This week is quite possibly the BEST week of the year for music releases. Perfume Genius, Leonard Cohen, SBTRKT, Alt-J, and King Tuff are all coming out this Tuesday. Of course, it is 2014 and all of these albums are already available on the internet, so we have been listening to all of them in preparation for their physical debuts this week. We also had a stripped down performance from Spoon in our studio and Britt Daniel gives us a song to listen to as well as a movie to watch in his intro to Toots and the Maytals.
Perfume Genius- “Grid”
This Perfume Genius song, and this album from what I can tell, is an art album. It’s an art album in the way that you have to stop and stare at it for a bit, and think why is this here, and why is that there? Why is this lady screaming in the background, and why does this synth sound make me uncomfortable? It’s a challenge, and that’s a good thing.
This song reminds me a lot of some of my other favorite art albums. In particular, the way that pairs this screaming synth tone against a deep pounding drum and in the way that his voice to fill the room reminds me a lot of Scott Walker’s album, Tilt. And the horns at the end like Brian Eno’s Taking Tiger Mountain By Strategy. So take a step back with me, and lets take a look at this picture on the wall.
Perfume Genius’ new album, Too Bright, is out this Tuesday, (September 23)
Listen if you like: Art, Industrial, Brian Eno.
Karen O- “Ooo”
A fifteen song themed LP from the lead singer of the Yeah Yeah Yeahs about crushes she’s had over the years. I was a sucker for this album before it was even released. Although I wasn’t enthralled with the first single, “Rapt,” I gave it a second chance.
“Ooo” is a short song. Less than a minute and a half, it reads like a memory scribbled on a crumpled up piece of piece of looseleaf paper that she found in pocket of an old pair of jeans. And it’s recorded almost like she didn’t even want anyone to hear. On a home recorder placed in the corner of the room, with just enough gain to capture her confession.
Karen O’s new album, Crush Songs, is available now.
Listen if you like: The Yeah Yeah Yeahs, confessions, delicacy.
Spoon’s Pick: Toots and the Maytals- “54-46 Was My Number”
I had never heard someone say their song with as much confidence as Brit Daniel. It was a declaration. “54-46 Was My Number,” he said, as if starting a story about how the number really was his. In person, Britt Daniel was a little impersonal, but not in a bad way at all, in fact, I found it rather comforting. There was no BS. It was professional. I felt like it allowed him to just be in his head, so he kind of spoke like no one was there, and because if it, I think he gave a pretty good explanation of why he chose 54-46 was my number by Toots and the Maytals.
54-46 Was My Number was released in 1968.
Listen if you like: first wave ska, making an entrance, call and response.
Open Mike Eagle- “Very Much Money”
The early to mid 2000’s were, a “Bling Era” for hip-hop. Spinners, Diamonds, grills, (que the song “Bling Bling.”) It was a time where Hip-Hop had finally reached mainstream popularity, and simultaneously, the music industry was at an all time high themselves, leading to major deals, and major amounts of cash in artist’s hands, legitimizing “The Bling Era.”
In the past decade, with the age of access, music industry revenues have all but dried up, leaving most artists with Bandcamp releases, with no big advances, and no huge album deals, no more songs about flashing bling.
But that doesn’t mean that quality has lowered, if anything, I think that quality has improved. Albums have become a labor of love, not a means to buy another Escalade with the chromed out nose. And just because the money has dried up doesn’t mean that art is worthless. This song is a testament to the quality and worth of art and those who make it in 2014.
Open Mike Eagle’s album, Dark Comedy, is available now.
Listen if you like: comedy, realness, honesty.
King Tuff- “Headbanger”
One of my favorite parts in the movie High Fidelity is this quote, “a while back, Dick, Berry, and I agreed that what really matters is what you like, not what you are like. Books, records, films, these things matter. Call me shallow, it’s the truth.” Because individual taste is like our own little compatibility measurement. Who’s with us and who’s against us? And I think that the more niche the interest the tighter the bond.
And here the niche interest is heavy metal and love. It’s a great juxtoposition. This song is a story about two headbanging goth rockers who fell in love at first sight of each other’s record collections.
King Tuff’s album, Black Moon Spell, drops this Tuesday (Sept. 23).
Listen if you like: a metal song that isn’t afraid to have a harmony during the chorus, romance in a cemetery, Spinal Tap references.