I’ve always had what I consider the appropriate level of reverence for Spoon. They’re an institution in age when Music doesn’t traffic in institutions. That said, they’ve never made an album that has truly floored me. If you were to compile a best-of collection (which I have) it would amount to one of my favorite records of the last 30 years, but I’ve still been waiting for the one album that transcends the others and proves they can make a masterwork front-to-back. They Want My Soul might just do it. Each of the first three singles “Rent I Pay”, “Do You”, and “Inside Out” are among the best songs they’ve ever recorded. Check out a stream of the record through iTunes by following this link.
You can also check out the aforementioned “best of” I made below.
When Tom Krell started How to Dress Well, he was anything but a personality. In fact the vocals on his debut Love Remainswere frequently vague — if decipherable — and secondary to what was going on around them. Total Lossfrom a couple years ago shined a bit more light on the humanity of its creator; it was slow, sad, and beautiful, and you could feel it.
Krell has done something remarkable with What Is This Heart? He’s created a direct and ambitious singer/songwriter album that impossibly manages to retain the dreamy gauziness of his early work. The advanced singles were great, and now on my first spin through the full album I’m already convinced it’s one of the year’s best. There’s also something cool about the fact that this album managed to not leak at all (believe me, I tried) and now arrives for streaming directly from Krell himself. Visit whatisthisheart.com and take a spin through this thing.
Maybe this happens to everybody, but I find as I get older I’m more and more given to thinking about haunts. I visit places I haven’t been since I was a kid and am overwhelmed by the strength and clarity of a memory grayed and faded until that moment. I was walking down the beach last year when I passed along a house my family had rented for a reunion when I was probably 6 or 7. Upon viewing the widow’s watch I immediately flashed back, poorly-edited-horror-movie-style, to myself late at night looking down at the beach, where I saw two figures walking along side by side. This was probably in the wee hours of the morning, and I observed them as they sauntered slowly along the sand. Then, without warning, once they had passed they turned and both looked up at me, I couldn’t see their faces and see in my mind’s eye that they were cloaked, that there was something inhuman about them, and that I was terrified.
And almost as suddenly I blinked and turned my head to face forward and left the memory behind, but it lives in my brain now; that place and that experience have their fingers in my psyche. Familiars, the new one from the Antlers, is all about memories, those that gently withdraw into obscurity and those that come shooting back to the surface without warning, too powerful to be lidded. “In the hotel, I can’t remember how the past felt but in a strange bed, I keep sleeping with my past self,” Peter Silberman sings on “Hotel”, the album’s lead single, and we get the distinct impression there’s a lot he’d like to forget. Later, on “Revisited” an undead lover returns to the home imploring the narrator to “Just take me! Just take me to the rusty city we perfected, that holy summer we first found!” The mood is a disarming mixture of spookiness and catharsis. This is an album about ghosts, the ghosts of ex-lovers maybe still living, the ghosts of failures and regrets, and the ghosts of the people we once had the potential to become, and didn’t.
Upon my first few spins through the album I was rather unimpressed; it sounded woozy and tired and a bit monochromatic. I also thought there was too much trumpet. When I finally got in a headphone listen, however, it changed everything. Fact is, this record IS really pared back and of-a-sound, but as much as the bombastic moments of Hospice and Burst Apart were exciting and “Epic”, it’s refreshing to have an album delivered in such a plaintive, searching way.
I love pretty much everything about this record; I love the notably unadorned instrumentation; I love Peter Silberman working more in his lower register; I love the questions the lyrics ask about the immortality of love and memory. I think this is a quiet and beautiful work that’s probably better than Burst Apart and approaching the ecstatic perfection of Hospice.
Preface: BUY THIS ALBUM. This is one of my favorite bands and I’m excited to share this leak, but I do so with some reservation…
The new Antlers LP Familiars has leaked ahead of its June release date. If previous Antlers records had a woozy melatonin effect, Familiars is like a Valium dream. I haven’t had time to fully digest this thing yet, but give it a listen below.
Merrill Garbus is a weird lady. She imbues her music with a grinning silliness that belies some pretty heavy stuff she’s working out. This tension is further fleshed out in her second proper LP Nikki Nack. Check out the wildly excellent album through NPR’s First Listen Series.
Is it OK if I call you Armando Christian Pérez? It’s just so much more stately and human than Pitbull; it’s the kind of name you want to picture with a kodak, or take a picture of with a kodak . Before I get in to the bulk of this letter, I would like to provide you with a list (in order) of the first 15 comments on a recent facebook post from NBC soccer asking folks’ opinion of your new track “We Are One” which somebody somewhere decided is the “official” theme song of the 2014 World Cup in Brazil:
“all i had to read was pitbull and i knew it would suck”, , “I’m gonna kill myself now.”, “I’d rather listen to a vuvuzela for an hour.”, “Please don’t post crap like this in the future. Thanks!”, “Terrible. I cannot stand listening to pitbull”, “Would have given it a chance, but it’s Pit bull…”, “AWFUL”, “ugh… no more pitbull…..”, “An embarrassment to the sport…”, “That’s really really bad.”, “Disgusting”, “Send Pitbull back to Alaska for good.”, “Wanted to stab my ears with hot pokers…”, .
