Tuesday, 31 July 2012

Playlist for July 2012

It was tricky to compress this month's best music into a two-hour playlist, in part because I was making more of a note of tracks to go into it. I probably could've done three hours, but in the end decided to concentrate on stuff not found elsewhere on the blog to counterbalance the tracks representing the month's Recommended Albums - of which there were five: three albums and two EP's - and Singles of the Week - of which there should be more of; I might have to move the day I do them on for that. I'm currently also listening to some albums from earlier in the year, so there's a high chance there will be some more Recommended Albums soon.

This month's playlist is below, firstly in hyperlink-crazy format (be aware that a few lead to Youtube videos with ads):

Antibalas - "Dirty Money" (Radio Edit)
Blur - "Under The Westway"
Twin Shadow - "Golden Light"
Ty Segall Band - "Tell Me What's Inside Your Heart"
Dirty Projectors - "See What She Seeing"
Tame Impala - "Apocalypse Dreams"
Ariel Pink's Haunted Graffiti - "Only In My Dreams" (Single of the Week)
Dan Deacon - "True Thrush"
Aesop Rock - "Gopher Guts"
The Gaslamp Killer - "Flange Face" (feat. Miguel Atwood-Ferguson)
John Tejada - "The Function And The Form"
Tall Ships - "Gallop"
The xx - "Angels"
Kendrick Lamar - "Swimming Pools (Drank)"
Taken By Trees - "Dreams"
Sun Airway - "Close"
The Field - "Comenius Garden"
Evian Christ - "FYTS"
Frank Ocean - "Bad Religion" (link to live Jimmy Fallon performance)
Passion Pit - "Love Is Greed"
SBTRKT - "Gloss"
Flying Lotus - "Between Friends" (feat. Earl Sweatshirt and Captain Murphy)
Bat For Lashes - "Laura"
Macklemore X Ryan Lewis - "Same Love" (feat. Mary Lambert) (Single of the Week)
The Antlers - "Zelda"
TNGHT - "Higher Ground"
Animal Collective - "Today's Supernatural"
David Byrne & St. Vincent - "Weekend In The Dust"

Here's the vastly incomplete Spotify version (it runs for around one hour). I also went back to last month's playlist and filled in some of the gaps.

Monday, 30 July 2012

David Byrne & St. Vincent - "Weekend In The Dust"

Love This Giant, the David Byrne / St. Vincent collaborative album is now available to pre-order on the album's website. Also there you can listen to "Weekend In The Dust", the second track from the album (following "Who"). All pre-orders come with an instant download of said track.

UPDATE: Stream below:

Animal Collective - "Today's Supernatural"

The first single from Animal Collective's new album, Centipede Hz is here! Just in time for tomorrow's monthly playlist. I'm not entirely sure what to make of "Today's Supernatural" - even by Animal Collective standards it's progressive - but I guess playing it constantly today will alleviate that:

Track all the info up to the release of Centipede Hz on the Upcoming Releases page.

Sunday, 29 July 2012

TNGHT - TNGHT (EP) added to 2012 Recommended Albums

I first became properly acquainted with the music of Hudson Mohawke last year, when his Satin Panthers EP was making waves. When it made the top of my EP's of 2011 list I described Satin Panthers as bringing "a near-continuum of high after high" and thought a partnership with Rustie would make a "dream collaboration".

With the TNGHT EP HudMo has continued one out of those two ideas. Not that I'm complaining. In Lunice he has found a partner to draw out the underlying hip-hop paterns within his production, which was probably the biggest influence in Satin Panthers and his debut album Butter. Despite both producers' previous work being filled to the brim with "maximalist" touches (tons of samples, additional electronic beats and blasts which leap from the tracks' basic frames in such a way it becomes hard to tell what's necessary), it may be surprising to consider how minimalist the EP can be. Lead single "Bugg'n", despite its opening sampled squeal rides a sluggish BPM, and perhaps most importantly for TNGHT leaves plenty of space for an MC, something which neither member of the group were interested in creating before. The beat has already been used by XV on his recent Popular Culture mixtape, and the duo have expressed a clear intention for the purpose of the EP, to take it to the American major labels, for major rappers to rap over. In a sense this has been happening already: TNGHT were comissioned to officially remix Waka Flocka Flame's "Rooster In My Rari", and Kanye West's "Mercy" has a Hudson Mohawke credit.

