Anjou - Specimen Question

Formed from the ashes of Labradford comes Anjou and their stunning new self-titled album. Listening through for the first time, it was readily apparent how much skill was behind the production; Anjou is a debut album in name only. Featured here is “Specimen Question”, a wonderful rumination of a track that twists and turns in just the right places. Anjou is currently out via Kranky; give it a listen when you get a chance and as always, enjoy.

Turn Back Tuesday

Every Tuesday, I’ll highlight a track that was released before the advent of Tumblr. Each track is chosen both for its influence and worthiness for additional exposure.

Laraaji - The Dance No. 3

I recently had an argument with a friend about a song that he didn’t particularly like. I asked him what he didn’t like about it; he claimed it was too repetitive, that it did the same thing over and over. While I personally wasn’t a fan of the song either, I believe he missed the point of the song; it wasn’t repetitive because it lacked creativity, but because it was aiming to be hypnotic for the listener. Figuring out what an artist is trying to do is the first step in understanding art.

This argument made me think of this week’s track, Laraaji’s “The Dance No. 3”. A listener could easily say they don’t the track because it’s “repetitive”; however, such an position doesn’t really acknowledge what  Laraaji is aiming for here. With immaculate production from Brian Eno, “The Dance No. 3” transports the listener into a different mindset, one of introspection and study. Laraaji makes music that you can either think to or zone out to, and both modes help us become better human beings if done correctly. Take a listen to “The Dance No. 3” here and then choose your own adventure.

tendencies - そこにそれがある

Here’s a novel idea; start a record label, but only include artists under the age of eighteen. That’s the starting point for the SOMICO record label, consisting of artists from all over the world that share a similar age and an affinity for creation. Their first compilation, SOMICO vol. 1is a heady mix of the current music scene, including tracks from electronic All-Stars such as SVNDAZE, Dreamghost, and Moonkay. However, the track that grabbed me the most was “そこにそれがある” by tendencies. I love tracks that challenge the listener to figure out where samples are from and what they’re saying, and “そこにそれがある” does exactly that. Check out the whole compilation on Bandcamp, and as always, enjoy.

ODESZA - It’s Only (feat. Zyra)

Man, have I been waiting for this one. ODESZA was responsible for one of the very best albums of 2012, and yesterday, they dropped their followup, In Return. The biggest change over the past few years for the band has been a move away from sampled vocals and toward highlighting several outstanding vocalists. “It’s Only” features the fantastic voice of Zyra, and what makes the song stay with the listener is how effectively the title is sung; it hits the perfect balance of intimacy and vastness. Pick up In Return as soon as you get a chance, and as always, enjoy.

Turn Back Tuesday

Every Tuesday, I’ll highlight a track that was released before the advent of Tumblr. Each track is chosen both for its influence and worthiness for additional exposure.

Yo La Tengo - Autumn Sweater

I love songs that tell a story, but not all story songs are made the same. Any song can explain a situation; the best ones make the listener do the work. Subtlety is sometimes the best policy. Some tracks are deliberately obtuse, challenging the listener to figure out the past, present, and future. It’s this characteristic that has made Yo La Tengo’s “Autumn Sweater” an enduring classic.

"We could slip away/wouldn’t that be better?" Ira Kaplan repeats throughout "Autumn Sweater", and it gets the listener to thinking: can’t this attitude be applied in any situation? The allure of avoiding a potential contentious situation is ever-present in "Autumn Sweater", while acknowledging that such a decision has its downfalls. Placed against a decidedly lo-fi background, "Autumn Sweater" eats at the listener in the best way. 

Vanilla - On My Mind

If you’re up for a solid soul sample, have I got the track for you. Blog favorite Vanilla dropped their latest album, Sweet Talk, over the weekend, and “On My Mind” is a great example of what the record is all about. Vanilla has an uncanny ability to sample large sections of old soul samples while making it fresh and exciting. Sweet Talk is the last of Vanilla’s beat tape series, but don’t worry; it’s packed with enough soul samples to last a lifetime. Give “On My Mind” a listen here and as always, enjoy.

Ryuuta Takaki - fleeting bloom

I love propulsive beats, especially if they are slightly out of lockstep with the rest of the track. It can be difficult to give an electronic work a human element when human voices aren’t used; it takes a special kind of skill to make everything work. I love the approach Ryuuta Takaki took on his latest track, “fleeting bloom”; short enough to fly by but deep enough to stick with you, “fleeting bloom” wears melancholy well. Take a listen to Takaki’s newest EP on Bandcamp and as always, enjoy. 

Navigateur - Glorious

 I’ve been thinking recently that within the past ten or so years, developments in technology have taken a lot of the guesswork out of creating music. Want a perfect 4x4 beat? An artist barely needs to try to make it happen. As such, it has pretty much necessitated that artists mess with the listener’s timing; our brains have been programmed to expect certain sounds in certain time signatures, and true artists seek to destroy the program. Such is the case with “Glorious”, from Navigateur’s newest release, INFINITY (Vol. 1), via Formal Logic Records. “Glorious” never lets the listener relax, all the while making a truly enjoyable track. Head on over to Bandcamp for more and as always, enjoy.  

Turn Back Tuesday

Every Tuesday, I’ll highlight a track that was released before the advent of Tumblr. Each track is chosen both for its influence and worthiness for additional exposure.

Animal Collective - Doggy

image

Every album that an artist releases should, from a critical standpoint, be a step forward from their previous work. It does not need to be earth-shattering, but successful artists have the ability to reinvent themselves with every record, all while distinctly sounding like themselves. When put into words, it sound nearly impossible: how do you change while staying the same? The dreaded “sophomore slump” has claimed many talented bands who couldn’t come up with an answer to this question.

While Animal Collective have been one of the biggest bands of the last decade, none of their albums even come remotely close to sounding like one another. The unique tuning of Feels would be out of place in the electronic wonderland of Merriweather Post Pavilion; the aggressive Strawberry Jam would not fit in on the jam session that was Sung Tongs. Campfire Songs is possibly Animal Collective’s most obscure proper record; it disappeared for 5 years as the band was hitting their stride. There are still treasures to be had, however; “Doggy” is some of the most relaxing sounds Animal Collective has put to record, and should be considered an essential part of their back catalog. Take a listen to “Doggy” here and as always, enjoy.

Left - About Nothing

It’s amazing how the pronunciation of a single word can change the entire feel of a track. With Left’s fantastic “About Nothing”, the word in question is the universal “worry”. A more downbeat track would let the word envelop the music; “About Nothing” gives it a bit of a warble, letting it roll off the tongue as if it’s truly not something to be concerned about. Keeping the word out of the title was also a sly but stellar move. “About Nothing” is just the latest in a line of great tracks from UK label Yusoul Records; check them out on Bandcamp and as always, enjoy.