I am not going to provide a link to the song in question because I feel it would be irresponsible to do so.
Someone once said, incorrectly, that there’s no accounting for taste. It seems to me there is a pretty loud consensus here. This is but the latest in a string of increasingly poor decisions regarding your career path, (something something something) your career path. Bad rappers are all around us all the time. Many of these artists “take themselves seriously” insofar as they are in touch with their ridiculousness. An artist like 2-Chainz can rap a line like “Dos cadenas, close to genius/Sold out arenas, you can suck my penis”, and it’s fine because his tongue is planted firmly and obviously in his cheek. You, on the other hand, you rap like the only person not in on the joke; everybody is laughing at you while you are convinced we are laughing with you.
I can not stress this enough, you very nearly ruined a perfectly good Ke$ha song last month. “Timber”, were it without the hook, would be not only bad, but unpopular. Thank your lucky stars Ke$ha saved that track with her usual brand of bourbon-glitter-lubricated sex purring. I would rather hear Ke$ha rap amelodically about her savage menses for 4 minutes than hear one more “Wooooo OOOOOOOOOOHHHHHHHH” escape your crusty, stupid lungs.
You are cultivating and underwriting all of the things people hate about you. Through your apparent insistence on saying “Dale” (dah-lay) and yelping “wooooooooo oooooh” no less than three times every song, you are deluding yourself into the belief you’re exalting a persona, when really you’re just reminding people over and over how much you suck.
So please, hang it up. There have been plenty of “artists” before you who have done us all a favor and gone the way of the dodo, it will be a real shame if you are still famous 5 years from now.
IT’S A SPRING NEW ALBUM BONANZA!!! Let’s get in to it.
Todd Terje – It’s Album Time
Todd Terje’s debut LP is probably the best thing released thus far in 2014. It is an album deceptively non-committal to a genre. Terje’s aesthetic immediately suggests a straightforward techno-house approach, but there are flourishes of styles from all over the world on It’s Album Time, and unlike his early single releases, there’s a great variation in tempos here.
Timbre Timbre – Hot Dreams
It’s going down (sorry) big time on Timbre Timbre’s new record Hot Dreams. Like Kurt Vile or Nick Cave, Taylor Kirk has a knack for treading the line between sad and hilarious, aloof and earnest, icy and approachable. On Hot Dreams he and his band have created another under-the-radar achievement of atmosphere and restraint.
S. Carey – Range of Light
Sean Carey is a goof friend of Bon Iver’s Justin Vernon and they share a label. Their music has a lot in common too. Carey, though, is perhaps even gentler than his cohort, as unlikely as that may sound. On his sophomore LP Range of Light he crafts widescreen wonder and pastoral vistas out of charmingly simple ingredients.
I Break Horses – Chiaroscuro
I’ve always admired this band for their ability to create music that is simultaneously melancholic and uplifting. Their music is very “pretty” but it never feels saccharine or lightweight. In art, chiaroscuro refers to the strong contrast between light and dark, I haven’t been able to go in hard on this one yet, but that title seems very fitting given their past output.
How to Dress Well‘s outstanding last album Total Losscame in at #5 on my top albums of 2012 list, so needless to say I’ve been looking forward to a follow up. Thus far we’ve heard the new song “Words I Can’t Remember” and now Tom Krell has released another track, “Repeat Pleasure”, and announced the release of a new album entitled What is This Heart out June 24th. “Repeat Pleasure”, like “Words I Can’t Remember” pulls Krell’s voice out of the echoing haunted rafters. On these tracks, he sounds less like a post-R&B spectre and more like a straight up crooner. Check out “Repeat Pleasure” below.
The Antlers have, through their last two albums (the incomparable masterwork Hospice and the almost-as-good Burst Apart) firmly entrenched themselves in the hMsM can-do-no-wrong club. Now they’ve announced a new album titled Familiars, and they have shared the opening track “Palace”. It’s a plaintive meditation on growth and death. Peter Silberman’s poetic lyricism and the band’s inimitable pulse breathes through and leaves this listener with very high hopes for the album. Check out “Palace” below, Familiars is out 6/17.
The War on Drugs are a hardworking rock band from Philadelphia. Actually that’s a totally misleading description; War on Drugs look and feel like a hardworking rock band, but they don’t sound like they have to put in much effort at all. That’s what I was first taken with when I heard their last album album, 2011′s Slave Ambient; these guys make is sound soeasy. That freewheeling effortlessness continues on Lost in the Dream, a record that already sounds like their career statement after just one listen.