For the past couple of days Brooklyn’s Woods have been keeping me under some kind of hypnotic trance with their sixth full length album Sun And Shade. It’s almost impossible to spend time with these twelve jangly lo-fi accoustic numbers without noticing a warm feeling coursing through the veins. The majority of songs are short and sweet bar a couple of psychedelic instrumental numbers that push seven and ten minutes respectively, something new for Woods but it works as they act as tent poles off of which the rest of the album loosely hangs. Picking a favourite track is like picking a favourite child but Hand It Out is as good as any. Following on from one of the aforementioned instrumentals it packs a significant emotional intensity by way of contrast alone. Jeremy’s falsetto often draws comparisons with Neil Young but for me it is J Mascis that I find myself thinking of, not because of the similarities in voice necessarily but more in the laid back, melancholic delivery. He has a knack of projecting sadness without putting any emphasis on particular words or phrases, it’s a laid back approach that fits the guitar work and production perfectly. For me, Hand It Out brings together everything that I love about this album (and band) in to three perfect minutes of blissful and essential indie pop.
Woods – Hand It Out MP3 (Right Click / Save As)
For Emma, Forever Ago was self released way back in 2007, which seems like an age ago now considering that we are still awaiting the follow-up nearly half way in to 2011. Justin Vernon has kept himself pretty busy though, with side projects such as Gayngs and Volcano Choir along with high-profile collaborations with the likes of Kanye West. We also had the Blood Bank EP, which I personally think was underrated and often forgotten. Calgary is the first taste of the self-titled follow-up album due out next month (although if you’re in to the words, then the album lyrics are up on the Jagjaguar site).
That debut was always going to be a hard record to follow, partly due to its reception but mainly because of the unique circumstances in which it was recorded, and how integral that was to its appeal. Everyone loves an album with a back story but there’s no way that this guy was ever gonna go back to that cabin by himself and record a new batch of songs, for this reason there is going to be a portion of the hardcore fan base that might feel disappointed with the extra instrumentation and flirtations with electronica. Although none of this should come as a surprise to anybody, the entire basis of Gayngs is collaboration, and Volcano Choir was pretty experimental in terms of studio manipulation. Calgary eases you in slow though, a sombre organ introduces Vernons distinctive falsetto, the song dies temporarily before swelling louder around a similar refrain. The third time around, drums and a few synthesised melodies are added to the mix. The trick is repeated for a fourth time by which point the full complement of sound is present and the song feels fully formed with guitars audible for the first time. It’s a clever trick, taking a stripped back idea and repeating it each time building up the layers. It makes the final quiet passage of acoustic guitar and vocal all the more sombre and stark. I’m enjoying this song quite a bit, it’ll be interesting to hear how it compares to the sound of the rest of the album and how it fits in with the other songs. By itself though it stands up pretty well, hopefully the album will be able to exist outside of the shadow of that debut.
Listen through the video below or head over to Jagjaguar for a download.
I have to be honest; not a lot of music has been inspiring me particularly of late. I seem to have spent the past couple of weeks or so listening to new albums by the likes of Battles, Fleet Foxes, TV On The Radio and Okkervil River (amongst others). Which on paper, a couple months ago would have been a mouth-watering prospect, but the reality is that despite none of these being particularly bad records as such, they have all failed to live up to my own personal expectations in one way or another. Even the Tyler album, whilst still growing on me, didn’t quite hit the mark. All of this kind of seemed to be building towards hearing Clams Casino for the first time. Hailing from New Jersey, Clams Casino is a bedroom producer who has most notably produced beats for Lil B. Admittedly, I’m not familiar with this material but having been lifted out of a post ATP lull quite magnificently by this free Instrumental Mixtape, I can wholeheartedly vouch for his solo stuff. Where this music stops becoming trendy and current and starts becoming spectacular is with the emotion that he evokes through the use of the samples. Similarities can be drawn with acts such as How To Dress Well but for me the emotional leverage squeezed from the source material is far more similar, if not a hell of a lot more subtle than Kids & Explosions. The manipulation is masterful, and that’s without even mentioning the beats; which not only pack an equal punch but are impecably timed and arranged. These songs are both euphoric and sad at the same time, inspiring yet introverted, cloudy but at the same time beautifully crisp. It’s far too seldom that I feel this enthusiastic and affected by new music so swiftly, and what I love is that it always seems to happen both when I least expect it and when I need it the most. Check out one of the many album highlights Realist Alive below, and download the full mix HERE.