Despite this intention however, the four tracks that aren't "Bugg'n" might send all except the most adventurous rappers running. HudMo and Lunice have indeed sent their creativities off in a new direction, and have (just about) left space in the five tracks on the EP for lyricists, but their overall sound is still indebted to a maximal production style we've heard previously from the pair. So cluttered are these tracks from a hip-hop or even trap perspective, on the other hand as dance music (the world where many of their listeners come from) they function exceptionally well. From the exstatic vocal sample which colours "Higher Ground" to the part in "Easy Easy" where my subwoofer turns into a washing machine, there isn't a moment to think about listening to it sitting still, or grinning ridiculously. It's ridiculous-sounding music, but works so well, it's tough to think why any DJ wouldn't be carrying these tracks along with them for a while to come.

The shortness of the TNGHT EP serves it well, as it's such an exhausting experience, and you'll want to go back to find more sounds and patterns hidden in its compact stretch. Any longer may also have found the style to be too gimmicky, although arguably if another track or two had the finesse of these five it wouldn't matter as much. I'd also like to hear what the hip-hop community choose to do with these tracks/ producers (rumour is the enigmatic Danny Brown has shared studio space with them, which by this stage is hardly surprising). I hope something good comes out of this, because it's so addictive, and I think we need more.

See what other great albums caught my attention this year on the 2012 Recommended Albums page. Was my review of TNGHT (EP) any good?

Friday, 27 July 2012

The Antlers - Undersea (EP) added to 2012 Recommended Albums

One of the best qualities of the last Antlers album, Burst Apart, was that no matter how astray it led the listener from its original, subdued indie rock sound, its whole story was cohesive, and indeed strenghened by the variety the Antlers wanted to show (most immediate examples from the top of my head to prove this are the jagged "Parentheses" and "Evey Night My Teeth Are Falling Out"). There is inescapably less variety on the band's new four-track, 22 minute EP Undersea, however the balance between variety and cohesiveness remains the key to its quality.

The EP opens with "Drift Drive", a straightforward introduction. Listen closely and you'll hearr harp arpeggios behind the soft brass and electric guitar. The drums keep as slow a tempo as possible, an idea which recurs throughout Undersea. The whole feeling is one of submergence, meaning the quiet, somewhat mumbling vocals of Peter Silberman are in this instance forgiveable. The other immediate track is "Crest", a sultry movement involving elecrtonic drums and a creeping, claustrophopic wall of sound. The eight-and-a-half minute "Endless Ladder" gives the EP much of its bulk; unraveling its descending guitar lines into thicker amounts of reverb, giving the impression of movement towards the bottom of the ocean. It's also the only track here without a trace of brass. "Zelda", Undesea's final track closes the themes of conscious and unconscious states which began in "Drift Drive", and sounds dreamlike in its execution with the dynamic between the EP's familiar instruments, one of the elements it has to tie its material together.

It's a short trip, but a fulfilling one nonetheless. Undersea has the feel of a complete package or a continuous piece of music in four movements, which makes it more successful as an EP than most. Either way it ses the Antlers seeing through an idea with quality songwriting, production and instrumentation, and satisfies its length to induce the desire to listen repeatedly. For other bands the EP format isn't taken quite as seriously; with Undersea the Antlers have shown that at least for this band, it proves to be just an essential part of the group's output as their full-length albums.

See what other great albums have caught my attention this year on the 2012 Recommended Albums page. Was my review of Undersea any good?

Tuesday, 24 July 2012

Sebadoh release new EP on Bandcamp

The Secret EP is the first new music from Sebadoh since 1999. The group features Lou Barlow, whose other major group Dinosaur Jr. are to release an album called Watch The Corners later this year. Stream below, or head to Bandcamp to pick up the EP:

Rustie feat. AlunaGeorge - "After Light"

Just as Nightwave's vocals were added to Rustie's "Surph", taken from his stellar 2011 debut Glass Swords (#31 favourite album from that year), rising R&B duo AlunaGeorge have collaborated with the Glasgow mastermind for a similar remix, this time of "After Light":

Single of the Week: Macklemore X Ryan Lewis - "Same Love" (feat. Mary Lambert)

