Tuesday, April 30, 2013

New: Emeli Sande and The Bryan Ferry Orchestra- "Crazy In Love"


Retro Twenties style cover of Beyonce's "Crazy In Love" by Emeli Sande and The Bryan Ferry Orchestra for The Great Gatsby.

Jam of the Day: Lemonade - "Perfect Blue"


Brooklyn dance poppers Lemonade are back with a new, sultry single "Perfect Blue."

Video: Pet Shop Boys: "Axis"


Sounds like PSB have returned to making dance music.

Friday, April 26, 2013

Jam of the Day: Nero - "Into The Past"


Very cinematic track from Nero for the upcoming movie The Great Gatsby. So far, I have not heard a bad track off the soundtrack. While this is a very slow building track, Nero's contribution is perhaps my favorite so far. The ending swirl of strings and electronics will make you hair stand on end.

New: Annie - "Tube Stops and Lonely Hearts"


Paying tribute to 90s rave culture, here is the new single from Norwegian pop star Annie. Loving this track.

New: Carter Tutti (Chris & Cosey) - "Coolicon"


New music from former Throbbing Gristle members Chris Carter and Cosey Fanni Tutti (formerly Chris & Cosey) who now record under the name Carter Tutti.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

New: The xx - "Together"


New track from The xx, recorded for The Great Gatsby soundtrack.

Jam of the Day: Letherette - "The One"


Someone asked me to describe Letherette, and the best thing I can think of is that they sound like Daft Punk produced by Flying Lotus. "The One" is a deliciously dense and morphing track from the duo.

Album Review: Beacon - The Ways We Separate


Beacon
The Ways We Separate
Rating: Woof Daddy

When I was growing up, the only way to hear music was over the radio, and radio stations were rigidly segmented in their own genres. You would rarely hear an R&B track on a Top 40 station and vice versa, and it was completely unheard of for a country song to appear anywhere but on a country station. In the Internet age, the ability in which to consume and absorb new music and genres is staggeringly easy, and it comes as no surprise that you get many new artists out there that combine different genres into one seamless whole. Brooklyn duo Beacon (Thomas Mullarney and Jacob Gossett) obviously benefit from this new found ease, as their first couple of EPs and now debut full length The Ways We Separate combine their love for future R&B, hip-hop, icy synthpop, UK bass music, and Warp-style IDM into a gorgeous mix of their own making. Thematically, The Ways We Separate explores how human beings separate themselves from each other, using a deliberately muted, minimal palate, that is not too far off from the debuts of acts like The xx and Purity Ring, which focus on a signature sound and walk around it like a sculpture, showing off different facets from different angles. The main complaints I have heard about this record is that it all seems one-note. While I understand that criticism, I think overall, it misses the point that the songs here are meant to flow together as a whole, and I appreciated the clean lines and surfaces that act as a foundation for the record.

The album contains 9 new tracks and one track off an early EP. "Feeling's Gone," one of my top tracks of 2012, maintains its elegant facade of quietly burbling electronics that give way to an insistent bass line that threads its way through the throbbing beat.



This template of hushed synths, skittering drum programming, and forlorn vocals works its magic throughout the tracks, settling the sound of the record into a suite of songs that benefits most from full on listen to the record. Aside from the pulsing "Feeling's Gone" there is no truly standout singles here. Instead, all of the tracks work together to create a measured experience. The tracks alternate from more beat driven tracks to more ambient, down tempo soundscapes. First track and single "Bring You Back" is a haunting first dip into these chilly waters. With its combination of icy keyboards and skittering drum programming, the track slowly builds as Mullarney's voice aches and cries with abandon, the line he sings "Don't turn around until the other side" becoming a mantra of haunting resignation.



The dense sonic textures of "Drive" provide an element of danger and darkness. Mullarney's voice barely a whisper as the programming gets more intricate along with the collage of throbbing electronic pulses.



