Monday, March 31, 2014

Jam of the Day: SZA ft. Chance the Rapper - "Child's Play"


Built off a languid sample from Lapalux, this slow jam from SZA is a subtle charmer.

Friday, March 28, 2014

Jam of the Day: The Chain Gang of 1974 - "Sleepwalking"


Skyscraping indie-tronic track from this project of American musician and DJ, Kamtin Mohager, who records under the name The Chain Gang of 1974.

Videos of the Week


Here are the videos that made me slide headfirst into the weekend:



Slick track and video from R&B singer Tinashe.



Kelis decides to hang out in the middle of a lake for her latest clip.



Striking clip from dream poppers Fear of Men.



Really cool clip from The Pains of Being Pure at Heart.



Tokyo Police Club hang out in a bar with vintage video games in this fun clip.

New: Jamie xx - "Sleep Sound"


From his upcoming single "Girl/Sleep Sound" which is due for release on Young Turks May 5th, "Sleep Sound" debuted last year on a radio show and is now here in final form. A gorgeous, liquidy track, "Sleep Sound" is more evocative music from the talented producer.

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Jam of the Day: Popstrangers - "Country Kills"


Brittle and tense guitar work highlight this track from the London via New Zealand band Popstrangers, whose debut album Fortuna is released in May.

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Jam of the Day: XO ft. Emma Corbett-Usher - "What's Luv?"


UK producer Sunil Heera teams up with singer Emma Corbett-Usher for this sleek R&B meets electronica track.

Album Review: Skrillex - Recess


Skrillex
Recess
Rating: Yeah Daddy Make Me Want It

Go ahead, insert your favorite Skrillex joke here. Get it out of your system. I will wait.

It is doubtful anyone's opinion of Mr. Sonny John Moore is going to change based on a simple review. You are either on board with his big room EDM assault or you think it sounds like machinery being melted down. But there is no denying that Skrillex is still one of the most sought after DJs on the festival circuit and is likely to be for some time. Recess, Skrillex's first full-scale album, is an interesting look into where Skrillex has been, where he is, and where he might be going. As I point out in a lot of my reviews, I am usually drawn more to music an artist puts out that stretches their boundaries and takes me to a new place. Strangely here, I find that Skrillex does best when he stays with what he knows best; whereas, his experiments and other genre exercises find him either curiously flat or just out of his element completely.

What I do love about Skrillex is that is well-aware of the haters out there and even throws in a joke right off the bat with the title of first song "All Is Fair In Love And Brostep" and yet still manages to come up with a killer track.



And when Skrillex sticks to his strengths he usually knocks it out of the park. Title track "Recess," a collaboration with Kill The Noise, brings all the usual Skrillex elements to the mix, sing-songy vocal samples, killer build up, and massive bass drop;



"Dirty Vibe" with Diplo is another maniacal and relentless track;



"Try It Out" starts out uncharacteristically muted and atmospheric for Skrillex until his patented bass drop explodes from the speakers;



and he recasts the haunting Niki and the Dove track "Ease My Mind" into a dancehall-inflected workout.



And I understand that as an artist you don't want to stick to making the same song over and over again and, for that, I applaud Skrillex for really stepping out on some tracks and experimenting with who Skrillex is, but honestly, it finds him moving away from something distinctive and almost fading into the background or just going off the rails entirely. "Stranger" thumps along on a muted percussive track and bobbing bass line, but just plods along for a very long five minutes;



"Doompy Poomp" is perhaps the major head scratcher here, a wonky psychedelic number that is just plain bizarre;



and you can definitely tell Skillex has been listening to a lot of Burial, which finds his influence seeping into final track "Fire Away," which is a gorgeous track but is basically ruined by an incongruous vocal that should have been left off.



