Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Video: Pet Shop Boys - "Vocal"


One of the best tracks (of the many) on Electric, the latest album from Pet Shop Boys, "Vocal" gets a video that documents the late 80s rave culture in the UK. The grainy footage is the perfect compliment to this brilliant closing track.

Jam of the Day: Marlene - "Bon Voyage"


Seriously, what the hell is up with Sweden? They have cornered the market on female pop singers. Here is another great pop track from our Scandinavian friends.

Album Review: Annie - The A&R EP


Annie
The A&R EP
Rating: Grrrr

Norwegian pop star Annie has teased us for years with only 2 albums and a series of one off singles and collaborations that always keep her in the mind's eye. Indeed, if anyone would benefit the most from the use of the extended play, it would be Annie. She just doesn't really fit into the typical album-oriented playbook, with her singles usually outshining the album material, notably on 2009's somewhat lackluster Don't Stop. Aside from her spring single "Tubestops and Lonely Hearts," Annie has been fairly quiet this year, until now, with the release of her first EP, The A&R, her 5 track collaboration with frequent songwriting partner/producer Richard X (Sugababes, Roisin Murphy, Goldfrapp, M.I.A). With nary a weak track, The A&R is a brilliant collection of dance-pop tracks that all work together, yet each stands alone. The tracks move effortlessly from cheeky pop to dark and sinister without any blips or throwaways.

Starting out with the lovely dance floor anthem "Back Together," Annie hits the ground running with this 90s leaning pop track. Her deliciously coy vocal fits perfectly over the swooning synths and blooping keyboards, the thumping beats bringing it all home.



"Hold On" is a delightful house leaning pop track, with Richard X's production creating a lovely, nostalgia feeling while Annie's sweet and airy vocals are the right fit. In days gone by, you could easily see this lilting track shooting up the charts.



For complete non-guilty pleasure, pop perfection "Ralph Macchio" is a goofy, 8-bit love letter to Annie's 80's crush Ralph Macchio.



Things take a slightly darker turn on the rave-inflected club banger "Invisible," with Annie lamenting a failed relationship, both parties giving their sides of the story. Whether it is Annie singing both parts, with her lover's voice being highly processed, remains to be seen. It does create a creepy, sinister take on things though, and is the most striking track on the record.



Things close out on a slightly brighter note, with the skycraping synths and beats of "Mixed Emotions." Richard X's production is typically immaculate and pristine, providing the perfect backing for Annie.



In fact, Richard X always seems to be perfectly in sync with Annie when it comes to producing for her. His music backing is always interesting yet not showy, never overshadowing Annie, letting her voice be the focal point. It is one of pop music's best duos when it comes down to it. Hopefully, they will give us a lot of more collaborations in the future. For now, The A&R is a brilliant look into their collaborative process, and is one of the best collection of dance tracks this year.

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.

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

New: TV On The Radio - "Mercy"


First single from TV On The Radio after they left longtime label Interscope. It's a different sound for the band, forsaking experimentation for a distinctly direct take. It's a barn burner. You can listen to it here at Consequence of Sound.

Jam of the Day: Fuck Buttons - "Hidden XS"


An almost unbearably dense build is the focus of this amazing closing track off Fuck Buttons' brilliant third album Slow Focus.

New: Nine Inch Nails - "Copy of A" and "Disappointment"


From South Korea's Ansan Valley Music Festival, Nine Inch Nails showcased two new tracks "Copy of A" and "Disappointment."

Album Review: Deafheaven - Sunbather


Deafheaven
Sunbather
Rating: Woof Daddy

San Francisco based band Deafheaven are the buzz band of the moment in indie rock circles, as well as a highly contentious part of the black metal scene, getting dissed by their peers as being part of "hipster metal," for their combination of elements such as post-punk, shoegaze, post-rock, and alt-rock into their sound. I can't claim to be an expert on black metal or any metal for that matter (my friend Tradd, on the other hand, is my spiritual guide into such matters and gives me good recommendations and advice), but I generally know what I like and what I don't like. Traditionalist or not, Deafheaven's second record Sunbather is an exciting record that focuses on the band's almost innate ability to flawlessly juggle loud/soft, beautiful/harsh moments and create a record that straps you for a journey that lingers long in the memory. And truly is a journey through alt-rock/metal from the past 3 decades, taking metal and cloaking it with influences like The Cure, The Smiths, Joy Division (in fact, singer George Clarke bears a resemblance to Ian Curtis), My Bloody Valentine, Slowdive (their band name is a homage to them), Explosions In The Sky, Sigur Ros, and Godspeed!You Black Emperor, Mogwai, and even current buzz acts like Fuck Buttons. All these influences make for a more varied and interesting experience than the usual "pure" black metal record which tends to get caught up in the same dynamics over the course of a record, deadening the impact.

