PLAYLIST: 4thwk x 4thblk

The end of a semester is undoubtedly an emotional roller coaster. It’s the only time of year that you can go to the library and get to see a silently weeping student juxtaposed with the jiggly scrotum of the streaker who had the foresight to take Intro to Nature Sounds and is done with finals four days before anyone else.

Much like the average Fourth Week Experience, the Perfect Study Playlist is hardly one-size-fits-all. I’ve written papers to soundtracks ranging from Death Grips to Vivaldi. Regardless, Spotify playlists are the new mixtapes, and I just want the world to know that I am your secret admirer, I made this playlist for you, and I want it to make you happy and productive.

Godspeed, my children. The end is near.

NEW MUSIC: Most Likely – “Steve”

Austin fuzz-rock outfit Most Likely has just released a new single about a cat. Formerly known as Planet Manhood, these dudes have been putting out music for a few years already. The new track is the first release off their upcoming LP, and its production blows previous work out of the water. Fans of (Sandy) Alex G. will almost certainly dig it – the first chords immediately evoke the sound of 2015’s Beach Music. Give it a listen below:

SONG OF THE WEEKEND: Palm – Pearly

I’ve always had mixed feelings about math rock. For those of you who aren’t familiar with the genre, here’s my stripped-down definition: experimental rock made up of layered rhythms that really should not sound good together. In my experience, math rock can range from utterly abrasive to mind-blowing. Palm lands on the latter end of that spectrum.

I saw this band play at an itty bitty coffee shop up in Boulder a few weeks ago. The performance had me fully immersed – it almost becomes a game, trying to figure out when the downbeats land or when the keys change. It’s impossible to concentrate to this sort of music, yet it tickles the brain in an inspiring way.

Palm is full of contradictions. I should really stop trying to describe it, and you should really just listen to their newest track below. Enjoy.

Song of the Weekend: Ariel Pink – “Death Patrol”

I’m a big fan of the first few weeks after an album is released. No matter how famous or underground the artist is, for a glorious fortnight I can toss their music on the aux and watch as everyone in the room reacts. People will bob their heads and tap their toes, running through the iTunes libraries of their mind trying to figure out who the hell sings this song. In that moment, I feel like god, holding the power of a great song as well as the holy knowledge of its origins.

Ariel Pink’s latest album has been on the airwaves long enough wear its novelty thin, yet his music always has a similar effect on a room. Nostalgia confronts experimentalism in songs like “Death Patrol,” leaving listeners in a frustrating state of deja vu. Dreamy disco melodies combined with Pink’s eclectic vocal range make this track familiar yet uncontrived. “Death Patrol” is a perfect song for parents’ weekend, as music fans from any era can recognize something likable in it.

Song of the Day: KMD – “Peach Fuzz”

Before there was MF Doom or King Geedorah, there was Zev Love X. Rapper Daniel Dumile got his start as a part of the group KMD, which he formed with his brother in 1988. The group released their first studio album in 1991, when Dumile was only 17 years old. For longtime Doom fans, the rest is basically history.

Hearing a young Dumile spit on a track like “Peach Fuzz” is one helluva trip. Zev Love X’s raps have the same unique timbre of a typical Doom song, but the high-pitched pubescence makes it something entirely unique. You can hear the same savvy rhyme schemes, wacky references, and vintage samples on KMD’s music as you would on any of Dumile’s recent work, but with a distinctly old-school vibe. So kick back, revel in the ’90s slang and bump this blast from the past on repeat.

Pitchfork Pitchfork: Vagabon Infinite Worlds Album Review

I’ve found that pretentiousness in music seems to be most despised by people who are extremely pretentious about music themselves. In order to fully embrace this phenomenon, I have created Pitchfork Pitchfork, a column in which I review Pitchfork.com articles based on their pompousness.

To start things off, I’m going to take an in-depth look at Pitchfork’s review of Vagabon’s latest release, Infinite Worlds. The ‘fork gods were generous enough to bestow the highly coveted “best new music” label upon this album, anointing its 8.5 score with the red glow usually reserved for legends. Normally, Pitchfork’s scoring system is their downfall. The seemingly arbitrary assignment of decimals to various music can lead to outcry from spurned fans and artists alike. It’s made Pitchfork’s writers seem like that one friend you have who refuses to listen to anything that has over 10,000 plays on Spotify because it’s been tainted with mass appeal at that point. For Infinite Worlds, however, the 8.5 score is well-earned. I can’t argue with it. Points for you, Pitchfork.

The review goes downhill from there, unfortunately. The first sentence raises some eyebrows. The writer, Kevin Lozano, claims to have been so struck by one of Vagabon’s lines that he “had to remove my headphones and take stock of my surroundings.” Really? Really. I get that Vagabon’s lyrics are powerful, but I highly doubt Lozano was so shaken that he had to check to make sure he was still in his studio apartment or ultra-mod Pitchfork cubicle. Infinite Worlds is certainly potent, but it hardly transported me from the broken futon in my living room.

