Under the overwhelming weight of an audacious album title like America, Dan Deacon has found an inexplicable spontaneity in a most exuberantly arranged pop record. The diverse connotations that America conjures is merely a foil for Deacon’s free-ranging creation of a world of density, expansiveness and childlike joy. The pace is blisteringly ADHD, with surprises at each corner flowing comfortably into each other. It’s addictive fun – just don’t read too much into it, and enjoy the ride for what it is. - Dan.
Adventures in Your Own Backyard, the homespun fourth album by Patrick Watson, finds the Canadian singer-songwriter and his bandmates expanding their joint creative discipline in the confines of their home studio. The result is a set of handcrafted songs that manage to sound intimate in spite of the somewhat mercurial quality of the musical arrangements. The waltzing grandeur of Adventures in Your Own Backyard bears the distinctive traits of Watson’s songwriting, yet the languorous song material chugs along with a confidence that infuses the album with a sense of discovery in every melodic detail. - Keith.
It’s All True, the luscious new Junior Boys album (their fourth), doubles as the kind of hauntingly beautiful breakup record made only for the introverted romantics who never quite believed in truly happy endings. While Jeremy Greenspan and Matt Didemus may be drawing from more disparate influences this time round (Orson Welles, Howard Hughes, their experiences in China), the nine new songs on It’s All True still retain that carefully nurtured sense of elegance and poise that have always set Junior Boys apart. On “Playtime”, fluid electronics and downbeat synth-pop melodies channel the familiar refrains of an aborted relationship, the same raptures repeated, the same melancholy dance around the work of time and memory (“It’s over so fast you never know how to feel“). - Keith.
And who shall go to the ball with this 20th century girl? Shrouded in mystery, our debutante Anna Calvi beckons you to hold her close every single hour while keeping you at arm’s length. Addressing you only with the vaguest of affections, Calvi orchestrates each flourish and whisper with the allure of a seasoned chanteuse. Sometimes, you find yourself wondering if she’s going through the motions, doing her thing because she knows full well what keeps you hooked. Most of the time, though, you’re simply too mesmerized to care. - Dan.
i don’t profess to know very much about electronica or dance music, but as a keen observer, i do notice how much seamless transition and progression are prized in the genre. at the same time, i can imagine how boring such pursuits could end up, and that’s probably why i’ve arrived at such an admiration for four tet‘s there is love in you. his first full-length album in five years, there is love in you exudes a restful calm that’s blissfully unconcerned with achieving these objectives; yet, in all its assured elegance, it surpasses all expectations in creating great dance music that surely isn’t just going through the motions. album centerpiece “sing” demonstrates this so wonderfully: although it seems to rely on a typical house beat, the backbone of the track is really a chopped up digital ringtone with seemingly little ambition. the simplicity, though, works like a charm, especially when supported by an ever evolving array of intricate samples that sound absolutely gorgeous at any one time. - dan.
it all begins with a dramatized re-enactment of post-9/11 mourning, where you’re coaxed repeatedly to just look around at the wreckage that surrounds you, no explanations given. in the cryptic world of these new puritans, this mise en scène is just one part of a bigger, undefinable puzzle of an album aptly known as hidden. yet, while their intentions and motivations seem impossibly obfuscated, the commentary embedded therein couldn’t have been colder and starker: it was september, harmful logic/ it was september, this is attack music. there doesn’t seem to be any trace of anger or sadness here, and even if there was, these emotions have probably been imprisoned beneath the pounding beats that seem wholly bent on the insistence and emphasis of those words and nothing else. you’d be bitterly disappointed if you’re looking for a unifying message beneath it all, but i suspect the lack of one reminds us plainly that the real tragedy lies in our helplessness in summoning an adequate response on our own. - dan.
where do i begin? it makes sense to start with how the song launches itself, with a loopy metronomic trail ala stereolab. but that doesn’t quite make sense until we fit in the breathtaking strings that swell and overflow, that burst forth with such grandeur and recede with such eloquence. and yet, all that would merely be sound and fury without the layers of narrative that truly embody this amazing track. lewis is the sole creation of owen pallett, who bestows upon his subject such freedom to roam; and while lewis is fully conscious of his state as a lowly, created being, as vector, muscle and bone, his existential self pushes on in rebellious escape from his maker, forgetting all the odds stacked against him and stubbornly holding on to whatever he’s got. if the old saying of letting someone go if you truly loved them sounds a little cliched, it’s because of how devastating true and tragic it must be. for owen pallett, it could only have been through love wholly and utterly surrendered that a masterpiece like this could find the strength to take a life of its own. - dan.
Dirty Projectors picks up where Talking Heads left off two decades ago in integrating the muscularity of rock with the liquidness of funk. It’s as if key Projector Dave Longstreth has taken to heart George Clinton’s advice, “Free your mind and your ass will follow”. The inquisitive spirit that pervades Bitte Orca is encapsulated in “Stillness is the Move”, where songcraft, arrangement, and production work together seamlessly. Electronic bass samples and acoustic drums join forces with double-tracked guitar, setting the scene for duelling diva vocals. Painting on the canvas of rock music, “Stillness is the Move” drips with African blues and RnB, recalling Ali Farka Touré’s guitar playing and Mariah Carey’s vocal acrobatics. Not since Radiohead’s Kid A has rock music been so consciously reconfigured. And it’s sooo motherfucking funky. - Song-Ming Ang.
