Thursday, 24 October 2013

Wet, After the CMJ Storm

Contrary to what the title depicts, this isn't about to turn into a metaphorical short story on getting caught in the madness of New York's CMJ Music Marathon. This is about Wet. They're my new band crush, and I figure it's high time I share that wonderful insight with you, the internet. (Hi, internet—it's been a minute, I know). 

But now, as music writers and photographers across New York lick their post-CMJ wounds for another year, I have to admit that Wet are one of the few bands emerging from the annual hype furor whom I think I'll pay attention to. They're reminiscent of what it would sound like if a a sparser, more jagged New Look covered Dream Cave, the new Cloud Control record. Like, poppy and breathy and going to town on the blend of crisp guitar lines and thundering bass drum samples.

Vocalist Kelly Zutrau fronts the band, backed by Martin Sulkow and Joe Valle. The trio lived and worked together intensely in Brooklyn, according to this recent 405 feature, and turned into one of those bands people were constantly talking about during CMJ. And, while wading through lists featuring the Preatures, Courtney Barnett, Eagulls, Shark Week (that literal name) and others, Wet became the band whose music I couldn't wait to listen to once back in my room and separate from all the badge-wearing, self-aggrandized posturing that goes hand in hand with press behavior at CMJ.

You're the Best from Wet on Vimeo.

The three-piece are due to play Mercury Lounge on November 21, but by then I'll be back in London and probably being drizzled on. They are, however, opening for Samson the Truest tomorrow night (Friday, October 25) at Cameo Gallery.

I always feel like going to shows right after an urban festival like CMJ, Brighton's Great Escape or London's Camden Crawl (shout out to like 2009) gives me a different appreciation for live gigs. You're so spoiled for choice when all the bands descend upon the city for a major showcase that it's easy to forget how freaking special live music can be, when played, mixed and performed well.

Then it all quietens down and you're like "oh right, this is amazing. And I don't have to rush to another six/nine/infinite shows afterwards." Fingers crossed Wet will deliver, though given the reaction to both their recent eponymous EP (out on Neon Gold) and their CMJ gigs, I shouldn't be worried.

If you're in New York, and want to check them out for yourselves this weekend, $9 tickets are going here.

Wednesday, 2 October 2013

Song of the Day: Widowspeak - Calico

Wait, what? So I guess September somehow happened. I'm confused. I'm choosing to let the dulcet tones and languidly-delivered harmonies of this latest Widowspeak single, "Calico," ease me into the reality of autumn's impending arrival. Duo Molly Hamilton and Robert Earl Thomas released Almanac, their second full-length record, in January on Captured Tracks (a Brooklyn-based label that's swiftly becoming one of my favorite indies). This single comes off forthcoming EP The Swamps, due out on October 29.

As Widowspeak their music maintains a dark and morose edge, speckled with western-inspired, sparse elements all hemmed in by a touch of folk. Hamilton's breathy voice floats over Thomas' guitar lines in a way that tends to remind me of Howling Bells circa 2006 and Stealing Sheep's record from last year. What I enjoy most about this single is how it seems to beg for more than one listen in a sitting--I find it hard to just walk away from. And that's usually a sign it'll grow on me and reward me over time in ways I can't always identify on a first listen. It's what I felt with Janelle Monae's "Q.U.E.E.N." a few months ago, and the track can still give me shivers when I hear it now.

You can pre-order The Swamps EP here, and scroll down to see if Hamilton and Thomas will be playing a city near you on their current North American tour.

10/02 - New Orleans, LA - Gasa Gasa
10/04 - Austin, TX - Austin City Limits Festival
10/05 - Austin, TX - Stubb's BBQ
10/08 - McAllen, TX - Simon Sez
10/11 - Austin TX - Austin City Limits Festival
10/12 - Marfa, TX - El Cosmico
10/13 - Albuquerque, NM - Low Spirits**
10/14 - Phoenix, AZ - The Rhythm Room**
10/15 - San Diego, CA - The Void**
10/16 - Los Angeles, CA - The Echo**
10/18 - San Francisco, CA - The Chapel**
10/19 - Davis, CA - Sophia’s Thai Kitchen**
10/21 - Eugene, OR - Cozmic Pizza**
10/22 - Vancouver, BC - Media Club**
10/23 - Seattle, WA - Chop Suey**
10/24 - Portland, OR - Bunk Bar**
10/25 - Boise, ID - Neurolux**
10/26 - Salt Lake City, UT - Urban Lounge**
10/27 - Denver, CO - Larimer Lounge**
10/28 - Omaha, NE - Slowdown Jr**
10/30 - Minneapolis, MN - 7th Street Entry**
10/31 - Chicago, IL - Schubas**
11/01 - Ferndale, MI - The Loving Touch**
11/02 - Toronto, ON - Silver Dollar Room**
11/03 - Montreal, QC - Il Motore**
11/04 - Winooski, VT - The Monkey House**
11/05 - Cambridge, MA - TT the Bear’s Place**
11/06 - New Haven, CT - BAR Nightclub**
11/08 - New York, NY - Bowery Ballroom**
** with Pure Bathing Culture

Thursday, 26 September 2013

Gig Preview: CocoRosie at Webster Hall, Oct 12

Once-estranged sisters  Bianca and Sierra Casady, nicknamed Coco and Rosie by their mother, respectively, are back on the road to promote another rich, experimental and genre-bending record.

I remember first coming across their music in my first year of university at Sussex, when one of my friends who found out I listened to Joanna Newsom aptly recommended them. CocoRosie borrow heavily from the likes of Bjork, Newsom and the sort of earnestness you'd expect to hear from relatively unknown folk artists playing an open mic at your local bar. 

