“Do the Astral Plane” is Flying Lotus’ late-album reminder that you’re supposed to be having fun. Forget all the self-serious overanalyzing. Don’t mind the perfect scores and the dazed, knee-jerk responses like “blown away” or “shit-hot.” Enjoy precisely what holds this collage of experiments above its pretensions: you can laugh, long and hard. From that goofy opening beatbox to the sweeping strings, right down to the album’s most generous and easily digestible beat, Flying Lotus bounds across the line between cred-approved irony and actually surrendering to these melodramatic DJ tropes, amping up each element in an ascending escalator of synths and horns. Anything goes by the time you’re thinking “free jazz” at the expense of Nintendo glitches. I can only imagine what “do the astral plane” can mean for a track this flamboyant and sexy.
Note: This youtube version of the song includes the outro of “Mmmhmm,” the track preceding this on Cosmogramma. This is preferable for your listening pleasure for the sake of continuity and, well, it’s great. Just really great. Tell all your friends.
The Opus is an instrumental hip-hop project out of Chicago, and they’ve just released their latest EP, Praying Mantis. The EP is jam-packed with seven dense tracks of strong beats and interesting samples, with a flair for ambient openings. Oddly, the EP begins with “Divorced”, labeled as a bonus track. I have yet to see a version of the EP without the “bonus” track, and I couldn’t imagine a better opening to the EP.
It’s a little bit difficult to call Crown on the Ground a pop song. While the vocals of Alexis Krauss are firmly rooted in accessible, catchy melodies, they’re caught in a whirlwind of Derek Miller’s (ex-Poison The Well) aggressive, in-your-face instrumentation, a flurry of dense guitar wailing, handclaps and loud, buzzing synths that engulf what is otherwise so sweet and simple. Go loud or go home. The best part is, for all its disorienting, decibel-abusing madness, it’s actually fun.
Their debut album, Treats, drops May 11th on M.I.A.’s NEET Recordings label.
It’s been a little over a decade since the alternative rockers Far last put out an album and yet, barely any of their luster was lost. On May 25th, At Night We Live drops as the follow up to their cult classic Water & Solutions. Opening A Night We Live, “Deafening” is certainly the heaviest Far track to date, and while it does not reflect the rest of the album, it provides a glimpse of how the band has changed since their hiatus. To purchase At Night We Live, click the album art provided above.
Is Old Man Luedecke leading a banjo revolution? Probably not. But his latest album rules.
Regarding their late 2009 release Sigh No More, our own DaveyBoy suggested that Britain’s Mumford & Sons were, “delivering folk – and the banjo – to the masses.” While Mumford & Sons do employ the use of a banjo, they do so on an almost superficial level. On “Little Lion Man”, Sigh No More’s obvious standout, the banjo is used as little more than a reaction to the guitar. It always sounds nice and it always works but it’s never the focus.
The banjo is definitely Old Man Luedecke’s focus. He’s a “banjo revivalist” based out of Canada’s east coast. I could lazily compare his music to The Tallest Man on Earth and I just did. Maybe now you’ll listen.
On My Hands Are On Fire and Other Love Songs, his latest release, Old Man Luedecke (née Chris) enlists the help of a guitarist, bassist and fiddler (he-he) but more often than not the emphasis is on his words and his banjo.
“Foreign Tongue”, which you’ll hear below, is a prime example of how Luedecke does more with less. A uniquely written song, “Foreign Tongue” evolves from a love song about a distant, unfulfilled love into the desperate plea of a shy and nervous man who’s clearly convinced himself of a love only he’s aware of. Its 21st Century ambiguity makes it…
Yesterday Future Islands released their second LP, In Evening Air on Thrill Jockey Records. Our track of the day is the first single from that album, “Tin Man,” a track that has an upbeat but moribund energy. Future Islands combines sparse guitar lines with a steel drum and gruff but sensitive vocals that sound somewhere between Hot Water Music’s Chuck Ragan and Pixies‘ Frank Blank. “Little Dreamer” is the final track of their first LP Wave Like Home which was released on vinyl earlier this year. “Little Dreamer” is a sweet ballad cast in the same lo-fi, bristly electronics of “Tin Man.” Future Islands are strange in that on paper they seems like a combination of common sounds – new wave, punk, indie, folk – but somehow they are leagues above all the other bands dabbling in similar genres.
Future Islands – “Tin Man”
Future Islands – “Little Dreamer”
After solo albums by practically every member in this indie supergroup, Canadians (and Virginian fox Neko Case) the New Pornographers released their fifth album today, the aptly named Together. I wanted to pick a lesser known song then their first single for this Track of the Day, but damn! it’s just too good. One of the most propulsive melodies on the record lit up by a killer lead vocal by Case and surprisingly apocalyptic lyrics coming from one of music’s sunnier bands. After her strong performance on this album and last year’s Middle Cyclone, I’d have to consider Case in my top 3 female indie vocalists.
“The ruins were wild / Tonight will be an open mic.”