Seattle underground hip-hop star Macklemore is readying his second LP The Heist, produced alongside frequent collaborator Ryan Lewis. The pair have managed to build an impressive fanbase, in part due to the intense honesty Macklemore provides in his lyrics. "Same Love" is the first confirmed single from The Heist, and was written in support for same-sex marriage, Both inspired by and a tribute to his uncles (see cover picture), it's Macklemore's wit, humour and powerful social message that once again bear the song's biggest graces. "America the brave still fears what we don't know". Of course Mary Lambert's vocal contributions don't hurt either. "Same Love" is being released in partnership with Music for Marriage Equality and Sub Pop Records, although The Heist will be self-released (proceeds will benefit Washington State marriage equality). It's on US iTunes now, not sure about UK as of yet. A limited 7" run will also be available next week through Sub Pop's website.


Here's a trailer for the upcoming Macklemore X Ryan Lewis album The Heist. Track all the info up to the release of The Heist on the Upcoming Releases page.

Dan Snaith releases debut album under Daphni alias: JIAOLONG info and music video for "Ye Ye"

Best known for his work as Caribou (and Manitoba before that), Dan Snaith has used the Daphni name for a few singles and remixes over the past year, and will use it once again for a new album. JIAOLONG shares its name with Snaith's record label, and will collect a number of already-released tracks (as will pal Four Tet's new album Pink will), there will be enough new content to be worth looking forward to. JIAOLONG follows Snaith's influential 2010 album Swim (as Caribou) will first be released in Japan on 3rd October (via Hostess / JIAOLONG) before seeing a UK / EU / Austrailia date for the 8th October (JIAOLONG), and a day later in the US (9th October digital, 16th October 2LP / CD via Merge / JIAOLONG). Check out the album's tracklist, the JIAOLONG001 EP released last year, and a new music video for "Ye Ye", the first track released under Daphni originally on a split 12" with Four Tet:

1.Yes, I Know
2. Cos-Ber-Zam - Ne Noya (Daphni Mix)
3. Ye Ye
4. Light
5. Pairs
6. Ahora
7. Jiao
8. Springs
9. Long

Track all the info up to the release of JIAOLONG on the Upcoming Releases page.

Monday, 23 July 2012

Unreleased Dirty Projectors: "Buckle Up"

Tour-only single from these guys that serves as a nice, brief curiosity if nothing else. Presumably there might be a b-side to it soon. Be sure to check out that Swing Lo Magellan! Stream / download below:

*Dirty Projectors - "Buckle Up"

Flying Lotus - "Between Friends" (feat. Earl Sweatshirt and Captain Murphy)

Released as part of Adult Swim's always-excellent Singles Program (tracks this year so far have come from Unknown Mortal Orchestra, The Field and others), Flying Lotus contributes this week with "Between Friends", featuring rhymes from Earl Sweatshirt and Tyler the Crea- uh, Captain Murphy. Flying Lotus has an LP set for the end of the year, Until The Quiet Comes, that hopefully sounds as tasteful as this does. Head over here to check it out and download, and the other 2012 Adult Swim Singles released so far. There's also an interview with FlyLo if you're into that sort of thing.

New Deerhoof album Breakup Song: album cover, tracklist, release date

Though Deerhoof have never been my favourite band, they are my kind of band, and I do indulge in them from time to time. Breakup Song (awww) follows quickly after last year's Deerhoof vs. Evil, and sees a UK release date of 3rd Septermber on ATP Records. Tracklist:

1. Breakup Songs
2. There's That Grin
3. Bad Kids to the Front
4. Zero Seconds Pause
5. Mothball the Fleet
6. Flower
7. To Fly or Not to Fly
8. The Trouble With Candyhands
9. We Do Parties
10. Mario’s Flaming Whiskers III
11. Fête d'Adieu

Track all of the info up to the release of Breakup Song on the Upcominng Releases page.

SBTRKT - "Gloss"

Saturday, 21 July 2012

Frank Ocean - Channel Orange added to 2012 Recomended Albums

The reason I've been shirking discussinng Channel Orange has nothing to do with Frank Ocean's recent public confession which has undoubtebly coloured the air around the album. I do believe revealing his bisexuality to be a courageous, celebratory move, that hopefully becomes an inspiration to others in the future, but to approach the album from purely that perspective would be entirely a mistake, one that would undersell the monumental musical accomplishment that it is.

