June 9, 2010

Music in Video Form

Frankly, I was disappointed with the squirmy PG-13 implied violence / homoerotica (not to mention the gimmicky bowlcuts) of “Alejandro”—especially because I thoroughly enjoyed “Telephone”—though Gaga is clearly (and perhaps commendably) going for broke on the Madonna ‘gay-man-in-a-woman’s-body’ schtick.

Perhaps I was unimpressed with Gaga’s latest S&Meh-tinged (as they say on Brooklyn Vegan) effort because I’d recently seen the entirety of the Cremaster cycle for the first time, over the past two weeks at the IFC Center. (Despite the datedness of the special effects, the scope of Matthew Barney’s vision can only be described as epic, and I have yet to fully digest the visual language of the five-part arc, much less form an opinion about it.)

Of course, the comparison is patently unfair to both artists, and, to Gaga’s credit, “Bad Romance” is easily one on my favorite music videos of all time. Now, let’s see if Klaus Biesenbach can get them together for some kind of blockbuster collaboration…

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via Pitchfork

It’s tempting to peg the video as a metaphor for the album—drifting along, lacking ambition yet not unpleasant—but I haven’t listened to LP4 quite enough to pass judgment. Also, interview with Mike Stroud (½ of Ratatat) on Nowness.

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I liked the video from the start, but it’s taken a few views to get into the song itself.

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More jams:

Japandroids – Younger Us (Pfork) (A little too pop-punky on first listen…)

Yeasayer – O.N.E. (Clancy & Build Remix) (’Sup)

Crystal Castles Suffocation (Memory Tapes Remix) (Pfork)

Kid Cudi [vs. LCD Soundsystem] – All Talk (ft. Chip Tha Ripper & Christian Bale)

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March 9, 2010

A Longer Music Post

As promised, a longer music post. First, three new(ish) takes on left(ish)-field pop:

After a couple weeks of typical major-label build, Gorillaz’s somewhat hyped Plastic Beach was released stateside today. Even though I’ve only listened to it twice through, I already like it more than Albarn & co.’s much-lauded previous efforts: the disparate styles are more complementary than ever, guest vocalists are on point and nothing really feels like filler.


No sophomore slump for Yeasayer: Odd Blood might be reduced to freak-folk meets new wave, a characterization that captures the odd listenability of the album, but that doesn’t change the fact that it’s a surprisingly refreshing (sanguine, even) take on psych-pop. Although I would say that certain songs are slightly stronger than the album as a whole, I still find myself listening to the whole thing when I want to hear 40 minutes of solid indie pop.

I’m struggling a bit more to place Hot Chip’s One Life Stand: I’m not sure whether it is their poppiest album or their danciest one, or maybe both or neither. It’s arguably their most soulful and certainly their most mature recording to date, a noticeable departure from the floor-ready hits of previous efforts: while The Warning always struck me as a singles album and Made in the Dark slowly grew on me without ever quite blowing me away, One Life Stand is by far their most coherent album. Similarly, I’m not sure if the new record makes sense of their Bugged Out Mix from last spring or if the DJ mix manages to make sense of the new album. (I should add that I rather like the mix despite its scattershot approach.)

I suppose the bizarro thug-funk of their semi-underground debut Coming On Strong, which came closest to transcending irony altogether, ought to affirm Hot Chip’s history of 45-degree turns from album to album, though I’d say that the fact that they manage to remain unpredictable is a testament to their brilliance as songwriters.


If the minimal techno influence remains latent in Hot Chip, Bpitch & Kompakt acolytes might enjoy Pantha du Prince’s Black Noise. I can’t say that I’m always up on the whole genre, but I will say that Black Noise has replaced B6′s Post-Haze—one of my favorite albums, techno or otherwise, from last year—as my go-to electro chill-out album of choice. (Don’t worry if you haven’t heard of him, he’s big in Shanghai (snap!) and he deserves a full post, which he may still get at some point.)

Similar but quite different: Kieran Hebden continues to craft some of the most accessible experimental music as Four Tet with his latest excellent electro-folk LP, There Is Love in You. It’s a warmer, more cerebral chill-out for sure, though the album’s strength lies largely in understatement.


Just different: Surfer Blood is alright, but they end up sounding just like Pavement, Built to Spill or Weezer as soon as someone points out that they sound just like Pavement, Built to Spill or Weezer. I like the 90′s shit and even the 90′s revival shit as much as the next Pitchfork-reader—Cymbals Eat Guitars and Japandroids were two more favorites from ’09; No Age can do no wrong—but Astrocoast just strikes me as artless in every sense of the word. Then again, if it’s nothing more than rock ‘n’ roll for and by kids, and there’s nothing more to it.

As far as (slightly) older stuff goes, I thought that the first highly-anticipated second album of the year, Vampire Weekend’s Contra, was good enough to warrant regular listening for a month or two, while I just couldn’t get into Spoon’s umpteenth LP despite semi-regular listening. The-Dream, Gucci Mane and Zomby also happened to dominate my listening history from January and February; I’ve been backlogged with older albums for a while now.

Other than that, I should probably listen to the new Beach House album more, it’s pretty good as far as I can tell. It might be hard to top my recent dubstep tip or to bump 36 Chambers (my current throwback obsession) from my top played, but new albums from Joanna Newsom, Liars, Ted Leo and Titus Andronicus might just do the trick.

So that’s my take on Pitchfork’s Best New Music (guilty as charged?).


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