These darker, edgier moments add much needed balance and tone throughout the record, whether it be the clipped, proto-two step track "Overseer" or the closing swoon of "Split In Two," there is a thoughtfulness to the record that indicates much care was labored over how the record would flow. And based on their earlier EPs, the bigger production values add endlessly to their sound. The songs on The Ways We Separate sound expansive and clean, with an excellent use of silence and space. The se come to fruition on the many languid ballads on the record. "Between The Waves" is a lush, dreamy bed of swirling keyboards, "Late November" is a gorgeous instrumental interlude, and the trio of esoteric tracks leading into the concluding track are a achingly beautiful triptych of icy synthpop. "Studio Audience" bounces and throbs over a thick bassline and rushing synths, "Headlights" is a buzzy, slow building track with Mullarney's voice struggling above a whisper, and the strikingly minimal "Anthem" elevates their sound to sublime levels.



The Ways We Separate lingers long in the mind, its intoxicating pulse and mood overtake the senses and leaves a lasting impression. It is a fully formed debut, with a distinct aesthetic that they hold fast too, making for a very cohesive listen. There is definitely room to grow from here and expand their sound without forsaking it. As for now, there is little to change with these tracks, as they inhabit their own world perfectly.

Rating Scale:

Chilfos: masterpiece; coolest thing I've heard in ages.

Woof Daddy: excellent; just a hair away from being a masterpiece.

Grrrr: very good; will definitely be considered for my top releases of the year.

Yeah Daddy Make Me Want It: good; definitely invites further listens and piques one's interest for more material.

Meh: not horrible, but certainly not great; could have either been polished, trimmed, or re-thought.

Jeez Lady: what the hell happened? Just plain bad. They should hang their heads in shame and be forced to listen to Lady Gaga ad nauseam as penance.

Tragicistani: so bad, armed villagers with pitchforks and torches should run the artist out of the country for inflicting this abomination on the human race.

New: Zomby - "Soliloquy"


Dense, bass heavy track from ZOmby's upcoming double album With Love.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Video: Two Door Cinema Club - "Handshake"


Creepy, funny video from Two Door Cinema Club.

Jam of the Day: Young Galaxy - "Pretty Boy"


Such an amazing song off their brilliant new album Ultramarine.

New: Baths - "Ironworks"


Gorgeous track off Baths' second album Obsidian.

Album Review: Phoenix - Bankrupt!


Phoenix
Bankrupt!
Rating: Grrrr

Phoenix' breakthrough album, 2009's Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix is still a headscratcher for me. While it is a really good alt-pop record, there is a huge disconnect with me about it. I loved the singles but the rest of the album left me wanting; it was just a little too quirky, and lacked a certain charm. Even more puzzling is how the band has erupted since then into a festival headlining, SNL guesting, sold out touring juggernaut of epic proportions. So with the release of their new album Bankrupt! I was expecting basically more of the same, but perhaps a little more cleanly polished guitar rock. Imagine my surprise on my first listen to Bankrupt! how gloriously weird it all is. Working with Cassius member Philippe Zdar, Phoenix have ramped up the synths this go around eschewing the sleek guitar pop of Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix for a more technicolor/widescreen vision.

First single "Entertainment" roars out of the gates with bright and shiny Japanese inflected synths, driving rhythms, and enough hooks to land a blue whale.



And the hooks keep coming along on the front half of the record. "The Real Thing" bounces old school drum machines and dense analog synths against each other into a swirling mass of hurricane epicness, "Trying To Be Cool" has a summery vibe with glass-like keyboard trails, while standout track "SOS In Bel Air" surges forward like ELO on acid.



After this onslaught of brilliant pop moments, the record interestingly takes a more experimental side trip. Title track "Bankrupt" is almost an interlude between the two halves of the record, toning down the bright neon glow of the first half into a somber, contemplative measure of delicately plucked guitars and psychedelic keyboards, merging into an over-the-top prog exploration that keeps changing, chameleon-like to whatever mood it feels like attaching. "Chloroform" mixes up drone keyboards, sludgy beats and Thomas Mars' world weary vocals, creating a gorgeous ballad that soars over the record,



while "Bourgeois" creates a melange of synthpop and chamber pop. While the back half of the record is certainly more sonically adventurous, Phoenix never forget that they are first and foremost a pop band, and keep the hooks coming fast and furious. Whether it is the slick K-pop sprinkled keyboards of "Drakkar Noir" or the balls to wall pace of Morodor-esque keyboards on "Don't," these French lads use every trick they have in their pockets, giving Bankrupt! an almost endless string of catchy tracks that are going to be this year's earworms.

