OK, here’s the stuff. I had meant to discuss this stuff last week, but there was too much other stuff. Stuff happens. But the stream of stuff has not abided in my brief absence. In fact, now rounding into the meaty part of 2012, we’re starting to get the primo stuff. Local bands making their mark. Hotly anticipated debut EPs. Comeback statements from heavy-hitters.
The record season is upon us, friends! Let us slay a fatted calf and rejoice! (But wash our hands thoroughly, before we actual get on with the rejoicing, also. For hygiene.)
Dirty Projectors – “Gun Has No Trigger”
This is such an excellently chosen return single for Dirty Projectors. On their breakthrough Bitte Orca, even though Dave Longstreth’s compositions were elevated to the highest pop heights he’d achieved, it was the singing of Amber Coffman and Angel Deradoorian that ended up winning them most converts. You hear them first and often on “The Gun Has No Trigger,” establishing a thrilling baseline coo. But Longstreth takes the lead here, and it’s the most conventionally appealing lead vocal he’s ever managed, maybe? He flails around a bit, works his usual style, sure, but the intense ululation that might have put someone off even a few years back seems further controlled. The song has such a low-key slinkiness. It sounds like the credit music to a sexy spy thriller. The gun imagery which kicks in as the chorus swells have something to do with that. But it’s sly in that regard, too. It’s builds to these dramatic peaks, these intense walls of sound, but lyrically it’s all about the impossibility of violent resolution. “The safety’s off, but the gun has no trigger.” We’ve not heard a lick of Longstreth’s inside-out guitar playing or a female-fronted song yet, but already the bar for the forthcoming Swing Lo Magellan is moonbase high.
Liars – “No. 1 Against the Rush”
I suspect this song may not be about quarterback efficiency ratings? The first taste of Liars’ Sisterworld follow-up has none of the unhinged psychosis that made a track like “Scarecrows on a Killer Slant” some of the most thrilling, unsettling rock music in recent memory. Instead, it’s a sighing ballad with a burbling electro background that kind of sounds like Aphex Twin at his video-game dreamiest. In the foreground are clunkier, more minimal synth notes, but the bubble-machine backdrop keep them from being too heavy. Subtle new wave bass keeps it all bobbing along. Angus Andrew, possessor of both a fearsome shriek and double-weird falsetto, keeps both shelved for the most part, sticking to a throaty purr. The first (or fifth, or fourtenth) feeling most associated with Liars’ music is not “the pleasant ease of watching the sky change color ahead of a sunset,” but that’s what I’m getting from this song. Intriguing.
Led Er Est – “Kaiyo Maru”
The Kaiyo Maru was a famously wrecked Japanese warship that’s now been reconstructed as a dock-bound museum. It’s tempting to think of bands like locals Led Er Est in a similar way. Cold wave already sounded corroded and damaged at its early 80s birth (when no one really listened to it). Modern revivalists, not exactly catching fire in terms of wider acceptance themselves, are mainly devoted to dusting off vintage instruments and reviving forgotten forms. At its worst it can feel like a carefully fabricated tourist attraction, a renaissance fair for 1982 Berlin. But still, there is something noble in doing an old thing better than it was done before. And this first single from the upcoming record is tuneful and addictive in its own dour way. CD compilations of the original vintage only ever get here on a few scattered tracks. If the shortened winter left your insides out of wack, here’s bleak dietary supplement.
Azealia Banks – “Fuck Up the Fun”
Azealia Banks’ first actual, physical release drops a week from tomorrow, and anticipation in these parts (The Internet) runs real high. For real, for real, forrealforreal. This track is about two weeks and nearly half-a-million SoundCloud plays old. (Is that a meaningful metric for popularity yet? It probably should be, yeah?) Lest you think that the Diplo production is a left turn away from the European club banging she’s been about since “212,” a move towards Southern drumlines maybe, it should be noted that it’s a collaboration with Dutch DJ MasterD. A good example of the club sub-genre “bubbling,” it takes a liberal sample from his persistently popping track “Mad Drumz.” The effect is different, at least, and Banks spits verses as fast and profane as everyone needs her to. She’s a brat here, gleefully taunting anyone who might try to emulate her meteoric rise. But the 20-year old is using a Diplo track as a free giveaway, and sitting on another that Kanye sent her. Sooooo…
Also Check Out:
– Brooklyn’s DIVE starting to totally get it together on album preview, “How Long Have You Known?” They also covered an old Kurt Cobain demo, close to the anniversary of Kurt’s death, which is sort of weird thing to “celebrate,” 18 years later. Kids born on that day bought cigarettes this week, looked SO tough.
– Kanye is busy making beats for himself, still, returning, expressing enthusiasm for K. Kardashian, improper mink-coat care, flu-prevention.
– A newly available Fresh & Onlys outtake that is not as good as the Secret Walls EP. We can all keep holding our breath that their new record will be. (Sorry for the false alarm.)
– An ethereal new single from Swedish electronic outfit jj, which perfectly captures that first, thrilling moment of spring when Scandinavians on ecstasy start singing rap lyrics at you.
You can follow Jeff on Twitter @jeff_klingman.