album w h o k i l l, released last year. Both feature empowered, defeminised, confrontational women at their centre, however unlike Merril Garbus Fiona Apple is more focused on problems closer to home, reaching out to claim the strength to make her way through the world, a struggle that seemingly continues as her life carries on. If that's not a teenage sentiment, I don't know what is.
Click here for the rest of the 2012 Recommended Albums list
Friday, 15 June 2012
Didn't think it'd be long before we heard more from Dirty Projectors, especially because Swing Lo Magellan is scheduled for release 9th / 10th July on Domino Records. "Dance For You" sounds like a slight development in their sound and seems to experiment with percussive elements and handclaps more than we're used to from them. Much different to "Gun Has No Trigger" (which was to be expected). Check it out here:
Thursday, 14 June 2012
David Byrne & St. Vincent collaborative album revealed: first single, tracklist, album art and release dates
Supposedly over 2 years in the making, the collaborative album is entitled Love This Giant, and will be released via. 4AD / Todo Mundo on 11th September. Of the twelve tracks ten were written together, with one coming from frrom the individual artists each. The track "The One Who Broke Your Heart" features the Dap-Kings and Antibalas. Tracklist below:
2. "Weekend in the Dust"
3. "Dinner For Two"
4. "Ice Age"
5. "I Am An Ape"
6. "The Forest Awakes"
7. "I Should Watch TV"
11. "The One Who Broke Your Heart" (ft. The Dap-Kings and Antibalas)
12. "Outside of Space & Time"
The first track "Who" is said to be released on the album's new website later today, so check back for that.
UPDATE: "Who" everybody! It is indeed very brassy. I also take the new image above to be the album cover. The release date is 10th September for the UK (hooray):
Tuesday, 12 June 2012
I've been listening to The Bravest Man In The Universe, the new Bobby Womack album produced with Damon Albarn and Richard Russell a fair bit, so it may be time for a review soon. "Whatever Happened To The Times" is a song Womack wrote with longtime songwriting partner Jim Ford and originally released it in 1986, though it returns with a video for The Bravest Man.
Oneohtrix Point Never's collaborative remix EP Dog In The Fog is released today. It's composed of remixes of tracks from OPN's latest album Replica. One that didn't make it onto the EP was the Falty DL remix of "Replica" featuring vocals by Roger Robinson (who also contributes to OPN's own "Replica" edit, which did make it to the EP). Not sure why that is, but it's available below:
Grizzly Bear, Ariel Pink, Jens Lekman and Fiona Apple probably would have made Single of the Week any other week, so it's even more of an achievment that it goes to the artist that doesn't have an album out yet. "Pyramids" is the best we've heard of Frank Ocean and probably one of the best R&B tracks we'll hear this year. It moves fluidly from one segment to the next and justifies its 10 minutes, with Frank's impassioned vocal delivery being matched with equally inpressive new production values. Perhaps more than anything it shows just how far he has stepped from Odd Future's shadows in such a short amount of time; it's hard to believe it's the same humble guy seen in the "Oldie" video only a few months ago. If this is what can be expected from Channel Orange, his Def Jam debut coming in July, that album may be one to really look out for.
Monday, 11 June 2012
This thing is going to be nuts. Don't believe me? You'll have to wait until 23rd July until it's released on Warp x LuckyMe, but until then you can check out a sampler of all the tracks below. TNGHT is a musical collaboration between Lunice and Hudson Mohawke, the latter of which released my favourite EP of 2011. Already this one sounds better. Too excited.
1. "Top Floor"
3. "Higher Ground"
5. "Easy Easy"
Fiona Apple's new album, The Idler Wheel Is Wiser Than The Driver Of The Screw, And Whipping Cords Will Serve You More Than Ropes Will Ever Do, is out next Tuesday via. Epic, but untl then you can hear it at NPR Music. Click here to visit.
Hot Chip have never won the Mercury Music Prize (they were nominated in 2006 for The Warning but lost out to Arctic Monkeys), which in hindsight seems a little harsh. The London five-piece have released if not a stellar at least a curiously great album every two years for the last decade, and are responsible for a healthy number of classic singles including "Ready for the Floor" and "Over and Over". As a result Hot Chip have rightfully earned a reputation for being one of the most dependable bands our fair isle has produced in recent memory. Their latest, In Our Heads, only cements that reputation further, and hopefully brings that award closer to their grasp than ever.
