MIND MISCHIEF by TAME IMPALA
Tame Impala’s 2010 gem Innerspeaker found itself re-purposing the path left by many pot/LSD-influenced bands of the ’60s. Though permeating with the fuzzy, bright sound pioneered by acts like Captain Beefheart, The Doors, and Cream, Tame Impala has always found a way to make the psychedelic sound feel refreshing. Lonerism, their forthcoming LP, however, sees the band expanding their neo-psychedlia to the pop/soul landscapes of artists like Todd Rundgren. Though always focused on grooves, Tame Impala has primarily had a knack for creating infectious instrumental and vocal hooks. “Mind Mischief,” a Lonerism standout, is no different. Led by Kevin Parker’s insatiable prowess for ghostly, airy falsettos, the band follows with one of its most accessible and layered instrumentation performances. When the Bee Gees-esque keyboard jumps in a little after the halfway point and we get those phaser-padded chunks of guitar? Goddamn.
Lonerism is out October 5 via Modular.
THE SOCIALITES by DIRTY PROJECTORS
Something about Amber Coffman’s voice demands the sort of attention you’d pay toward your professor during a finals review—except obviously much more pleasant. Her vocals are spellbinding as she hits notes higher than most airliners, and sweeps ears with an impeccable cadence. Reminiscent of a more tamed Mariah Carey, Coffman’s voice emits undeniable power. It is, however, met with timely restraint on most songs, never stepping outside of the lines unless it’s completely necessary. On “The Socialites” off Dirty Projectors’ forthcoming Swing Lo Magellan, Coffman reminds us just how talented she is on her own. Remember the excellent “Stillness Is The Move” from DP’s 2009 classic Bitte Orca? There, Coffman relinquished all restraints, and on “The Socialites”, she does just the same. Free from the limitations of sharing vocal duties with three others—which isn’t necessarily a bad thing given DP’s indisputable chemistry, even sans Angel Deradoorian—she shows no restraint as she languidly bellows lines of indecision and want.
Swing Lo Magellan is out July 10 via Domino.
Freddie Gibbs x Madlib: “Shame”
Following Freddie Gibbs & Madlib’s late-2011 Thuggin’ EP, the duo have teamed up again for another Stones Throw release. The new EP is entitled Shame, and its title track is a perfectly churned piece of soul combined with Gibbs’ relentless flowing about slammin’. With added vocals by BJ The Chicago Kid, this shit is bound to find itself blaring from rolled-down windows throughout the summer.
M.I.A.: “Bad Girls” (Switch Remix Feat. Missy Elliott and Rye Rye)
OOOOOOOOO-WEEEEEEE, Y’ALL! I’ve been waiting on this remix for months, and it lives up to the hype. Structured around Switch’s bang-worthy, whistle-heavy production, “Bad Girls (Remix)” is about as close to a sure-shot summer jam as one could get. Veteran Missy Elliott’s flow here is ridiculous, not to mention she’s got some pretty hilarious punchlines (“Get smashed like ham sandwiches”). Up-and-comer Rye Rye also comes through with a speedy delivery accompanied by that dainty inflection that only makes it seem faster. With “Bad Girls” already being one of the best songs of 2012, would it be fair to say that we could see its remix up there, too? Check out the track over at Soundcloud.
We’re still awaiting the other two remixes, though—one of which features Azealia Banks.
FINESHRINE by PURITY RING
They’ve done it again, guys. Off their highly-anticipated debut LP, Shrines, “Fineshrine” perfectly captures that emotive party-like groove that PR have been dealing to us over the past year. With Megan James softly cooing affectionate lines of violence that often tread sexual themes (“Come a little closer […] Cut open my sternum and pull my little ribs around you”), we further get a taste of her expressive prowess. And with Corin Roddick’s masterful sample and pitch control, “Fineshrine” comes across as one of the duo’s most accessible tracks. With all this manufactured hype in the age of Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube, how does Purity Ring still manage to impress? With a keen sense of sound and timing, PR are letting fans know that maybe a few shrines should be devoted to them.
Shrines is out July 24 via 4AD.