Since releasing their fifth album, Tales of a GrassWidow, in May they've played a series of shows in Europe and a sold-out set in Brooklyn at the Paper Box. They're back this month, due to play Webster Hall on Saturday, October 12. Click here (autoplay warning) to watch a show they played in Paris, debuting a lot of new material from this latest record for the first time, for a taste of what may be in store. If the record itself gives any indication, the show should be emotive, fairly intense and maximalist.

Thursday, 19 September 2013

Q & A with Blouse

Over Labor Day Weekend I went to the Crown Victoria bar in Williamsburg to hang out with Portland trio, Blouse. When I arrived, only two-thirds of the band sat at a picnic table, finishing off dinner and drinks: bassist Patrick Adams (left) and singer Charlie Hilton (centre).

"Oh, Jake's gone to get his keys or something," Charlie said, as she finished up some soup. In the end, Jake wouldn't make it to the interview, after a fiasco of being locked out of someone else's apartment (still without his own keys) and running back and forth between two apartments before their album launch party at Glasslands Gallery was due to start.

But I spent plenty of time with Charlie and Patrick, talking about everything from their shift away to alt-rock from synth-pop to Galaxie 500 being one of the best bands ever. As I was working on the feature for Noisey's Style Stage vertical, conversation turned to aesthetics and visuals too, and all the hints Charlie dropped about their as-yet-unreleased video for single "A Feeling Like This" really made me want to watch it. Immediately.

Their album, Imperium, came out on September 17 via Captured Tracks, and has already received some rather excellent reviews. It blends moody baselines with Charlie's whispery vocals, to create the sort of scuzzy fuzz-pop band you'd typically expect to find fronted by a guy, sometime in the mid-90s. I'm into it. 

Get the physical record here, digitally on Amazon or iTunes, and read my interview with the band on Noisey's site right here.

photo 1: © Tonje Thilesen

photo 2: © Anna Ignatenko

Wednesday, 18 September 2013

Listen: James Blake feat. Chance the Rapper - Life Round Here

Sometimes you just wake up with a James Blake hook in your head, and spend all day at work looping his last two records and a couple of B-sides on your headphones to scratch the proverbial itch. Then you remember Blake recently teamed up with Chicago rap kid of the moment, Chance the Rapper, and you realise your subconscious was probably just trying to tell you to get with the freaking program and hit play on Blake's Soundcloud page all day.

That convoluted lede aside, I'm feeling real happy that I finally went back and listened to this much-blogged and OMG'd collaboration. Chance spits a verse and adds a layer of breathy singing (!) towards the end of the "Life Round Here" remix, giving the already-rather-brilliant song an added boost. It's comforting to hear him rap about buying rounds of ale in a pub on this verse, for reasons that probably relate to a recent week-long trip I took back to London.

According to a Radio 1 interview with Zane Lowe, who premiered the track on his September 17 show, Blake "never felt the track was finished, even when it went on the album," and "always thought there was space for something else." Well, here it is.

In other news, you've probably already heard about Chance's Acid Rap mix tape, chockablock with a roster of strong guest stars and much-hyped online. If not, I'd recommend giving it a listen too.

Wednesday, 21 August 2013

Q & A with Sebastian Szary of Moderat

Berlin techno and breakbeat trio Moderat are back in business. After about four years of radio silence since their eponymous debut record, they’re on the road promoting a new album. Simply titled II, it was released on August 8 via Mute USA and is pretty damn great. 

There's something about their approach to electronic music, rendering it both cerebral and visceral, that straight up makes me want to use fancy-ish words and crank the bass up just so. II sounds a little like Thom Yorke, and of course a bit like Apparat and Modeselektor, the two bands from which Moderat's members collide every few years to make a new record as a three-piece. In the pic above, that's Apparat's Sascha Ring (whom I Skyped a while ago for Don't Panic Online mag) looking all sullen in the middle, flanked by Modeselektor's Sebastian Szary's (cigarette in his mouth on the left), and Gernot Bronsert.

A couple of weeks ago, I called up Sebastian and we chatted about the record while he sped down the Autobahn on his way back to Berlin from north Germany. The band had just kicked off the first show of this new record's promo tour, at Eastern Electrics Festival in Knebworth, and Sebastian oozed the kind of giddy excitement that I can only hope they'll be bringing to their Electric Zoo New York set at the end of this month. And yes, it is totally weird that Moderat are playing E-Zoo, but Sebastian's looking forward to seeing some of  the neon American "teatime ravers" he giggled about with me.

Check out the full interview on In the Mix, and head here to cop the album. I'd highly recommend this one.

Saturday, 10 August 2013

Q & A with Dirty Beaches

Last month I interviewed Alex Zhang Hungtai, singer, guitarist and general main man in Dirty Beaches, for the Wild Magazine. He writes and plays music that encompasses lo-fi garage rock, 50s rock and roll and electronic crossed with post-punk. It's wonderful and odd. Anna and I also caught his Glasslands Gallery show when he was in New York at the end of June. It was weird and confusing but once I Skyped him, I learned why.

Alex is both an introspective thinker and a very open and expressive person. The combination makes for sudden intimacy that almost feels like over-sharing, but is golden when you're looking for thoughtful and personal profile material. 

