Ariel Pink – “Pom Pom”

First, I’d like to say that I love Ariel Pink‘s music… even when it’s horrible which some of it undoubtedly is (and has to be with a songwriter as prolific as he). I mean, sure, as a human being he may be a notorious dickhead, but whether he’s an overgrown petulant child or just some celebrated neek with a personality disorder, his skewed take on pop music makes me feel weird and fizzy and (at its best) slightly inebriated.

His latest bomb, lobbed from 4AD, exploded on the internet just a few weeks ago — perfectly timed for my end of year list. It harkens back to the stunningly weird, but atrociously recorded 4-track experiments Pink used to concoct in his bedroom before he decided to get a band together (Ariel Pink’s Haunted Graffiti) and record his eponymous “breakthrough” in a real studio. The players he assembled were really good, and the increase in fidelity from going to a professional studio was of an order of magnitude, and so the results were positive, but a lot more conventional at least by Pink’s whigged-out standards. This record revives that classic “what-the-fuck” feeling I used to get from his recordings but with much better sound quality, which is basically all I ever wanted.

Here’s the first single “Put Your Number in My Phone”

Here are a couple of low-quality previews with which to whet yourself:

Ariel Pink – “White Freckles” (128kbps)

Ariel Pink – “Lipstick” (128kbps)

Ariel Pink – “Nude Beach A G-Go” (128 kbps)

And, you can purchase this thing over at the 4AD store.

Run the Jewels 2

The sequel to last summer’s collaboration between underground hip-hop pioneer and Definitive Jux impresario El-P and Organized Noise/Dungeon Family-affiliated Atlanta rapper Killer Mike is essentially more of the same—and those familiar with the first installment will recognize this as absolutely a good thing.

A more fully formed incarnation of the concept, RTJ2 is a proper album to RTJ’s mixtape.

The beats bang at least as hard as the first time around, and there are some pretty interesting guest spots including (from seemingly out of nowhere) former Rage Against the Machine frontman Zack de la Rocha and Three 6 Mafia’s Gangsta Boo, who turns in probably most over-the-top verse on an album characterized by its over-the-top-ness.

Of course it’s Mike and El who are the main attraction; the two MCs—each at the top of his game—trade dexterous, multi-syllabic verses, feeding off each others considerable intensity in a synergistic game of one-up-man-ship, and demonstrating, in the process, that they’re two of the best doing it right now.

You can download the whole thing in exchange for an email address over at the Run the Jewels website, or if you’re the kind of person who pays for your music grab the physical release (a la carte or as part of plethora of bonus package options) here.

King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard – “I’m In Your Mind Fuzz”

The extremely prolific, Melbourne based, 7 piece psych outfit King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard are set to release their 5th record (in 2 years), I’m In Your Mind Fuzz, on 11/11 via Castle Face Records stateside (Heavenly in Europe and Flightless in Australia).

Self-described as “completely fried theremin wielding psychopaths,” I could attempt to describe their fuzz filled fantasy myself although Jon Dwyer (Thee Oh Sees frontman and Castle Face founder) has done it best…

“this Australian beast of a band with a bear of a name and a thick herd of band members delivers many things to us on this warped song cycle – a skeleton of propulsive kraut-beat fleshed out with a liberal dose of citric sweetness, flutes and harmonicas bleeding through the mix often and welcomingly, tons of wah and a hero’s journey/Heavy Metal early 80’s fantasy sort of vibe, and many lovely left turns into psychedelic mellowing, both groovily and sometimes with just a dash of DMT dread. The whole thing is just gooey with tape manipulations, phase shifts, and saturations, but there are clearly many tasty tidbits that bubble to the top, and they’re sticky.”

yep…that about covers it.

PREORDER  I’m In Your Mind Fuzz here and check out their US tour below

King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard – God is Calling Me Back Home (off 2013′s Float Along – Fill Your Lungs)

King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard – Sleepwalker (off 2014′s Oddments)

10/13 Brooklyn, NY- Baby’s All Right ^
10/14 Boston, MA – Great Scott ^
10/15 Montreal, QC- Il Motore $
10/16 Toronto, ON- The Garrison $
10/17 Cleveland, OH- Happy Dog $
10/18 Chicago, IL- Subterranean $
10/19 Buffalo, NY- Tralf Music Hall $
10/20 Baltimore, MD- Golden West $
10/21 Philadelphia, PA- North Star Bar $
10/23 Kingston, NY – BSP Lounge ^
11/04 New York, NY – Terminal 5 *

* w/ Mac DeMarco, Connan Mockasin
$ w/ White Fence
^ w/ White Fence, Juan Wauters

 

FKA Twigs – “LP1″

At this point there probably isn’t a lot left to be added regarding this—it’s even been reviewed by Gawker for fuck’s sake. It is, however, a masterpiece and will most certainly make it to our end-of-list, so it feels kind of necessary to acknowlege.

