Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Cold Cave: "Oceans With No End"

RIP Justin Benoit. The former Cold Cave collaborator passed away from an undisclosed reason last week. The "band" is basically Wesley Eisold's baby, so Benoit's passing won't affect the touring/release schedule (he'd already exited the revolving door line up some time prior) but at 35 years old his untimely end seems like exactly the kind of warm eulogy a track like "Oceans With No End" was meant to commemorate.

Kylesa: "Unspoken"

Well this is new. In a literal sense, of course, but "Unspoken", the first single from Kylesa's upcoming Ultraviolet LP, has kind of a space rock / not-quite drone vibe to it that is kind of a break from the group's usually straightforward stoner sludge. I mean, I've seen this band live more times than just about any other in the last five years and I've never seen a smile on Laura Pleasants' visage even once, so I wasn't expecting anything cheery, but this gratifyingly sees the band evolving beyond their usually straightforward sing-growl-sing template.

You've got a long wait until Ultraviolet proper is unveiled: 5/28 on Season of Mist, bitches.

Bleached: "Next Stop"

For my money, if there's one surf rock / girl pop duo that can dethrone the hyped-to-death Best Coast it's Bleached, who we last jammed on over a year ago. Somehow, in spite of that chronology the sisters are just now getting around to putting out a full length album (via Dead Oceans). Looking forward to popping on some shades and checking these ladies out at SXSW in a few weeks.

Black Jeans: "No Safety"

Black Jeans give me hope for a Giorgio Moroder revival. Purist synth tones employed toward a scuzzy end with indiscernible lyrics is pretty much exactly what I want out of my electro right now. "No Safety" sounds like Kraftwerk held an orgy and only Death Grips responded to the invite.

Keep Shelly In Athens: "Madmen Love"

Perhaps in response to EDM, the more experimental frays of electronic music are increasingly eschewing the soft edges of chillwave and dream pop for more incisive, cutting synth lines. So it shouldn't be surprising to see Keep Shelly In Athens employing a darker feel on "Madmen Love", the first single from their upcoming debut LP (through they have so many EPs and singles out over the last few years the whole scenario just shows how ridiculous the idea of a "debut LP" is in 2013).

Look for that on Cascine, a label with amazing taste but a correspondingly infuriating refusal to provide up-to-date release info via their otherwise snazzy website.

Screaming Females: "Poison Arrow"

This fucker's got 1981 written all over it. Post-punk and dour to the core, Screaming Females hang their hat on a pronounced groove and piercing guitar riff while sticking with that dejected, world-weary singing style that you have to struggle to make out... like I said, '81 all over again.

Goldroom: "Sweetness Alive" [Future Unlimited Remix]

We've covered Future Unlimited before, but here they're remixing Goldroom - a band hitherto unknown to WKMR - to stunning effect. Nothing wrong with the original, but take a gander at the unreconstructed version over at Goldroom's Soundcloud then come back and tell me this mix doesn't take it to some next shit.

The Black Twig Pickers: "You Play the High Card and I'll Play the Ace"

One thing about having such a voluminous mountain of new music staring me down every single day is that I no longer find myself getting as nostalgic for genres of music that seem to fade in both popularity and artistic momentum. It's probably not fair to say that Americana has run its course, but if anything it seems to have largely been assimilated into the alterna-rock mainstream (the more trad country acts disappointingly heading off to Nashville).

Black Twig Pickers want none of that, sticking with arch bluegrass filtered through precisely zero outside influences. This is the kind of shit you haul in if you want to add some authenticity to your folk festival, even if your larger plan is to use The Avett Brothers or Iron & Wine to sell tickets.

Morri$: "Things Behind Glass"

Cloud R&B is all the rage right now, but this is one of the first choons I've heard that actually seems to have an honest-to-goodness old school soul jam at its gauzy heart, even though vocals are nowhere to be found. The title "Things Behind Glass" could be construed as pornographic in the wrong hands, but the bittersweet distance behind the production points to a more appropriate theme of unattainable objects.

In the spirit of gratis jams that is part of the whole "rebuilding fan support for the music industry" thing, you can snag the fuck out of the Young Love Heartbreak EP - a split with the hilariously named Sweater Beats - over at Morri$' Soundcloud.

