If you’ve misplaced the Knife in all the mist, turn back and find their best half in a new guise as Fever Ray
. Karin Elisabeth Dreijer Andersson nurtures her solo beats and breaths with great care, giving cavern ghosts a black-hole heartbeat, a beat and pace that LCD Soundsystem’s 45:33
wields so well. Or, should Joanna Newsom’s folk harmonies find you mud-stuck, take Anni Rossi
’s hand and venture elsewhere, with a fresh breeze behind you.
The signal that above comparisons emit is weak, but amongst Hope and downward slopes
, they give our adventure a keener sense of direction, suggesting we make for the horizon, especially in the roughest seas. Animal Collective have lit clouds that will burn and color my year, so I ask a lot of the rest. But it’s folly to critically compare, or assign points. Sometimes we just need new faces to challenges us, move us, and make us move.
Weathering the storm in the harbor, keeping everyone safe? Then choose Emmy the Great’s
sweet London folk music that isn’t really anti-anything. Or choose Morrissey
. We love Morrissey. Neither are safe or middle of the road. They are uncomplicated, trusted, and utterly enjoyable; the sort of anchors we need from time to time. —Mike Smith
Animal Collective have a new album and we have a new year. It’ll take a while to get to grips with both, so I’m jumping in, spread-eagle, and soaking it up; hesitation and caution are bad resolutions. “My Girls” is all purple lightening, Koyaaniqatsi
scenery and soundtrack, magic carpets. It wipes memory of 2008 not with a blinding light, but a haze of glittery samples and drummed thunder. Bubbles of synth burst at the speed of two handclaps as the flesh drips and the metal body is revealed: pulsating, chanting, living. Just don’t call Merriweather Post Pavilion your album of 2009
. Bide your time. Pounce in late spring. (Not in January when comparisons to Tropicalia
seem alien and wrong.) —Mike Smith
It’s well known how you blow up a computer: You give it conflicting information until it can no longer process what you’re saying, until its motherboard eventually fries up and explodes. Ain’t Nobody Straight in LA does the very same thing, only to the human mindsee, for example, how the brain reacts to the first verse of the song.
Ain’t nobody straight in LA.
Oh, this song came out in 1975. They must be talking about drugs; as in, nobody’s straight, everybody’s on drugs.
It seems that everybody is gay.
Wait, never mind.
Homosexuality is a part of society.
It’s an enlightened view, at least.
I guess that they need some more variety.
Actually, that’s kind of mean.
Freedom of expression is really the thing.
Is it getting warm inside this skull?
The lyrics then switch to Spanish, and if that’s not enough, the song ends with dialogue between the band members, who are arguing whether or not they should go to a gay bar. The argumentin an extraordinary example of sticking with the concepttrades back and forth and back and forth, until: Blammo.
» Hear the Miracles at Marathonpacks
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Not all songs that continuously morph have to melt your brain. In fact, some can be downright pleasing. Take the OhSees’ The Dumb Drums, for example. Subtle vocal effects come at you from almost every direction, and the only thing you can expect from this song is the oddly reassuring guitar/drum chug-along combo. Otherwise, the vocal squiggles and lead-guitar tangents are working on unexpected levels. It’s really a lovely song, though.
» Hear the OhSees at Said the Gramophone
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She’s back, and in a band, the Sky Drops, and you only think they’re shoegazersbut did shoegazers ever use a flange effect quite like on Now Would Be? No, they did not, not quite like this. Pleasantly dissonant.
» Hear the Sky Drops at My Old Kentucky Blog
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At some point and somewhat silently, Animal Collectivewhose Feels was one of the very best albums of 2005
released a white-label, seven-inch record (read: rare!) with a Stevie Wonder mix of their own: The Purple Bottle on one side and a cover of Nirvana’s Polly on the other. The former is practically the same as the already top-notch track, though with a choice lyrical insertion at one point; the latter, however, is the real surprise: Tense like a highwire, it practically redefines the original.
» Hear Animal Collective at Skatterbrain
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Anyone can do a cover version. How good it is, however, is a matter of discussion
. And how many covers of Pixies songs must there be by now? And how many of them are faux celebrity versions? For example, a cover of Hey, if it were performed by Princeand, based on what happens during and after the breakdown, the Revolution.
» Hear Matthew’s Celebrity Pixies Covers at rbally
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As Music for Robots attests, Call Around You from Certified Bananas sounds like Tortoise meets Usher, and I don’t believe a more accurate description is possible. Don’t be skeptical, though: On paper Tortoise meets Usher does sound like just another in a long line of ironic mash-ups, but the result couldn’t be further away: It’s a natural, soulful combination of influences.
» Hear Certified Bananas at Music for Robots