For me, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart was a record that I was supposed to love but just couldn't wrap my arms around. Bankrupt!, however, is a warmer more inviting listen and just feels like a "Big Record." I am sure a lot of people are going to be puzzled by the ambition at play in these tracks, but I was immediately pulled in and enveloped in its buoyant energy. Finally, I get Phoenix, and it certainly was a long time coming.

Rating Scale:

Chilfos: masterpiece; coolest thing I've heard in ages.

Woof Daddy: excellent; just a hair away from being a masterpiece.

Grrrr: very good; will definitely be considered for my top releases of the year.

Yeah Daddy Make Me Want It: good; definitely invites further listens and piques one's interest for more material.

Meh: not horrible, but certainly not great; could have either been polished, trimmed, or re-thought.

Jeez Lady: what the hell happened? Just plain bad. They should hang their heads in shame and be forced to listen to Lady Gaga ad nauseam as penance.

Tragicistani: so bad, armed villagers with pitchforks and torches should run the artist out of the country for inflicting this abomination on the human race.

New: Janelle Monae ft. Erykah Badu - "Q.U.E.E.N."


New track from her upcoming album The Electric Lady featuring vocal assistance from Erykah Badu has a sleazy, Prince-esque vibe.

Monday, April 22, 2013

New: Kelis - "Call On Me"


David Sitek produced track from Kelis has a very old-school afro-pop vibe to it.

Jam of the Day: Dusky - "Nobody Else"


Thick slab of house with some elements of UK bass and techno thrown in for extra flavor.

Album Review: Yeah Yeah Yeahs - Mosquito


Yeah Yeah Yeahs
Mosquito
Rating: Jeez Lady

From the release of their brilliant debut Fever To Tell, Yeah Yeah Yeahs have always been about subverting expectations. When Karen O and company took a slight slip on the follow up Show Your Bones, many people wrote them off as a one album hit wonder, but few could have expected the brilliant return to greatness (and 180 degree change in sound) with the synth heavy 90s new wave revitalization of It's Blitz!. After a long hiatus, the trio return with their most confounding album yet, Mosquito. From the horrid Garbage Pail Kids meets Nirvana album cover, down to the sequencing of the record, everything seems slightly off this go around. While the darkness that permeated Show Your Bones has aged well over time and given the record higher stature in their catalog, Mosquito is basically a scattershot mess, defying you to enjoy it. Lacking a unifying theme or sound, Mosquito feels more like a collection of B-sides that would have been better off kept in a vault.

"Sacrilege" starts the record off on a high note, its slow build mixture of skittering guitar lines leading into a full on gospel chorus treatment had me with high hopes that the band was taking their sound on to a new level.



After this auspicious start, the full on squealing brake moment begins with the second track "Subway," which trades the heavens of "Sacrilege" for the meandering depths of hell. Almost a funeral dirge, "Subway" is a directionless/formless ambient wasteland of drifting keyboards and guitars over subway noises. At five minutes long, it well overstays its visit. And this becomes a pattern throughout the record, that the tracks either feel like half-baked sketches, or just come across as silly pastiches of better material from the band. The ridiculously silly title track is mainly squealing guitars and 420 bongos under Karen O's campy delivery,



"Area 52" borrows dated surf guitars and marries them with air raid siren keyboards to try and make some sense of the crazy lyrics about aliens,

while "Buried Alive" clatters and crashes about with aimless guitar noodling and an inscrutable rap from Dr. Octogon.