Though I could've easily written like 2,500 words based on the gig, interview, and my own interview with his friend and musical collaborator Joshua Frank, I decided to chill the eff out and do about half that. In the final edit, we covered ground as varied as being a third culture kid and growing up all over the world, writing break-up albums and the batshit Glasslands gig. Shout out to Alex and the Wild for both tweeting the story out a couple of days ago, too.

Hover and click to read it.

Friday, 9 August 2013

On 1990s Whitney Houston and Style

1990. Simpler aesthetic times. Times when brows were thick, eyeshadow heavily applied, and ladies could rock one cross-shaped earring without looking like a Topshop knockoff.

And here's Whitney Houston, leading by example. Today would've been her 50th birthday (RIP, you pop vocal powerhouse) so I decided to go back in time and explore her sartorial leanings. I wrote about her "I'm Your Baby Tonight" music video for Noisey, and how it taught me a bunch of stuff about fashion. 

As a little girl I remember my sister and I had a dance routine to this song, so being able to gush about it as part of my job was heavenly. Click here to read the piece, and my thoughts on frosted lipgloss, ripped jeans and feather boas (spoiler alert: omg I used to love feather boas).

Thursday, 8 August 2013

Song of the Day: Banks - Waiting Game

This is Banks, an LA-based singer and songwriter who's been making music writers froth at the mouth for the last few months. She writes rather pretty, heartachey songs on piano (self-taught) and brings on great producers to tighten them up. I'm down.

On her latest single, "Waiting Game" she enlists the help of producer SOHN. Remember the lush harmonies and airy quality of his track "The Wheel"? Well, this one doesn't venture too far off that direction and I'm not complaining.

Head over to The Wild Magazine to listen to the Banks cut, read more of my words on it and hear her sing about why relationships suck the most when people are trying to one-up each other.

Friday, 26 July 2013

Watch: Ghostpoet - Cold Win

Ghostpoet's terrifying reign as one of the UK's best new MCs continues, and new single "Cold Win" serves as testament to that. The track's taken from his latest record, Some Say I So I Say Light, out since May in the UK and coming out on September 24 here in the US (via [PIAS] America.

On "Cold Win" Ghostpoet's Obara Ejimiwe dishes out his usual languid vocal delivery, over an eerie industrial beat and an orchestral touch. It sounds like These New Puritans could have produced it, and that's always a good thing in my eyes. It's been a while since I spoke to Obara, but he seems to have maintained the same level of modesty throughout his career so far, even after a Mercury Award nomination for his debut album Peanut Butter Blues and & Melancholy Jam in 2011. You can check out my two interviews with him here on the blog, and over on Don't Panic Online

French photographer and director Cyrille de Vignemont brought the song to life, dipping into his typical sensory and clean-cut aesthetic. See more of his work here, and if you're in the UK you can buy Ghostpoet's LP right here too

The rest of us will have to wait it out. In the meantime, here's a house-inspired remix of the single by   dubstep DJ and producer Rusko, that premiered on Mixmag earlier this week.

Wednesday, 10 July 2013

Q & A with the Martinez Brothers

Last weekend while most people were either raging in a bar or club, or trying to sleep, I was waiting to interview the Martinez Brothers in Williamsburg. At 1:30am. Stevie Jr and Christian (L-R in the photo above, taken by Charles Roussel for MoMa PS1) are two Bronx-raised DJs . They've been making a name for themselves on the New York house circuit since they were literally in high school, and pretty much not legal to do anything but drive.

Now they balance a summer residency at Ibiza club DC10 and touring the US and Europe with putting together a new EP release for later this year. Oh, and starting a label. Basically these guys don't sleep much. Check out my interview with them for EDM site inthemix for more on how they got started so young and what they're hoping to achieve as the years pass. They were such sweethearts and went on to play an insane set, so reporting at 2am sometimes isn't the worst.

Tuesday, 2 July 2013

Watch: Phoenix - Trying to be Cool

The Versailles indie-pop four-piece just released this new video for "Trying to be Cool," made in collaboration with VICE's Creator's Project, and it's pretty great. Not necessarily because the song is wonderful–it's definitely one of those "this sounds like two different songs, and the short part at the end is what the entire thing should've been"–but because Barcelona-based directorial team CANADA are behind it. 

CANADA piqued my interest when they made Battles' video for "Ice Cream" a couple of years ago. Then, they followed it with a couple of other great clips, all of which I've posted here for you to binge-watch if you feel so inclined. They're all about colorful sets with fluid movement, and a healthy dose of surreal weirdness. I'm down.

Monday, 24 June 2013

Q & A with Beach Day

Kimmy, Skyler and Natalie (left to right in this pic) are the three Florida natives behind surf-pop band Beach Day. They've been whipping up all sorts of hype on publications like Nylon Magazine, Interview Magazine and now Noisey—VICE's music site—where I interviewed them for new fashion vertical Style Stage.

We met in a Williamsburg coffee shop, when they'd just stretched out their legs after driving from a spate of NXNE Toronto shows. And they were totally polite, funny and giggly the whole time, considering how hungry and tired they must've been. Their debut album Trip Trap Attack dropped on Kanine Records on June 18, 2013 and is a collection of summery, deliciously frothy tracks.

Click here to read about how living in a seaside retirement town impacts their songwriting, their style obsessions from the 50s, and how they feel about sharing their new album with the world.

Wednesday, 19 June 2013

Rapper Big Freedia takes bounce music to Fuse TV

Down in New Orleans, an electronic/hip-hop genre's been pulsating for decades. Known as bounce music, and made with the call-and-response, sample-heavy beat featured in Diplo's "Express Yourself," it's a dance floor-driving genre.