This is the actual reason it's taken a while to come up with accurate words of praise for Channel Orange, and I'm still struggling. This is exemplified by the fact that the last album I wrote about, Dirty Projectors' Swing Lo Magellan, was equally deserving of high praise. I'll start with what we had before the release of the full album. Ocean, the R&B singer of hyped shock-rap collective Odd Future came to attention last year with a mixtape/debut album Nostaligia, Ultra, which was enough to earn fans and accolades outside of the group he started in. Add to that a couple of relative hit singles ("Novocane" and "Thinkin Bout You", the latter re-recorded for Channel Orange), songwriting credits on tracks by Beyoncé and Justin Bieber, and guest spots on two tracks on Jay-Z and Kanye West's Watch The Throne, it was clear that Ocean was (and currently still is) edging towards a potential breakthrough commercialy with his Def Jam debut.

Despite pressure to release something half-assed in the short time Ocean's popularity blew up, the first single in promotion of the album changed all preconcieved ideas of a quick cash-in, as well as the sonic possibilities for commercial R&B in today's instant-gratification musical climate. "Pyramids", released for free on Ocean's tumblr is more than just a song. It's an R&B-prog odyssey spanning ten minutes, that serves as just one of Channel Orange's focus points (more on the second later). Choosing "Pyramids" over Grizzly Bear's "Sleeping Ute" for Single of the Week at the time felt like going against the grain, but now it feels even more of a logical decision, and when I think about the number of times I've listened to it from start to finish, to remain as powerful a statement as it is adds to Ocean's testament as a musician willing to walk the more difficult routes for the sake of his career.

Rumours regarding Ocean's sexuality circulated the internet after an inaugural press listening session of the album: the album's last few tracks - "Bad Religion", the André 3000-featuring "Pink Matter", and "Forrest Gump" - allude to homosexual relationships and expressions. Ocean quelled the whisperings with a document posted to his tumblr detailing his love for another man, elegantly written in itself. Unfortunately this has to be seen as a risk-taking move for Ocean's career; there have still famously not been any successful LGBT hip-hop or R&B artists, and one would hope Ocean has set a future precedent for the industry. Channel Orange's next single, "Sweet Life" came just a few days after the confession, probably the best possible move for Ocean at the time. It's just one of many short, single-worthy slices of pop that are truly immaculate. "You had a landscaper and a housekeeper since you were born", goes the chorus, Frank channeling the most soulful parts of old Marvin Gaye and Stevie Wonder 45's, with piano to match. The Earl Sweatshirt-guesting "Super Rich Kids" continues the allusion toward certain decadant corners of our generation, and catches another Odd Future star on the rise showing adequate restraint for the moment. Other singles touch on pop perfection - "Lost", "Forrest Gump", the immortal "Thinkin Bout You"; but of course the thrill is in discovering what exactly they add to the varied Channel Orange's legacy. And also it genuinely is tough to leave tracks out of the discussion; they work so well to form a highly-developed whole despite the draw of multiple ideas from five decades of musical heritage the album carefully sifts from.

If I do touch on one in more detail however it would have to be the one Ocean debuted on Late Night With Jimmy Fallon the night he announced the album was up on iTunes ahead of release schedule. "Bad Religion" is perhaps the true centerpiece of Channel Orange, despite it coming in towards the end of the album, as it puts the thirteen tracks before it back into perspective, "Pyramids" included. Frank's plea with his taxi driver to "outrun the demons" leads him to mistake the reply "Allahu Akbar" as a curse. As he accepts it for the prayer and sympathy he originally wanted he is able to move on. Not only is it so relevant to Ocean's current situation it is the most mature, tender and original part of Channel Orange, and in its own right a ballad for the ages, with its orchestral backing mirroring the lyrical predicament. Watch it below if you haven't yet; it's one of the best TV performances in years.