There are some half decent ideas buried within the record that could have told a different story altogether. "These Paths" is a slinky, sexy wash of ambient keyboards and pitch shifted vocal samples that brings some life back to Mosquito,



the delicate strains of synth ballad "Always" is a soothing reminder that Karen O, for all her bluster and antagonism, can portray vulnerability like no one else, and the building guitars of "Despair" drive the track back to the heavenly realms of "Sacrilege."



But overall, nothing is able to put this record on track. Whether, over time its charms reveal themselves, as Show Your Bones did, is not apparent from these listens. Somewhere in this mess is a decent album, but for me it is well hidden, and without different takes or mixes of these songs, it is doubtful my opinion of the record will change. For now, though, Mosquito is a puzzling mess.

Rating Scale:

Chilfos: masterpiece; coolest thing I've heard in ages.

Woof Daddy: excellent; just a hair away from being a masterpiece.

Grrrr: very good; will definitely be considered for my top releases of the year.

Yeah Daddy Make Me Want It: good; definitely invites further listens and piques one's interest for more material.

Meh: not horrible, but certainly not great; could have either been polished, trimmed, or re-thought.

Jeez Lady: what the hell happened? Just plain bad. They should hang their heads in shame and be forced to listen to Lady Gaga ad nauseam as penance.

Tragicistani: so bad, armed villagers with pitchforks and torches should run the artist out of the country for inflicting this abomination on the human race.

New: Lana Del Rey - "Young and Beautiful"


New Lana Del Rey track from The Great Gatsby soundtrack.

Friday, April 19, 2013

New: Disclosure ft. Eliza Doolittle - "You & Me"


From their upcoming debut album Settle (which I am highly anticipating) comes this frothy, funky track featuring Eliza Doolittle on vocals.

Jam of the Day: Octo Octa - "Work Me"


Rave-inflected track from the Brooklyn producer.

Videos of the Week


Friday at last. Here are the videos that vomited glitter all over me:



I sure hope this video is real and not all CGI. It's pretty damn awesome.



Insane video from the always provocative Azealia Banks.



Amazing "performance" clip for this sublime track from Low, where technology is overcome by nature.



Intense clip from buzz band Savages.



Sweet animated clip from Sally Shapiro.



Melodic punk trio Coliseum get arrested during a street performance in this tense clip.



Travelogue clip from Frank Ocean.



Surreal clip from Youth Lagoon.

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Remix: Tegan & Sara - "I Was A Fool (Matthew Dear Remix)"


From their amazing electro-pop record Heartthrob, Tegan & Sara's ballad "I Was A Fool" gets an icy, throbbing remix courtesy of Matthew Dear.

Jam of the Day: Tricky - "Hey You"


A haunting sample from Japan's classic single "Ghosts,' highlights this tense, atmospheric track off Tricky's upcoming album False Idols.

Video: Savages - "Shut Up"


Intense clip from their upcoming album Silence Yourself.

Video: The Knife - "A Cherry On Top"


Good luck trying to get through this bizarre, animated clip for the almost 9 minute ambient soundscape "A Cherry On Top" from their inscrutable new record Shaking The Habitual.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Jam of the Day: Beacon - "Bring You Back"


Gorgeous, spectral synthpop from Brooklyn duo Beacon, off their upcoming debut album The Ways We Separate.

New: De La Soul - "Get Away (Featuring the Spirit of the Wu)"


First new music from all original three members of De La Soul. The song can be heard at Consequence of Sound's website here.

New: Bibio - "You"


First single off his upcoming album Silver Wilkinson.

Concert Watch: Crystal Castles - "Sad Eyes"


It's been awhile since I have seen Crystal Castles live, so I am looking forward to seeing them tonight at the Tabernacle with Doldrums opening.

Monday, April 15, 2013

Jam of the Day: Weekend - "Mirror"


Driving post-punk from Weekend.

New: Daft Punk ft. Pharrell Williams - "Get Lucky"



Nile Rodgers-produced roller skate disco jam from Random Access Memories, the ridiculously hyped new album from Daft Punk.