Enter Big Freedia, the gay, cross-dressing rapper who's quickly becoming a main bounce figurehead. She's just confirmed a new reality show for the fall, due to air on Fuse TV, and I talked to her about it for electronic music site In the Mix. Check out the news piece for more on what the show'll have in store.

Thursday, 13 June 2013

Watch: AlunaGeorge - You Know You Like It

Empty-pool parties are where it's at, if this new AlunaGeorge video for "You Know You Like It" is anything to go by. It sees Aluna and George joined by a crew of rather wonderfully-dressed dancing kids, doing their slow-mo thing in a vacant public pool. A big thumbs-up goes out to the video's stylist, for making me instantly miss the boldness of retro-inspired dressing in London.

If you feel like you've already heard/seen this single then  you'd be right: the band released a video for it in August 2011. But this updated cut has all the slickness we've come to expect from the electro-pop duo, whose debut album I've been itching to hear for months. The record, Body Music, comes out on July 29 via Island Records, bumped back from its original July 1 release date.

Whatever, as long as it gets to my ears, I'll be happy.

Friday, 10 May 2013

Watch: Lana Del Rey - Young and Beautiful

If there's one thing Lana Del Rey's retro-glam aesthetic was made for, it may be this. Baz Luhrmann's adaptation of F. Scott Fitzgerald's "The Great Gatsby" came out in U.S. movie theaters at midnight on Friday May 10th, and she's one of several big names featured on its original soundtrack (rubbing shoulders with André 3000, Beyoncé, Jay-Z, The xx and others). To be honest, I could care less about going to see this film. But Del Rey's contribution to the film's music, single "Young and Beautiful" has been stuck in my head for weeks, and now has an accompanying video. Like, even though she sings about how some guy's face "makes her want to party," I enjoy the musical arrangement in this enough to overlook that. 

The Chris Sweeney-directed video is simple, and a perfect fit for an artist whose videos often resemble fashion editorials more than anything else (ditto to Iggy Azalea, though with very different results). Del Rey recorded two versions of the song: this orchestral one, and another more percussive original. Listen to that take below, if you're curious about how the session musicians tackled instrumentation in both.

Wednesday, 8 May 2013

Q & A with Rush Midnight

About two months ago I met Russ Manning, frontman of tropical pop Cascine act Rush Midnight, in Williamsburg. He was due to play Glasslands Gallery. But before that we grabbed a beer at a nearby bar and talked about his transition from jazz training at Oberlin to playing bass with Twin Shadow, to striking out on his own.

Manning was generally sweet, in the distracted way musicians often are as they gear up for gigs. He told me the weekend after we met that he'd be filming his new video for "Don't Give Me Your Love," replete with girl gangs and inspired by The Craft. You can see the results below, and read my profile on him here.

Are Keytars About to Get Big?

Because if this new Thundercat track and last week's offering from Janelle Monae are anything to go by, then 2013 may become the latest Year of the Keytar. That brilliant keyboard and guitar hybrid instrument sounds like it makes appearances on Thundercat's "Oh Sheit It's X" (co-produced by FlyLo) and "Q.U.E.E.N." by Monae. And it gives both songs their retro-funk texture (which, yes, is as heinous a sentence to type as it looks, but pretty accurate here).

Signed to experimental electronic producer Flying Lotus' label Brainfeeder, Thundercat's been floating under the blog and live circuit radar for a good few years now. If you've been loosely following his music, the last you might've heard from Stephen Bruner, the bassist and producer behind Thundercat, was 2011's The Golden Age of the Apocalypse album. Even on Brainfeeder's site, the link to his artist page redirects to a personal Tumblr account--it currently sports a selfie a couple of posts down that I find too offensive to hyperlink here, but um basically Bruner is one elusive guy. That's the lesson of the day.

So when FlyLo shared the news that Thundercat not only had a new single, but an album on the way (due on June 4th, apparently) it was exciting to know that this genre-blending musician is back in the game. Back in April he shared single "Heartbreaks + Setbacks," which you can listen to below and also totally slipped past me the first time round. Whoops. It's a healthy serving of what he does well: coupling the principles of African-American pop with rich instrumentation and slick-as-hell production. It's no surprise that FlyLo has a co-production credit on that one too.

They swung through New York the other day as part of the Red Bull Music Academy's spring session, and are touring North America. Click here to let Pitchfork tell you more about that. (For whatever reason, Thundercat and FlyLo seem to link exclusively to Pitchfork for their press announcements, rather than an actual Brainfeeder press section, so there that is).

Tuesday, 30 April 2013

Disclosure announce 'Settle' tracklist

And it's pretty damn good, at a first glance. As is becoming the trend with a few of the hyped albums released this year (A$AP Rocky, James Blake, Lapalux) the main artists are calling in cameos from some big names to pull in more listeners.

In the case of garage/house sibling duo Disclosure, that translates to featured drops from pop starlet Eliza Doolittle, rising stars AlunaGeorge, alt-r'n'b producer and songwriter Jamie Woon (!) and Jessie Ware, already one of their partners in remix crime. So basically, this album should be great. Have a look at the tracklisting for yourself:
01 Intro
02 When a Fire Starts to Burn
03 Latch (feat. Sam Smith)
04 F for You
05 White Noise (feat. AlunaGeorge)
06 Defeated No More (feat. Ed Mac)
07 Voices (feat. Sasha Keable)
08 Second Chance
09 You & Me (feat. Eliza Doolittle)
10 January (feat. Jamie Woon)
11 Confess to Me (feat. Jessie Ware)
12 Help Me Lose My Mind (feat. London Grammar)
From what we've heard on singles "White Noise" with Aluna (which Hudson Mohawke ripped a new one on this awesome remix) and "You and Me" featuring Eliza, this is going to be a trip down 90s house memory lane. But updated, of course.