The quickest way to assess the quality of this new album might be to relate it to Nostalgia, Ultra, the 2011 self-released mixtape that first brought Ocean notable attention. Clearly next to that record, which was no slouch, Channel Orange shows leaps and bounds of progression. One of the few things that relate it to its predecessor is the tape-deck samples between tracks: the Playstation start-up sound which begins the album is music in itself to listeners of my generation. In fact the use of this technique to disguise the possible disjointedness of the tracks is maybe the only criticism of the whole album. Channel Orange's stature is closer to Kanye's My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy than anything from the Odd Future canon. Though not quite as grandiose as that parrticular epic, instead the record has Ocean's humility and extremely likeable personality in its place. The last R&B album of this significance was D'Angelo's Voodoo, which twelve years ago went straight to #1 on the US Billboard 200. As someone who believes real underground talent should be brought forward to the general masses I'm hoping the right combination of promotion, radio airplay and fan appreciation through social media and the like are enough to propel Ocean towards household name status. It's clearly within his grasp. The world needs to hear about the outstanding achievment that is Channel Orange, and the wonderful singer, songwriter and performer who was inspired to create it, Frank Ocean.

See what other great albums have caught my attention this year on the 2012 Recommended Albums page. Was my review of Channel Orange any good?

Friday, 20 July 2012

Jens Lekman performs new song for the Guardian

"I Know What Love Isn't" is the title track to Jens' new album, out 3rd September. Below watch his solo rendition of the track, with an introduction containing the quote "And that didn't really work for me, because I'm Jens Lekman":

Free download: Matthew Dear - "Her Fantasy"

"Her Fantasy", the latest Matthew Dear single set to appear on his new full-length album Beams made on-Tenori-on's Single of the Week a while ago. Now it's available for free download for one week only courtesy of Insound. You can read the feature here, or watch the music video below:

Wednesday, 18 July 2012

Flying Lotus - Until The Quiet Comes Details

The new Flying Lotus LP, Until The Quiet Comes, will be released in the UK on Warp on the 1st October (a day later in the US). Returning guests Thom Yorke, Thundercat and Laura Darlington feature, as do Erykah Badu and Niki Randa. The album follows 2010's Cosmogramma. Album cover above, tracklist below:

1. All In
2. Getting There (ft. Niki Randa)
3. Until the Colours Come
4. Heave(n)
5. Tiny Tortures
6. All the Secrets
7. Sultans Request
8. Putty Boy Strut
9. See Thru to U (ft. Erykah Badu)
10. Until the Quiet Comes
11. DMT Song (ft. Thundercat)
12. The Nightcaller
13. Only if You Wanna
14. Electric Candyman (ft. Thom Yorke)
15. Hunger (ft. Niki Randa)
16. Phantasm (ft. Laura Darlington)
17. me Yesterday//Corded
18. Dream to Me

I'm imagining what the Thom Yorke track, "Electric Candyman" must sound like. Plenty of "Lotus Flower" music video memories to go from.

Track all the info up to the release of Until The Quiet Comes on the Upcoming Releases page.

Latitude 2012: Three Stories

I got back from Latitude on Monday but I've been too tired/sick to do much, so I'm only doing a brief report of it. It was indeed very good and I would recommend it to anyone. I got to see many bands that don't usually come my way for the first time, and many enjoyable non-musical acts also (though that won't be the focus here). You can find more comprehensive reviews elsewhere on the internet, so I'm just going to do a brief paragraph on one musician for each day and my experience of that particular show.

Friday: tUnE-yArDs (i Arena)
After catching the beautiful end to Kurt Vile's set at the secluded, forested i Arena I found myself on the second row for tUnE-yArDs. During soundcheck Kurt appeared at the side of the stage geting his picture taken. I would've got one myself if he hadn't then ran across the front of the stage and into the distance. Merrill's set was probably the most inventive I saw all weekend. Her looped vocal ad-libs were impressive in themselves but they created whole new introductions to her w h o k i l l songs. With percussion just made of bass and snare drums they sounded more hip-hop than anything else, and were supported with bass and manic saxophone parts. In a day where I'd already experienced stunning sets from Destroyer, Iceage and Janelle Monáe, tUnE-yArDs felt a cut above.

Saturday: Josh T. Pearson (Word Arena)
We all know what the self-professed Last of the Country Gentlemen is capable of with his lovelorn lyrics and delicate guitar fingerpicking, but the real reason so many people were talking about his show? The jokes! Here are a few from memory:
During soundcheck: "This one's called "Soundcheck"!"
After soundcheck: "Thank you! Goodnight!"
"We have about forty minutes. That means I can play two or three songs." (he played four in total)
"Who has two thumbs up and likes blowjobs? This guy!" (grins and raises thumbs)
"This one's just for the ladies. What's the worst thing you can hear when giving Willie Nelson a blowjob? I'm not Willie Nelson."
"I don't usually play to crowds this size. They're usually bigger."
"Buy my stuff. Or download it and give me the money. I won't tell."