Album Review: Charli XCX - True Romance


Charli XCX
True Romance
Rating: Grrrr

I am always being accused of being a music snob that only likes "out there" stuff that no one listens to, but seriously that is quite the opposite in fact. I like a wide variety of music that spans many different genres and styles. I love pop music, just not music that is bland and boring without any heart and soul. If a song has a good hook, I am bound to like it. Enter into the picture Charli XCX, the name of 20 year old UK pop singer Charlotte Aitchison, who since 2008 has been teasing the airwaves with dark hearted pop tracks that have come across like the love child of Ke$ha and Grimes, filtering a pop sensibility through more experimental sounds and textures, but always throwing down a killer hook. After an interminable wait, Charli XCX finally releases her debut album, True Romance, and shows the wait was definitely worth it. Over 13 tracks, Charli XCX barely makes a misstep, constantly shifting and morphing her sound, mixing in elements from pop, EDM, reggae, hip-hop, dubstep, you name it, showing a restless sense of artistic adventure.

True Romance contains her first two singles, "Stay Away" and "Nuclear Seasons," both of which put her in the spotlight with both commercial media as well as independent critics like Pitchfork. "Nuclear Seasons" is a dense, swirling mix of buzzing synths and Charli's throaty vocals,



while stay away is a softer, mid-tempo ballad with booming drum programming, and a stunning vocal turn, showcasing her amazing vocal range.



There is a surfeit of excellent tracks on True Romance that keep you coming back more and more. The Gold Panda sampling track "You (Ha Ha Ha)" works off its quirky melody (which has been described as dolphins having sex) with a sassy vocal turn.



"Grins" utilizes haunting synth drones that erupt into a frenzy of skittering drum machines and skyscraping keyboards.



"Cloud Aura," featuring raps from Brook Candy, is a update on the classic collaboration between Eve and Gwen Stefani on "Let Me Blow Your Mind."



"What I Like" is a cloud kissed, drugged out jam, with a hip-hop inflected vocal, skittering drum programming, and an overall head-bobbing vibe.



While I really enjoyed the dark undercurrents of "How Can I?" with its bleak synth patterns and industrial clatter.



The only times True Romance falters is when it gets a little too close to Spice Girls, bubblegum pop territory. "Take My Hand" has a fairly pedestrian hook and too many chirpy synths bouncing around, while tracks like "Stay Away," "So Far Away," and "Black Roses," while decent pop tracks, just lack distinctive elements to make them stand out in a crowded pop field. Thankfully, these are just blips on the radar screen. Charli more than makes up for it with other tracks like the gorgeous ballad "Set Me Free" and the stunning, hook-laden closing track "Lock You Up."



True Romance is striking debut from a major pop talent. Whether she is writing her own tracks or giving out classic tracks like "I Love It" for Icona Pop, Charli XCX knows how to work the pop landscape, giving the music industry a much needed shot in the arm. If you are looking for the best pop record of the year, you only need to start in one place, and that is right here.

Rating Scale:

Chilfos: masterpiece; coolest thing I've heard in ages.

Woof Daddy: excellent; just a hair away from being a masterpiece.

Grrrr: very good; will definitely be considered for my top releases of the year.

Yeah Daddy Make Me Want It: good; definitely invites further listens and piques one's interest for more material.

Meh: not horrible, but certainly not great; could have either been polished, trimmed, or re-thought.

Jeez Lady: what the hell happened? Just plain bad. They should hang their heads in shame and be forced to listen to Lady Gaga ad nauseam as penance.

Tragicistani: so bad, armed villagers with pitchforks and torches should run the artist out of the country for inflicting this abomination on the human race.

New: Pale - "Two Wrongs"


Icy synth pop from the mysterious London duo Pale.

Friday, April 12, 2013

Happy 30th Anniversary: R.E.M. - Murmur


Regardless of how you feel about their later career trajectory, there is no denying that without R.E.M. modern/alternative/college rock would never have been the same. Their debut album Murmur turns 30 today and still sounds amazingly fresh.

Jam of the Day: xxxy - "Thinkin Bout"


Slamming track from Manchester producer xxxy.