Gates of Slumber: "Death March"

Scion AV is still pumping money into heavy metal, and this time around we get some free doom courtesy of Indianapolis' Gates of Slumber. Hell, this time around they even financed a video, which doesn't always happen (I don't recall seeing anything for the recent Corrosion of Conformity EP). Many decry corporate dollars being used as a cash influx into underground music, but thus far Scion has proven itself a bit more sincere than when, say, Anheuser-Busch decides they're going to come at those Guinness bucks.

Download here.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

KILLER COVERS || Selebrities: "Everywhere" [feat. Erika Spring & Lissy Trullie]

Been almost a year to the day that I last posted Selebrities. Guess it's about that time then. Just in time for Valentines Day (boooooooooo) they cover the old Christine McVie chestnut "Everywhere" from Fleetwood Mac's Waterloo, the 1987 last-stab-at-top-40-relevance album Tango in the Night. In spite of my snark it's actually pretty underrated in a pure pop sorta way. Assisting with harmony are friends of the band Erika Spring and Lissy Trullie.

Lovely Things is out June 25 on Cascine, who are being rather coy about whether this song will reappear.

(via Gorilla vs Bear)

Pissed Jeans: "Bathroom Laughter"

Honeys just came out today so probably no coincidence that Pissed Jeans just dropped this vid like it was a slicked up baby straight out the womb. Oh, come on, this shit is obviously brain damaged.

Tomahawk: "Oddfellows"

I can't say that Oddfellows is my favorite Tomahawk record - based on the limited number of times I've had pause to ingest it - but it's got the basic elements that I want out of my Mike Patton showcase: a mix of quirky, short pastiche experiments that don't quite cling together but don't last long enough to matter coupled with more conventional (yet still slightly "off" somehow) tunes like this title track. It's got a central riff like an old Kim Thayil throwaway groove, but the rhythm is deliberately obtuse and Patton seems to be improvising his vocals as he goes along. Sounds about right, then.

TOKiMONSTA: "The Force" [feat. Kool Keith]

I thought Kool Keith was retired? Seems like ever since WWF guys started welshing on mandatory retirement matches back in the 80's it's been trendy for all media type to promise to go away... and then come back six months later. Too $hort is the king of this but come on, Keith, at least knock out a clothing line before you call off your little time out. Give us time to miss a motherfucker.

Psychic Twin: "Strangers"

More evidence that "chillwave" was a crass marketing gimmick all along, and that the faux genre's perpetrators actually meant to occupy the crevice between arctic synthpop and tropical dream pop all along. I mean, they're all marketing terms, obviously, but most of them serve a certain shorthand purpose, as opposed to the clearly deliberate attempt to coin a phrase just for the sake of coining a phrase. Oh, and by the way: Psychic Twin, y'all.

Cadence Weapon: "Hype Man"

If there's a single element that completely sandbags many live hip hop shows it's the goddamn hype man. You know, the guy that won't let the rapper you actually came to see get two words in without screaming "JEEEEEEAAAHHHH!" over top of him. Yep, fuck that guy.

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Prince: "Breakfast Can Wait"

Prince is best when he's at his most earthy; he often flounders when he gets too heady or esoteric, which has described a pretty good chunk of his material since he started lobbying to get off Warner Brothers in the early 90s. He signed another major label deal for the release of 2004's Musicology, one that apparently gives him the freedom to continue recording outside the milieu of corporate overview... his last two releases were a free giveaway to subscribers of the UK's Daily Mail and a 3-disc set available exclusively through Target on his own NPG label.

Banks: "Before I Even Met You"

In spite of what many who want to write off all new music as derivative will tell you, there's been an insane amount of excellent - even groundbreaking - shit that's come out of the 80's synth renaissance in recent years. Truth be told, though, we've reached a saturation point and have now hit Peak New Wave. So what's next? Fucking 90's revival, what else?

Banks kind of hearkens back to the Trip Hop-lite of Poe but makes sure to throw a little of that sultry Lana Del Ray sex kitten in there to stay contemporary. It sounds a bit art-by-committee on paper, but as a first single it works pretty well; the vocals have an appealing melodic flow, and I actually appreciate the fact that whoever produced this opened up the beat instead of burying it in gauze like every other shoegaze/dream pop crossover track of 2012.

Intronaut: "Milk Leg"

I was excited to get an email last night stating that my Century Media rep had activated new content on my digital promo account, and that the material in question was from the vaunted Intronaut, one of the few bands that I've ever reviewed to the tune of a perfect score. Ahhh, goddammit, it was a single track upload of this one damn song.