Skrillex finds himself in an interesting place. Being at the top of his game and headlining most of the major festivals this year, he can certainly not be faulted if he wanted to rest on his laurels and churn out bass drop after bass drop, but Mr. Moore seemingly wants more than just that. I may not like some of these side trips he makes on Recess, but I certainly appreciate his willingness to strive for something different. Somewhere in this mix of tracks is a more happy medium for his trademarked sound and some more experimentation. Here is hoping he continues that journey.

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, March 25, 2014

Jam of the Day: Lust For Youth - "Epoetin Alpha"


New Order/The Cure/Depeche Mode-esque track from Swedish producer Hannes Norrvide, aka Lust For Youth.

Album Review: Liars - Mess


Liars
Mess
Rating: Grrrr

Over six albums, Liars only consistency has been their inconsistency in approach. Starting off their career with the brutal dance punk of They Threw Us All in a Trench and Stuck a Monument on Top and taking the monstrous left turn with the conceptual art rock of They We Wrong, So We Drowned, it was immediately apparent that you could never actually know what the band was thinking or going to do. While there have been attempts at more conventional song writing, 2007's Liars comes to mind, the band seems to thrive more when they are pushing boundaries. From the haunting almost tribal drone of Drum's Not Dead to the icy synth explorations on their last record WIXIW, these boundary pushing releases always make me eagerly anticipate any new music from these sonic artists. With their seventh album Mess, the band takes the experimentation of WIXIW and turns it on its head. Where WIXIW was almost contemplative, Mess is a full on attack, beating you senseless with an onslaught of harsh electronic beats and corrosive synths, with few moments of stark clarity and beauty. It refuses to be an easy listen, but is still captivating in its own twisted way.

The band wastes no time throwing out the one/two punch of "Mask Maker" and "Vox Tuned D.E.D.," two the band's dancier tracks with still enough edge. "Mask Maker" takes singer Angus Andrew's voice and cuts and pastes it with sinister abandon, having him shout out "eat my face off," "take my pants off," and "use my socks" while the music swirls and blasts against the throbbing beats.



"Vox Tuned D.E.D." takes those chilly strains and makes it more full bodied and ominous, pushing bass bursts and dramatic synth string swells to orgiastic heights.



Liars clearly relish their new found sonic acumen with their sequencers and samplers seemingly headed pell mell to the brink of chaos. The onslaught is almost too much to bear at times, with intense tracks like the proto-industrial "I'm No Gold," kaleidoscopic whirlwind and first single "Mess On A Mission,"



and furious rush of "Pro Anti Anti."

Of course, aside from these driving tracks, this wouldn't be a Liars album without some detours into the sinister and strange. There are several tracks on Mess that seep into your skin like a slow-acting poison. The back half of the record triptych of "Darkslide," "Boyzone," and "Dress Walker" takes things to the extreme at times, and almost threaten to derail the record. Not that these tracks are in any way inferior, they just happen to be paced such that the gloom becomes almost overpowering. However, Liars are not one to make things too monochromatic, and there are a few moments of hope and light that seep through. The album is broken up mid-point by the analog oscillations of "Can't Hear Well," which finds Andrews' voice at its most haunting and moving. While the two tracks that close out the record are more muted, focusing more on atmosphere than attack. The almost 9+ minutes of "Perpetual Village" is a buzzy, slow building track that echoes the millennial dread of the best of Massive Attack, while final track "Left Speaker Blown," while still hovering in darkness, is one of Liars' most gorgeous and intense beatless ventures.



Mess is Liars through and through. They are never going to release a record for the masses, choosing to wind their way down their own path. They don't like to stay in one place long, and as they now feel confident with their ability to craft heady electronic music, I have no doubt their next adventure will find them going in a completely different direction. Mess is classic Liars and a worthy addition to their increasing canon.

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.

Monday, March 24, 2014

London Grammar: "Devil Inside (INXS Cover)"


Striking cover of the INXS classic "Devil Inside" from London Grammar. The song was recently previewed in the Game of Thrones trailer for Season Four.

Jam of the Day: Liars - "Vox Turned D.E.D."


Blistering electronic track from Liars' new record Mess.

