Depending on how you track Tim Cohen’s prolific songwriting, Luck Man is either his first solo record or his fourth. This is a testament to the number of monikers that Cohen has used over the years to release the range of psych-inflected pop that has made him one of the pillars of San Francisco’s musical community....more
“When asked (about our newest album Oczy Mlody) what does your new stuff sound like..?? My current response has been that it sounds like Syd Barrett meets A$AP Rocky and they get trapped in a fairy tale from the future.” It’s Wayne Coyne himself, penning those words in the official press release for his Flaming Lips’s newest album, Oczy Mlody, out last Friday from Warner Bros....more
In the best collaborations, creative individuals push themselves to work with new media and singular, wild things issue forth. Jeff Antebi of Waxploitation Records has managed to create just this kind of magic in his book, Stories for Ways and Means....more
The Defibulators are the rootsiest bluegrass outfit to come stomping out of Brooklyn, New York, in a long time—perhaps ever. Named by VICE Music as “Brooklyn’s kings of alt-country, minus the ‘alt,'” The Defibulators’ sound has been described as truckerpunk, Americana, citibillie… the list goes on....more
The diversely talented Donald Glover has gained a following in almost every artistic arena, from stand-up comedy, to sitcoms, to film and music. First making a name for himself as a writer for the smart and funny NBC program 30 Rock, Glover went on to star in Community and the FX series Atlanta....more
What sets Bazan apart from artists like Sufjan Stevens and Death Cab for Cutie is his willingness to get a little darker and more intimate while evoking the pathetic ironies that come from the most poetic Elvis Costello lines and the most hard hitting from the late Vic Chesnutt lyrics.
As 2016 draws to a close, it is a time for both endings and beginnings. The electric folk of Big Thief is well-suited to such introspective moments—tinged with sepia-toned nostalgia and a shy sweetness that suggests hope for the future. Their gentle, unhurried song “Paul”—off their critically welcomed record Masterpiece—perfects the dual flavors of sweetness and bitterness while letting in flashes of self-deprecating humor....more
Soul—that mysterious orientation towards the world that seems to be frequently accompanied by a larger-than-life personality—is probably the first word that comes to mind when one thinks of Clarence Carter, that bombastic and passionate artist whose timeless music still echoes across the airwaves and our collective memory....more
In it, the French musician, who worked with Yann Tiersen and Radiohead, among others, reworks the score and soundtrack for F....more
One of the most entertaining things about the early days of recorded jazz music is the clever way musicians worked around the conservative mores of the time. The well-loved etymologist William Safire, in a 2002 article, diligently attempts to decode the playful gibberish sung so beautifully by Nat King Cole in his suggestive tune, “The Frim Fram Sauce,” only to shrug, in the end, and concede that it’s probably “about sex.” You can almost hear the smirk in Cole’s silky smooth voice as he sings:
I don’t want French fried potatoes, red ripe tomatoes
I’m never satisfied.
It’s getting to be year-in-review season, the time when everyone sits back and catalogs the songs that blew their minds, the album art that inspired the most memes, the top five tracks that clearly violated copyright, the ten best songs for driving down the highway in a little rain, but not a lot, like maybe it’s just misty?...more
“Rhythm is the rebel,” Chuck D raps on “Louder Than A Bomb,” one of many outstanding tracks from Public Enemy’s touchstone 1988 record, It Takes a Nation of Millions to Hold Us Back. Of all the controversial and heartfelt statements made on this widely acclaimed and influential album, this is perhaps the most telling, as DJ Terminator X’s raw backbeat—a sound now associated immediately with hip-hop music—and dissonant horn samples signal right away to the listener that the genre’s longtime association with party music was evolving rapidly into a musical protest against systemic racism, poverty, state surveillance, and the militarization of police....more
Amidst writing, producing, and starring in the FX series Atlanta and being cast to portray a young Lando Calrissian in an upcoming Star Wars installment, Donald Glover took some time to return to his Childish Gambino persona and has released one of the most interesting album of 2016....more
If A Tribe Called Quest had to make one final statement, a boisterous, politically conscious, and funky record would be the most fitting way to do so. We Got It from Here… Thank You 4 Your Service was released on November 11, 2016, eighteen years after Tribe’s last album and only a few months after the death of founding member, Malik “Phife Dawg” Taylor....more
Embers, directed by Claire Carré, has received a long list of awards for the ingenious way in which it employs a sci-fi landscape to explore memory and what we would be—as humans, as partners, as higher thinking beings—without it. The film’s score was created by Kim Henning and Shawn Parke, multi-genre composers living in Portland who have found the beautiful place inside eeriness....more
When it comes to musical legacies, Detroit’s is singular: talking about “Detroit sound” can refer to a jump into Motown’s soul vibes or a dive into the roots of techno’s hammering basses, two apparently distant and antipodal hearts that have more in common than we might think....more
Maybe growing up with a father who was a Jehovah’s Witness caused Charlyn Marie “Chan” Marshall to develop a sensitivity to the plight of the unlucky and underprivileged. Then again, Marshall, who is widely known by her stage name Cat Power, might also have an artist’s innate empathy and receptiveness to others’ pain—something that we, as a nation, could stand to develop ourselves....more
If you were asked to name a Los Angeles solo musician who published his notable, kaleidoscopic debut album—made of orchestral arrangements, train noises, great melodies, and experimental cut-ups—in his mid twenties, after years and years of writing, chances are high you’d properly answer “Van Dyke Parks.” But now, there’s another artist who fit this description: Alex Izenberg....more
The passing of songwriter Leonard Cohen last Thursday added another mournful chapter to an already difficult week. The prolific and underrated artist—most famous, perhaps, for his aching ballad “Hallelujah,” popularized by John Cale, Rufus Wainwright, and Jeff Buckley—had a long career of ups and downs....more
This week, Flying Nun is reissuing work by the Features, particularly 1980’s X-Features. Besides the fact that the record is some great post-punk, Raven Sings the Blues did a fine job of highlighting their importance in terms of time and place:
The band acted as an angular and jagged counterpoint to the majority of Kiwipop’s more jangled stable of players and in some ways ushered in a focus on post-punk in the [New Zealand] scene.