The album, Settle, comes out on June 3rd in the U.K. and June 4th elsewhere and you can pre-order it here. The Brothers Lawrence will be touring a ton this summer, so if you're doing European festivals click to check whether they'll be playing a stage near you. And enjoy the new video for "You and Me" (above) in the meantime. It follows a young London couple on a bit of a Eurotrip adventure, and also stars the same stunning woman from r'n'b singer Delilah's "Breathe" video. Seriously, who is she?

Saturday, 27 April 2013

Q & A with Big K.R.I.T.

Big K.R.I.T. is a rapper from Mississippi who's put out 10 mixtapes and a handful of albums and EPs over the last six years.

His latest one's called King Remembered In Time (which is also what the K.R.I.T. in his name stands for, FYI) and came out on April 10, 2013.

I met up with K.R.I.T. earlier this week at Def Jam's offices in Midtown and proceeded to conduct one of the weirdest music interviews I've done in a while. I mean, we talked about the mixtape and his upcoming west coast tour for like two minutes, before I inducted him into a Celebrity Question of the Day for We ended up talking about the end of the world, teenage hookups in cars and orgy soundtracks. You know, the usual rap interview fare. You can read it here, and check out his James Blake-sampling single "R.E.M." below.

Tuesday, 23 April 2013

Song of the Day: Mac Miller - S.D.S

Rapper Mac Miller's back. And he's got Flying Lotus on production duties, whipping together mind-melter, "SDS." The single leaked about 15 hours before it dropped on iTunes at midnight on Tuesday April 23, but it's available for purchase now (for $1.29, which isn't the worst thing ever considering how well-made this song is).

It's all sonic dips and heady synths that make me think I'd really like to hear a Lapalux and Miller collaboration in the not-too-distant future. The single's video comes out tomorrow, so keep an eye out for what I predict will feature slow-motion, Miller smiling a bunch and like some kids skating in the background or whatever.

We haven't heard from Miller in a while. His 2012 Macadelic mixtape came out strong, featuring Kendrick Lamar, Joey Bada$$ as well as Clams Casino and ID Labs on production. So I'm looking forward to hearing what he's got on offer with an upcoming full-length release.

Keep up with his news on his Facebook page here if you're interested too.

UPDATE: Here's the new video, for your viewing pleasure. Watch Mac Miller go all superhero on our asses.

Monday, 8 April 2013

Album Stream: The Knife - Shaking the Habitual

While today's biggest news is definitely some sort of tie between Thatcher's death and that batshit-crazy song by country singer Brad Paisley (okay, not really a tie but seriously WTF is "Accidental Racist" about?), The Knife are hear to make it all alright again.

They've been streaming Shaking the Habitual, their new album, for a few days now and I figured it was time to share the love. The record came out on April 5, via Rabid Records, and is released on CD, vinyl and digital download.

Fans of experimental electro pop will be freaking out all over this one, and I can see myself playing it obsessively for quite a while. Be warned: The Knife don't always sound the most accessible when you first listen to their stuff, but their albums are definitely rewarding long players.

They've released two pretty wonderful videos off the album too, which you can watch below.

Now, I'll get back to literally trying to understand what LL Cool J's doing on a song about why wearing a Confederate flag t-shirt is totally cool now.

Thursday, 4 April 2013

Album Stream: Yeah Yeah Yeahs - Mosquito

The Yeah Yeah Yeahs sort of belong in a class of their own, where their eccentricity contrasts almost comically with the simplicity of a lot of their music. They're not like The Flaming Lips or The Mars Volta, bands where being weird becomes part of a quest to out-maneuver their peers on guitar, or outdo others on extravagant live stage set-ups (and I say this with tons of love and respect for both the Lips and Volta, by the way). Rather, they produce music that gets to the point, hits you with a riff, dances around you a bit then ends. And it works.

After about four years they've followed 2009's It's Blitz! with Mosquito. They shared this listening party video with all of the interwebs on Wednesday, premiering the LP. Watch frontwoman Karen O, guitarist Nick Zinner and drummer Brian Chase talk through the record track-by-track for Noisey. Then, of course, go ahead and buy the darn thing if you like what you hear. 

The band are playing the David Letterman Show on Friday April 5, and a selection of tour dates around America, Europe and the UK this summer. Click here for more info on those.

Monday, 25 March 2013

Free Shit Part 43: Mount Kimbie - Made To Stray

We haven't had an album from London electronic duo Mount Kimbie for almost three years, so Monday's news that they're coming out with LP Cold Spring Fault Less Youth in May was good news. Dominic Maker and Kai Campos shared a free download for this track, "Made to Stray," to go along with the album announcement on their Facebook page.

Its pounding bass and melodica-sounding sample is getting me all excited for summer and sun. Yes that's indeed a cliché but please cut this African girl some slack--New York's winter has been almost hilarious in its brutality. Right-click save this beauty for the timebeing, and look out for the album on May 27th, via Warp Records.

Saturday, 23 March 2013

Watch: Hiatus - We Can Be Ghosts Now (feat. Shura)

Oh hi everyone, if you've been wondering whether I was dead it's mostly because I was dead inside. In other words, I've been working on my Master's Project, which is basically a journalism school equivalent of a thesis--except rather than spend time romantically thumbing through books in the library, my classmates and I have been running around all over New York state reporting on stories we pitched months ago and may be now struggling to love.