New: Damon Albarn - "Heavy Seas of Love"


"Heavy Seas of Love" is the closing track to Damon Albarn's highly anticipated solo record Everyday Robots. It is a buoyant, gospel-inflected ballad that Albarn always does so well.

Friday, March 21, 2014

Jam of the Day: The Acid - "Creeper"


First taste from the trio's upcoming debut album Liminal. "Creeper" is full of menace and dread, coming across like a brutal mash-up of Massive Attack, Portishead, and Thom Yorkeian anxiety.

Videos of the Week


Happy Friday to everyone! Here are the videos that made me smile this week:



Kaleidoscopic clip for this collaboration between Swedish legends Neneh Cherry and Robyn.



Aussie trio Movement make some very sensual R&B, and this slow burn video is the perfect accompaniment.



Blurry, hazy performance clip for this blistering track from Bleeding Rainbow.



Haunting track from Garden City Movement has a melancholy first love video that packs a surprisingly emotional punch. The video is mildly NSFW.



Impressionistic video from Lolawolf.

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Jam of the Day: Camden Cox - "Kinda Like"


Sleek R&B tinted pop from singer Camden Cox. If you like AlunaGeorge and Disclosure, you will fall in line with this track.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Jam of the Day: Throwing Snow - "Caedis"


A buzzy low end and clomping beat propel this electronic track from Throwing Snow (a.k.a. Ross Tones), before droning strings and vaguely Oriental string instruments take over. The elements together create a haunting atmosphere.

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Jam of the Day: Chvrches - "Recover (KDA Remix)"


Sleek, houseish take on the brilliant Chvrches' single. The remix starts out very minimally, until skittering hi-hats take over and all the disparate elements merge into one blissful whole.

Video: Neneh Cherry ft. Robyn - "Out of the Black"


Kaleidoscopic video for this sassy collaboration between the legendary Neneh Cherry, and Swedish pop princess Robyn.

New: tUnE-yArDs - "Water Fountain"


First look into tUnE-yArDs' latest album Nikki Nack.

Monday, March 17, 2014

Friday, March 14, 2014

Videos of the Week


Here are this week's favorite videos:



Slick track from BANKS gets a sleek video to accompany it.



Nancy Whang brings her effortless cool to this track and video from Shit Robot.



Intriguingly bizarre clip from TEEN.



Languid visuals compliment this alt-R&B track from SZA.



Rapper YG and Drake hit a house party in this fun clip.

Thursday, March 13, 2014

New: Coldplay - "Magic"


After previewing "Midnight," Coldplay release a new track "Magic" from their upcoming record Ghost Stories.

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Jam of the Day: Skrillex - "Ease My Mind"


From his surprise release Recess comes what is essentially a reworking of the Niki and the Dove track, "DJ, Ease My Mind." Skrillex wisely doesn't mess with the central pathos of the track, and adds his own unique spin on a great dance track.

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Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Jam of the Day: Trust - "Four Gut"


From his supremely catchy second record Joyland, Trust a.k.a. Robert Alfons throws down this dark and sensual dance track.

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Monday, March 10, 2014

Free Download: Hercules & Love Affair - "Be With You"


Although it does not appear on Hercules & Love Affair's third record Do You Feel The Same?, here is a free download of a track from those sessions, "Be With You." It is some slinky goodness.

Jam of the Day: Talos - "Tethered Bones"


Gorgeous future R&B inflected electronica from Talos.

Friday, March 7, 2014

Jam of the Day: Broods - "Sleep Baby Sleep"


Gorgeous, languid track off the New Zealand duo's self-titled debut EP.

Happy 20th Anniversary: Nine Inch Nails - The Downward Spiral


I remember calling in sick at work to be the first person at the record store to buy this record. After spending my college years wearing out copies of Pretty Hate Machine, this was a monumental record release for me. And it never disappointed. For me, this is still THE essential NIN record, one that will stand the test of time for me.