The backstory behind Tahliah Debrett Barnett, the artist Formerly Known As Twigs or FKA Twigs is that she is a gymnast who apparently used to work as a backup dancer in music videos. Then in 2012 she self-released an EP, EP1, via Bandcamp. The release caught the ear of the A&R guys at Young Turks (home to Jamie xx, SBTRK and many more), who promptly signed her and released a second EP in 2013, the excellent EP2 (featured on DecibelCast Vol. 18), which was a collaborative effort with formidable Venezuelan bass experimentalist Arca. The EP and its leading single “Water Me” generated a ton of internet hype, which set the stage for a year of hype. When it did finally drop earlier this month, LP1 lived up to the hype and then some.

Stretching and contorting the pop music ethos to the edge of what seems possible, LP1 is as daring a pop record as you’re likely to find anywhere. Twigs’ ferbile vocal delivery comes wrapped in an icy veneer, which eventually melts giving way to a vulnerability as fragile as the newly fallen snow. And while her voice is definitely the distinguishing feature which binds the record together, it’s the music crafted around her, and how she interfaces with it that makes for such a rich and singular sonic experience.

Absorbing bits and pieces of various mainstream pop and much of cutting edge, underground electronic music, the studio wizards behind LP1 run these disparate elements through a complicated chain of effects processing and spit out some post-modern cubist approximation of R&B/club music—a synth-heavy juggernaut, densely atmospheric, with huge oscillating low end and multifaceted rhythms that splay outward with skittering trap-like percussion that seems to materialize and fall to pieces. The processing extends to her vocals as well, which are doubled, and pitched and twisted and warped until they become just another strange feature of the alien landscape.

Essential listening for 2014.

“Two Weeks” from LP1

“Pendulum” from LP1

“Water Me” from EP2

Twigs is also, apparently, an accomplished video director and producer. Here are some videos she’s been involved in:

Shabazz Palaces – “Les Majesty”

Sophomore albums can be tricky business, particularly when the record to be followed up on is as brazenly and uncompromisingly brilliant as Black Out (SubPop), which dropped on an unsuspecting world with the force and precision of a laser guided-missile. It was, simply put, a revelation. There was nothing at the time even remotely like it.

So the challenge in these types of situations is always: “How to meet expectations without just rotely rehashing what worked in the past?”, but pulling this off requires a deft balancing act, which all-too-frequently can’t be maintained by the heretofore celebrated act. (It doesn’t help that we, as a culture, so enjoy holding our idols aloft only to tear them down as soon as they misstep.) Fortunately for us (and also for them I guess), Shabazz Palaces avoided all that shit, by doubling down on what made them so great in the first place: their eclectic and unabashed weirdness—a wellspring that has proven remarkably deep. The Seattle-based duo went even further out on their trip and in the process created a record that while demanding becomes, upon repeated listens, a thoroughly satisfying sonic experience.

Shabazz Palaces tearing up the New Parish (Oakland CA) on July 29, 2014

Expansive and (let’s be honest) obtuse at times, Les Magestey contains most of what was great about Black Outthe mystic imagery, the Afro-futurist motifs, the startling attention to texture and detail—but as an album, is paced much differently.  The “songs” are shorter and more numerous, blending together with dream-like interludes, creating larger “movements.” The atmosphere is denser and weirder. And the beats slink along rather than smacking the listener upside the head.

I caught these guys in Oakland a couple of weeks ago, and fuck it might have been the best show I’ve seen all year. (Here’s some video courtesy of YouTube user Johnohnoh)

You can purchase Les Majesty here, and check out some of the songs below.

Shabazz Palaces – Motion Sickness from Tourist on Vimeo.

Woods – “With Light and With Love”

I believe that I can safely say all of us here at DECIBELity love this band, and yet somehow to the best of my knowledge we’ve never shown them any of it.

That changes now.

Simply put, these guys are a force of nature. Anchored by singer/guitarist Jeremy Earl’s impressive songwriting and distinctive falsetto, the Brooklyn-based outfit has been averaging about an album a year since forming in 2005–and amazingly they all have been quality. What’s more, they run their own record label, Woodsist, which is excellent and organize a music festival of the same name every year.   And, on top of all of that, they’re one of the best live bands in the game.

Seriously. I recently caught them again (for like the third time) and they were smashed it! They were vice-grip tight as they ran through a range of material from their catalog, even though the monitor engineer kept fucking up and they couldn’t hear themselves very well.

One of the great things about this band is how versatile they are: Their sound effortlessly incorporates the best aspects of pop, folk, Americana and psychedelic rock–hell they even get a little jammy from time to time.

Their latest album, With Light and With Love, released earlier this year on their own Woodsist imprint, actually took a little while to fully grow on me. Fortunately when a band has the kind of track record that these guys do, I’m going to keep listening until I until I get the full effect.

Great band. Great album. Get it here

Also, they’ll be touring in the states for the rest of this month, before leaving for an extended tour of Europe.