But I digress. Because the point of this post isn't to moan about being on an amazing degree, but to showcase this beautiful piece of music from Hiatus and Shura. Hiatus' Cyrus Shahrad has been hard at work making a new record, and Parklands will be out on May 13th. I gave it a listen last week (thank you, AMP Publicity) and it sounds all kinds of awesome, so keep an eye out for it if you're a fan of lush and emotive electronic music filled with whimsy.

This particular single, "We Can Be Ghosts Now," comes out on April 29th. There so far isn't any more album release info, on the label or formats the LP will be out on, but I'll be in touch with Hiatus' publicist to find out. Enjoy this stop-motion cutesy video by Tom Jobbins in the meantime.

Sunday, 3 March 2013

Updated: Shystie feat. Azealia Banks - Control It video pulled

UPDATE: Well, it turns out this video didn't get the green light from Azealia and the Interscope/Universal Music Group camp. The clip has since been removed from YouTube, and this series of tweets above is the closest thing we've seen to a statement so far. I've tried to contact Shystie's rep, but heard nothing back yet. Will keep y'all posted if there's progress.

Hackney MC Shystie just released this new video for single "Control It," featuring Perez Hilton's internet enemy, aka Azealia Banks.

The two rappers have shown each other love over the last year or so, with Shystie grabbing a verse on "Neptune" from Banks' Fantasea mixtape last year, and Shystie unleashing a censored version of this song on her Gold Dust Vol. 2 mixtape in Sept. 2012 in return. 

In any case, the LZ Beats-produced track thuds its way through this new video, all dominatrix motifs, sneers at the camera and some bold, sexually-charged verses. This version will be on Shystie's Pink Mist EP, due out on April 28 and available to pre-order on iTunes now.

Wednesday, 27 February 2013

Gig Preview: Rush Midnight at Glasslands Gallery

Today Brooklyn-based bassist and producer Rush Midnight, né Russ Manning, released this single, "Don't Give Me Your Love," on Cascine Records. It's made of the shimmery, 80s-inspired melodies and signature jaunty basslines that he perfected playing bass in George Lewis Jr's band Twin Shadow before going solo--and it's awesome.

I'm interviewing Russ and watching him play a show at Glasslands Gallery in Williamsburg tomorrow night, with labelmates Selebrities and Wildarms, so if you're at a loose end and in the city, I strongly advise you to come by. As ever, Cascine have nurtured someone who straddles nostalgia and a future pop sound so well, and I'm looking forward to talking through Russ' influences with him tomorrow night.

He released EP +1 last year, which you can buy for yourself here and features production credits from George. For a taste of the real thing, tickets to the Glasslands show are still going and just $10 a pop.

Tuesday, 19 February 2013

Album Stream: Atoms For Peace - AMOK

Everyone, please stop whatever the effing hell you're doing and take some time out to listen to this new Atoms For Peace record. As ever, Thom Yorke and crew proved they are smarter than the internet, and the cuts we hear now were once again immune to the usual leaks. They released this stream while I was out and about reporting on a photographer, so yes, I'm aware I'm about 12 hours late on this. Hot damn.

In case you hadn't heard, Atoms For Peace are an experimental band featuring Radiohead's Thom Yorke and Nigel Godrich, as well as Flea from the Red Hot Chili Peppers. I know, on paper that sounds like it'd be an odd meeting of minds, but from what we've heard on "Default" and "What The Eyeballs Did," it just works. Full disclosure: I've been a Radiohead and Thom Yorke fan for about a decade now, so um there is very little neutrality going on in this post. Them's the facts.

Regardless of how much of a fangirl I may be, I still think this would be a record worth listening to. Between new material coming out from James Blake and Shlohmo (and apparently These New Puritans), 2013 is shaping up to be quite the year for art rock-esque electronic music. I am EXCITED.

AMOK comes out officially on Feb. 25, and is available to pre-order on physical here and digital here.

Friday, 15 February 2013

Album Stream: Apparat - Krieg und Frieden

Apparat's Sascha Ring shared a free stream of his new record, Krieg und Frieden (Music for Theater) a few days before its release on Mute Records. The LP comes out on February 19th, and grew out of Ring's musical interpretation of director Sebastian Hartmann's stage production of War & Peace, by Tolstoy.

Ring holed himself up with Tolstoy's original text, and spent four weeks rehearsing with a 30-piece ensemble that included his resident cellist, Philipp Timm, and his violinist, Christoph Hartmann. They didn't follow the script, but improvised around themes they picked up from the story. And the results are this dark, textured and rather wonderful album.

Um, please don't listen alone to this if you had a shitty Valentine's Day. You will weep.

Ring will be touring the album around Europe, so click here for those recently-announced dates. And to find out what inspired his last album, check out my interview with him for Don't Panic in 2011. We Skyped while he was in Morocco, generally having an amazing time, and giggled about the rubbish hotel wi-fi.

Thursday, 14 February 2013

Song of the Day: Wildarms - Love Is Just True

For those of us on Eastern Time, it's still Valentine's Day. Londoners and beyond, I hope you rocked it. Everyone else, go out and have sex with someone you don't hate. 

 And as the best ever last-minute Valentine's gift, buy them the Wildarms Clear Eyes EP, out now on Cascine. This particular piece of rippling, sample-heavy, synth pop has been rolling around inside my head for days and might just make somebody you know real happy. Grab it from iTunes here if you reckon so, too.

