RZA, sage figurehead of the Wu-Tang Clan, is nothing if not ambitious. In addition to being the glue that keeps the often-feuding members together (even if the music has been on an increasingly mediocre slope for over a decade), he scores, directs, and acts in films, writes books, and keeps an absurd number of aliases. And if everything goes according to plan, soon you’ll be thinking of him and the rest of the group as artists.
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Archive for the ‘Music’ Category
It’s hard to feel wishy-washy about floppy-haired slack rocker Mac DeMarco. You either love the guy (and all that gum-cracking, lewd-spewing, lovably crass style he’s got going for him), or you don’t get what he’s all about and don’t care. Either way, after having found reasonable success with 2012’s “Rock and Roll Night Club” and “2,” DeMarco returns with his album “Salad Days,” currently streaming over at NPR. Even at first glance, the track titles (“Chamber of Reflection,” “Goodbye Weekend,” “Let Her Go,”), suggest that DeMarco is finding himself feeling a little less Steely Dan these days, and a little more Kurt Vile. The results are quietly beautiful in their lo-fi, off-kilter way. “Let My Baby Stay,” for instance, is a slow-churning proclamation of love to an unseen partner. Made up of very simple orchestrations (a few reserved guitar strums aided by tropical percussion knocks), the lyrics weigh heavy: “I’ve been an addict, and she’s been good to me. As far as I can tell, she’s happy living with a monkey, so please don’t take my love away.” The four-minute track never picks up speed, but as it draws to a close and DeMarco croons out a couple of uncharacteristic wails (seemingly sounds of a very particular type of despondence that kisses the youth), you can’t help but wish the song away from fading into obscurity.
If you’re a successful rock band which hasn’t put out any material since 2011 and you’d really like to, you know, generate a bit of buzz, you make an announcement via Mike Tyson’s Twitter account, right? Curiously enough, that was the path taken by The Black Keys. After announcing last Friday that they’ll be dropping a new album, Turn Blue, come May 13th, today they released the first single, “Fever.” A surprisingly upbeat, keyboard-driven jam, “Fever” hints at a potentially new, more pop-influenced direction for the Keys, a duo usually anchored in howling guitar riffs dripping with blues. The new song, while perhaps a tad underwhelming, is catchy enough, especially when the violins come in at around 2:40, giving the song a more inviting texture and bringing to mind acts like Ra Ra Riot and Tame Impala. Check out the impending tracklist via Pitchfork, and listen to the song below.
This is the ARTINFO weekly mixtape, a new semi-regular column where we pick our favorite songs we want to share. What tracks have been running through our iPod all week? What random song will get a million plays on Spotify when we’re in the office? Here are our choices this week. Share comments and suggestions below. We’d love to hear what you’ve been listening to.
As you may be aware, Pussy Riot is at the Winter Olympics. Since they’ve been in Sochi, where they’ve attempted to “carry out Pussy Riot action” in the Olympic Village, they’ve been detained and beaten with whips by the local militia. At a press conference yesterday, held in the street after the hotel that originally agreed to host cancelled the event due to “plumbing problems,” Pussy Riot showed their new video. “Putin Will Teach You to Love the Motherland,” shot in Sochi, features footage from the trip as well as repeated abuse against the group from authorities. Watch below:
A new song from Steve McBean is cause for celebration. “North Hollywood Microwaves,” which you can listen to below, is a new song from McBean’s Pink Mountaintops project. The group, which originally featured a lineup consisting of members of McBean’s other band, heavy psych-rock outfit Black Mountain, has had a constantly rotating cast of characters ever since — members of Godspeed You! Black Emperor, The Warlocks, and more have been part of the band at some point. “North Hollywood” is the first single off the new Pink Mountaintops album, “Get Back,” which is set to be released on April 29 via Jagjaguwar. The track, which features sleazy saxophone lines (think Iggy & The Stooges‘ “Fun House”) wrapped around a fuzzy guitar attack, boasts a guest appearance from Annie Hardy of Giant Drag, who raps at the end of track. Yep, you read that right.
TUNE: Breaking news! An all-female rock group can in fact come from Los Angeles and not sound like a regurgitated sprint of sunny 80’s melodies and overworked harmonies. It happens, and it’s unfolding right now with the four piece band Warpaint. Though “Hi” finds itself in excellent company of a nearly flawless (not yet released) 12 song LP, this track feels like a swift stumble into an alternate universe with its multilayered craftsmanship and rich, rich musicality. A choir of drum machines? Check. Ambient reverb? Oh yes. Vocals that reel you into a sort of hypnosis right up until the clash of the cymbals? Absolutely. In its five minutes, “Hi” feels like you’ve heard at least four different songs churned into a gorgeous haze, the kind of mess you’ll return to because you’ll uncover something new each time.
TUNE: So far, the New Jersey bred Real Estate has spent 2014 counting down to the reveal of their latest single. For the last two weeks, the band’s been releasing snippets of album art and 16 second song samples across Facebook and Instagram. Last night at midnight, “Talking Backwards” finally dropped. At first, the song seems to be made up of overtly familiar Real Estate fabric, all pillowy vocals and dazed guitars, but as it plays out, something begins to feel a bit off-kilter. The sound is still significantly surfy, but the message is not. “Talking Backwards” speaks to growing frustrations and dreamy uneasiness, like climbing down a ladder of memory (and melody).
“Too True,” the new album from Dum Dum Girls, is coming out January 29 via Sub Pop Records. What started as the solo bedroom project of Dee Dee Penny has become something much larger and focused, the sound expanding from the lo-fi 60’s pop-influenced early recordings to the more robust recent material. Take, for example, the excellent “Rimbaud Eyes,” which, aside from a great title and influence of Kim Carnes’ “Bette Davis Eyes,” sounds like a lost Patti Smith b-side from the “Radio Ethiopia” era or late-period Jesus & Mary Chain. Very excited for the new album. Listen to the song below.
Here’s one of the weirder news items of the day: “Wolf of Wall Street” actors Leonardo DiCaprio and Jonah Hill are collaborating with Tribe Called Quest rapper Q-Tip on a television series that will focus on the Native Tongues-era of hip-hop. For those who have no clue what means, a history lesson: Native Tongues was a loose grouping of “conscious” rappers (Tribe, De La Soul, Queen Latifah, Jungle Brothers, among others) that, in the early 1990’s, bucked the oncoming trend of explicit rap. Most of these groups stressed positivity, mocked the overt seriousness of gangster rap, and were associated with the Zulu Nation. According to the report, the series “will reflect on the stories of their friendship and how their music played a part in culture then and influenced the music of today.” DiCaprio and Hill will act as producers, but since we know Leo is a fan of clubs, is it too much to ask him to make an appearance? (more…)