Sunday: Perfume Genius (i Arena)
One of the final live performances of the weekend and I was stuck next to loud, obnoxious East London types who I thought might ruin the set for me. Fortunately they calmed down when Mike Hadreas took to the stage, playing a well-chosen selection from his two albums, and two inspired covers (Madonna and CSNY). The set proved that simple piano, and sparse synthesizer were enough to carry Hadreas' songwriting forward. The delicate nature of the recordings and the fragility of his vocals translated perfectly into the dark, confined i Arena; he sounded both confident and reserved, and didn't pander down to a somewhat weary Latitude crowd. We were grateful for it.

If you want to remember some of the best musical performances of Latitude 2012, or just want some good music to listen to, here's my Spotify playlist of the weekend:

Tuesday, 10 July 2012

Lone - "Lenticular Cloud"

Here's a beautiful bonus track to Lone's fantastic new allbum Galaxy Garden (which was one of my 2012 Recommended Albums), "Lenticular Cloud":

Stream Aesop Rock - Skelethon in full right here

If you can tear yourself away from Frank Ocean's Channel Orange for just a moment (it's tough, I understand), you can find Aesop Rock's new album Skelethon below. It's out today on Rhymesayers.

Music Video: The Walkmen - "Heartbreaker"

Get the feeling this one was supposed to come before "The Love You Love", but whatever. And is it just me or have the Walkmen really gone off colour?

Single of the Week: Ariel Pink's Haunted Graffiti - "Only In My Dreams"

Unpredictability is one of the biggest strengths any entertainer can have, but in Ariel Pink's case you'd have thought he'd exhausted every sound and style from the sixties to the eighties, as his breakthrough album Before Today seemed to suggest. "Only In My Dreams" is not only  proof that he and the Haunted Graffiti have plenty more surprises in store, but that they dare to go one further. The track resembles a sunny, shimmery fold-pop ballad which owes a lot to Ariel's California residency (and Frank Zappa's We're Only In It For The Money). It shouldn't work but it does, as is often the case with this group, though the familiarity of Ariel's vocals and washy production take something to bring up to the rest of his current material. His knowledge and musical vision ensure another certified classic, that extends far beyond the
                                                        trappings of patische.

Dan Deacon - "True Thrush"

Teengirl Fantasy - "End"

Teengirl Fantasy have made R&S their new home, and along with the "Motif" single they've released through them they plan to do the same for teir second album Tracer. Here's the first track from that album proper, out on the 21st August, called "End":

Track all the info up to the release of Tracer on the Upcoming Releases page.

Stream Frank Ocean's new album Channel Orange, available on iTunes

The official date for physical copies of Channel Orange appear to be the same (17th July, i.e. next week), however Frank Ocean decided to go ahead and release the digital version on iTunes last night. Channel Orange can also be streamed in full on Frank's Tumblr, so get on it!

Saturday, 7 July 2012

Latitude 2012 playlist

Because I'm going to Latitude Festival next weeked, I decided to put a Spotify playlist together of some of the musicians performing this year. I hope to do a sort of feature here once I get back, and I'll try to get photos too.

Friday, 6 July 2012

Frank Ocean - "Sweet Life"

Frank Ocean has posted a new song on Tumblr, perhaps to move discussion away from his recent revealation and back onto his music. He does have an album, Channel Orange, on the way later this month, remember? Download "Sweet Life" below, or listen here:

*Frank Ocean - "Sweet Life"

Thursday, 5 July 2012

Dirty Projectors - Swing Lo Magellan added to 2012 Recommended Albums

It's probably no surprise that if a new Dirty Projectors album comes out, I and many other people are going to enjoy it. But I didn't expect to like this one quite this much. I've listened to it much that I've barely had time to do much else. Today I listened to it, rushed the Slaughterhouse writeup that was hanging over me (probably unfairly, it is of course an excellent record in itself), took a break, listened to it again, another break, and now I'm writing it up whilst listening to it again. It's very distracting, but in the most complimentary way. And I'm convinced it's a masterpiece; it hasn't been anything but rewarding from the moment I first put it on a few days ago.

