On his gutsy, double-disc debut studio album, Long Beach rapper Vince Staples introduces the world at large to a tough, world-weary persona who at only 22 has seemingly been through enough drama to fill a book. “My pain is never over, pills ‘n’ potions pick me up” he declares on the gnarled beats of “Pick Me Up.” Atonal sound wails in the background of “Norf Norf” as Staples offers slice-of-life tales of growing up in gritty North Long Beach (“I ain’t never run from nothin’ but the police,” he says tellingly). There’s a nihilistic slant to everything Staples puts to tape, which extends even to more decadent party jams like “Loca” and “Dopeman” and love songs like “Lemme Know,” pairing lyrics like “I’ll be fightin’ for you” with “I love to see you cry.” Everything in Summertime ’06 sounds strangely disembodied and cynical, yet it’s not lacking in energy, as with single “Senorita,” on which No I.D.’s creeping production offers the ideal space for Staples’ grim verses and Future’s motoring chorus before morphing into an ’80s horror film-style breakdown. The album’s second disc is mellower, reveling in No I.D. and Clams Casino’s immersive production work; “Get Paid” and “Hang N’ Bang” are lively highlights. Though it’s a double-disc, Summertime ’06 doesn’t feel the slightest bit overstuffed, and we never lose sight of the man behind the rhymes.
Kisses – “A Groove”
Kisses are no longer as pregnant as this press photo shows—the real-life couple of Jesse Kivel and Zinzi Edmundson have a new baby boy, as Kivel told Hit City USA. But if you think parenthood would mellow the electronic pop project, think again—“A Groove” is as funky as anything the band has done. Kivel’s vocals dance around a relatively spare disco bassline and beat, coming in with some sunbaked guitars and synths for an ear-caressing chorus. It’s from their upcoming third album, Rest in Paradise, due later this year.
Tijuana Panthers – “Front Window Down” video
Tijuana Panthers have unveiled a video for their great new-wave surf song “Front Window Down,” along with details about their new album. Poster will come out Aug. 28 via Innovative Leisure. And this week we premiered our latest episode of “What’s In My Bag?” with the band. Watch both videos below.
Cold Showers - "Plantlife"
We were big fans of Cold Showers' debut record, Love and Regret, a rumbling, heavy run through gothy post-punk environs. The first thing we've heard from their new album, Matter of Choice, boasts bigger synths and cleaner production, pumping up the Highland Park band's sound till it's a hook-laden beast. On "Plantlife," Cold Showers reveal the pop heart that was always beating beneath the black shroud without losing an ounce of their estimable cool. Can't wait to hear the rest of this record, which is due Aug. 28 on Dais. Listen via Stereogum.
Double Duchess - "Bullshit"
This terrific cover of a Grace Jones B-side comes courtesy of S.F.'s Double Duchess, a queer production/performance art duo who replace the music of Jones' glam-disco original with hedonistic house beats that seem to emit sweat and smoke from the speakers. But as long as we're talking about Grace Jones, check out this video of her (I think) lip syncing to the original—watch that businessman clap while she dances on his fucking table. Can she just own a room or what? Listen to Double Duchess' version below via Pitchfork. The duo is holding a release party for its debut album, All Eyes on Me, next Thursday, June 25, at SF Oasis.
Michael Vidal is the thoughtful kind of songwriter and human being you don't encounter very often. Compared to his previous band, L.A. noise-rockers Abe Vigoda, his Dream Center EP is full of introspective tunes built on carefully constructed, textural guitars that build on where that band was headed on its last LP, the darkwave-inspired Crush. Vidal has been playing live shows now with a three-piece band as Dream Center has been recently reissued on LP and CD by Couple Skate. He'll be at Amoeba Hollywood for a performance June 18 at 6 p.m. I caught up with Vidal before the show to find out more about his writing process, Instagram art and the new album he's working on.
Are these mostly newer songs or did you originally write them with the intention of using them for Abe Vigoda? Is there a difference to how you wrote your parts of the songs with Abe and solo?
Vidal: The songs on Dream Center were all written for this new project, but many of them were written in this period of limbo and I wasn’t really sure what this new project was. It was kind of unclear what was going on with Abe Vigoda, but I had to keep writing and playing out. I knew these songs were different and were for me. The writing process of Abe Vigoda was extremely collaborative, incidental and kind of chaotic. I can’t write that way on my own. I write slowly and carefully now, which sounds boring but is actually way more fun.
Jaakko Eino Kalevi creates what could be called mystery pop. Like a distant Finish cousin to Ariel Pink, Kalevi’s dreamy tunes pulse with gently syncopated grooves, otherworldly synth bursts and a deeply intoning voice that gives his self-titled album a tinge of 4AD-style goth. Though Kalevi clearly has successfully digested albums by This Mortal Coil and Talk Talk, it’s also clear that he’s taken the time to develop his own sound, drawing from his moody ’80s predecessors, lacquering on some fashionably semi-ironic soft-rock sheen and hints of prog-rock and ’80s movie soundtracks, and coming out as a next-generation pop auteur with tunes as exotic as his vowel-friendly name. You might not know quite what Kalevi’s getting at, but his somewhat intangible nature is part of his appeal. The sultry “Say” and aerobic “Night at the Field” stand out from the crowd, but Jaakko Eino Kalevi is an incredibly warm and inviting listen from the top down. Curl up on Kalevi’s luxury sofa and let the magic happen.