For fans of the band's previous album One Life Stand, this new record should feel both comfortable and welcome. Like many groups at this stage of their career, Hot Chip are experts of refinement rather than the unsteady experimentalists they were once considered by many to be. "Night and Day", the lead single may feel a tad crude and hollow (especially compared to the magnificent sheen of "Flutes", the first track to be previewed off the album), but is still as catchy as any other Hot Chip single (i.e. very), and is bound to age just as well as any of the others. Besides it's also probably the weakest show here, and it's still great. In Our Heads boasts two early praise-worthy pop tracks in particular that dispel any anxieties; both were debuted on Later... With Jools Holland a few weeks prior to the release date. "How Do You Do?" and "Don't Deny Your Heart" spring off opener "Motion Sickness" with gusto, thrusting vocal hooks in layers above the band's retro-obsessed melodies.
The principal songwriting duo of Alexis Taylor and Joe Goddard are working together better than ever; their influences showing more strongly and distinct, and really giving the album character. Be it Taylor's love of R&B, funk and disco that have always shown through his angelic vocal style and melodies, or Goddard's adept knowledge of Detroit and Chicago house that he recently explored in the 2 Bears, In Our Heads is just as diverse and exciting as previous albums, but time invested in seperate projects appears to have helped the blending of thse influences together for this record tremendously. Hot Chip can no longer be written of as kitchy imitators or bastardizers of these genres (unfair accusations as they may be), which brings a wonderful fresh air to the record.
The best In Our Heads has to offer is reserved for the latter half of the album. The aforementioned "Flutes" begins a final five-song run that sound as assured as Hot Chip have ever made. Alexis Taylor leads "Ends Of The Earth" higher and higher as his voice lifts one of many euphoric choruses off the dancefloor and into the stratosphere. The track that follows, "Let Me Be Him" strikes a contrast with a quieter rare vocal lead by Joe Goddard, yet builds over seven minutes whilst still feeling as exhilerating as anything here right from the beginning. It's another clear favourite from many.
In Our Heads carries one theme and feeling throughout, the feeling of summer, and more than any other record this year carries off the heady excitement right from first listen. Caution is advised however to those who prefer their Hot Chip records quirkier or funnier; there has been a deliberate and expected shift away from the "kitchen sink" pop wizardry of earlier albums, so much so that even One Life Stand looks a little too silly. Instead In Our Heads shows Hot Chip at their most focused, proving that they can make an album entirely out of the little moments of brilliance they've brought to their output so far.
In Our Heads is out now on Domino Records, and is still strreaming at the Guardian.
Sunday, 10 June 2012
Friday, 8 June 2012
R&B soon-to-be superstar Frank Ocean's official debut for Island Def Jam, Channel Orange, arrives on the 17th July. It follows last year's hugely popular Nostalgia, Ultra mixtape which also made my Favourite Albums of 2011 list. Below you can watch the exciting trailer, with part of a very different sounding track that presumably will feature on the album:
UPDATE: The track in the trailer is called "Pyramids", and Frank Ocean has posted it on Soundcloud. Apparently John Mayer plays guitar on it:
Singer-songwriter Jens Lekman hasn't released a full-length album since 2007's Night Falls Over Kortedala, but I thought last year's An Argument With Myself EP was pretty great. 2012 sees a new Jens Lekman album, I Know What Love Isn't, out on Sectretly Canadian from the 3rd September. "Erica America", the album's new single, and the tracklist are below:
1. “Every Little Hair Knows Your Name”
2. “Erica America”
3. “Become Someone Else’s”
4. “Some Dandruff On Your Shoulder”
5. “She Just Don’t Want To Be With You Anymore”
6. “I Want A Pair of Cowboy Boots”
7. “The World Moves On”
8. “The End Of The World Is Bigger Than Love”
9. “I Know What Love Isn’t”
10. “Every Little Hair Knows Your Name”
And obviously the first single is a cover of Donnie & Joe Emerson's "Baby", recorded with Dâm-Funk. Mature Themes follows 2010's Before Today, Ariel Pink's most successful album to date and his first for 4AD, who are also releasing the new album on the 21st August. Click here for "Baby".