Videos of the Week


Here are the videos that gave me artificial resuscitation after a horrific work week:



Aussie duo The Presets imagine the dance floor as a violent world in this video.



Interesting, almost mini-movie like video from Owen Pallett.



Stark ballad from Lykke Li gets an equally stark video.



Abstract video from Hundred Waters.



Striking clip from new wave artpoppers CYMBALS.



Black and white performance clip from Esben and the Witch, showcasing a meatier sound.

Bombay Bicycle Club - "F For You (Disclosure Cover)"


Bombay Club Bicycle Club turn Disclosure's house anthem into a slippery, funky slice of Afropop.

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Jam of the Day: Perfect Pussy - "Interference Fits"


Perfect Pussy perfectly recaptures the dreamy yet feedback ridden grandeur of 80s Sonic Youth on this glorious track.

Video: Lykke Li - "Love Me Like I'm Not Made Of Stone"


Stark ballad from Lykke Li gets an equally haunting video. The song is from her upcoming record I Never Learn.

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Monday, March 3, 2014

Jam of the Day: Scuba - "Cyanide"


Pounding techno track from Scuba.

Album Review: Real Estate - Atlas


Real Estate
Atlas
Rating: Woof Daddy

Ridgewood, New Jersey band Real Estate have released two albums of beautiful, pastoral guitar rock that speaks to long summer days, being young, and drifting aimlessly through life before responsibility takes over, the halcyon days of youth fading from view. With their third release Atlas, the band seems more grown up this time. While there is still the lackadaisical charm to the arrangements and melodies, there is a maturity here that is a huge leap from their work on their self-titled debut and their second album Days. There is still a youthful haze over everything, however, the songs have that sense of waking up from an all-nighter and having that first hangover that won't seem to go away quickly.

On opening track "Had to Hear," wistful, jangly guitars add a far-off dreamy quality to a track that laments getting older and lost relationships. Singer Martin Courtney lamenting that "I'm out again on my own/A reflection in the chrome/Of an adding machine," as he fondly remembers an old love and tries to rekindle past memories, singing "I had to hear you just to feel near you/I know its not true/But its been so long/I know its wrong."



These themes of getting older and reflecting on the past are woven throughout the record, with some of the characters able to make peace with maturity, while others never seem to move on from their youth. On melancholy brooder "Past Lives" there is the haunting line "I walk past these houses where we once stood/I see past lives but some how you're still here."



On "Crime," the simple intertwining guitar lines snake across the track, with the singer feeling the pull of adulthood, desperate to cling to something: "I don't wanna die lonely and uptight/stay with me/all will be revealed."



And on lonely closer "Navigator," the narrator has to accept that the days are never going to seem as long as they once were, the passing of time relentless and cruel. He mournfully sings "I stare at the hands on the clock/I'm still waiting for them to stop/The earliest light is just shining in/And I've no idea where the days been."



While there is a sad, melancholy feel to the record, it is not all navel gazing and hand ringing. There are some lovely, jaunty tracks throughout that show the band's dexterity and charm. On "Talking Backwards," the crisp, ringing guitars are propelled by a brisk beat,



while a shuffling beat and gorgeous guitar interplay punctuate the lovely "Primitive."



Atlas is such a wonderful record where all the songs seem to work in tandem with each other, coming together like a great collection of short stories. There is hardly a misstep on the record, except for me, the one track that is the only speed bump is countrified slow jam "How Might I Live" which just seems out of place, and quite frankly, a little on the lazy side. But the remainder of the tracks on the record more than make up for one slight hiccup.

Real Estate is not the type of band that is going to blow you away with their originality, or with trying to push the boundaries of their sound. They are simply a very good guitar-based band that with each release get more confident with what they are doing, making subtle shifts that make their music bolder and more fully realized. With Atlas, everything comes together with almost perfect harmony. The new found maturity suits them this go around, marking their progression to the upper echelons of alt-guitar pop. Atlas is simply one of the best records 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.