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.

Watch: Eddi Front - Texas (live)

Brooklyn songstress Eddi Front (née Ivana Carrescia) is the latest moody and slightly-too-dark-to-be-whimsical act to come out of the trendy borough. She's caused quite the stir recently in the online music press (and the odd print offering too), since unveiling her self-titled EP via Best Fit Recordings in November 2012.

File her somewhere near Cat Power, Lia Ices and Emily Haines' (of Metric) side-project with the Soft Skeleton and you'll be close to her brand of brooding, breathy and confessional music. She hit the U.K. shores for a handful of dates last year, and makes her U.S. debut under the Eddi Front moniker on January 24th at New York City's Slipper Room. $12 tickets are still going here.

In this Yours Truly session from October, watch her sing "Texas", one of the four songs from the EP. I may be interviewing her next week, time permitting, and hope to make it down to her show too. Check out a recent Lindsay Zoladz feature on Pitchfork to get more of her back-story if you like what you hear so far.

Monday, 7 January 2013

Song of the Day: AlunaGeorge - Diver

Right, if you haven't heard of r'n'b duo AlunaGeorge by now and you live in the U.K. then it's time to get real. I'm kinda kidding but now that Aluna Francis and George Reid were named runners-up for BBC's Sound of 2013 list on Thursday and the Hypemachine's most blogged-about artist in the UK in 2012, their band name is likely to be at least vaguely familiar to radio listeners on that fair little isle (wait, people still listen to the radio, right?).

Over here in the U.S. of A AlunaGeorge are yet to make their big break beyond the new music blogger scene, but have so far released a string of near-flawless pop ditties that may hint at a strong debut album later this year. This song, "Diver", sees Francis cooing in the most saccharine end of her vocal range but Reid's bassy production balances out that sweetness to just the right amount. There are hints of everything from Aaliyah and Flying Lotus to CocoRosie.

The song debuted on Annie Mac's BBC Radio1 show a few days ago and will hopefully be featured on their full-length release. Have a listen to their 2012 EP You Know You Like It to acquaint yourself with their earlier stuff if it didn't cross your radar last year.

Sunday, 6 January 2013

Watch: Toro Y Moi - Say That

Toro Y Moi's Chaz Bundick started 2013 right, releasing this new video for single "Say That" on the first day of the year. In it he glides down mossy forest floors, bops on empty pavements and does what looks like a hybrid running man and moonwalk (he must've known those were two of my fave moves in 1994) in a forest clearing.

More importantly, the song takes him in an exciting new direction, veering from molasses-like funk grooves to a more high-octane and synth-buzz-laden pop execution. Toro Y Moi's made a dance track, basically. And, from what I can hear, it's pretty awesome. I love how the female vocal refrain's chord progression reminds me of Bloc Party's "She's Hearing Voices", and edges the song into '90s rave territory without bashing us over the head with the reference.

Toro Y Moi's new record Anything In Return comes out on January 22nd via Carpark Records, and you can pre-order it now on the band website. Bundick will be touring pretty much worldwide with his live band from mid-January to early April, so check out if he's hitting a city near you if you like what you hear.

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