That’s Enough Pitbull

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Dear Armando Christian Pérez,

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.

Stream New Albums from Todd Terje, Timbre Timbre, S. Carey, and I Break Horses

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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 Announces New Album, Shares “Repeat Pleasure”

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How to Dress Well‘s outstanding last album Total Loss came 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.

New LP Coming from the Antlers, Stream a New Track

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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.

Stream the new War on Drugs LP Lost in the Dream

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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 so easy. That freewheeling effortlessness continues on Lost in the Dream, a record that already sounds like their career statement after just one listen.

Check out a New Song from How to Dress Well, “Words I Don’t Remember”

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When I was trying to organize a music festival last year I reached out to Tom Krell, the guy behind How to Dress Well, directly. I really wanted him to play the festival, but I also didn’t want to come across insincere or trite in my praise for his music. I settled on saying that his last album, Total Loss, did something very “amniotic” for me, and I still kind of like the description. There was a stretch after I first bought the album where I would put it on the turntable, lay down with my eyes closed, and let the whole thing surround me. It’s a record you can swim around in.

I wasn’t able to pull the festival together, and I don’t honestly remember that much about the uterus, but needless to say I’m really excited for whatever Krell follows up with. “Words I Don’t Remember” captures everything he does best; those warm hushed but present vocals; the light knock of a sparse beat; the perfectly placed synths that feel more organic than a lot of guitar-band music coming out these days. No confirmation yet on a new album, but check out the song below.

Catchy, Good or Both? Jason Derulo “Talk Dirty to Me”

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For this edition of Catchy, Good or Both? we’re going to be taking a long sideways glance at Jason “Jay-Saaaaawn” Derulo’s new joint “Talk Dirty to Me”. Derulo’s most recent chart entry prior to “Talk Dirty to Me” was “Marry Me”,a sweet song about living to be 105 so you can watch your lover’s sagging booty list slowly from side to side before she drops it down one last time, never to pick it back up. I have no real beef with Derulo, other than the fact he made no effort to extol the virtues of Imogen Heap when she essentially made a song for him. Whatever, let’s get into it…

What makes it catchy?

-Let’s not beat around the bush here, that SAX HOOK! WOOOOOF!!! It’s just so damn sleazy, so ugly and sweaty and stinky and oozing raunchy sex. It’s almost certainly NOT a real saxophone, but neither are the boobs of most of the women on Derulo’s team…

-”I got lipstick stamps on my passport, you make it hard to leave…” This one is not too bright, Jay. Passports are technically government property, so letting your weird paper-phillic plaything put kisses all up inside of it is not only odd but also illegal. Good luck getting out of Bangkok.

-”Been around the world don’t speak the language…” is a really honest moment of self-affacing… “but your booty don’t need explainin’”. Oh.

-The beginning of 2 Chainz’ verse is “Dos Cadenas, closed the genius/ Sold out arenas, you can suck my penis”, which is really just excellent stuff.


What makes it un-good? 

-Following a song like “Marry Me” with a song like “Talk Dirty To Me”  throws off the whole cadence of Derulo’s career. I’m almost starting to suspect that some artists make music about stuff that isn’t actually happening to them in real life. It’s ridiculous.

-Seriously though, I’m sure he’s not talking about the woman he just proposed to. Who would want to marry somebody who doesn’t even speak the same language? She must have said “no” (or possibly “nein”).

 -Derulo’s voice has this weird raspy 16-year-old-boy-who’s-been-smoking-since-he-was-5 thing going on. Works well for Miley Cyrus, not so much for Derulo.

-The sax hook. This is  a weird meta moment for “Catchy, Good or Both?” The sax hook in this song approaches the Platonic form of something simultaneously epidemically infectious and brazenly terrible. It is at once impossible to rid from one’s head and truly, completely, bad. It is the quintessence of dick-swinging amelodic drivel, but it is also, like, so super fun.

 Jason Derulo – “Talk Dirty to Me”

Final Verdict: Really Catchy, Pretty Terrible

Stream the new Real Estate Album, Atlas

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No, you can not stream an actual atlas any more easily then I can put italics in my headlines. But the new album from the New Jersey dream-rockers is now available for your listening pleasure. You can stream Atlas through iTunes by clicking here.

Beck – Morning Phase – Album Review

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Sea Change came along at a very inappropriate moment of my life. I was a freshman in college and I was riding a wave of late-adolescent mirth that carried me through that year. Everything was new, everything was fun, everything smelled like Otto’s jacket. I had a radio show with a friend of mine at the time and he suggested we play “Little One”, his favorite track from the new Beck record. I enjoyed Beck’s previous work passingly so I was game. The song sounded different from other tracks of his I had heard, and when I mentioned that to Mike as it played he responded, “Oh yeah man, this whole album is like that, it’s super sad.” I had no aversion to sad music at the time — Postal Service and Death Cab‘s Transatlanticism were on repeat for me that year; Ben Gibbard really gets white male college freshmen with long distance girlfriends and a mounting subcurrent of loneliness– but it wasn’t anything I was trying to seek out.

So it took a while before I got around to the full album. When I did I was drawn in not because I was feeling what Beck was feeling, but because I was viewing this profound sadness from a comfortable smirking distance. It wasn’t until I got down into some depths myself that I fully connected with the kind of desperate emptiness Beck was feeling when he made that record. In the years since, things have leveled off for me and it sounds like they have for Beck as well. And on Morning Phase he shows that you can still be sad and be a grownup too.

Some of these tracks, I’m told, actually are outtakes from Sea Change. It sounds reductive to call this a sequel, but it’s not an insult. The players are the same, the production values are very similar, and the songs are borne of the same winsome dolor that flavored Sea Change. But now Beck seems wiser; less interested in having a fire sale of his own anguished thoughts and more interested in connecting with the listener. Album opener “Morning” is a 40-second string piece that plays with the same intervals that appeared all over Sea Change. That gives way to “Morning”, a track which rolls along at the same impossibly slow rhythm as “Golden Age”, but tells a very different tale. Where many of the songs on Sea Change centered on listless resignation, here Beck isn’t giving up so easily.

“Blue Moon”, Morning Phase‘s masterpiece first single, finds him imploring an “other” to not leave him all alone. On Sea Change he would have just told us that he was alone, and that it wasn’t fun. This kind of measured and considerate valuation of one’s troubles is characteristic of a more mature individual, and that’s what we get on Morning Phase. More than anything my impression is that this is an album, much like Sea Change, whose sound and meaning will morph as time goes by, and that’s about the best I can ask for out of a record.

8.5/10

Morning Phase is out February 25th. You can stream it through NPR’s First Listen Series here.

Stream Beck’s Morning Phase

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Beck’s new LP Morning Phase has leaked ahead of its February 25th release. I haven’t had time to hear the whole thing, but so far it sounds excellent, very Sea Change-y. Enjoy!

The album is now streaming through NPR’s first listen series here

You can check out my review of the album here.