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Track of the Day

The other day, I stumbled upon a most brilliant piece of satire: The Chainsmokers’ new single “#SELFIE (out now on typically straight-faced Dim Mak Records). Every single element of the track scoffs at what we’ve taken to be the norm nowadays in the #PLUR region of the musical map, and it does so exquisitely. The satire is so prevalent, in fact, that you’d be hard-pressed to find a single part of “#SELFIE” which doesn’t poke fun at something. The vocal sample is clearly the focal point of this satire – an extended cut from the voice of a woman, most likely drunk and wearing a shirt that says “EAT SLEEP EDM” or “KEEP CALM AND RAVE ON,” as she lauds the hedonistic life of sleazy guys, Instagram filters, Internet stars/models, and clubbin’ in America in the year 2014 (sample anti-poetic gem: “Did you see her? She’s so short, and her dress is so tacky. Who wears cheetah?). And, of course, at the song’s climax, she delivers the clincher, everything The Chainsmokers take to be wrong with today’s scene distilled into five beautiful words: “Let me take a selfie.”

Beyond that wonderful verbal commentary, though, lies an ocean of mouthwatering deceit. Take the song itself, for example: it’s as generic as they come, with two low-register notes repeated over and over again pre-drop and the exact same synth texture post-drop, the standard snare/clap doubling over and over again until a drop that can only be described as “#EPIC,” and repetitive, grating…

I could go on and on about the vitality of Death Grips’ music — even if I myself don’t happen to be one of their bigger fans — so I won’t. Instead I would like to talk a minute about the forgotten legacy of Huey Lewis and his band, The News. If memory serves me right, Huey Lewis and the News came into existence around the same time the J Geils Band wrote that shit stain of a song “Centerfold”, and basically they rode that sound until it died a couple years later. It’s quintessentially mid-1980’s — which means it both sucks and rules at the same time. Think the same sort of stupid kitsch nostalgia that makes you order a Canadian Whiskey even though you know Crown Royal is nothing more than water and brown. Anyways, in that time frame Huey Lewis and the News released what is known in most circles as “The Whitest Album Ever Made” with 1983’s Sports. The song “It’s Hip to Be Square” isn’t on that album, but for all I care about it should be because then it would have been even more of a classic album in the same way Snow’s breakthrough single “Informer” is.

If you're thinking, "Hey, isn't this picture a little creepy?" please let me assure you that every picture of Ariana Grande is creepy. She's definitely like 8 years old.

Alright, folks, listen up, because I’ve got a cutting-edge pop music opinion for you all to devour and regurgitate elsewhere: Ariana Grande is awesome. She only has real two singles to her name: “The Way,” catchy and vibrant but with a bearable-if-you-sorta-just-ignore-him set of verses from Mac Miller, and “Baby I,” not completely new but still unreservedly awesome, the type of song so good it gets you pumped for an album by the girl from…Nickelodeon’s Victorious? Whatever: this thing sounds like Mariah Carey cosplaying as Sonic the Hedgehog, with mile-a-minute percussion, luxurious synths, and an astounding display of vocal agility from Ms. Grande herself, who may yet turn out to be the first new pop star worth the hype in quite a while.

Antlered Man won me over last year with their debut full-length Giftes Parts 1 & 2. The London four-piece has an uncanny knack for combining dexterous heavy rock with decidedly Eastern melodicism. Their music has been likened to System Of A Down, Mr. Bungle and Future Of The Left, capitalizing on creativity rather than stale song structures. The band’s genre-bending tendencies find their presence felt on “GDZ.” The track integrates the massive walls of distortion with sudden moments of relief and an infectious bridge midway through, proving that Antlered Man can be irresistibly catchy in their wildly experimental output. Both gargantuan in scope and highly infectious, “GDZ” is a fantastic indicator of what’s going to follow on the outfit’s upcoming album The Devil Is Them set to be released on October 14th through New Heavy Sounds. Stream and download the song for free via bandcamp.

For a song about the consequences of car use, “Go Green” sure doesn’t make it any easier for you to hop on your bike instead. With a slick guitar slide providing the perfect in, Buddy Peace’s wonderful summer-cool drum loop gives Prolyphic a great platform to make you feel guilty for wanting to play his song through rolled-down windows. First, he attacks himself for damaging the world with his car and electronics. Second, he attacks the corporations that try, under the guise of a supposed moral backbone, to make a tidy profit from cleaning up the messes they’d previously made. But though the usual chip on Prolyphic’s shoulder should be the draw, it’s Buddy’s breezy and revitalizing beat that gives the track its pull.

Check out Prolyphic and Buddy Peace’s collaborative album ‘The Working Man’, released earlier this year through Strange Famous Records. (Better yet, check out Buddy Peace’s 2008 mixtape masterpiece ‘Wolf Diesel Mountain’, released through 2600 recordings.)