Wednesday, 13 February 2013

Song of the Day: Liars - WIXIW

If you like basketball and dischordant, looped refrains you're probably going to be reveling in this new video for "WIXIW" by Liars. The band apparently really likes basketball, so director and artist Alex/2Tone took that into account, calling the final result “the legend of Sisyphus as told by a young ballplayer lost in a haze of codeine and prescription weed”. Ok, cool. It looks good so I'm not complaining.

The band are playing Brooklyn's Masonic Temple on May 19th and tickets are still going. If you're lucky enough to be attending either Primavera Sound or Sónar, they'll be playing both (well, all three: they're appearing at both Primavera's Barcelona and Porto locations).

Find out more on their goings-on here.

Watch: Wild Nothing - Only Heather

Wild Nothing just shared a new video for "Only Heather" and it's a little weird. Only a little, though. The slightly bloodied video was made by Ryan Reichenfeld, a skateboarder-turner-director from LA.  This song happens to be one of the real earwig tracks on the record, so I'll no doubt be humming it to myself for the rest of the day. 

At least that'll give my brain a break from James Blake's "Retrograde," which I've played pretty much incessantly on a loop for the past 48 hours.

Anyway, Wild Nothing's heading out on tour next month in Europe and the UK, so see if they'll be passing through your city below:

March 18 - Liverpool, England - The Kazimier
March 19 - Manchester, England - Sound Control
March 20 - Birmingham, England - Hare & Hounds
March 21 - London, England - Scala
March 23 - Paris, France - Nouveau Casino
March 24 - Lille, France - L'Aeronef
March 26 - Borgerhout, Belgium - Muziekcentrum Trix
March 27 - Amsterdam, Netherlands - Bitterzoet
March 28 - Istanbul - Babylon Istanbul
April 13 - Indio, CA - Coachella
April 20 - Indio, CA - Coachella
May 23 - Barcelona, Spain - Primavera Sound
May 25 - London, England - Field Day
May 30 - Porto, Portugal - Optimus Primavera Sound
June 8 - New York, NY - Governor’s Ball

Wednesday, 23 January 2013

Song of the Day: Youth Lagoon - Dropla

On January 4 Youth Lagoon's Trevor Powers announced a new album due to be released this year, and this is the first track he's shared from it. Something about the psychedelic dream pop of this song has got me all excited to hear the rest of Wondrous Bughouse, due out via Fat Possum Records on March 5 in the USA and March 18 in the UK.

And yes, if this song screams Animal Collective to you then you've got a good ear. Before producer Ben H. Allen lent his talents to Wondrous Bughouse he worked on Merriweather Post Pavilion and last year's Centipede Hz with the Animal Collective guys. I'll be looking forward to what this LP has in store, since it apparently explores Powers' issues with dysphoria and how he finds it easier to express himself through song than actual conversation. Fair enough man, if it makes things sound this good then I guess I'm down.

Full tracklisting:

  1. Through Mind and Back
  2. Mute
  3. Attic Doctor
  4. The Bath
  5. Pelican Man
  6. Dropla
  7. Sleep Paralysis
  8. Third Dystopia
  9. Raspberry Cane
  10. Daisyphobia

Tuesday, 22 January 2013

My Guide to the 2013 Grammys

So the Grammys are coming up. Again. I know that basically only eight percent of the world's population still cares about this three-hour glorification of the major record label industry, so I figured I'd share a selfish guide to get you up to speed with what I'm expecting come February 10th. 

I personally don't think I've stayed up to watch the Grammys for like nine years, but I'll be in America for the ceremony for the first time this year so won't have to start the 'is it worth staying up until 4 a.m. for?' debate with myself.

In light of the 2013 Nominees' album coming out today here's a rundown of some reactions the nominee list inspired in me, re: the state of signed musicians today. 

1. Wondering what the hell happened to rock music in the Grammy-nominating people's eyes
Okay, this year the nominations for the rock categories seemed more dismal than ever. Please don't take this as a sign that Guitar Music Is Dead (Again) because if I read one more doomsday article of that ilk I am going to scream. No, this is more about how so much great guitar and rock music was made over the last year but for some reason these nominating dudes decided The Black Keys were as good as it gets. And I'm serious about that: Between freaking Coldplay and Mumford and Sons, The Black Keys just about trump Alabama Shakes as the most credible option to win Best Rock Performance. I know Springsteen's nominated too but doesn't he have a bunch of these already? 

2. Feeling like I missed out on Fun. 
The fact that Fun. have even been nominated in six categories (seven if you Jeff Bhasker's Non-Classical Producer of the Year nod for their song "Some Nights") is entirely baffling to me. When did this band blow up? I obvs only clicked a link to their song with Janelle Monae about six months ago because her name was in the title, and she is incredible. Needless to say, I was pretty appalled at the mediocrity of this Fun.'s sound.

Are we really ready for another band like the one that did "Drops of Jupiter" ten years ago? I vote no (but given the way probability works, these guys are likely to take home a piece of the winning action). 

3. Wanting Frank Ocean to win everything, so bad 
Seriously, can this guy just get the official stamp of approval so that even old people who watch the Grammys and teens whose parents ban them from listening to music made by black guys can witness the majesty that is Frank Ocean? No seriously, that's all I'm asking for. 

4. Not caring about the Country or Gospel wins 
Sorry y'all but unless that country version of Taylor Swift's nominated for a statue (Carrire Underwood? Is that your name?), no one else really gives a care. And gospel music's all about those great harmonies but I cannot get down with lyrics that are constantly into God. 