On Sunbather, Deafheaven masterfully control where their sound is going, but never doing anything predictable. Where you think a song is going to explode, it descends into ambient washes, when you think it is going to fade out into gorgeous bliss, it erupts into pure noise and scrape. There are moments of acoustic metal folk, spoken word interludes, pure alt-rock sweep, surreal samples, and electronic experimentation. That all of these elements mesh into something so intricate and well thought out is a miracle. The production and pacing of Sunbather is practically perfect, its hour run time almost sliding by unnoticed.

The album starts out with the clarion call of "Dream House," a nine minute force of nature featuring some powerful drumming and intense washes of shoegaze bliss that would make Kevin Shields envious, moving effortlessly from pure washes of noise to melodic turns of guitars hitting the midpoint with a gorgeous guitar interlude, before concluding with an eruption of guitars and Clarke's guttural howls punctuating the mix.



Which leads into the delicate piano and guitar interlude "Irresistible" which initially feels out of place but is the perfect segue into the frontal guitar assault of title track "Sunbather," as intense washes of guitar float over pummeling drums and Clarke's furious vocals. It is the encapsulation of the entire record, gathering all the above listed influences into one intense yet beautiful track.



In between these amazing full throttle tracks are moments of transcendent introspection and experimentation. "Please Remember" features a lengthy reading by Alcest's Neige of lines from Milan Kundera's novel from The Unbearable Lightness of Being that touched singer Clarke. The track erupts at the middle with an almost unlistenable flash of white noise before breaking apart into acoustic loveliness. While "Windows" is an almost found-sound sonic collage of spoken word, backwards masked guitars, drones, and piano stabs, creating a spooky tableau between two of the most assured tracks on the record. "Vertigo" is an amazing 14 minute exploration of Deafheaven's sound. Beginning from a bed of gorgeous intertwining guitars, the song ebbs and flows with amazing waves of processed guitars and metal interludes, Clarke's maniacal voice joining the fray. It's an awe-inspiring track that shows how fluid and aggressive the band can be.



I didn't think the band would be able to outshine "Vertigo" until the blistering opening of closing track "The Pecan Tree" blew up my speakers. Breaking from the maelstrom into a midsection calm of gorgeous post-rock guitars that intricately play among each other as a bold piano melody takes its turn in the mix. The song turns it up several notches as it builds from this oasis back into the furious storm of guitars.



As I mentioned previously, I am not a metal purist by any stretch of the imagination. In fact, I am not a music purist for any genre at all. To me, if the songs are good, what does it matter how it was created or what influenced it. I happen to like metal, post-punk, and post-rock, so I have no issue with all of these genres getting together and doing their thing. Sunbather is just a fantastic metal record that kept my attention from the beginning and has grasped hold of me with every subsequent listen. It is simply one of the best metal records of the year, and one of the best records of the year, period.

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.

Video: Fryars - "Cool Like Me"


I'm starting to like the songs I am hearing from Fryars. This latest is a summery, chilled out track with a strange, fish out of water video to go with it.

Monday, July 29, 2013

Jam of the Day: Basecamp - "Emmanuel"


Sleek, modern R&B from Nashville trio Basecamp.

Video: Icona Pop - "Girlfriend"


The Swedish duo get all Thelma and Louise on this chirpy EDM track.