Swing Lo Magellan follows Dirty Projectors' 2009 breakthrough Bitte Orca; an album I've always admired (as a guitar player especially) but found difficult to connect any more deeply with. There's no question bandleader David Longstreth has made efforts to simplify his approach to album and songcraft, and the omission of the previous record's sporadic afrobeat guitar phrases and sudden polyrhythmic shifts will undoubtebly irk some. But Longstreth's "album of songs" is still the work of a pop maverick, he's just better at it. "Stillness Is The Move" is replaced with "Gun Has No Trigger"; both lead singles have demonstrated the furthest point of Longstreth's latest direction for each of their albums. The structure of "Gun Has No Trigger" is largely linear, with backing singer's Amber Coffman and Haley Dekle (replacing Angel Deradoorian) as the main instrument, the volume of their singing intensifying as each verse reaches its pinnacle.

Unique and refreshing the single is, the rest of the album is not without its share of variety and innovation. The girls' harmonies are still a key component of Dirty Projectors' sound, and despite the lack of a guitar in Dave's hands on the cover the instrument is far from absent. Opening track "Offspring Are Blank" introduces its first chorus with a loud blast of electric guitar, and its second with an acoustic replication. "Unto Caesar" also explores the possibilities of both instruments, and also cuts up studio outtakes in interesting and entertaining ways. Handclapping is a prominent new addition on many of the tracks, but it never feels gimmicky or repetitive, just another percusive element that falls in both aesthetically and with the renowned advernturous percussion.

But if Swing Lo Magellan truly is "an album of songs, an album of songwriting" as Longstreth claims it is, the quality of these songs needs to be checked out. Fortunately that's an easy task. Like Bitte Orca a formula of accessible avant-garde and spiky R&B rules the day, but as with the instrumentation the mix is even stronger. There's the eco-political "Just From Chevron", and the closer "Irresponsible Tune" addresses the influences of music itself. The Amber Coffman-sung "The Socialites" is the true pop gem on the album, and one of the best examples of the many love songs scattered throughout. There are more of course; variety is one of Swing Lo Magellan's real strengths, as are song arrangements and lyrical depth. The overall feel of the album isn't too far away from classic songwriting benchmarks like Revolver, which is referenced in "See What She Seeing", and it's refreshing to see such pinnacles being aspired to, especially with the amount of success the talented Dirty Projectors approach that standard.

The album is a must for fetishists of detail, hooky experimentalism and tight musicianship. I don't write track-by-track reviews of albums but I feel with Swing Lo Magellan it's almost necessary to translate its appeal into words. All I can say is there are few records are album of the year-worthy, and fewer still are album of the decade-worthy. This is one of the latter, and probably the last of its kind to hit me in such a way since Deerhunter's Halcyon Digest. I hope I'm wrong but the chances of the new Grizzly Bear and Animal Collective records - Dirty Projectors' nearest competition in indie cricisism land - being as solid, meaningful and beautiful as Swing Lo Magellan seem to have shrunk considerably. Same applies for Dirty Projectors. It may be cliché, but it's hard to see how they'll ever top this.

Swing Lo Magellan is out on Monday on Domino Records (my copy's already in the mail), but until then you can listen to it on the Guardian.

And that's not all from Dirty Projectors this year. A short film featuring music from Swing Lo Magellan is "coming soon"! Hi Custodian is directed by David Longstreth. Trailer below:

Click here for the rest of the 2012 Recommended Albums list

Ty Segall Band - Slaughterhouse added to 2012 Recommended Albums

Ty Segall has released a number of solo albums over the last few years, but Slaughterhouse is the first under Ty Segall Band. The distinction is significant; this album is huge-sounding, and undouubtebly sets a new precedent for Segall's San Fransiscan garage rock peers.

The basic mix for Slaughterhouse consists of Stooges garage rock, the heavy riffing of Sabbath, and just a pinch of the Cramps' weirdness for flavour. This formula makes it essential. The ultimately terrifying doses of acid psychedelia contemporaries like Thee Oh Sees pump into their music is reduced to a minimum: Segall's experiments in these areas are much more the focus of the other album he's released this year, the White Fence collaboration Hair. Slaughterhouse's heaviness is what sets it apart from the rest of his work so far. It's about as dark and sludgy an album of this style could get, and all of its qualities are reflected in its extremely scuzzy low recording quality. The guitars, bass and drums are never short of oversaturated, and as much as Segall's vocals vary - from high range yelps and screams ("Slaughterhouse"), to deep grouchy Howlin' Wolf reminders ("That's The Bag I'm In") - they usually end up indecipherable. Only when strange Beatles-like melodies are employed ("I Bought My Eyes") can Segall's lyrics be clearly heard.

