For my first post, I thought I would spend a few words discussing some of the music I’ve been enjoying over the past six months or so – music that, in a just world, would be all over the radio. Think of this as the written equivalent of a “clip show”, if you will, but with ever so slightly more effort involved.
Jessy Lanza – Pull My Hair Back (Hyperdub, 9/9/2013)
Janet Jackson and Depeche Mode hanging together in the chill out room (they still have those, don’t they?). Twenty-first century blue-eyed soul from the Great White North. Whatever: slinky percussion, whispery vocals and arrangements that unfurl over the course of a song. Many 80s touchstones (the aforementioned Ms. Jackson (if you’re nasty), DM and Prince) abound, but don’t mistake for revisionism. The moment at the 1:37 mark of “Giddy” makes me just that. Highlights include: “Giddy”, “Against the Wall”, “Strange Emotion”.
Out Cold – Invasion of Love (Heavenly Recordings, 9/17/2013)
Side project of Simon Aldred, lead singer for Cherry Ghost (a band worth investigating, if you’re not familiar). Where his primary vehicle builds drama largely courtesy of lush arrangements, Out Cold accomplishes same through chilly synths and programmed beats. Aldred’s warm, sometimes thin voice is pushed forward in the mix to great effect. Dancier cuts like “Murder Black Corvette” and (personal favorite) “Sorrow” sit side by side with cooler fair such as “Fingers Through the Glass” and “All I Want”. Highlights include: Fingers Through the Glass, Sorrow.
Sampha – Dual ep (Young Turks, 7/29/2013)
Sampha’s voice is instantly recognizable – in a good way. I first came across it through his work with SBTRKT and have followed it through collaborations with the likes of Jessie Ware (I drew the line at Drake). Building from a base of voice and piano, the songs somehow manage to maintain their organic quality even when surrounded with electronic beats and embellishments (check the sound on “Demons” – always makes me check my phone for an incoming message when I hear it). Highlights include: all of it.
Running – Vaguely Ethnic (Castle Face Records, 8/6/2013)
Big, loud scuzzy rock and/or roll. Guitars distorted and aggressive, vocals reverbed and, well, aggressive – tapping into a rich vein including early Black Flag, Electric Eels, Birthday Party; perhaps a soupçon of first album PiL. Great album to: pogo to, sit and eat Cheetos with, or clean the bathroom to – the world is your oyster. Would love to check these guys live – the production gives a sense of the energy produced. Highlights include: “OoOo OoOo OoOooo”, “This is a You Problem”.
Youth Code – s/t (Dais Records, 8/13/2013)
LA duo carrying the torch for industrial music that proves something danceable can also pack a punch. Rhythmically and sonically harkening back to early Wax Trax and bands like Skinny Puppy and Front 242 (to name just a couple), this breathes new life into a genre that – at least to these ears – became dominated by over the top, metal cock rockiness. Vocals sound as though they are being screamed into a storm of the band’s own creation. Highlights include: “Carried Mask”, “What is the Answer”.