Album Review: AlunaGeorge - Body Music


AlunaGeorge
Body Music
Rating: Grrrr

UK duo AlunaGeorge, made up of Aluna Francis (vocals) and George Reid (production), has teased us over the past year with several amazing singles that threw them into the spotlight along with other upstarts like Disclosure who mined the 90s for inspiration. AlunaGeorge's debut record Body Music is definitely the more poppy of the two bands' records, unabashedly calling to mind Aaliyah's work with Timbaland, TLC, Brandy, Sade, and Neneh Cherry with nods to more contemporary artists and styles like The Knife, The xx, and James Blake along with 2-step, glitch hop, and UK bass music. Despite all these varied influences, AlunaGeorge has created a cohesive record with each track standing out individually, but also working with the others to mesh well as a whole. Aluna's vice is simultaneously breathy and controlled, youthful and mature, one that doesn't bash you over the head with its strength but more drawing you in subtly before enveloping you. Likewise, Reid's production is never too showy, always providing the right backing for Aluna's lovely voice, but always being distinctive and not just fading into the background.

Body Music collects all of the singles that AlunaGeorge has released in the past year. While the new tracks on the whole don't reach the perfection of their earlier singles, they show that the duo are able to branch off from that base and make a varied and beautiful collection of tracks that make up one of the best pop records of the year. Of the previous singles, my favorite is "Your Drums, Your Love," with its skittering beats, jazzy keyboards and synth washes, and a deeper, more restrained vocal turn from Aluna. There is so much going on in this track it is amazing it doesn't all fall apart. And I love the lyrics to this track, with Aluna getting more and more frantic, singing "I've been treading water for your love/Whether I sink or swim, it's you I'm thinking of/I've been treading water for your love/As my light grows dim maybe I'm not strong enough."



But of course, it is hard to dismiss such pop perfection of tracks like "Attracting Flies," with its thumping beats, quirky samples and keyboards, and Aluna cooing "Little grey fairy tales/And little white lies/Everything you exhale is attracting flies;"



"You Know You Like It" with its bloopy keyboards, synth washes, drunken drum programming, and Aluna's sexy delivery;



while "Just A Touch" trades in chirpy samples and rough synth rumbles over muted beats and Aluna's in control vocals.



The rest of the new tracks, while not being as completely off the rails distinctive as these singles, have their own subtle charms that blend well with the former standouts. Title track "Body Music" is a lush, haunted ballad that focuses more on the vulnerability in Aluna's voice,



"Friends to Lovers" is a jazzy ballad that reveals the amazing breadth in production skills that Reid possesses,



while tracks like "Lost and Found" and "Bad Idea"are club bangers with funky drum programming and rumbling basslines.



The only time the record doesn't really work is when some of the tracks feel like they are on auto-pilot, following too much of a pattern, and not adding anything interesting in the ways of production. Most notably, the pleasant, but wan ballad "Diver," the lurching and bland cliches of "Superstar," and the misbegotten cover of Montell Jordan"s "This Is How We Do It" which plays it safely by the book.



Overall though, these tracks are still listenable and enjoyable, they just don't stand out as well as the other tracks. Body Music is an assured debut from AlunaGeorge that, while not necessarily reaching the amazing heights of peers Disclosure's Settle, still has its giddy charms and amusements. I would like them to continue to push their sound like they did on the early singles, rather than try to buff things into more standard pop territory, as it is telling that the quirkier productions stand out much more. Too soon to say where this duo will head in the future, but for now, they have my attention.

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: RJD2 - "Her Majesty's Socialist Request"


First taste from RJD2's upcoming record More Is Than Isn't is a sludgy, riff-heavy instrumental number which you can listen to here.

Friday, July 26, 2013

Live: Nine Inch Nails - "Find My Way"


Nine Inch Nails debuted this new track at the Fuji Rock Festival.

Jam of the Day: Raleigh Ritchie - "Stay Inside"


Gorgeous R&B from UK singer Raleigh Ritchie.

New: Four Tet - "Kool FM"


Strange, experimental take on club music from Four Tet.

Videos of the Week


Here are the videos this week that got me over my Post-Bear Week Depression:



Hyper-stylized video from Franz Ferdinand.



Interesting video from Fiona Apple, directed by her former paramour Paul Thomas Anderson.



Lush, and slightly trippy video from Washed Out.



Dark and intense video from Kanye West.



Slippery synthpop track from Soft Metals gets a sexy video clip.



Gorgeous clip from Braids.



Watery clip from Moby.



Futuristic clip from The Weeknd.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

New: Annie & Richard X - "Invisible"


Dark, 90s acid house/rave-inflected track from the upcoming collaborative EP from Annie and Richard X called A&R. It can be heard here.

Jam of the Day: Astronomyy - "Things I'd Do For U"


Sleek R&B from Astronomyy.