Videos of the Week


Despite the pollen count about killing me this week, here are the videos that made me giddy:



Despondent break-up song from Sweden's Tove Lo has a killer hook and killer video.



Gorgeous video for the title track from James Blake's brilliant second album.



Iconic video for the latest Cat Power single.



Palma Violets' video chronicling getting fucked up at a party and the inevitable comedown.



Harrowing portrait of drug addiction matches perfectly with the ominous sprawl of The Soft Moon's song.

Live on Fallon: Major Lazer ft. Amber Coffman - "Get Free"


Major Lazer perform this gorgeous, reggae-inflected track on Fallon.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Jam of the Day: TNGHT - "Acrylics"


Slamming new track from TNGHT, which is the duo of Hudson Mohawke and Lusine, which can be heard on their SoundCloud page here.

Video: James Blake - "Overgrown"


Gorgeously weird video for the title track to the brilliant second album from James Blake.

Album Review: ON AN ON - Give In


ON AN ON
Give In
Rating: Grrrr

Rising from the ashes of indie stalwarts Scattered Trees, Nate Eiesland, Alissa Ricci, and Ryne Estwing decided to continue on under a the new name ON AN ON, and worked with Broken Social Scene producer Dave Newfeld for their debut record Give In. Despite only having two weeks to regroup and plan their new approach, ON AN ON have crafted a remarkably assured debut record which builds from the influences of acts like BSS, Arcade Fire, and Radiohead. Give In creates a nice tension between acoustic and electronic elements that seldom feels forced or rushed, while chief songwriter Eisland finds interesting turns of phrase that linger long in the memory. From opening track and first single "Ghosts" you know you are in for something special. Minimal drum programming and subtle atmospherics lead into booming drums and chugging guitar riffs that slowly gestates into something more epic yet still intimate. Eisland's haunting words "I was on the verge to scream/When you wouldn't scream about anything" pushing his friend to keep alive, and pushes the track into immortality.



Eisland continues throughout Give In to make definitive statements that nail the essence of the track itself. For example, on the driving and forceful track "Panic," with the swirling guitars and strident drums providing a framework of almost collapse, Eiesland finds a way to still have hope, singing “Maybe something good could come along/maybe something good could save us all.”



On the 8 minute closing track "I Wanted To Say More," Eiesland sums up the futility of trying to help someone with the gorgeous lines "You are a saint and you are the devil/Every word I spoke to you/I thought that they were wings/But they were only feathers." The track is almost ambient in its approach, trailing out with a long coda of electronics and drifting piano and guitar lines.



The flow of Give In alternates between dense, heavy numbers and more subtle, atmospheric numbers. You can definitely tell the BSS influence on tracks like the soaring "Every Song,"



piano driven "American Dream,"



and raucous "War Is Gone."



But ON AN ON is far more than the sum of its influences, allowing moments of experimentation seep through the mix, defining their own sound. The clattering noise and drive of "Cops," haunted electronic folk of "All The Horses," and the before mentioned "I Wanted To Say More" with its lengthy ambient interludes. ON AN ON even carves out its own skyscraping epic, the intense synth riff heavy "The Hunter," which easily would hit the cheap seats in any stadium.



Give In definitely asserts itself as one of the best debuts this year, the perfect example of not letting adversity getting the best of the situation and striking forth on a new path. It's a gorgeously produced record that keeps unearthing new treasures with each listen. If only every debut album could sound this inspired.

Rating Scale:

Chilfos: masterpiece; coolest thing I've heard in ages.

Woof Daddy: excellent; just a hair away from being a masterpiece.

Grrrr: very good; will definitely be considered for my top releases of the year.

Yeah Daddy Make Me Want It: good; definitely invites further listens and piques one's interest for more material.

Meh: not horrible, but certainly not great; could have either been polished, trimmed, or re-thought.

Jeez Lady: what the hell happened? Just plain bad. They should hang their heads in shame and be forced to listen to Lady Gaga ad nauseam as penance.

Tragicistani: so bad, armed villagers with pitchforks and torches should run the artist out of the country for inflicting this abomination on the human race.