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The Alchemist: “Flight Confirmation” (Feat. Danny Brown & ScHoolboy Q)
Both Danny Brown and ScHoolboy Q have had a tremendous year. Coming off the success of Danny Brown’s 2011 album, XXX, the Detroit phenom has tore up a number of features this year in a manner that’s more bloodthirsty than we’ve ever seen him. Combine that with ScHoolboy Q’s steady rise to prominence with Black Hippy and his excellent 2012 release, Habits & Contradictions, and you’ve got two emcees who simply rap like it’s their last day on Earth. Assembled by the great Alchemist, whose production here is a typical reflection of his sample chopping prowess, the two-minute long “Flight Confirmation” is a fleeting—albeit sterling—track that demands and receives the best of these three.
KUSH AIN’T LOUD by DJ RASHAD
On Chicago’s south and west sides, there are meetings of skilled and eccentric dancers that specialize in a leg invigorating dance called footwork. The music and dance of the sub-genre have a number of influences that can be traced back nearly 30 years. Footwork’s beginnings find themselves nestled within the brick walls and concrete ceilings of abandoned Chicago warehouses during the early 1980s. There, pioneers of the House music scene combined hard-hitting kick drums, offbeat hi-hats, and relatively obscure samples of jazz, soul, and funk records. Artists like Chip E., Frankie Knuckles, and Jesse Saunders helped to define House as a singular genre, and it immediately became a worldwide spectacle as European artists began to mold it into their own, too.
Back in Chicago, House music began to change with the rise of hip-hop in the late 80s, as some DJs began to combine vital elements of the two genres. By the early 90s, Ghetto House took bloom, and with it, a whole new dance scene. It retained the “four-on-the-floor” kick drum while also making use of analog synthesizers, samples, and tom-toms that simply sounded grimy. Soon, the same youths of Chicago’s African-American and Latino communities that helped to propel the House scene began to dance with flash and speed as their favorite Juke records began to play. The style evolved into what we now call footwork, which is typically used in a “battle” context.
Not even Juke, however, could calm the energy of the youths. The dance soon began to demand faster and more intricate sounds. Footwork as a musical genre was subsequently created. But what set it apart from its close relative was its use of complex layering and palatial (in comparison to Ghetto House) sounds that dictated a more vivid dance imagination. But while expanding its dance array, the sub-genre never forgot its past. Footwork is not only a young and exciting scene that’s growing right in front of our eyes, but in terms of powering the soul of Chicago music, it has only strengthened the legacy of House.
And so now we’re here with DJ Rashad’s “Kush Ain’t Loud”, a billowing track that features the insanely quick percussion of its predecessors while also combining soulful samples in a manner that can only be described as Dilla-esque. But while most of DJ Rashad’s album Teklife Vol 1: Welcome To The Chi doesn’t find itself digging in soul territory like this track, it helps to further prove that footwork as a musical genre can stand alone as a piece of ingenuity. The lush sounds found on ”Kush Ain’t Loud” are only a taste of the hour-long progressiveness found in Teklife Vol 1. Rashad’s plunge into footwork has yielded an incredibly accessible and welcoming style of the sub-genre that can still succeed in preserving the tradition of its influences and originators.
Teklife Vol 1: Welcome To The Chi is out now via Lit City Trax.
NOTHING THOUGHT by SONNYMOON
Sonnymoon are an experimental pop duo who have the certain prowess for sound manipulation that seems almost supernatural. Known IRL as Anna and Dane, Sonnymoon combine feminine sultriness and aggro masculinity. On the stellar “Nothing Thought”, the duo create a swirling collage made up of clicks, twists, and a melody that’s utterly infectious with its R&B-infused tendencies. But it’s the vocals that listeners will find to be the proverbial frosting AND cherry on top. Anna delicately warbles over this spectacular production with her velvety voice and introspective lyricism, which simply feels like falling into your bed at the end of the day.
Source: SoundCloud / Sonnymoon
Bathroom Floor by ILLLS
ILLLS hail from Oxford, Mississippi, and that’s pretty chill. With not even a proper release to their name, ILLLS seem ultra confident in their brushed-up bedroom rock—something that reflects greatly on their debut EP, Dark Paradise. Their tumbledown guitar-pop is awfully addictive, as is the case with the shaky, loud, albeit toothsome, “Bathroom Floor”. Chorus-heavy guitars—think The Cure meets Jay Reatard—are served in thick chunks while a brawny, head-bobbing bassline is dished up on the side. As the song billows and swells, you’ll feel the tension between subdued bedlam to all-out chaos as it plateaus with a rumbling and seemingly unending clash of guitars and cymbals.
Dark Paradise is out June 17 via The Sounds of Sweet Nothing.