Album Review: Locrian - Return To Annihilation


Locrian
Return To Annihilation
Rating: Grrrr

It is interesting to see a lot of metal acts embracing influences of other genres. In the past couple of years, we have seen a host of bands looking towards shoegaze for inspiration. Sometimes there is a fine line between the two, with shoegaze leaning more towards dense, blissouts while metal seeks a more aggressive, bludgeoning approach. The two together create an interesting symbiosis with the beauty of shoegaze adding nice contrast and breathing room to the pummeling nature of metal. Chicago trio Locrian have moved away from their initial focus of droning black metal to something not quite softer, but more measured, allowing beauty to creep in through the intense sludge of guitars. Return To Annihilation lives up to its murky album cover, an abandoned shopping cart lost in the mists of fog bound parking lot, with 7 tracks of lonely shoegaze-metal (metalgaze?) with passages of intense beauty meshed with full on assaults on the senses. Locrian is all about the build here, with each track keeping you transfixed in its spell, as the suite of tracks washes over you, enveloping you in its cloudy haze.

Locrian even find time to go slightly pop on the opening track "Eternal Return" with its swooning synths, pounding drums, and droning guitars that wouldn't feel out of place on an early Smashing Pumpkins record, the only marker that this is not pop is Terrence Hannum's guttural howl that pierces through the mix.



It's a gorgeous start to the record that flows perfectly into the pulsing throb of keyboards and eerie guitar squalls of "A Visitation from the Wrath of Heaven," an intense 8 minute journey that works through intimate intertwined guitars that play among each other like twinkling bells but holds a creeping sense of unease in the background as the drums get more focus and guitars more strident. Which neatly segues into the prog fantasia that is "Two Moons" before hitting the album centerpiece and title track "Return to Annihilation," a pummeling adventure of tribal drums, chanted lyrics, and dense guitar play.



Which again falls back into the dark, ambient tides of "Exiting the Hall of Vapor and Light" which holds your rapt attention with its subtle spin of chiming guitars and muted drums as it flows into the apocalyptic squall of "Panorama of Mirrors."



Ultimately ending in the 15 minute plus closer "Obsolete Elegies" which moves from death folk to prog rock to orchestral ambient to full on raging death metal and doing it all seamlessly. It is a fitting ending to a monumental record and perfectly encapsulates the tone and themes of the record in one amazingly constructed suite.

For lovers of metal records and shoegaze, this is a treasure chest of riches. Return to Annihilation is a wonderfully produced and performed record that is one of the best metal records of the year. Along with contemporaries like Deafheaven, Locrian is pushing the envelope of what metal is and can do. By venturing into unexplored territory they stand out among their peers and make metal a much more interesting genre.

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.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Mixtape: Arca - &&&&&


You can listen to and download the latest mixtape from amazing producer Arca, who just received production credit on the new Kanye West record. This is some intense stuff.

Jam of the Day: Pet Shop Boys - "Fluorescent"


I could almost put every one of the tracks from Pet Shop Boys's latest record Electric on here, they are all that good. But in the interest of parity, I will put "Fluorescent" on here as it is the one song I continually go back to. It is one very slamming electro track.

Album Review: Fuck Buttons - Slow Focus


Fuck Buttons
Slow Focus
Rating: Woof Daddy

Through two albums, Bristol noise merchants Fuck Buttons (Benjamin Power and Andrew Hung) have tinkered and tweaked their sound from the claustrophobic interiorness of Street Horrrsing to the skyscraping technicolor of Tarot Sport, and have even found some popular success when part of their track "Surf Solar" found its way into the opening ceremony of the 2012 Olympics. If you were thinking that nod would have changed their focus, you would be sadly mistaken. Slow Focus neither reinvents the wheel nor sounds like a retread of their past records, though it is unmistakably a Fuck Buttons record. Slow Focus finds the duo amping up their sound to Herculean levels, showing a muscularity that was always in the background but never at the forefront. This is not a record to put on for leisurely listening, it demands attention and does not give you any respite from the onslaught like former tracks such as "The Lisbon Maru" or "Bright Tomorrow." This is 7 of the most in your face electronic music you will hear all year, and is mind-bogglingly brilliant.