Swedish outfit Goatess may have just released their debut album on Svart Records, but they’re all experienced musicians. Most notably, vocalist Chritus Linderson has made a name for himself, performing with such renowned doom metal acts as Saint Vitus and Lord Vicar. The eponymous full-length release from Goatess fuses the meandering tempo of doom metal with stoner rock-channeling grooves and psychedelic vibes to great effect. Granted, this Sleep and  Electric Wizard inspired style is hardly anything new, yet the album makes a profound impact mainly due to the strong vocal performance of Linderson. His traditionally melodic croons often lend the music its memorable quality. “Alpha Omega” is one of the record’s undoubted highlights, perefectly encapsulating the quartet’s desire to capture the all-consuming power of elephantine riffs.

Bonjour. Oui oui monsieur et madames. Je M’appelle Davey. Comment se fait tout le monde aujourd’hui?

July 14 is Bastille Day, the national day of France. I could have written a one thousand word blog detailing French music over the decades. From Edith Piaf to Phoenix, and David Guetta to Gojira, I’m certain it could have been a winner. But I’m far too lazy for that, so a tenuous link will have to do.

Enter English indie/synth-pop act Bastille and their latest single ‘Laura Palmer’. Along with the equally mainland European sounding track ‘Pompeii’, this deceptively infectious tune is one of the twin peaks of the quartet’s excellent debut LP ‘Bad Blood’. Some guy named David Lynch told me that the french translation for fifth single is “La ura palmes er”. I think he might be pulling my leg, but I do have a feeling that he directed the video for the song, since it makes no fucking sense! When is Mullholland Drive Day anyway?

Ryan Clark (bass), Paul Astick (vocals / guitar), Rob Stephens (guitar), Steve Wilson (drums)

Leeds-based heavy rockers Hawk Eyes are about to release their brand new four-track EP on August 19th.  The quartet’s potent mesh-up of post-hardcore, sludge metal and alt rock landed their latest full-length Ideas the top spot on my 2012 year-end list. With the new fan-funded release, they do not disappoint either. Produced by Andy Hawkins, That’s What This Is further develops the quartet’s winning formula. The numbers are still disarmingly clever and noisy, except the hooks are even grander, the melodies even more powerful, and Paul Astic’s vocals vastly improved. Hawk Eyes are most definitely going in a more accessible direction, yet there’s enough songwriting dexterity on display to make their integrity intact. This short EP whets the appetite nicely before the outfit’s next full-length.

Cheap is a great indicator of what is going to follow. While the track is not nearly as melodic as the remaining cuts, it juxtaposes mathy verses with an abrasive noise-rock chorus and spaced-out bridge to thrilling effect.

Maybe there is something in this ‘climate change’ brouhaha after all.

The “British Summer” ceased to be a thing a long time ago. We pretty much make-do with “mild” and be done with it…

…but now over here we are experiencing the briefest of heat waves. A week is a luxury. Some of you who live in perpetually sun-kissed climes may scoff, but that’s how it goes.

The heat does funny things to me anyway. A man with long, thick hair and a penchant for black jumpers finds little solace in the sun’s non-prejudicial UV beatdown. Nights are spent squirming on bedsheets like a drugged-up seal, days spent sighing loudly and cursing whatever malevolent god (Ra?) sent this yellow ball of hatred.

And so not for the first time, I find myself turning to Captain Beefheart, whose simple exclamation of “It’s so hot!” at the beginning of this song captures just how I feel. This is my brain in heat.

Following the electro abomination that was 2009’s ‘In This Light and On This Evening’, even fans of English indie-rock band Editors could be forgiven for approaching their follow-up ‘The Weight of Your Love’ with equal parts trepidation and dread. Anthemic, stadium-baiting lead single ‘A Ton of Love’ helped allay fears a little, although even the lead single from ‘In This Light…’ (‘Papillon’) was fairly strong.

More interesting is the curious selection of ‘The Weight’ as the new album’s 2nd single. The Muse-like ‘Sugar’ or hooky backing vocals of ‘Formaldehyde’ seemed more obvious choices, with ‘The Weight’ more playing the role of fantastic album opener, for mine. It’s a brave choice and hopefully one that will pay off.

Beginning with dark, ominous synths before giving way to an incessant beat and almost folky guitar strums, Tom Smith’s striking baritone soon captures attention, even if his trademark ambiguous lyrics (“I’m a lump of meat with a heartbeat”) occasionally confound. Most pleasing is the existence of an ever-present tension, with each sound after sound, instrument after instrument and melody after melody being meticulously added to build up and then release. Brilliantly, this pseudo title track is both thoroughly melodic and accessible.

The video – which was filmed in Nashville, where the band worked with producer Jacquire King (Tom Waits, Kings of Leon) – follows the straight-forward template from ‘A Ton of Love’: Black & White footage of the band playing the song. Borrrrring? Maybe, but it kind…

Having been released earlier this year, ‘Riptide’ isn’t a brand spanking new tune, but given it would have barely been heard around these parts, I thought it would be well worth spotlighting. It’s creator is Vance Joy, a pseudonym for 25 year-old Melbourne singer-songwriter James Keogh.

Talk about a rags to riches story: Just 4 years ago, Keogh was playing state league Australian Rules Football for the Coburg Tigers, hoping to get drafted by an AFL team. Two years later, the young man was working part-time as a gardener while also showcasing his unpolished musical skills at open mic nights around Melbourne. Come 2013, with only a five track EP to his name, Keogh has signed a five album deal with Atlantic Records!

