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Listening

The February 2008 Leak Report

Although it’s formally considered his side project, Bradford Cox has been involved in Atlas Sound far longer than he’s been recording with his better known outfit, Deerhunter. Started as an ongoing project with best friend Lockett Pundt in the sixth grade, Atlas Sound (named for the karaoke machine they recorded on) has probably matured a great deal since, but after two EPs the band’s first official album is out under the somewhat cloying title Let the Blind Lead Those Who Can See but Cannot Feel (Feb. 19). Whereas Deerhunter has a more traditional division of labor (drums, bass, guitars, etc.), Atlas Sound allows a much more spacey, less immediately cohesive ensemble. To say that the music is “dreamlike” is something of an understatement. It’s more like your dreams are wrapped in cotton and styrofoam and ripped on hydrocodone. It’s almost sickeningly ethereal. And there’s lots of bells and echo effects.

» Download “On Guard” or listen:


» Download “Small Horror” or listen:


Look musicians, it’s really not that hard to get on my good side. Take a cue from John Darnielle, singer/songwriter at the helm of folk-rock outfit the Mountain Goats. In 2002 he released an awesome CD named for and marginally concerning my hometown of Tallahassee, Fla., but he also joined and was allegedly kicked out of a Christian reggae group for trying to convince the members that H.P. Lovecraft’s “Cthulhu Mythos” was a reworking of the Books of Moses. Which could partly be where the title of his forthcoming album, Heretic Pride (Feb. 19), comes from. Darnielle’s nerdy tenor and stripped-down instrumentation make songs like “San Bernardino” and “New Zion” plenty affable, despite his defiant status with the church.

» Download “San Bernardino” or listen:


» Download “New Zion” or listen:


For a few years there, whenever I found myself out at a halfway decent dance club, I would invariably hear a song or two that would make me wanna get my swerve on. While trying desperately to keep the beastly urges to fornicate at bay, I’d ask the DJ what I was hearing. The answer was usually “Goldfrapp.” Since forming in 1999, members Alison Goldfrapp and Will Gregory’s cachet among electronic music fans has only grown. That may change, however, with the release of their new album Seventh Tree (Feb. 26), which is a return to the more ambient acoustic sounds and complex arrangements of their first (and least successful) album, Felt Mountain, both of which are not exactly dance-friendly. But maybe their fans will find they need something to listen to while sitting down? Or maybe people who don’t even like dance music will discover Goldfrapp? Stranger things have happened.

» Download “Little Bird” or listen:


» Download “Road to Somewhere” or listen:


After their self-titled first album was prominently ranked at number 16 in Pitchfork’s top 50 of 2006, Baltimore’s Beach House suddenly found themselves at the fuzzy, feckless center of indie darling-dom. Fitting their name, the music is blousy, strangely comfortable, and in no hurry to be anywhere else. Singer Victoria Legrand’s sultry, heavily reverbed vocals are lazily compelling, buoyed by her wavelike organ lines and Alex Scally’s warm, structuring guitar parts. While their upcoming release Devotion (Feb. 26) has the same seemingly effortless drift that warranted their initial popularity, it also adds depth with a slightly darker sound, haunting a once-carefree vacation home.

» Download “Heart of Chambers” or listen:


» Download “Some Things Last a Long Time” or listen:


More inclined to sample obscure jazz than his contemporaries, and citing James Brown as a principal influence, rapper/producer extraordinaire Pete Rock’s beats customarily have a more loungey, dusky feel than the bulk of mainstream hip-hop, but his mark on the genre is indelible. The artists he’s worked with since he started mixing at 17 on New York’s WBLS radio show “In Control With Marley Marl” reads as a who’s-who of East Coast rap, and his new album, NY’s Finest (Feb. 26), features such illustrious names as MF Doom, Redman, Jim Jones. and about half of the Wu-Tang lineup. With rhymes referencing my favorite show about good po-lice (“I’m’a bring the fire/the same one that knocked down the towers in The Wire”) and pacifically chill beats, this might be the first great hip-hop album of ’08.

» Download “We Roll (Feat. Jim Jones & Max B)” or listen:


» Download “’Till I Retire” or listen:


What can be said about Stephen Malkmus that hasn’t already been said? As frontman of the monumentally influential indie outfit Pavement, he practically invented the non-committal vocal delivery and garden-path lyrical meanderings that came to typify the genre. After Pavement went on hiatus in 1999, he formed the Jicks, whose fourth album, Real Emotional Trash (March 4)—like most of their work together—is more polished and has a strangely pleasant, prog/pop approach. Diehard fans, and they are legion, will absorb this record with relish.

» Download “Hopscotch Willie” or listen:


» Download “Gardenia” or listen:


biopic

TMN Editor Erik Bryan is living the dream. He grew up in Florida, but he’s from all over. He likes playing chess, making cocktails, smarting off, and not freezing to death in Brooklyn, where he currently resides. More by Erik Bryan

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