Opener "Brainfreeze" adds primal, real drums that provide a cavernous beat for the upswing of droning electronics,



a flurry of competing electronic noises rises and falls against each other in "Year of the Dog" creating an almost hallucinatory tableau as if painted by Hieronymus Bosch, until the funky swirl of off-kilter keyboards rubs up with a loopy beat and angry bass noises of "The Red Wing."



Throughout Slow Focus there is a constant push and pull between the harsh and beautiful. The dense scrape of "Sentients" pits angry electronics and clattering percussion into a frenzy of noise pollution as heavily treated vocals are morphed into just another element of the track, which then segues into the lush and deep sonics of "Prince's Prize" as blooping keyboards are ultimately overtaken by gorgeous washes of synths and a lumbering beat.



Fuck Buttons show their complete mastery of their sound on the final two tracks of Slow Focus which almost make up a huge chunk of the running time of the record. "Stalker" is a slow burn of rising synths and dense beats,



while closer "Hidden XS" is a brilliant, haunting and inescapably moving journey that takes you on a course through almost every emotion. There are times in the track where the music threatens to overwhelm you, but the duo finds some way to always keep you in line, bringing you back from the depths of despair to joy and hope.



Slow Focus is one of the best experimental electronic records you will hear all year. Power and Hung know how to bolster there sound without straying too far from what made them special in the first place. I've loved watching their progression and their steadfast belief that you can still make amazing music without compromising your sound. The end of the year is going to be extremely difficult trying to pick and album of the year when all these brilliant bands keep one-upping each other. Slow Focus is definitely in the running for album of the year.

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: Icona Pop - "All Night"


Although their debut album was released in Sweden last year, Swedish duo Icona Pop have announced that This Is... will get an expanded release here in the States in October. Here is a new single ("All Night") from that record.

Monday, July 22, 2013

Jam of the Day: Disclosure "F For U (Totally Enormous Extinct Dinosaurs Remix)"


TEED adds his particular style to this great track off Disclosure's debut record. TEED opts for a bass heavy approach with lots of heavy vocal effects.

Album Review: Pet Shop Boys - Electric


Pet Shop Boys
Electric
Rating: Woof Daddy

Last year's record from the Pet Shop Boys, Elysium, their final record for longtime label Parlaphone, felt like a death knell for the venerable pop duo. Full of lyrics about fading away and aging, the dour atmosphere of the record was a far cry from their more upbeat and fun records. So it was a surprise when they announced the quick follow up to that record, Electric. Promised as a return to their dance roots, the boys enlisted the help of producer Stuart Price (Madonna, Killers) who knows his way around a dancefloor. Over these 9 club friendly tracks, Electric pulses and swoons with dark beats and majestic synths, harking back to their glorious dancefloor masterpiece Introspective. Neil Tennant and Chris Lowe seem incredibly inspired this go around, turning out their best record since Very, and while it is not as eclectic, its sleek and consistent tone more than atone for it.

Anticipation was high for the record back when they released the teaser track "Axis" a driving dance track full of rising beds of synth washes and keyboard melodies over a thumping base of beats and vocodered vocals.



And finally this anticipation was more than warranted as the record takes off from this track and never hits a low point. Highlights are many and plenty, from the dark, sinister electro of "Fluorescent" with its claustrophobic beats and weird, wonky electronics,



pop perfection of fun single "Thursday,"



or brilliant closing single "Vocal" which might be one of their best tracks ever, a gorgeous anthem that should fill dancefloors all year long.



Of course, this wouldn't be a PSB album without some wry commentary and arch tone. The "Left to My Own Devices" winking track "Love Is A Bourgeois Construct" features some of Tennant's most acerbic lyrics like "I'll explore the outer limits of boredom/Moaning periodically," while bouncing along to a sample from Michael Nyman's main theme from Peter Greenaway's film The Draughtsman's Contract.



And again they come up with another brilliant cover along the lines of "Always On My Mind" or "Where The Streets Have No Name" taking on Bruce Springsteen's "The Last To Die," turning the focus from a broader view of post-Iraq futility to a more intimate, suffocating view of post-breakup relationships.



Electric is not necessarily a return to form for PSB, as they really have never put out a horrible record in the past few years. While Elysium was a bit of a disappointment, it was not an embarrassment by any stretch of the imagination. Sometimes it takes looking back at one's strengths and working off that base to return to what works best. Electric is neither a rehash of old glories nor a venture off into modern dance music, and for that I am thankful. It is simply the Pet Shop Boys putting out their best record years, showing that they still have love and affection for what they do, and for what they do well.