Source: SoundCloud / ILLLS
Obedear by Purity Ring
The ever-amazing Purity Ring have dropped a new track in anticipation of their full-length debut, Shrines, which is set to be released in July via 4AD. The new track, “Obedear”, features the best elements of Purity Ring’s eclectic background. Corin Roddick’s production is on-fucking-point, as the influences of southern hip-hop rear their lovely heads: lightning fast snares and hi-hats, wonderfully layered vocal samples, and deafening bass. Vocalist Megan James also makes her presence felt, as her seductive croons reflect highly vivid imagery, “I came down over the sleeping mountains.” Purity Ring once again finds the perfect balance between grime and allure, urge and restraint.
Download “Obedear” over at Purity Ring’s website.
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Peaking Lights: “Lo Hi”
The husband/wife duo of Peaking Lights have been teasing us with themed mixtapes in anticipation of their new album, Lucifer. Fortunately, it looks like they’re teasing us no more (via puttin’ out…a new record). The new joint is called “Lo Hi”, and it’s a dub-pop explosion of croons that simply dazzles with its balmy persona. The excellence seen in the group’s previous full-length effort, 936, is back, but not without the addition of complex variations (flutes, dripping reverb) to the track’s already elaborate disposition. Oh, and the duo’s baby, Mikka, also lays down some vocals for the new track, apparently. Check out “Lo Hi” below:
Lucifer is out June 19 via Mexican Summer.
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Endless Night by Sand Circles
Stockholm, Sweden product Sand Circles first gained attention in late 2010 with a few blurry, frizzly mp3s, but the mysterious project is back for a new release entitled Motor City. The sounds on the new album are engrossing, as reverb-laden synth-pop is coated with a nice sheen of ghostly primordial haze, a là Gatekeeper. “Endless Night” is a woozy piece that’ll remind listeners of early-90’s video games (especially if said games were slightly more macabre than others). A sturdy, unrelenting drum machine keeps the track driving as pulsating synths drench the walls of your ears for a pretty excellent experience.
Motor City is out now via Not Not Fun.
Mercy by Kanye West (Feat. Big Sean, Pusha T, and 2 Chainz)
So, this came out last night, and to be honest, I don’t really have many words for it. Following the excellently brash “Thereaflu,” which was released yesterday, Kanye West has given us another gem—except this one’s from the upcoming G.O.O.D. Music collective release. Entitled “Mercy,” this track encapsulates Kanye’s superb, bass-heavy production and enough arrogance from everyone to make Donald Trump seem humble.
I’ll leave you guys with this:
“Don’t do no press, but I get the most press, kid
Plus, my bitch make your bitch look like Precious.”
Dirty Projectors: “Gun Has No Trigger”
Back in 2009, I was a naive college freshman attempting to make his musical taste reach outside of more-or-less conventional tastes. In doing so, that year’s Bitte Orca became a classic in my eyes (ears?). The experimental pop/rock band Dirty Projectors, headed by David Longstreth, have been relatively quiet since then. However, with a new album confirmed to be out sometime this year, you knew Longstreth and his alt-baguettes (Amber Coffman and Angel Deradoorian) would have to put out something new at some point. That day has come, and let us rejoice, fellow listeners, for this track is a perfect encapsulation of what DP is best at: infinitely poignant lyricism with pop sensibilities that will simply entrance you.
Bright Night by Dntel
You’ll probably know Jimmy Tamborello, also known as Dntel, as one half of the Postal Service. Where the Postal Service was kind of off-putting given how annoying Ben Gibbard’s voice can be, Tamborello’s production was unique and demanded attention due to its tremendous layering and complexity. Dntel, Tamborello ‘side’ project, has released a number of albums, none standing the test of time more than 2001’s under-appreciated Life Is Full of Possibilities. Dntel has returned with new music—“Bright Night”—and a release date for his upcoming album, Aimlessness. To be quite honest, I wasn’t expecting much before listening to this track given Dntel’s recent musical inconsistency, but if “Bright Night” is any reflection of Aimlessness, I’m going to have to ignore my presumptuous attitude. This gorgeous, sprawling track entrances with its insatiable timing and layering. Tamborello’s subtle build-up permeates a delectable sense of tension, which is something listeners will find themselves going back to. As the myriad of gears that make up this song push it into motion, it’s hard not to feel a majestic and serene sense of aimlessness.