the twists and turns of dirty projectors‘ bitte orca are nothing short of exhilarating, even when things get more sparse and minimal right in the middle of the album with a duet between amber coffman and an equally expressive string quartet. operatic without the distance usually associated with it, “two doves” is a platter of articulated loves both romantic and true, intensely adoring even in the face of daily failures, and emotively expansive amidst a sea of unspoken restraint. written when “the planets are aligning, for an afternoon that’s never ending“, it skips and hops and twirls with charm and poise, with remarkable ease and in perfect balance.
i was just checking out max tundra‘s promo mix (featuring choice cuts from his new album now out on domino records) when i heard that distinctive tribal chant at 4:19 – that unmistakable refrain from OOIOO‘s “umo”. it’s something you’ll never forget once you’ve heard it the first time. as i happened to mention this to kris from domino, he pointed out to me that what i heard was actually “secondo coro delle lavandale” composed by roberto de simone for the theatrical adaptation of the italian folk opera la gatta cenerentola (“cinderella the cat”) in 1975. the OOIOO version was in fact a more frantic cover of that neapolitan folk song, which sadly leaves out the climatic flute-led conclusion i’ve quickly come to love so much in the original.
sharon van etten:
Lately, I have been obsessed with this band from Montreal called Automelodi. I work at a record label (Ba Da Bing Records) and my boss, Ben, is constantly getting new records in. He knows I have a soft spot for 80s/90s post punk/early electro, vaguely alternative music... and so one day, he put on a Wierd Records compilation. It was a vinyl set of like 4 pieces or something. There were so many good bands on there... however, Automelodi stuck out in my mind as being an authentic, genuine, NON-cheesy version of the 80s I wish I was a part of. The song in particular that gets me going in the morning is called "Schéma Corporel".
mp3: automelodi - schéma corporel
bani haykal from b-quartet:
often enough, it’s the early morning rush which gets me excited about shutting my eyes. and by morning, we’re looking at the 4 a.m. time frame where all you hear is yourself in a foggy blur, thinking if sleep is really all that important because the early few are storming off for work. in all honesty, there is no ipod nor a single earplugging devicetron which i’d attend to. often enough, it’s someone else’s sonic leak i’m getting addressed by. but, i’m listening to Steely Dan’s “Babylon Sisters”. in my head, at least. sanity ‘from the point of no return’, personally. it’s a breath of fresh air. despite its age. everything is beautiful then.
mp3: steely dan - babylon sisters
naomi yang from galaxie 500:
The perfect song to start the day is “A Tonga Da Mironga Do Kabuleté” – the live recording from 1971 by Brazilian artists Vinícius + Bethania + Toquinho. It is like a beautiful sunrise – although I think that the lyrics are actually some sort of political commentary disguised as a Candomble/Afro-Brazilian curse – but whatever! And then you should just leave the CD on, and listen to the rest of the album while you have your coffee. And you will have a great day.
mp3: vinícius + bethania + toquinho – a tonga da mironga do kabuletê (live in buenos aires, 1971)
jamie stewart from xiu xiu:
i have a nico button on my guitar strap and her excess eyeliner has been burning the dirge "janitor of lunacy" into my waking ears as of late, at least 20 times in the last week. until yesterday we have been on tour in scandinavia, russia, poland, austria, germany and czech. these grey locations held hands with her harmonium perfectly.
mp3: nico - janitor of lunacy
justin ringle from horse feathers:
i have been obsessively listening and waking up to this tune by gillian welch called "annabelle". it's a song about a sharecropper in alabama and it is so sad, beautiful and timeless that I can't help but listen more than once in a row. the harmonies in the chorus make my hairs stand up... beautiful song.
mp3: gillian welch - annabelle
tracyanne campbell from camera obscura:
my favourite song at the moment is called 'one in a million' by steve miller. it's really beautiful. his voice is like honey in the sun and it totally melts my heart. the lyrics are quite simple and i guess
corny but it's a great tune and the production is so good it really doesn't matter. i wish i'd written it. in fact i'd love to do a cover version of it. i was recently in stockholm visiting my friend victoria (bergsman) from taken by trees and we were singing it in the flat and talked about recording it. watch this space...
mp3: steve miller band - one in a million
stuart murdoch from belle and sebastian:
every day when i leave the house and walk over the iron bridge and up to the glasshouses, i listen to “what for” by james. i have a habit of dropping back 20 years in my thoughts, and having a parallel soundtrack running in my head so that i may be walking in a street in 2008, but my head is in 1988. i don’t know why that is. this is an up and hopeful song of the period from a band i used to care for deeply.
as we slip into the autumn here, i am prepared to let my new song of obsession become “the game” by echo and the bunnymen.
“everybody’s got their own good reason why their favourite season is their favourite season”.
mp3: james - what for mp3: echo and the bunnymen - the game
alison eales from butcher boy:
I'm waking up to Labi Siffre, and wondering how I managed to stay asleep for so long. His songs are diverse, unpretentious, and performed with tangible joy. I'm literally waking up to him as well - I have 'It Must Be Love' set as my alarm, and it is proving to be a very nutritious musical breakfast.
mp3: labi siffre - it must be love
who we are
i love music, but i can't play it for the life of me, so i might as well try writing instead. hope you like it. i'm from singapore, where there really is good music if you look hard enough. i'd love to hear from you (yes, you): email@example.com
I'm a four stringing minstrel of doom, and hired gun for the odd band or two. Few things excite me more than music, and whiskey soaked vocals are a definite plus, so please be sure to send some my way. When I'm not contributing to I'm Waking Up To and MAP, you should follow my misadventures at http://litford.wordpress.com And yes! I'd love to hear from you too: firstname.lastname@example.org
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