The infectious ‘Riptide’ is undoubtedly the track which got Vance Joy noticed by the label heavyweights. It’s a fantastic little folk-pop song with its charming ukulele & bright harmonies seemingly perfect for any season of the year. Including a chorus that will instantly implant itself in your mind – as well as give you a chuckle in the below video – the song is bound to pop up on a film, tv series or advertisement some time soon. When it does, just remember that you heard it here at SputnikMusic first.

For the life of me, I’ve never quite been able to figure out which elements of Gold Panda’s music speak to me the most. I’ve always been fascinated with the orientally-focused electronic producer, because he has this way of expressing Asian culture in a distinctly relatable lens, but what about it works best? “Brazil” answers these questions with a (probably warranted) eye-roll, reminding us it’s all about the textures and percussion. Because ultimately, what’s most important here is the mood the reversed sample creates, the serene and almost angelic vibe it gives off. But damn, does the percussion complement it– as confident as ever, the tom hits are as important as the basic drum-&-snare pattern. The two merge in a marvelous way that’s characteristically Gold Panda, assuaging any remaining anxieties about the producer’s upcoming release. The only complaint about the track is the sub-par sample used, a man apathetically saying the song’s title. It wouldn’t be an issue if it weren’t utilized as the primary voice of the track, but its monotony detracts from the overall mood “Brazil” presents. But annoyances aside, the track continues to tread the same path Gold Panda’s been working towards for his whole career. Maybe by the time he stops messing around with all these teasers of releases, he’ll have built the worthy and telling compilation of oriental culture his talents have always demanded of him.

Keep your eyes peeled for Gold Panda’s upcoming full-length, titled Half of Where

Colin Stetson is one of those rare musicians who successfully creates harmony from discord. In each of his New History Warfare albums, he constructs via saxophone, if only to deconstruct, to tear down the walls of sound from around him and to arrange them in a strangely beautiful manner. And New History Warfare III: To See More Light is no different– if anything, it further proves Stetson’s worth in the avant-garde community– but the most interesting choice regarding the album is Justin Vernon’s featured vocals. Laurie Anderson’s vocals were comforting on Judges, but they weren’t as blatant as Vernon’s are here. I rather like the change-up, though, because the album functions well with more of a vocal centerpiece to guide the chaos. Besides, Stetson makes sure the vocals are distorted just enough to fit the destructive panoramic picture he paints with the saxophone.

Colin Stetson has released a few tracks off the upcoming album thus far, but the one that’s probably most representative of the overall album’s sound is “High Above a Grey Green Sea.” Listen to the track, and see where it takes you. If nothing else, you’ll at least be damned shocked at how much sound one man’s capable of making.

Keep an eye out for New History Warfare III: To See More Light, out on April 30th, 2013 on Constellation Records.


The French trio Blaak Heat Shujaa certainly know how to capture the laid-back vibe of California on their new full-length The Edge Of An Era (Tee Pee). The band delivers psychedelic desert rock that’s equally indebted to the Eastern mysticism of Om and the groove-laden jamming of Kyuss. After all, the record was produced by Scott Reader himself, and it makes for a trippy, if at times overly familiar ride.

The song that clearly stands out amid the haze is penultimate “Pelham Blue.” The tune sees the trio collaborating with legendary Mario Lalli of Fatso Jetson’s fame. Needless to say, it’s sheer bliss. The style of the band superbly complements Lalli’s dreamy vocals and trippy imagery, which momentarily bring to mind the best Fatso Jetson songs. Lalli’s knack for crafting spellbinding melodies is in a class by itself, and Blaak Heat Shujaa accompany his performance with their most evocative intrumental work to date. The effect is one of the most ravishing songs of the year. Don’t forget to breathe, don’t forget to open your eyes…

I’m beginning to think that I have some sort of affinity with bands from Louisiana. Just two years ago, I awarded my album of the year to little known indie-pop outfit Givers and their debut LP ‘In Light’. While that feat won’t be achieved in 2013 by the quintet I’m about to introduce you to, The Pelican State has once more delivered a band that has been on high rotation on my playlist of late.

Having initially caught my attention with one of those gimmicky self-proclaimed genres, Super Water Sympathy walk the talk on their second LP ‘Hydrogen Child’. The aforementioned self-labeling is that of “water pop”, but one gets the feeling that the term has only been created because it sounds better than “alternative indie pop-rock”.

Below is ‘Uh Oh!’; the lead single and album opener from ‘Hydrogen Child’. A bouncy and deceptively catchy tune where each instrument gets a chance to shine without dominating proceedings, it provides the framework for the eleven tracks which follow.

Accessible, yet far from cookie-cutter… Familiar, yet irritatingly difficult to pinpoint comparisons… See if you can help me out in providing a few similar bands to add to the ‘Recommended by Reviewer’ section of my ‘Hydrogen Child’ review: http://www.sputnikmusic.com/review/56424/Super-Water-Sympathy-Hydrogen-Child/

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