Arcade Fire have been so big for so long that it’s easy to forget they emerged from the same Montreal underground scene as long-dormant indie-pop quirk-masters the Unicorns, whose Nick Thorburn later went on to form the long-running Islands. In fact, as Thorburn points out in a new interview, the Unicorns actually took Arcade Fire on their first national tour back in 2004, so the Arcade Fire shows the reunited Unicorns are opening this month represent quite the turning of the tables. Thorburn also credits Win Butler for making the Unicorns reunion happen at all:
Masked underground-rap fixture DOOM recently teamed up with the young New York rapper Bishop Nehru to record the new collaborative album NehruvianDOOM, and first single “Darkness (HBU)” featured Nehru rapping over an old DOOM beat. It seemed possible, after hearing that, that DOOM’s actual involvement in the album would be minimal. But “Om,” the latest track that the duo has shared, at least hints that DOOM will be on it more. The track features a rapped hook from DOOM, though Nehru still does all the verses, and it’s cluttered and circusy beat is the sort of oblique weirdness that DOOM helped bring into the rap underground in the first place. Listen to the track and check out the album’s tracklist below.
I don’t think I’ve done this before, but there’s a lyric video on this list. Its presence will probably annoy you. But if you think you can make a better lyric video, go ahead. Please. This week’s picks are below.
Future’s contribution to the Adult Swim Singles Series, “Coupe,” arrives with an animated video in which Future street races the devil. It’s a cartoon because Adult Swim, get it? Get it!
A Sunny Day In Glasgow came back out of nowhere earlier this year with Sea When Absent, and it’s their best album. Now the group will release the 5-song No Death EP, which comes with a remix of the opening track “Bye Bye Big Ocean.” The remix is done by Ice Choir, the current moniker of Kurt Feldman, who is probably best known as the former drummer of the Pains Of Being Pure At Heart, but was also one half of the dearly missed Deprecation Guild. In this remix, however, Feldman strips the song of its shoegaze blurriness — it’s a fantastic remix on its own, but also allows you to appreciate just how good the source is. Listen below.
Dublin’s Girl Band have already proven themselves masters of scraping noise-punk that matches early-’00s urban chaos of Liars and Black Dice with confrontational Midwest clamor of the Jesus Lizard/Big Black pigfucker persuasion. “De Bom Bom,” the quartet’s latest harrowing single, affirms that mastery. “De Bom Bom” is the best kind of nasty — plus, any band that slips a flash of Stephen Malkmus whimsy into such a gruesomely intense skree deserves bonus points. Listen to it.
It’s been three years since LVL UP released their debut album, Space Brothers, and a lot has happened in that time. The band went on an extensive tour, they released a great EP and another great split with Porches., and members Dave Benton and Mike Caridi built their label Double Double Whammy from a place to release their debut into one of the most consistently great DIY labels around. All the while, they were slowly working away at their sophomore effort, Hoodwink’d — the work of a band at the top of their game. Combining the intensity of their Extra Worlds EP and the lo-fi charisma of their debut, they’ve made some truly next-level shit. “Soft Power” is the first song to be unveiled from the LP; it’s slick and tightly wound indie rock and, as with every LVL UP song, it’s chock full of riffs and ideas without ever feeling overstuffed. While some of their earlier lyrics were obscured by reverb, they’re mostly front and center here, and well worth paying attention to: “There is nothing wrong with being nice/ unless it’s just a front to get yourself by/ and I can tell/ So what the hell/ I don’t think I really need them in my life.” Listen below.
Jay Z famously had to sell his minuscule share of the Brooklyn Nets in order to launch a sports management company and represent athletes such as baseball star Robinson Canó. Now TMZ reports that noted sports fanatic (and fellow Mr. Carter) Lil Wayne is launching a sports management company of his own, and Portuguese soccer superstar Cristiano Ronaldo will be his first client. Apparently Weezy’s company will be collaborating with Lisbon-based PolarisSports, an affiliate of the global management agency CAA and GestiFute, the company of Ronaldo’s manager Jorge Mendes. Looks like Wayne’s people won’t be negotiating Ronaldo’s soccer contracts, but they’ll handle his US business affairs including branding, marketing, endorsement, and modeling deals. (Besides being FIFA’s reigning World Player Of The Year, Ronaldo is a meticulously styled global sex symbol.)
The music made by the long-running French duo Air always sounded like it was meant to soundtrack something — and often, it was soundtracking something. Now the duo has composed a series of ambient recordings inspired by artwork in the Palais De Beaux Arts De Lille. Music For Museum (in a nice reference to Eno’s ambient classic Music For Airports) will play on speakers in one section of the museum, and is specifically inspired by four contemporary artists showing work there now: Linda Bujoli, Mathias Kiss, Xavier Veilhan, and Yi Zhou. You can pick up the vinyl-only release here via The Vinyl Factory, and read the track list below.
We have a couple of decades of evidence that good things happen when you point TV cameras at Tori Amos; witness, for instance, this video of Amos playing “Winter” on The Tonight Show is 1993 and reducing Jay Leno to a stuttering mess. Last night, she did it again, performing entirely solo (just her and her piano) on Conan and giving an emotionally intense performance of “Wild Way,” a conflicted love song from her new album Unrepentant Geraldines. Watch the video below.
Earlier this week, Phantogram recruited Future Islands to remix “Black Out Days,” a song from their new album Voices. And now, Phantogram have solicited another remix, this one from another more-popular-than-you’d-expected festival-mainstay band. Alt-J drummer Thom Green (not this guy) has given the Voices track “Never Going Home” an ominous, synthy reading. The new reworking of the track appears on a new Walking Dead soundtrack album, and joining a truly bizarre tracklist and sharing space with Crooked Fingers and Colbie Callait and the Lumineers and Godsmack. Listen to the remix below.
