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29 October 2010, 3:00 pm 11 Comments

New Music Roundup: This Week In Musicland

This post was submitted by Rohan

Today in alphabetical order:

Artist: Avey Tare
Album: Down There
What the hell is it? First solo-record from the Animal Collective yelper
Sounds like a combination of: Merriweather Swamp Pavilion
Recommended? While Panda Bear exists in the sunlight, Avey Tare loves the night. Down There is a song cycle about divorce and dying that, on its face, is pretty depressing and some of the murkiest music coming out of the AC camp. It really harkens back to the pre MPP days of Here Comes the Indian, but with more electronic noise and feedback. There really aren’t very many “happy” moments, but when “Oliver Twist” locks in it is pretty awesome. Most of the tracks are ripe with emotional material, like “Heather in the Hospital,” a song about Avey’s sister who was dying. There are standout tracks here, like the single “Lucky 1,” but you do yourself a disservice listening to it track by track. It begs to be digested as a whole.

Artist: Darkstar
Album: North
What the hell is it? UK Post-Dubstep Trio’s debut record on Hyperdub
Sounds like a combination of: 80s darkwave and post-dubstep
Recommended? Knowing that this was released on Hyperdub, the label that brought us Burial and cemented the dubstep scene as noteworthy, is pretty weird but it also makes a lot of sense. In the last year dubstep has evolved and now a bunch of (super cute) British twenty-somethings like James Blake, Mount Kimbie, Joy Orbison, etc., are creating things that can be dubstep but are more in the vein of straight-up electronic music. Darkstar first hit the scene with “Aidy Girl is a Computer,” a track featured on this record. It is shocking to hear the rest of the record, while it maintains the dark/glitch tendencies of “Aidy’s,” rely more on vocals and pop hooks. “Gold,” a pretty faithful cover of Human League’s “You Remind Me of Gold,” is the first indicator of the groups love for 80s darkwave. “Two Chords” features clipped vocals, but the faithfulness to the genre still stands. James Blake, the go-to guy in the dubstep scene, is moving toward this territory, as his debut full length (due next year) is supposed to rely heavily on his voice. If this is what dubstep is going to evolve into, I’m down with it.

Artist: Diamond Rings
Album: Special Affections
What the hell is it? Debut full-length from one of the coolest people I’ve ever met
Sounds like a combination of: Synth Pop
Recommended? In my SXSW write up I don’t think I spoke about two of my favorite things in detail. One being Diamond Ring’s DJ set using only YouTube videos, and second his awesome performance at the abortion known as Gay Bi Gay Gay. Diamond Rings is queer (there, I admitted the orientation of a performer) so you automatically have to like him, right? Diamond Rings makes awesome pop songs, like last year’s “All Yr Songs” (included here), but now peppers them with material that has weight to it. These aren’t just dancefloor fillers but songs with heart and emotion. “Play By Heart” starts the record on a sparse note, but things kick into full swing with “Wait and See,” a synth and guitar jam that is super fun. This is a party record, but tracks like “Something Else” have deeper meaning. Zack likes to think Hot Chip and LCD are the only groups capable of making dance music with heart. Well, Zack, add another to the list. Oh, P.S.—Due to DC9’s closure Diamond Rings will not be coming to DC, but we need to bring him here. I guess I should call him up.

Artist: Hurts
Album: Happiness
What the hell is it? Androgynous looking British Duo trying to take pop back to the 80s
Sounds like a combination of: Someone who studied darker new wave way too long
Recommended? Imagine La Roux’s debut made by men (who aren’t gay—go figure), just less poppy and more dour. There you have this Hurts record. It has some epic moments, like when all the music fills in on “Silver Lining,” or the two best songs, “Wonderful Life” and “Better Than Love,” but man this record is dark. “Better Than Love” is the perfect pop moment here, reaching a BPM faster than the entire record, and it’s “upbeat,” but seriously dudes CHEER THE FUCK UP! I mean, this record isn’t completely bad—Kylie Minogue phones in a guest appearance, but unlike the album’s title this record just isn’t happy. Hello, false advertising!

Artist: PS I Love You
Album: Meet Me At The Muster Station
What the hell is it? Debut record from Canadian shit-kickers
Sounds like a combination of: A less epic Japandroids with a tad of Wolf Parade
Recommended? What is it with Canada? Man, these indie rock groups love to kick shit up! PS I Love You are a duo like Japandroids, but less intent on breaking down walls with epic guitar solos. Instead they make awesome punk rock tracks like “Breadends,” “2012,” and “Facelove.” A lot of this record sounds lo-fi, and dude’s voice sounds a lot like Spencer Krug, and there is some serious Dinosaur Jr. love going on. But there is nothing wrong with that. Indie rock needs more rock; there is too much chill shit.

Artist: Skream
Album: Outside the Box
What the hell is it? Second record from the dubstep producer who hit it big with that La Roux remix—you know the one I’m taking about
Sounds like a combination of: Dubstep pop
Recommended? Can you blame Skream for going in a more accessible pop direction? Ever since his “In for The Kills” remix he’s been on some other shit. The record’s title says it all, he’s now Outside the Box. Skream goes into the category of (super cute) British twenty-somethings making dubstep, but this record is a charts grab. Elly Jackson shows up here, as well as Murs and some singer named Freckles, but it is still Skream’s show and his skill is unlike most of his peers. Nothing feels overworked, and it is to Skream’s credit that the record flows so magically.

Artist: Small Black
Album: New Chain
What the hell is it? Chillwaver’s first full length
Sounds like a combination of: You know the drill by now
Recommended? Has this whole thing gone too far? New Chain might be the last of chillwave, but if it is, it is a good endpoint. New Chain has some standouts, but mostly it just glides through thirty-five minutes of bedroom pop. There really isn’t anything I can say against this record. “Photojournalist” holds a sweet chorus, and the synth line on “New Chain” is sweet. If you have a half hour to spare, put this on.


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