Clams Casino – Realist Alive MP3 (Right Click / Save As)
ZOMBY!!!! WHERE WERE YOU IN 2011????????
UK producer Zomby will release his full length follow-up to the incredible Where Were You in ’92? some time in July. By way of an appetiser, check out Things Fall Apart which features vocals from none other than Noah Lennox. It all starts with a blast from a shotgun followed by a blast from those distinctive air horns. So far, so Zomby but it’s not long before the creepy nature of the song sets in, the mantra-like vocals distance the sound further still from previous output. The vocals sound great, it’s kind of nice to hear Lennox actually sing free from reverb and distortion. He does have a brilliant voice and it compliments the cleanliness of the glitchy beats and twinkling synths perfectly. Potential for an onstage collaboration at ATP?
Zomby – Things Fall Apart (Feat Panda Bear) MP3 (Right Click / Save As)
If you look toward the lower end of the Animal Collective ATP line-up you will notice just above stand-up comedian Matt Baetz an act named soldiers Of Fortune. Granted, the billing of an ATP line-up means nothing but it would be easy to overlook the lower echelons of a list of artists that includes acts as high-profile as Big Boi and Beach House. From what I can gather, Soldiers Of Fortune are a super group of sorts, and have been active since 2004. I am not going to delve in to the various musicians that have been and are currently involved in this band because for me, the fact that Kid Millions features on drums is reason enough to take note. Sleeping Sentinel, taken from the debut album Ball Strength is an exciting slice of psych-garage rock that features plenty of sick guitar soloing, awesome backing vocals and some of the best drumming you are likely to hear this side of Oneida. Check the MP3 out below and be sure not to overlook them if you’re lucky enough to be attending AC’s ATP:
Soldiers Of Fortune – Sleeping Sentinel MP3 (Right Click/Save As)
Odd Future ringleader Tyler is due to drop his new album Yonkers on May 10th. If his recent NME cover is anything to go by, this shit is going global. The album is being kept under tight wraps and so far the singles Yonkers and Sandwiches are the only two jams to have been aired publicly. Tron Cat can now be added to that much sought after list of songs. Odd Future may be the most exciting thing to happen to rap since the Wu-Tang Clan and the most punk rock thing to happen to music since the Pistols and Tron Cat both affirms this sentiment and heightens the anticipation for this album further still. Tyler is clearly compromising nothing, the production is as dense and intimidating as ever and the lyrics equally controversial; “Rape a pregnant bitch and tell my friends I had a threesome”. TYLER FUCKS DOLPHINS………. A-MAZING!!!
Tyler The Creator – Tron Cat MP3 (Right Click/Save As)
Earthtone 9 returned today, and they’ve done so with both style and serious intent. Tide Of Ambition is their first new material since way back in 2002 and the wait has not been in vein. What I love most about this song is that it’s classic, unmistakable ET9. Heavy, choppy riffs, guttural hardcore screams and soaring choruses. Short, sharp and straight to the jugular, anthemic in the way that Grind And Click was and catchy like Tat Twam Asi with a hint of Withered chucked in for good measure. This band never ever achieved the heights that they deserved, so hopefully this time around they will get the kind of attention and accolades that they criminally lacked when they were last active. Seriously cannot wait to see them on tour next month. Check it out below. RAWWWWWWWWKKKKKKKK!!!!!!!!!!!!
Earthtone 9 – Tide Of Ambition MP3 (Right Click / Save As)
UPDATE: Just found the below image, presumably the cover for the upcoming EP For Cause & Consequence. Yes!