Spencer Tweedy, son of Wilco frontman Jeff, has probably watched his dad perform on TV at least a handful of times. Last night, Jeff was on TV again, and Spencer was up there with him. The two Tweedys have formed the new band Tweedy together, and their Sukierae, their first album as a unit, is out in a couple of months. Last night, Jeff and Spencer performed on The Tonight Show together, doing the breezy, strummy midtempo track “Summer Noon,” with members of Lucius backing them up. Watch the performance below.
We’ve all been having fun with that photo of Jack White at a Cubs game, looking furious that his life had taken such a turn. But if you’re a rock star at Wrigley Field, your evening doesn’t have to be barren and joyless. When White showed up at Wrigley on Tuesday night, he was there with Pearl Jam frontman Eddie Vedder, a noted Cubs fan who’s been to a ton of games. (Pearl Jam also played a big show at Wrigley Field last summer.) Vedder was back at the stadium again last night to watch the Cubs lose badly to the San Diego Padres, and he more or less taught a master class on how to enjoy the game if you’re a visiting rock star. He sang “Take Me Out To The Ballgame.” He threw out the first pitch — a bit inside, maybe, but a legitimate pitch, something 50 Cent couldn’t manage. And he autographed a ton of balls for the team to sell. Below, watch a glowing-with-delight Vedder throwing out that first pitch and singing the traditional seventh-inning stretch song.
It’s always a bit obnoxious when indie bands roll into their late-night TV debuts looking like they just rolled out of bed, so I’m weirdly delighted to note that Sharon Van Etten and her entire backing band seemed to be rocking their very best outfits when they appeared on the Late Show With David Letterman last night. SVE seems to be developing one of those telekinetic bonds with her current touring band, and that was in full evidence last night, as they played a version of “Every Time The Sun Comes Up” that was full of quiet, confident little instrumental flourishes. It’s becoming more and more apparently everyday that she’s someone you should go see if she’s coming to your town. Watch the performance below.
The experimental rap group clipping. have a few recurring themes on their two albums. They always start with an “Intro,” they end with a mind-melting sound collage, and they both include a very disturbing “Story.” In the case of the band’s new album, their debut for Sub Pop, “Story 2″ is not a pleasant listen, and it’s been chosen for a new video following the curb-stomping surrealism of “Work Work.” In his review of the album, Tom hit the nail right on the head by comparing to Throbbing Gristle what consists of “a deeply fucked up narrative track about a working stiff who returns home to find his children burning to death.” And that’s what you get in this video, with one slight rule. The entire thing, from start to finish, films the man’s feet, walking and then gradually picking up in speed as he begins to realize what’s happening, and finally stumbling to a stop and collapsing on the sidewalk in front of the orange glow. I’d like to say that just seeing the feet makes all of this less upsetting, but it doesn’t really. You can watch it below.
Last year, the producer CFCF put out the album Outside and followed it this year with an odds-and-sods EP titled Outsiders. Now you can watch the Jared Raab-directed video for album track “Strange Form Of Life,” which initially seems just like a long slow pulling back of the camera from the artist’s face, but gradually changes its elements through some glitchy, warping effects. Watch it below.
Berlin trio Ballet School’s “Cherish” was a refreshing blast of high-energy dream-pop that featured skyscraping vocal acrobatics by singer Rosie Blair. Today the group shared a second single that does nothing to temper our anticipation for debut album The Dew Lasts An Hour. Compared to the ethereal deluge of “Cherish,” “Lux” is more beat-driven and floaty, with Blair getting her Björk on over top pretty keyboard melodies and heavy low-end. Listen to it.
Dutch DJ duo the Partysquad contributed production to M.I.A.’s Matangi, and now they’ve aligned again for a song on The Partysquad Summer Mixtape 2014. It’s a typically noisy M.I.A. track that wouldn’t have sounded out of place on Kala, with a beat that remains spacious despite busy drum programming and various agitated blasts of sound. It almost reminds me of “Turn Down For What,” though the recent radio hit Maya interpolates here is Sage The Gemini’s “Gas Pedal.” Get into it below.
Trouble In Paradise is the sound of Elly Jackson letting her hair down. The La Roux singer’s aggressive upward spike of follicles has been combed into a gentle waterslide-like swoop, and her second album — and first without behind-the-scenes bandmate Ben Langmaid — is accordingly looser and less brusque. She has styled herself less like an alien than on 2009′s self-titled debut, and yeah, her new songs ache with a weary humanity that was absent before. Chilly space-age bleeps and bloops deployed with jarring precision have given way to organic funk and new wave. She is bulletproof no more, it seems — licking her wounds rather than going in for the kill.
Back in May’s Black Market, I talked a bunch about the Swiss duo Bölzer, who had just completed two performances at Maryland Deathfest, a pair of sets that pretty much ruled over everything else at the entire festival. That’s no small feat for a band playing alongside At The Gates, Gorguts, Agalloch, and a few dozen others — and an even more impressive accomplishment when it’s the band’s first time ever playing this continent, and still more impressive when that band’s entire discography consists of a 3-song demo, 2012′s Roman Acupuncture, and a 3-song EP, 2013′s Aura. (FWIW, we named that 3-song EP the 12th best metal album of last year.) Now, Bölzer are set to release Aura’s follow-up and companion piece, a 2-song EP called Soma. We already wrote about the first song on Soma, “Steppes,” when it dropped back in April, but today, the whole thing has been made available to stream, and its second half, “Labyrinthian Graves,” is a monstrous conclusion to this 5-track/2-EP cycle. Bölzer won’t be releasing any more new music in 2014, which means these two songs are all we’ll get for a good long while. And that’s fair: These songs deserve to be treasured, obsessed over, revered. Listen.