5. Rooting for Diplo 
Like that dude working with Fun., this Canadian beatmaker is also up for Producer of the Year, Non-Classical. Unlike that guy, he deserves it (don't get me wrong, Jeff Bhasker is a talented guy but seriously, Fun. might be a low point for him).

Diplo gave us "Climax", "Get Free" and "Push and Shove" all in one year, while also finding time to release a solo EP, Major Lazer single and post constant retweets of people around the world 'expressing themselves' against walls, cars and doors.

6. Remembering that film music is a pretty big deal 
With my history of barely making it all the way through the ceremony, I'm never really tuned into the film soundtrack noms. This year though, I think we've got a couple of pretty strong leads in several categories (note The Hunger Games' double nomination in a single category!). I guess The Artist should win Best Score Soundtrack for Visual Media because um without dialogue I assume the music is literally the only thing that film had going for it. (Full disclosure: I never watched it.) 

7. Hoping Björk gets to give a weird-ass acceptance speech 
Björk should bag Best Recording Package for Biophilia because wasn't that album not only an album but also an iPad app and an e-book and a braille text or some shit? Seriously, she pushed the boat out tech-wise and I'd rather see M83 get Best Alt Music Album so this should be her win. 

8. Believing Hugh Masekela deserves Best World Music 
Because he's a family friend and pretty much the only person in this category whom I grew up listening to. I'm biased. But also, he's like 70 years old and gets down on stage like he's still in his twenties. I'm talking serious bent-knee, side-to-side GETTING DOWN. If Ravi Shankar wins this posthumously, I'll be pissed.

9. Legit not minding if Drake or Kanye and Jay-Z get Best Rap Performance and Best Rap Song
As long as no one gives an award to a song that features Bruno Mars, I'm good. 

10. Knowing ultimately Grammy Awards don't matter that much any more 
Because the rules defining which releases are eligible each year excludes unsigned and so many smaller acts on independent labels, do we still even care? Personally I don't look to the Grammys to help give me a sense of what I should have been listening to over the last year or anything. They're usually a guide to what big industry players have backed. They're a synopsis of songs major radio stations in each genre have probably played. And they're a place where L'il B should have been performing this year, but won't be. So whatevs. Let's watch them and have a giggle and maybe get a little drunk when things start to drag, but we don't need to freak out about What It All Means.

Tuesday, 15 January 2013

Field Day 2013 Announces New Acts

One of London's best single-day festivals will soon be upon us again. Field Day is scheduled for the May 25th Bank Holiday weekend this year, and the booking team behind the music extravaganza announced another handful of new acts due to perform throughout the day.

From Wild Nothing's jingle-jangle indie and newcomers Splashh to Kurt Vile's introspective, guitar-picked slow jamz they're building another diverse and awesome line-up this year. Um, can we talk about the fact that Field Day's going to be Solange's London festival debut? And how completely fitting that is for the uber-hip persona she's cultivated over the last few years, when compared to Bey playing Glasto?

Because I don't know about you guys but I still remember the days when Solange was making songs like this:

Yeah. Anyway, get £60 tickets for the day right here. Keep up with Field Day's news via their Facebook and Twitter accounts, especially since they start to roll out ticket giveaways in springtime and those will be the best places to hear about them.

Thursday, 10 January 2013

Song of the Day: Charli XCX - You (Ha Ha Ha)

Charli XCX is a 90s-style-inspired dark pop star on the rise. You may have heard about her when she toured with Coldplay and Santigold last summer, or when her singles "Stay Away" and "Nuclear Seasons" earned her some buzz in 2011. Here the Hertfordshire-born 20-year-old (seriously, how many hyphens do I feel it's appropriate to use in this one blog post?) sampled Gold Panda's "You" on a track she shared online in December. It now has a video in all its warehouse party glory.

I haven't been huge on Charli XCX so far, not because I somehow assume she's rubbish, but because I listen to so many female-fronted acts that some fall through the cracks. My bad. She couples infectious pop hooks with the type of somber production favored by the likes of Zola Jesus in a way that has now piqued my interest. She also co-wrote Icona Pop's breakthrough hit "I Love It" when she was like 18 years old, so more power to her.

Her stylist deserved a Christmas bonus last month: she always looks like an adorable mix of Clueless-era pseudo-gothery and pop girl band brashness. I'm into it.

Wednesday, 9 January 2013

Wolf Alice Announce February UK Tour

Wolf Alice. They're a north London four-piece who make female-fronted noise pop and sent everyone at Shoreditch's Old Blue Last into a frenzy during their sold-out headliner show on Tuesday night. Here, singer Ellie Rowsell careens from metered restraint during verses to punchy yelps in new single "Fluffy". The song comes out on Chess Club Records on February 11th.

That very night the band are due to kick off their first U.K. tour, starting at the NME Awards Show in Stoke Newington's Waiting Room (what used to be The Drop). From there they'll breeze through Brighton, Leeds and more of the main 'new bands on tour' cities. Sorry Scotland and Ireland, this is actually more of an England tour to be honest:
February 11th -  The Waiting Room, London (NME Awards Show)
February 15th - Registry, Portsmouth
February 16th - The Hope, Brighton
February 20th -  Nation of Shopkeepers, Leeds
February 21st -  TROF Fallowfield, Manchester
February 22nd - The Great Gatsby, Sheffield
February 23rd - Sunflower Lounge, Birmingham
Pre-order the single on limited edition white vinyl through Rough Trade, and watch this space for any band announcements on plans to give us all digital releases in the future. 

Fun fact: these guys used to be a folk act. Yeah, I know.

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