Friday, September 19, 2014

TGIF: One of those songs you might never get sick of...

Aren't those the best type?

They usually have some very specific ingredients that make them one of those songs. Not overwhelming, good for any season, a little dreamy, perhaps calming... Many things. Kevin Drew's "It's Cool" just gets me every time. His near-whisper, the subdued, downtown beat and that guitar riff - all of it - I've come to realize, has been a constant for me since Arts & Crafts released Darlings in the spring.

If it's as crispy cool as it's been these past few days this weekend, everyone should be able to enjoy this one.

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Prettiest J. Mascis Single: "Me Again"

When I was a kid with a squeaky clean taste palette and little to no knowledge of, well, anything - all I knew was that I loved music because I loved a pretty melody. I loved how something sounded.  Before having any kind of critical opinion, genre knowledge, distaste or bias, all I knew was that, whether it was Mariah, the Top Gun soundtrack, Motown or Zeppelin, I liked how nice sounds made me feel - simple as that. Kids are great like that.

Every now and again, I hear one of those pretty, pretty songs that I knew I would have loved as a kid. I wouldn't have had any idea who sang it or what their reputation was, but I'd know that it sounded all sorts of good to me, and I would have listened to it over and over again in my room.

After steadily consuming Tied to a Star, the new solo album from Dinosaur Bones' frontman J. Mascis, I can put my finger on one of those songs. The unadorned and lovely album opener "Me Again" has gotten lots of extra repeats thanks to its gorgeous strums, forlorn lyrics and Mascis' croaky falsetto. It also doesn't hurt that the twinkling acoustic ode goes perfectly with a cup of hot coffee and the cool autumn breeze that's been sweeping in as of late.


Friday, September 12, 2014

Best New Album: ODESZA's "In Return"

It’s been four days since Seattle electronic duo ODESZA released their second album In Return, and after my first listen, I was well aware I needed four full days to process exactly what I was feeling about the eclectic record. Pure bliss sums up those initial emotions; pure euphoric, breathtaken, how-am-I-ever-going-to-take-this-off-repeat bliss, that made it hard to put together coherent words about the dreamy experience that is In Return.

I’m a fairly skeptical “EDM” or electronic listener. I love 1001 elements under the gigantic EDM umbrella, but often find myself wondering why more of them don’t come together in particularly cohesive releases, and wishing for deeper components that, more often than not, just aren’t there. With In Return, an album that I suppose falls into the electronic category – it’s so impossibly far from any one thing, so unique and filled with multi-genre magic that, if this is the beginning of a new electronic age, sign me the f*ck up.

Fairly young, but with a few robust years of experience (debuts, mixtapes, singles) under their wings, Harrison Mills and Clayton Knight have touched on some prolific record production here – which I completely expected the second I heard the single “Memories That You Call” back in June. That song, packed with cinematic and sunny textures, was a game-changer for me – so I had no doubt whatever was to come from this much-anticipated, two years in the making release would be on point.

And every single bit of it is, if not more. With a consistent chillwave undertone, In Return threads sounds from every emotive corner under the sun – their signature tribal influences on "Kusanagi," use of charming chipmunk vocals, trip-hop, neo-soul on "White Lies" and enough big beats to please the average listener. If you want something accessible, don't worry one bit, ODESZA still has you covered with this collection - particularly "Say My Name," "All We Need" and "Sun Models" - but like vegetables mixed into your meals as a kid, ODESZA has cleverly blended sophisticated production into likeable synth ditties fit for a glowstick-laden dance floor.

I can’t remember the last time that, song-to-song, I felt the starry-eyed gravity of each track, wondering why more music doesn't shimmer the way this does. 

If you listen to one thing this month – hell, maybe even this year (2014 “Best Of” list foreshadowing?) – let it be ODESZA. You won’t regret how you’ll walk away feeling.

Thursday, September 11, 2014

New Tune for All Ages: Zeus' "27 is the New 17"

I love Zeus. I also love everything that comes with Zeus - Arts & Crafts production, Toronto pride and damn good, timeless rock 'n roll.  Their latest release, fittingly titled "Classic Zeus," is unsurprisingly awesome - and made even better by vintage pop-rock ditties like "27 is the New 17."

Sounding like something that would crackle perfectly on your record player in the 70s, this upbeat, psychedelic soft rock makes all of us mid-to-late twenty-somethings want to groove to the fact that - according to Zeus - we're really only getting started. In fact, I'm just about positive that even your parents, (cool?) grandparents and pets would feel particularly spry after listening to this jam twice through.

Enjoy! And don't forget to pick up their new album, via Arts & Crafts, in store now.


Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Xavier Dunn Covers A$AP Rocky's "F**kin' Problems"

I'll admit, I had no idea who Xavier Dunn was until I caught wind that an Aussie folk artist had covered one of my (well, everyone's) favourite guilty pleasure rap collaborations, "F**kin' Problems." It's safe to say I won't lose track of that name moving forward.

Dunn recently put an unexpected acoustic spin on the popular A$AP Rocky, Drake, Kendrick and 2 Chainz joint - which was essentially the (mainstream) rap party anthem of 2013 - decorating his version with swaying strings, layers of harmonies and a One Republic-reminiscent melody that would have anyone swooning, if mention of genitalia, bitches and the n-word weren't the lyrical foundation. Despite obviously doing a little of both mocking and mimicking (it's impossible not to be amused by a falsetto songbird chanting crude lyrics), by the end of the song, the spotlight is, surprisingly, more so on Dunn's ability to shift "F**kin' Problems" into f**kin' gorgeous territory.

Check out the hilarious and ridiculously pretty transformation the rap banger got. I hope it speaks to you the way it does me.

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

New Cold War Kids Anthem: "First"

I remember discovering Cold War Kids in the summer of 2007 and feeling like I'd hit the indie-rock jackpot. Nothing about the band's first release was revolutionary, but Nathan Willet's urgent, skilled vocals and the band's scorching instrumentation was enough to keep me coming back release after release because they had that special something. I've since consumed the band in dribs and drabs - sometimes feeling the urge to rave, other times feeling like they weren't progressing the way I had originally expected, but always relatively on board with their varying level of rock quirk.

It's now safe to say that, with the release of the two lead singles off their forthcoming album, I'm beyond excited all over again. The first track "All This Could Be Yours" was great, sure, but their second drop, titled "First," is completely infectious in all of its soaring guitar, hand-clapping, stomp-rock glory. Although it seems to be a narrative on rollercoaster life occurrences (shocker!), it's kind of hard to gauge what the Californian rockers are getting at here - other than a feel-good, unequivocally enjoyable new anthem.

Have a listen below, and look out for Hold My Home on October 21, via Downtown Records.

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Flying Lotus and Kendrick Lamar: "Never Catch Me"

If you're expecting to sit back, toss on this new Kendrick and Flying Lotus collab, and be walked through another instalment of Good Kid, m.a.a.d city, think again. "Never Catch Me," from Flying Lotus' upcoming new release, You're Dead, is challenging - not unlike the content of Kendrick's breakout album - but in a particularly Lotus kind of way. 

The producer/rapper has crafted one of his his impossibly hyper, yet beautiful, undertones - featuring wild skittering beats, spazzy multi-genre moments and (thank goodness) one soulful piano loop that anchors Kendrick's paced rhymes alongside the nutty samples.

Not many emcee's would be up to the task of rhyming something thoughtful over Lotus' typically unique production, but Kendrick, obviously, holds it down with ease - spitting fire before gracefully scaling down to meet the songs (few) accessible moments.

Personally, I love it. As I do all things K-dot, and all things Lotus.