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.

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Jam of the Day: I Break Horses - "Denial"


New single from Swedish duo I Break Horses departs from their initial shoegaze to derive obvious influence from their time on the road with M83 by embracing a more skyscraping synthpop sound.

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Jam of the Day: Ciara - "Overdose"


Ciara's new self-titled album is an interesting record that succeeds more when it becomes a pure pop record rather than a R&B record. "Overdose" is a gorgeous synthpop/dubstep inflected number that is just pop goodness.

Video: Kanye West - "Black Skinhead"


First video from Kanye's latest record Yeezus.

Monday, July 8, 2013

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Happy 20th Anniversary: Björk - Debut


Hard to believe it has been 20th years since Björk's not actually a debut record Debut was released. While it is not as strong as the follow up Post or as adventurous as Homogenic, it has a quirky charm that holds its own against those landmark records.

Jam of the Day: Chelsea Wolfe - "The Warden"


Ethereal synthpop from Chelsea Wolfe.

Video: Janelle Monae - "Dance Apocalyptic"


Janelle Monae lets down here hair (literally) in this fun video and track.

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

New: Annie - "Back Together"


Lush club track from everyone's favorite Nordic chanteuse Annie. You can here it here on Richard X's SoundCloud page.

New: London Grammar - "Strong"


First single off their upcoming debut record. Hannah Reid's voice is still stunning.

Jam of the Day: Dark Sky - "In Brackets"


Melancholic techno from the London production team Dark Sky.

Monday, July 1, 2013

Jam of the Day: The KVB - "Dayzed"


London duo The KVB, Klaus Von Barrel and Kat Day, put forth this reverb heavy shoegaze track.

Album Review: oOoOO - Without Your Love


oOoOO
Without Your Love
Rating: Grrrr

San Francisco based producer oOoOO, otherwise known as Chris Dexter, emerged back in 2010 and was immediately lumped into the burgeoning "witch house/drag" scene along with acts like Salem and White Ring. Of course like most over-hyped micro-genres, witch house faded almost as quickly as it exploded, leaving a lot of associated artists either floundering, breaking up, or moving on to other things. oOoOO wisely used his earlier EPs as a springboard to morphing his sound into something less restrictive, embracing everything from ambient, downtempo, trap, experimental techno, to even adding vocals to his tracks. Without Your Love is a fairly dark journey, the viewpoint being that love is a tempestuous place, full of trials and pitfalls, and is barely worth the time and effort. This suite of tracks never feels too oppressive, however, allowing some moments of beauty and light within its haunted shadows.

Opening with the duo tracks "Sirens" and "Stay Here," Without Your Love gets off to a texturally rich start. Manipulated vocals flow in and out of atmospheric washes of synths and samples during "Sirens" before merging into the dark, cavernous beats and lonely vocals of "Stay Here."



Throughout Without Your Love, Dexter shows remarkable dexterity in his production style, tying all the strands together seamlessly without ever seeming heavy handed. Whether it is the DJ Screw-like beats of "The South,"



lonely electronica of "On It,"



or found sounds of "Crossed Wires," the album is a cohesive collection that never fails to impress.

While there is an always present darkness lurking within the shadows of the record, Dexter is not afraid to let a little light in on occasion, offering up some of his most breathtakingly beauty compositions. Title track "Without Your Love" showcases a lovely synth melody along with a heartbreakingly tender vocal,



while closing track "Across A Sea" is a melancholy piano led ballad that ends things on a somewhat hopeful note.



Initially, I kept my hopes low for this debut record, worrying that Dexter would stick to his former sound that had basically faded into obscurity. Thankfully he didn't tread water, building from his sound into something more poignant and moving. While Without Your Love is not going to be in the running for the most "up" record of the year, it is an amazingly produced record that is both intoxicating and challenging.

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: Moby - "A Case For Shame"


First single from Moby's upcoming, guest star loaded album Innocents.

Video: Mount Kimbie ft. King Krule - "You Took Your Time"


Gorgeous black and while clip for the Mount Kimbie track "You Took Your Time" featuring the raspy vocals of King Krule.

Mount Kimbie: You Took Your Time on Nowness.com.