08-14 San Diego, CA – Casbah w/ Little Wings ***
08-16 Pioneertown, CA – Woodsist Festival Pioneertown ***
08-17 Phoenix, AZ – Crescent Ballroom ***
08-19 Marfa, TX – El Cosmico
08-20 Austin, TX – Holy Mountain
08-21 Baton Rouge, LA – Spanish Moon
08-22 Chattanooga, TN – Sluggo’s

GOLD ZEBRA – GOLD ZEBRA

GOLD ZEBRA

I’ve really been enjoying this dark, synth heavy wave of music for a little while now with artists like Chromatics and Polica.  One group that hasn’t gotten enough recognition though is GOLD ZEBRA.  They are a girl/boy duo from Montreal and they released their self titled album a few months back on Visage Musique.  The album is full of synthesizer melodies, simple beats and rich spacey vocals and it kinda feels like driving down a dark desert highway with no end in sight.  It’s worth a listen if just for the next long nighttime drive you might take.

Check out some of my favorite tracks and videos below and check out their bandcamp to get the album here.

GOLD ZEBRA – Apart Again

GOLD ZEBRA – Everything Beautiful Is Transient

 

Lone – “Reality Testing”

Matt Cutler has been recording under his Lone moniker since at least 2007. In that time, he has carved something of a niche for himself, developing a style that fuses ’90s golden-era hip-hop production with fat analog techno.

Reality Testing, his latest offering, released via R&S Records earlier this summer, is the most fully realized incarnation of Lone sound.

Besides playing nicely as an album (as opposed to merely a collection of tracks) it manages a to deftly balance decorum and functionality, effortlessly jumping back and forth between glowing electro-infused boom-bap and vintage Chicago house music.

Even when he’s in full-on dance mode, the rhythms remain interesting, slightly off-kilter, syncopated with a tilted swing anchored by throbbing analog bass lines and a colorful array of synthesized melodies.

“I think there’s always been a connection with certain house and hip-hop tunes, or any electronic music for that matter. I’m always drawn to any form of electronic music that has the rawness of hip-hop production,” Lone recently told Resident Advisor.

Here are a few previews from Reality Testing.

And here is his Resident Advisor podcast showcasing the primary musical influences behind behind the album.

RA Podcast Episode 420 Lone

Tracklist 
Kenji Kawaii – Unnatural City 2
Tha Alkaholiks – Killin’ It
Mobb Deep – Temperature’s Rising
Ghetto Concept – Much Love (Instrumental)
Pete Rock feat. Method Man – Half Man, Half Amazin’
Gangstarr feat. Inspektah Deck – Above The Clouds
Klear Soul Forces – Get No Better
Hieroglyphics – You Never Knew
Lone – 2 Is 8
Boards Of Canada – Opening The Mouth
Theo Parrish – Lost Angel
Urban Beat Dance – Urban Dust
Anthony Naples – Tusk
Seven Davis Jr – Celebrations (Funkineven Edit)
Brawther – Spaceman Funk (Deep Club Mix)
Brownstone Express – Metro
Omar S – Set It Out
Jtc – South Brooks
Greg Beato – Pma

Todd Terje

DJ/producer/remixer Terje Olsen, who records as Todd Terje (a play on the name of house legend Todd Terry), has been steadily releasing records since 1999, and moving crowds for longer than that. As the youngest member of Norway’s “space disco” trifecta  Terje was perhaps lesser known than fellow countrymen LindstrØm and Prins Thomas.

His profile began to rise In the early aughts as he began to release a series of quality re-edits of obscure disco tunes, edits which found their way into many a DJ’s record bag.

In the last few years however, it’s been original productions that have been turning heads (and moving feet), as Terje has dropped bomb after bomb on clubland seemingly without missing a beat (pun intended)

The sound Terje has perfected is eminently dance-able, fusing hot and cold elements–funky tropical percussion with icy melodies courtesy of a variety sweet vintage synthesizers from the ’70s and 80s.

His official debut It’s Album Time released on his own Olsen Records imprint is actually largely a collection his previous singles, like “Inspector Norse” and “Swingstar”, that have been strung together into a seamless DJ-like blend, with the newer, generally more mellow songs acting like interludes.  There’s a conscious retro campiness that pervades the album neatly summed up by the comical lounge lizard cover art. He even covers Robert Palmer – Robert Palmer.

 
Here are a bunch of his more popular tracks– all are certified bangers, take your pick.

Todd Terje – ”Inspector Norse”

Todd Terje – ”Swingstar I & II”

Todd Terje – ”Q”

Todd Terje – ”Spiral”

Todd Terje – “Delorean Dynamite”

Todd Terje & LindstrØm – “Lanzarote”

And here are a few of the aforementioned reedits:

José Gonzalez – “Killing for Love” (Todd Terje Brokeback Mix)

Studio – “Life’s a Beach” (Todd Terje Beach House Mix)

KC & The Sunshine Band – “I Get Lifted” (Todd Terje Re-Edit)

Canned Heat – “Wanda Rode Again” (Todd Terje aka Wade Nichols Edit)

Alex G – “DSU”

Philadelphia resident, Alex G is set to release his first, physical, full length DSU via Orchid Tapes june 17th. The first pressing sold out in 11 hours and it’s understandable why. His music has weaved its way through the internets for several years now and is finally getting the physical treatment it deserves. His bleak, introspective lyrics ride gently above electronic texture and layered within lathargic guitar work. It’s masterful lo-fi weirdness. You can find his previous 11 albums in digital form at his bandcamp.

 

pre-order DSU here.  As of now the second pressing is still available but grab it quick.