Tuesday, 5 June 2012
"Werewolf" has been around since yesterday, but I couldn't find a suitable embed code (I'll probably just post a link in future). However "Anything We Want" is hot off the press. Both will appear on Fiona Apple's upcoming album The Idler Wheel... which is out in a few weeks (19th June via. Epic) and are below:
Time to dig out those copies of Veckatimest and Yellow House again. Grizzly Bear's as-of-yet untitled new record is coming out on 18th September via. Warp. Their new track, "Sleeping Ute" is below, as is the album's tracklist:
1. "Sleeping Ute"
2. "Speak in Rounds"
4. "Yet Again"
5. "The Hunt"
6. "A Simple Answer"
7. "What's Wrong"
9. "Half Gate"
10. "Sun in Your Eyes"
Honestly, this is just fantastic. It's a cute little Danny Brown starring in big Danny Brown's latest video for the "Grown Up" single he released a few months ago for Scion AV. Danny's had his fair share of great music video moments so far, but this one might top them all. You can also download the single below:
Last year beatmaker Mike Volpe dropped his first Instrumental Mixtape as Clams Casino. It was very good. So good that with it and the Rainforest EP he released on Tri-Angle shortly afterwards Clams' work found its way all over my 2011 Year-End Lists. Now we have Instrumental Mixtape 2, so make sure you download it if you're a fan of the man's work, or just want to know what all the fuss is about. If you've been following Clams and his projects you'll probably have heard most of what's here, but it's nice to get the chance to hear all his main beats and remixes of the past year in their instrumental forms. Download here, and below check the tracklist:
1. Palace [A$AP Rocky]
2. Wassup [A$AP Rocky]
3. Bass [A$AP Rocky]
4. The Fall (Original Mix) [The Weeknd]
5. Human *unreleased
6. One Last Thing [Mac Miller]
7. Amor Fati (remix) [Washed Out]
8. Angels [Mac Miller]
9. Leaf [A$AP Rocky ft. Main Attrakionz]
10. Kissing on My Syrup [Squadda B]
11. Swervin' (remix) [XV]
12. Unchain Me [Lil B]
13. Born To Die (remix) [Lana Del Rey]
14. I'm God [Lil B]
Too bad it didn't have his excellent Florence and the Machine remix, but I guess beggars can't be choosers can they?
Monday, 4 June 2012
Undersea is the name of the Antlers third record, and follows last year's Burst Apart, which made it onto my list of favourite albums of 2011. It's out 24th July on ANTI-. Watch the promo video below:
Happy Monday! New albums galore at NPR Music! Links below:
Hot Chip - In Our Heads
Bobby Womack - The Bravest Man In The Universe
The Tallest Man On Earth - There's No Leaving Now
Another great week for music? Well it looks that way.
Hot Chip - In Our Heads
Bobby Womack - The Bravest Man In The Universe
The Tallest Man On Earth - There's No Leaving Now
Another great week for music? Well it looks that way.
Sunday, 3 June 2012
The term "rock and roll" presents a number of different ideas, sometimes contrasting. Japandroids represent many of the common principles of rock through the ages and in its many guises, yet strip them down to the bare essentials. Brian King and David Prowse sound like two guys that with all the money, fame and riches in the world would continue wiith their two person lineup, black and white aesthetic and most importantly, their intense life-or-death approach they convey in their music.
Maybe it's because they know they'll never reach the top, may never get the girl, and might eventually grow old and resentful that they continue in such a way. Their sound isn't complex: a combination of garage rock and Paul Westerberg with particularly emo-sounding lyrics over the top. Their instruments sound pretty much the same on every track. A few albums into the future this attitude may get tiresome, and already can be exhausting to just listen to, but for now they remain one of the most exciting rock bands out there.
Celebration Rock follows Japandroids' 2009 debut Post-Nothing, an album written when they were already on the verge of breaking up. Uncertainty is still a theme in their music, but is overshadowed by passion and determination. It's an extremely optimistic and inviting record for the most part; singer/guitarist Brian King sounds like he wants the whole crowd on his side, that every fan is important to him. Everything about this album is at least a small improvement than that on the first. The production is much cleaner, allowing every power chord, snare rush and "oh-oh oh!" chorus to feel as direct as the front row of the crowd. The songwritting is more focused, and each track has a cluster of memorable lyrics. The whole album is sequenced in such a way that it only intensifies with every minute: it takes the penultimate track and lead single "The House That Heaven Built" to reach it's emotional peak, and with the weight of what's come before it's probably the most euphoric moment on the record.