Another aspect of my grading rubric is readability, with specific regards to vocabulary. I get that music writers don’t want to be just another idiot with a WordPress account and opinions (haaaaaaa), but Jesus Christ, if I have to look up half the adjectives in the dictionary in order to understand what they’re trying to say, then it’s gone too far. Case in point: Lozano described Vagabon’s work as “pyrrhic”. That is some shit I haven’t heard since my 9th grade ancient Greek history class. I get that a pyrrhic victory is one where the winner loses so much they’re practically defeated, and I recognize that it’s totally a phrase. But dropping that in an album review is just showing off.

The review goes on to a track by track overview, and the writer describes the song “The Embers” as a “paean.” I have literally never heard that word in my life. Maybe I’m uncultured and illiterate, but to me it seems like this guy is struggling to put his useless English degree to good use.

All in all, this review isn’t bad. The score is reasonable, and aside from a few five-dollar words, the author does a good job summarizing the emotional content behind Vagabon’s album. Not bad, Kevin.

Pitchfork Pitchfork Score: 7.2

Now, go listen to Vagabon’s new album below.

 

SONG OF THE DAY: Loretta Lynn & Conway Twitty – “You’re The Reason Our Kids Are Ugly”

For a good chunk of my life as a music consumer, I’ve described my taste as “anything but country.” I’m not sure where this antagonistic view comes from. Maybe it’s because I grew up in a region where country music dominates the airwaves. Maybe it’s my general aversion to corn. Maybe I’ve just pigeonholed myself as an urban elitist liberal and am the reason Hillary lost the election. Who knows.

All of this is to say that I’ve been making an effort to diversify my music library, and venturing into the world of country has been a major part of my journey. Along the way I came across the work of Loretta Lynn. She’s got some pipes, and her tunes are catchy enough that I’ve started humming honky tonk under my breath. “You’re The Reason Our Kids Are Ugly” has been a repeat offender in this regard. Anyone who’s got a bone to pick could get some satisfaction from singing the chorus out loud.

SONG OF THE DAY: Jim James – “In the Moment”

Some songs come to you via Spotify recommendations, and some come to you by fate alone. A few weeks back, I was browsing the wine selection at a store up in Denver when I heard Jim James’ new album playing over the speakers. As I stood there pretending to make an educated decision about whether the 2014 or 2012 cab sav would be a better choice, I listened to the smooth psych-fold in awe.

Never before have I been compelled to actually ask a cashier what music they were playing until that moment. Turns out, Jim James, frontman for My Morning Jacket, had released his fourth solo album just hours earlier. Fast forward to now and it’s already become a staple of my recent listening habits.

SONG OF THE DAY: What Up, English – By The Way You Look

https://soundcloud.com/what-up-english/by-the-way-you-look

Most of us would be lying if we said we knew every artist on the Llama lineup, if only because of this little band from Nashville. Made up of college seniors at Bowdoin, Vanderbilt, Tulane, and UVA, What Up, English is a rock group formed in 2011 known for their catchy guitar hooks and highly danceable tunes. I highly recommend a quick perusal of their Bandcamp page – all of their available discography can be found there.

This track has particularly infectious riffs. Give it a listen, or two, or three, and get ready to dance next Saturday afternoon to this and other jams from What Up, English.

 

 

Song of the Day: The War On Drugs – Touch of Grey

Tribute albums have always been tricky for me. While there are few things more satisfying than seeing a group of incredible artists collaborating to cover the music of some legendary group from the days of yore, these sort of projects can easily fall flat.  The Flaming Lips’ With a Little Help From My Fwends, for example, was a track-for-track tribute to Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band that made me feel like I’d rather just listen to the Beatles or the Flips separately rather than some unsatisfying marriage of the two.

When I first heard about the forthcoming Day of the Dead, a Grateful Dead tribute album curated by two members of The National, I had mixed feelings. Sure, the thought of an all-star cast including Courtney Barnett and Wilco covering some of my favorite Dead tunes is more exciting to me than an 8th Harry Potter book. Initially, however, I couldn’t help but wonder if the execution could possibly live up to the hype.

If the singles released off Day of the Dead thus far are any indicator, the album will be a huge success. The War On Drugs’ cover of “Touch of Grey” is a prime example of how insanely good a cover can be. It’s not exactly a major innovation on a melodic theme — the new version sounds pretty damn similar to the In the Dark original. The beauty of this song is really in how well Adam Granduciel’s voice adapts to Garcia’s lyrics, almost as if the tune were written for The War On Drugs. With a single like this, the rest of the tribute album could be absolute trash and I would be more than okay with it.