"Halloween Like Wrinkled Magazines" - The Raspberry Heaven
While not quite comparable to some of the more “renowned” sad-pop purveyors, Michael Hansford has a promising knack for the lo-fi field. He’s not afraid to go a bit bigger and swing for the fences, often by layering on a number of instruments and effects as he almost makes a track too busy. This is true on his more recent material, anyways: the above song, “When Everything Was Tropical,” and the Fog Lake collaboration “Cold Inside.” His voice can’t be described as strong, but his willingness to sing out rather than rendering it indecipherable or ephemeral under a smattering of his effects works on here. Imperfections, bare bones, and being genuine are some of the more valued traits on tracks such as these.
Besides that, these songs have some nice, shifting dynamics to them, making them larger than they had to be. “Cold Lake” has a nice, gentle swell that gives the final chorus an effective subtle crescendo. “When Everything Was Tropical” has multiple voices, guitars, and computer effects choreographed together by the end, and “Halloween Like Wrinkled Magazines”… well, I’m a sucker for the payoff of an earnest chorus.
The Raspberry Heaven’s work is raw and, at times, almost feels like throwing things at the wall to see which work. He has talent, though, and the willingness to try things. There’s promise in these songs, and a number of things that do work. Hansford is working hard for the dream; and, most importantly, the music is free.
- Tyler Hanan
Spectres of Summer Mix - Fort Romeau
Here I was, disappointed by all the releases this summer. I don’t have an album strong enough to support three months of heat! What am I going to do? How will I survive?
Enter Fort Romeau (the only artist who got me through last summer) with a mix for his new label, ghostly. Let me be clear, I hate mixes. Nothing can sustain my interest for that long, and continuous music has a purpose too functional for bedroom listening, but the ebb and flow of this mix is transfixing. It plays like an album, it’s highs and lows are the perfect soundtrack for every summer afternoon. I finally found a saving grace. I hope you do, too.
"In the Green Wild" - Julia Holter
Shrugging off inner concerns of posting a single artist too often, I share with you “Into the Green Wild.” The track is the second single off Julia Holter’s Domino debut, Loud City Song.
Holter continues to be unpredictable in everything except her bent toward complex pop (a simplistic catch-all) and her fairly consistent album-a-year schedule. Though technically the follow-up to 2012’s acclaimed Ekstasis, “World" and "Into the Green Wild" are even greater departures from the lush pop proceedings of Ekstasis than Ekstasis was from the alternately discordant, inhuman, and eerie sounds of Tragedy.
Holter, in interviews, has expounded upon how each album is a new project rather than a new expression from an old project; each new song relates that same story by having a new direction. First there was the sparse “World,” a song so gorgeously restrained and built upon exquisitely empty space it was fit to burst - beautifully so.
Now we’ve been given “In the Green Wild,” a track that shares the modern sound of “World” - fitting for an album partially about “the city” and “themed around the loudness of society” (Holter, via Pitchfork) - but it possesses a funkiness that no other recent Holter track has hinted at. The song’s latter half edges towards a more familiar ethereal pop, but the song is still a startingly fresh one from the rising artist.
The video, which deserves more attention than it’s given here, was directed by Yelena Zhelezov. Holter’s plethora of intriguing, well-crafted music videos has remained consistent over the years, at least.
07-11 Washington, DC - Sixth & I Synagogue
07-12 New York City, NY - Le Poisson Rouge
07-13 Philadelphia, PA - World Cafe Live
07-14 Boston, MA - The Church Of Boston
07-16 Montreal, QB - La Sala Rosa
07-17 Toronto, ONT - The Drake
07-18 Detroit, MI - Museum of Contemporary Art Detroit
07-19 Chicago, IL - Constellation (Official Pitchfork After-Party)
07-20 Chicago, IL - Pitchfork Festival
- Tyler Hanan
"Easy Easy" - King Krule
The reverb nation sparked before the break up of WU LYF continues as we finally have an album announcement from King Krule! You’ll remember him making waves in 2010, 2011, and then laying low to ready something great. We haven’t heard much until his recent foray into electronica via Mount Kimbie, and this promising first single, which doesn’t disappoint.
There’s an interesting connection between the reverb of this new classic rock, and the reverb of house contemporaries, although I can’t put a finger on it just yet. It’ll be interesting to see how it all plays out by the end of the year, maybe after the inevitable Mount Kimbie remix. Especially with the release of “Kerou’s Lament.” Anyway, I’ll keep you informed.
6 Feet Beneath The Moon will be out August 4th via XL.
"Molasses" - Aye Nako
As summer hit its stride, so too did the midyear lists for every countable strata of media, news, and entertainment. My perennial personal favorites are the lists of overlooked records, especially Pitchfork's. The primary reason is my status as a gross stereotype sporting thick-rimmed glasses and newly-grown facial hair, but even below this thick melange of shamelessness and pretense is an honest appreciation of a nice, diverse list of music.
A number of NSB favorites make appearances, including noise masters KEN mode, abstract auteur Colin Stetson, and the makes-the-soul-whole Laura Mvula. That’s a nice ego boost to unconsciously smirk over before looking to make sure none saw your sick self-satisfaction, which is the real purpose behind many of these lists (including my own). The Pitchfork list also serves as a nice collage of wildly different, delightful hors d’oeuvres. It may be a platter specifically catered to certain tastes , but that shouldn’t subtract from it’s value - just it’s target demo.
