“Witness” is an awesome gospel tune featuring the great Mavis Staples. Her voice combined with the soulful raspiness of Benjamin Booker makes for an awesome song.
Spring brings a huge influx of new music. Below is a -mini- playlist of five new spring 2017 releases. Enjoy!
123 by Girlpool
Listen to this when you’re getting up Saturday or Sunday morning
Flowing Over by Palehound
Listen to this en route to 7/11
Full Screen by Adult Mom
Listen to this song when you are waiting for your friends to meet you in Worner for Rastall brunch
Baybee by Jay Som
Listen to this when you are sitting on a quad not doing your homework
Caught in a Lie by Chastity Belt
Listen to this when you’re waiting in line to get your mail
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.
Over spring break I went back home to Austin for the SXSW, a week-long music festival where hordes descend upon the city while locals bitch about all the fucking people. One of the highlights of SXSW was catching Royal Trux at Hotel Vegas on Friday. Royal Trux is an experimental noise rock band that was active during the late 80s through the 90s, but until recently hadn’t played a show since 2001. They closed out the LEVITATION day party, where Wand, Merchandise, Cherry Glazerr and some other great bands also played, but seeing Royal Trux killed, and it made me listen through some of their records I was less acquainted with. One of those records was 1995’s Thank You, which features some of their most straight-up alt rock material. “Granny Grunt” is a fantastic punk-blues tune, with some sick, fuzzy guitar riffs and sharp lyrics. Dave Berman of Silver Jews also has a writing credit and is featured on the track, and his witty, poignant lyrical chops add a lot to the track. Dig it.
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.
“Orange Blossom” is a precursor to Destiny Frasqueri’s (Princess Nokia) album, 1992. The song itself is reminiscent of Frasqueri’s Afro Futurist style. “Orange Blossom” was released after Frasqueri’s experimental hip-hop album Metallic Butterfly. The song serves as a segway between Metallic Butterfly and 1992 as she departs from the experimental and recalls a soulful R&B influence instead.
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.
After his time as the Velvet Underground’s guitarist and bassist, Sterling Morrison left New York for Houston of all places, and became a tugboat captain. Galaxie 500 singer Dean Wareham seems to like that idea, too. Simplicity is a staple of Galaxie 500s music, but it never becomes boring. Reverb-soaked vocals and dreamy, distant chords are cut by gorgeously melodic riffs that make you nostalgic for something that you can’t quite place. “Tugboat” is a hazy, blissful, sincere song. It makes me think of aspen trees in the fall, and I don’t know why the fuck that is. And maybe thats why this whole album is so amazing. Galaxie 500 evoke vivid imagery without saying much at all. And given the sound of indie rock in the late 80s, Galaxie 500’s Today is far ahead of its time. The band carved out a comfy little niche in the overdriven walls of sound erected by Sonic Youth, J Mascis and others, and in many ways redefined what guitar music could be.
Today’s Song of the Day is “I Wanna Boi” from the queer punk duo PWR BTTM. Liv Bruce and Ben Hopkins met at Bard College and spend their playing shows on the Bard campus. Their raw punk sound is reminiscent of something heard at a house party somewhere around CC. However it is their unconventional lyricism that works do break down norms of sexuality and music makes PWR BTTM worth a listen. If you love the song email ob8419@Bard.edu.
lol don’t we know this by now? SMART is cool! KIND is cool! DUMB on purpose is NOT cool.
If u smart, listen to this song. It is from Ben Aqua, who has worked with PC Music (audio gold), DFA Records (unknown to me) and has his own “experimental electronic music and art label #FEELINGS”. Despite the questionable but likely satirical naming of that label, I am often fond of this kind of music. Which surprises me. Isn’t electronic music #MINDLESS? I’m starting to think not!! Imagine the landscape of this track in physical space with every beat and type of sound possessing a different line — how complex and calculated!
This being said, Ben Aqua and those that he might associate with (AG Cook of PC Music) are getting a lot of attention for what is being called “The online underground: A new kind of punk?”. An article/podcast of this name from Resident Advisor explores this concept using Ben Aqua as a main talking point (find at residentadvisor.net/feature.aspx?2137). Even though the nuances and specifics of this comparison are beyond me (I will read the full RA article and get back to you), the idea is not far fetched. With a record label that contains a “hashtag”, successful sales of a T-shirt with “NEVER LOG OFF” printed on it, and a proliferation of ideas manifested aesthetically across some sort of media is undoubtedly similar to the progression of the punk movement.
“signs and connotations of the digital medium are appearing all around online music in the same way that punk wore its gritty origins on its sleeve” (RA).
don’t play dumb, b as smart as u can b