Looks like I'll be waiting God knows how many more weeks for a full album promo, because Habitual Levitations doesn't come out until March 19, and since most leaks seem to come from people in the music journo game that means we all suffer. That's as close as you'll ever get to an anti-piracy rant from me, though... people that get their albums for free shouldn't be telling other people that they're not spending enough money supporting their favorite bands.

Clutch: "Earth Rocker"

Not a big fan of lyric videos, as I've espoused many times before, but if they absolutely must exist Clutch is one of the few rock bands where I feel like knowing the words is intrinsic to my enjoyment of the material (*). "Earth Rocker" is pretty punchy but shows the band sliding into a more commercial direction; this is easily the most accessible thing they've released since "The Mob Goes Wild". I wouldn't be too troubled if you prefer Clutch's more esoteric side though: I doubt "Earth Rocker" is any more a signal that the band is chasing a platinum record any more than "The Mob Goes Wild" turned out to be.

(*) Many have put forth the opinion that the lyrics are just an integral part of the song as any other element since it was the artist's intent for you to approach it as a whole... which is kind of hard to argue with, except that most bands write shitty or, at best, merely functional lyrics, so sticking with that philosophy should theoretically downgrade like 80% of the stuff you think is awesome, unless you exclusively listen to poet-songwriters like Tom Waits and Leonard Cohen.

Sunday, February 3, 2013

Covered in Sand: "Heaven's Gate Suicides"

You remember Heaven's Gate, right? UFO cult... mid-90's... mass suicide. Thinning the herd, basically. Secretive UK producer Shifted is getting straight up industrial on his new project, Covered in Sand, with leaked track "Heaven's Gate Suicides" a kind of martial Bataan Death March through your dome. Along with his "solo" work, Covered in Sand is a key component of Shifted's new(ish) Avian label.

Tracques: "Click Track"

Stuart Price (a.k.a Jacques Lu Cont a.k.a. Les Rhthmes Digitales if you're old school) is perhaps best known for producing mainstream dance pop for the likes of Madonna, Gwen Stefani and Pet Shop Boys, but "Click Track" shows the man to have a grimey, hardcore itch that those breadmaking gigs can't scratch. The minimalist bass line that starts the tune could go off in a hundred different directions, but it eventually breaks off into a restless, jittery ADD defying the metronomic insistence of the ticking clock that tries to hold it all in check.

"Click Track" is the first song on an as yet untitled album to be released through Price's own Tracques Records.

Binary: "You Need the Blue Key"

I do not know what this "blue key" refers to, but then I'm equally perplexed as to how something that started off as a brazen Suicide cop somehow morphed into first a Jesus and Mary Chain tribute and, finally, a 90's industrial rock track. All bands wear their influences on their sleeves somewhat, but these fuckers have to dress in layers to do it.

Dan Deacon: "Guilford Avenue Bridge"

Another 2012 holder just recently getting a video, "Guilford Avenue Bridge" is probably the most abrasive song off of Dan Deacon's superb-if-inconsistent America, an album which - as a whole - saw the Baltimore-repping producer greatly expand upon (if not largely abandon) the hokey 8-bit aesthetic that made  his 2007 breakthrough Spiderman of the Rings so compelling. It is, however, a logical extension of 2009's Bromst, a record that was intended to be his "real" breakthrough but that arguably fewer people heard than Spiderman.

DJ Rashad & THE PRESENT: "Too High"

I don't think I wrote about anyone in 2012 more than DJ Rashad, except for maybe Death Grips. The latter got measurably greater attention last year, as much for their label baiting as their music, which is admittedly incredible... but on the other hand, Rashad is clearly the Kanye West of this footwork thing, every production a step forward while continuing to make it easy. Here he mixes it up a bit by collaborating with THE PRESENT, and those female dream pop vocals definitely add another dimension to all those MC verses Rashad is normally known to fuck with.

The Soft Moon: "Die Life"

Apocalyptic to a fault, with a sound like a noise rock variant of Joy Division what else are you going to sing about but death, death, death? The Soft Moon have gotten a little more polished since last we visited them, but that extra production gloss has done little to temper their industrial doom aesthetic... Ra Ra Riot this ain't.

Zeroes was released late last year on Captured Tracks.

Monarchy: "Disintegration" [feat. Dita Von Teese]

If a moment can be pinpointed for the exact date that Marilyn Manson lost the plot, it was whatever afternoon he decided to trade in Dita Von Teese for that chick from Thirteen. Yeah, she was of age by then, but that's just too much skinny pastiness for one couple to pull off.