When Ronnie Drew died in the summer of 2008, having lost a two-year battle with throat cancer, his death was greeted with the kind of pomp and reverence usually reserved for a military hero – the Irish President and Prime Minister issued statements of condolence within hours, and streets were lined as his funeral procession came to a halt in Greystones, Co. Wicklow. At his funeral, it was telling that, of all the songs and poems that were cited, none was as poignant as the excerpt from a lament to Brendan Behan: “Words have no meaning now, silence is master, laughter and songs bow.”
Behan was a child of old Dublin, born shortly after independence to a family of revolutionaries. His father fought in the War of Independence and his maternal uncle wrote the national anthem, which persists to this day and graphically recounts an ambush attack on a troop of British soldiers in Ireland. Infused by that same spirit, at the age of 16 Behan joined the IRA (Irish Republican Army) and went on a rogue mission to England to blow up the Liverpool docks. He was caught and placed in a youth prison for three years, whereupon he wrote his memoir, The Borstal Boy; years later, he would write his defining work, the play The Quare Fellow, and had his brother Dominic, himself an ex-convict, write a haunting ballad to open the work.
The track is usually performed a capella with a single lead vocalist, in this…
Black Moth Super Rainbow’s Tobacco, aka Tom Fec, has always had a knack for quality hip-hop inspired beats. On his first solo outing away from BMSR, 2008’s Fucked up Friends, he took his analog wizardry over to Anticon records, the home of Sole and Why?, and went all out. Following in the vein of his solo debut, “Fresh Hex” is the second single from Tobacco’s upcoming album Maniac Meat. One of two songs on the album to feature a guest spot from Beck, “Fresh Hex” is Tobacco at his best, his nightmarishly twisted beat thumps along as Beck relives his Odelay glory days. It’s one hell of a ride, even if it only lasts a bit over a minute and a half.
Tobacco – Fresh Hex (feat. Beck)
Anthony Green’s backing band, Good Old War, are set to release their self-titled second album on June 1st. The first single, “My Own Sinking Ship” is available for free download at digital.goodoldwar.com. The Philadelphian trio plays a smooth folk reminiscent of a more worldly, less isolated Fleet Foxes, and “My Own Sinking Ship” is a promising preview of the group’s next effort. Be sure to check out their split EP with Cast Spells, the side project of Dave Davison of Maps and Atlases, undoubtedly some of the group’s best work.
Dutch DJ trio Noisia have long been fixtures in the drum ‘n bass scene, but new album Split The Atom is way too filthy for any one genre. Electro, house, breaks, dubstep; all and more are incorporated on the sickest party record of the new decade, and single “Machine Gun” is perhaps the best representation of this mish-mashing of styles. There are plenty of excellent remixes of the song as well (YouTube the 16Bit version if you don’t mind showering afterwards), but the original is still the most guaranteed to kick any party into high gear. Like if Darth Vader DJed a rave.
Jeremy Ferwerda stole my thunder last week by posting Gold Panda’s newest track “You” so I’m resorting to Gold Panda’s best track, “Quitter’s Raga.” This song pairs a simple, organic beat with detailed sampling work that taps into a set of Indian vocals and instruments with an IDM/glitch level of precision and volatility. Despite the technical wizardry in operation, the true pull of this song is its sticky sweet catchiness.
Gold Panda – “Quitter’s Raga”
“Havin’ My Baby” is absolutely exhausting. From that prolonged sample that plays it in, to the single keyboard note bashed for three entire minutes, it’s just relentless. Add Martin Cesar’s soulful delivery, the simple drum beat, and that ascending guitar wail and if you’re not left doing some sweaty rendition of the running man by the time the song comes to its close, nothing can save you. Think About Life’s Family may have been a hit-or-miss affair (a lesser Dear Science, in a lot of ways) but when it hits, it does so with such soaring electro-soul ingenuity that it becomes impossible to ignore.
You can listen to “Havin’ My Baby” below but god damnit you better be ready to get funky.
Well, since today is officially The National day, lets celebrate by recognizing one of the best tracks off High Violet. If you haven’t heard this yet, well, there’s little hope for you, but here’s “Bloodbuzz Ohio,” High Violet’s answer to “Mr. November.” Slightly subtler but no less nostalgically optimistic, “Bloodbuzz Ohio” serves as High Violet’s centerpiece, a middle of the album anthem that stands easily as the most single-ready song. Sure, most of you know this already and this might be redundant, but if you’re a National skeptic and don’t really know if you want to take the time to listen to what could easily be the indie rock record of 2010 (aka chambered89), give this song a shot then head on over to the stream going on at The New York Times and become a cool human being.
Two weeks ago, Sharon Jones released her latest incredible soul album, I Learned the Hard Way, on Daptone Records. The album is decidedly defiant and powerful, a certain step up from the already excellent 100 Days, 100 Nights. The first single is the album’s title track, filled with funky grooves, dirty horn licks, and the vocal perfection we have come to expect from the group. Jones’ vocal performance is particularly gripping–convincingly delivering her own version of “I Will Survive” by defying her lover and rising strong. This album, along with the rest of the Dap-Kings’s discography, directly ports 60’s and 70’s funk music to the 21st Century and manages to sound just as good, if not better, than any George Clinton record.