This is unimporrtant for this record. The recording quality of classic proto-punk LP's such as the Stooges' Funhouse is what gives them such a mythic quality. Incidentally Slaughterhouse could be considered a modern reinterpretation of that album: if the similarities in name and sound aren't enough, consider the ten-minute closing instrumental "Fuzz War" and it's similarities to "L.A. Blues", not to mention the guitar riffs that frequently conjure up the tenacity of the late Ron Asheton.

Delights aplenty are to be found elsewhere on Slaughterhouse. "Tell Me What's Inside Your Heart" lasts under four minutes, but its unstoppable breakneck speed make it feel much longer. It backs onto "Wave Goodbye", an impossibly heavy, brooding tune that begins much slower; its opening bass riff dominating the mood of thee next four minutes or so. But the album doesn't skimp on the fun: surf-rock finds its influence on "Muscle Man", as classic rockabilly does on "The Tounge". The band's cover of Bo Diddley's classic single "Diddy Wah Diddy" ends unfinished, with Segall yelling "FUCK THIS FUCKING SONG!", yet this outtake feels spirited enough to just work in the context of the album.

2012 has so far been full of exceptional rock albums, and Slaughterhouse finds itself easily amongst the pick of the best. It's brutal, visceral but above all fun and engaging, and shows a lot to the numerous other records in this style that come out this time of year. It just rocks, plain and simple. Even if that is a phrase I seem to be repeating. Immediate satisfaction calls for immediate responses.

Click here for the rest of the 2012 Recommended Albums list

JJ DOOM album gets release date, album art, tracklist

DOOM and Jneiro Jarel released their debut single together as JJ DOOM, "BANISHED" back in February. The subsequent album KEY TO THE KUFFS was supposed to come out in May, but now a release date has been set: 21st August. The album's being put out on Lex Records, and features "BANISHED" and contributions from Damon Albarn, Beth Gibbons (Portishead) and Khujo Goodie. A track called "RETARDED FREN" also features, which shares a name with a track DOOM worked on with Thom Yorke and Jonny Greenwood (Radiohead), and it's hugely likely to be the same / re-recorded. Tracklist:

4. BITE THE THONG ft Damon Albarn
9. GMO ft Beth Gibbons
12. STILL KAPS ft Khujo Goodie

No news on the DOOM / Ghostface Killah DOOMSTARKS. Maybe it's been scrapped?

Tuesday, 3 July 2012

Nas - "Loco-Motive" (feat. Large Professor)

Nas seems to want to get out as much of Life Is Good as possible before its 17th July release date. "Loco-Motive" is the fourth track (fifth inc. bonus track "Nasty") released from the album, produced by No I.D. and featuring Large Professor:

Monday, 2 July 2012

Watch lyric videos for the two new Blur songs: "Under The Westway" and "The Puritan"

Earlier this evening Blur debuted their two new songs by way of a live webcast, filmed from a secret location atop a London rooftop. The webcast has finished, however both "Under The Westway" and "The Puritan" can be heard again below, accompanied by a lyric video for each:

Christopher Owens leaves Girls

Christopher Owens: Dear all, This may come as a surprise to many & has been an issue of much thought for me. My decision was not easy to make. I am leaving Girls. My reasons at this time are personal. I need to do this in order to progress. I will continue to write & record music. More will be announced soon. I thank you all for everything. Sincerely–Christopher

Christopher Owens solo material and possibly non-Owens Girls / new Chet JR White project instead then I guess. Stil :'(

Music Video: Matthew Dear - "Her Fantasy"

Read my Single of the Week feature for this very song here.

Stream Dirty Projectors' new album Swing Lo Magellan

Swing Lo Magellan, the highly anticipated new album by Dirty Projectors can be heard at the New York Times. If you like it you can get a copy next week when it's released through Domino Records.

Music Video: Jessie Ware - "Wildest Moments"