I feel as though I'd not be doing this record service if I didn't mention "Younger Us". Released as a single back in 2010 it's been on my iPod for a long time now, and is still one of my go-to songs for immediate, visceral satisfaction. It remains the best song Japandroids have ever written for my money, and makes an excellent home in this record. "Remember that night you were already in bed / said "fuck it" got up to drink with me instead" is lyrical perfection, and sums up the Japandroids' experience exactly: late nights, alcohol, nicotine, caffiene, anything to pour your soul out to. It would have been a very respectable choice for Song of the Year had it not been released previously.
Overall Celebration Rock feels like a late-night record, a drive through the rain, a personal journey as well as a collective one. It comes from a world where it's totally ok for fully-grown guys to pour out their feelings into music, to expose themselves completely, where others would hide behind layers of metaphor and double-meaning, and where "Adrenaline Nightshift" is an acceptable name for a song by a band that calls themselves "Japandroids". But they sound like best of friends playing punk music for their lives, and represent the hard-working, even mundane aspects of doing so. The fact their journey is something we can so often relate to makes it one of the most exciting of all. And as you hear the fireworks closing the steady comedown of "Continuous Thunder", you realize Celebration Rock is a near-perfect celebration of that.
Celebration Rock is out on Polydor in a couple of days, and is still streaming at NPR Music.
Friday, 1 June 2012
"World, You Need A Change Of Mind" Teaser Video
Kindness, aka Adam Bainbridge, makes often sultry but usually fun house music that wears its maker's influences on his sleeve: Arthur Russell, Prince, and overseas contemporaries such as Ariel Pink and Toro Y Moi. His debut album, produced in association with Philipe Zdar of Cassius (who has also worked with the likes of Phoenix and the Rapture) is entitled World, You Need A Change Of Mind and was released back in March. I've been listening to it quite a lot recently, and forgive me if I haven't made up my mind about it completely yet, but it is addictive stuff. A whole new level of appeal comes from it's associated music videos, which play out more like extended pastiches most of the time. They seem to exist more for themselves than they help the listener with a visual accompniment to songs from the album, but there clearly is a lot of love there. Bainbridge is a real personality with a strand of British humour that in addition to the music has earned him a dedicated following. Tounge-in-cheek is not the word.
"Cyan" - (dir. Adam Bainbridge)
This first video was posted on YouTube a while back (October 2011) and is easily the simplest we've seen from Kindness. It's just Bainbridge walking around New York, and occasionally in front of a cyan-coloured screen (get it?). It's pretty well filmed though, some especially nice dark shots towards the end, and the bouncy feel of the song makes it feel adventurous.
"Gee Up" (dir. Adam Bainbridge)
Here things start to get weird. "Gee Up" really shows off Bainbridge's oddball personality. The song itself is under two minutes long, so the rest of the video is filled out by a series of unconnected on-set jokes. an angry, unimpressed French director looks on as Bainbridge inspects his bandmate's legs (notice, a completely different band to that playing the song). And we never do find out what the band spends all their money on.
"House" (dir. Dan Brereton)
You'd be forgiven for not even calling this one a real music video, as the song barely features at all. Bainbridge begins with a faithful reinterpretation of Leonard Bernstein's 1967 CBS documentary Inside Pop: The Rock Revolution (here in full if you have the time), but then teaches a kid how to play the drum machine parts of the song, before they both end up dancing vigorously. How Bainbridge maintains a straight face here is beyond me, some excellent ad-libbing going on.
Thoughts on World, You Need A Change Of Mind
Like I said, still not completely sure. For every compelling moment there is at least another average one. The strongest moments are the three songs featured in the videos, and "That's Alright", a huge, progressive disco number that comes out of nowhere. Two of the songs are covers and are found early on in the album: the Replacements' "Swingin Party" and "Anyone Can Fall In Love" by Anita Dobson are pretty unique and bold choices, but are executed mostly well once you can get past the idea you're listening to the Eastenders theme. The remaining tracks aren't bad but are mostly forgettable, and this is after hearing them several times. If I keep listening to this album I might eventually put it on the 2012 Recommended Albums list, but my scepticsm is keeping me at bay for now.
This should be no surprise to anyone, but the xx will release their second album, called Coexist, later this year. It's coming out on Young Turks on 10th (UK) / 11th (US) September, and may possibly feature a final version of the "Open Eyes" demo that was released on Christmas Day last year. Stay tuned for more.