The very first band in the alphabetized list is Aye Nako, loose, Brooklyn-based guitar pop punkers. The genre is one loved and detested for legitimate reasons both, but bands like Aye Nako serve as a reminder of the unabashed joy the best of them out. Grins erupt unbidden, washing away the strains of everyday life for a few minutes. Sometimes we even learn a thing or two.
Unleash Yourself, the album self-released by the band in May, is streaming in its entirety on the band’s website via Soundcloud. Standard pop punk RIYL applies: catchy, riffy, DIY-sounding, progressive, political [link]. - Tyler Hanan
"I Won’t Be Long" - Beck
On Beck’s last album, we saw a little bit more of his quirkier side, although that seemed to be a trend with his last four releases. “I Won’t Be Long” seems like a retreat when compared to Modern Guilt but it still carries some sonic similarities. The atmosphere is there, the hushed vocals, the wobbly bass line; it’s a classic Beck song, which is surprising for someone known for re-invention. The current Beck is a little more relaxed, a little less concerned with finding the new Beck and focused on writing good music. It’s the kind of attitude that made Sea Change a classic, and like any great artist, we can’t wait to hear what’s next.
"Gears" - Qurious
A constant, necessary evil is the sorting of countless emails and the purging of the overflowed inbox, especially when one is reluctant to set a Direct 2 Trash filter. Catching the recipient’s eye is mostly luck.
Stickfigure Recordings caught my attention long ago, by internet standards, with some drone track or other. The name sticks, the emails are infrequent enough, and the content is always something new to me that is, at the very least, somewhat interesting. They also understand that a streaming link, not a download link, is what is wanted.
"Gears" is track about as low-key as can be, a curio from Qurious, the "collaboration between a hip-hip producer/sample collagist (Mike Netland) and a vocal texturist/muli-instumentalist (Catherine Quesenberry).” It’s a cut from Void Vanishing, a surprising, otherworldly piece of ambiance released late last year.
Netland’s subtle, shifting, space-conscious production melds with Quesenberry’s removed, etherial musings effortlessly. The pairing is immensely effective in creating extradimensional pieces of inviting-but-unobtrusive art. It’s certainly worth a stream, followed perhaps by a Twilight Zone episode.
- Tyler Hanan
"Dance Apocalyptic" - Janelle Monáe
Two days after the release of Janelle Monáe’s super-funk single “Queen,” the second single from one of today’s most singular, inimitable pop stars has suddenly burst out onto the internet. True to title, the track is a high-paced, toe-tapper that serves whiplash to any unfamiliar with Monáe’s sudden, drastic genre shifts.
“Dance Apocalyptic" is the second single off The Electric Lady, Monáe’s upcoming, potentially superstar-making album that will crash land on September 10th with an impact Zack Snyder could appreciate. The Electric Lady will likely have much more appreciation for human beings (and androids) in it’s world’s-end throes, though.
- Tyler Hanan
"Every Day" - Chester Grooves
Whatever else may be said of it, Detroit is a city with an illustrious and storied musical history unlike any other. To this day, it continues to serve as the stomping grounds of many talented artists learning from and feeding off that deep well; paired with a few other cities, especially some of the electronic and emo acts coming out of Ann Arbor, the southeastern section of Michigan is consistently supplying new artists to fawn over.
Chester Grooves is a producer from the Metro Detroit area who, having spent four years in East Lansing producing music other creatives and developing his voice, has found his focus and now seeks to slide into the city’s EDM scene. Twisting Motown vocal samples into unintelligible instruments, he crafts aqueous, unassuming earworms.
"Every Day" is an especially nice taste. It’s a fluid, four-minute cranial massage that goes down smoothly - it has the cool, cleansing air and bright light glitter of a night drive down empty city avenues. His Soundcloud contains a plethora of recent uploads that have a shared aesthetic and sensibility, allowing for quite the pleasant, peaceful listening experience.
In addition to sharing his appreciation for the city he lives in with me, Chester Grooves related this when asked to explain his process:
I’m personally distracted by lyrics in songs because I feel like they take away from the feel, ambiance of the music. However I still like the sound of soulful vocals. Glitching them turns them into an instrument for me. When others hear the song they want to make sense of the glitched vocals so they kind of insert their own words and you end up with a bunch of really interesting interpretations. Just the sound of vocals is incredibly expressive
- Tyler Hanan
"Avalanche (Slow)" - Zola Jesus
Today in things we’re totally in the tank for, the first notes off Versions have echoed out into the internet. Versions is introduces us to a new Nika Roza Danilova after a spring thaw, her frigid electronics wiped away in favor of string compositions arranged by JG Thirwell and performed by the Mivos Quartet, just as they were at the transfixing Guggenheim performance.
This first taste was premiered by the fine folks of NPR’s All Songs Considered, whose weekly podcast is often a treasure trove of beautiful - or at the very least interesting - music, hosted by some incredibly knowledgeable - if at times a tad too aware of that fact - people.
That first taste, when it first alights upon the ear in a tranquil, tender, oh so very non-Conatus-like manner, is a revelation.
Versions will be released on August 20th on Sacred Bones Records. Embedded below is Pitchfork’s +1 video featuring clips of the performance and of Danilova’s accompanying comments.
- Tyler Hanan