The title of Four Tet's new album refers to its two extended tracks, split into a "Morning" and "Evening" side. The release provides dueling meditations that are indeed best listened to at the time period they're ascribed. "Morning" moves with purpose on a skittering beat, but its sampled Indian singer and undulating synth tones feel like they're gently nudging you awake. As such, the 20-minute track evolves and begins piling on more geometric synth runs and string drones about halfway through, seeming to take flight as the beat slowly dials down to just a bass pulse and then nothing at all. "Evening" by comparison, begins more amorphously, unmoored without a beat, its vocal more divided, but it is no less affecting as its tones blink in and out of focus and its arrangement becomes more apparent. Given the suggestive nature of the song title, "Evening's" high-end notes call to mind the sight of stars and sound of nocturnal birds and insects, while its whooshing cymbal sound soothes. Like its predecessor, the track evolves and becomes more saturated with sound about halfway through before becoming more minimalist, its swaying synths evoking a dream state, though a heavy, thudding beat that emerges free of tones suggests nighttime hedonism or a mind-clearing erasure that comes with sleep. As a kind of concept album about how we begin and end our days, Morning/Evening is totally successful. It could be ideal for winding up or down, accompanied by yoga, meditation or quiet listening, but it also stands on its own as an intriguing pair of sound pieces that can be explored at leisure.
Listening to OOFJ feels like watching a film noir from the future. Melodramatic strings, bubbling electronic beats and Katherine Mills-Rymer’s desperately breathy vocals come together for a sound that wouldn’t feel out of place in a new David Lynch or Roman Polanski film. That’s not accidental—while you could draw comparisons to bands like Portishead and Goldfrapp, the band’s composer, Jenno Bjornkjaer, has worked on film scores like Lars Von Trier’s Melancholia, during which he met his musical and romantic partner in Mills-Rymer. The debut album from OOFJ (which stands for “orchestra of Jenno”) pulls heavily from filmic inspiration but manages to put that into four-minute electro-pop songs that are heady and addictively catchy in equal doses.
I took a minute to speak with the duo before their performances at Amoeba Hollywood July 23 at 6 p.m. and their slot playing Amoeba Music’s curated Red Bull Sound Select show July 30 at the Echoplex with Baths and Wrestlers (click here to RSVP).
L.A. experimental singer/songwriter Julia Holter has announced a new album called Have You in My Wilderness, due Sept. 25 on Domino. It's the follow-up to 2013's excellent Loud City Song. The first track is called "Feel You," debuting a sound that's a bit warmer and more open for Holter, though there's still plenty going on beneath the surface—a layering of sunlit strings and harpsichord make the bed for a syncopated beat and Holter's clipped observations and spoken-word bits to skip through. It's just as expressive and sweet as that little dog's face in the video for the song, directed by Jose Wolff, that premiered today on Pitchfork.
Wand – “Stolen Footsteps”
One of our favorite garage-rock bands, Wand, already put out an excellent album this year called Golem, but they’re back at it again with a new album called 1000 Days, which will be released Sept. 25 and will be their Drag City debut. From the sound of “Stolen Footsteps,” the L.A./S.F. band has made some major overhauls to their sound, eschewing the huge distortion of previous albums in favor of floral analog synth runs and gently psychedelic melodies, coming off like The Kinks jamming with Berlin-era Bowie.
Now that the year is officially half over, we’re checking back over the albums that have been released thus far in 2015. Maybe all of this will change in six months, but for now, here are the albums I’ve been most excited about this year. We’d love to hear some more under-the-radar albums that came out this year that haven’t been as covered by the blogosphere, so please leave a comment and suggest some more picks.
The former Fleet Foxes drummer has put out the most emotionally manipulative album of 2015, and that’s a good thing. Songs like “Chateau Lobby #4 (in C for Two Virgins)” are all sweeping melodrama on the surface, horns and strings and Southwest jangle decorating Joshua Tillman’s sonorous voice, but his words destroy the superficial veneer the handsome troubadour puts out on first blush, sneaking snarky lines into a love song to his new wife (“I wanna take you in the kitchen/Lift up your wedding dress someone was probably murdered in”). Songs like “The Night Josh Tillman Came to Our Apt.” and “Nothing Good Ever Happens at the Goddamn Thirsty Crow” dismiss young would-be groupies with borderline arrogance (the oft-quoted “She says, like literally, music is the air she breathes/And the malaprops make me want to fucking scream”), Tillman’s use of detail flip your impression of him from douche to annoyingly charming dude who’s just telling it like it is. And as the album progresses, Tillman’s observations turn more self-effacing, and his pathos makes for some brutally candid moments—“Bored in the U.S.A.’s” white people problems are played for literal laughs, and the self-loathing present beneath the beard transcends its trappings and becomes entirely relatable. It’s also a great love album because it’s romantic but doesn’t sugarcoat shit, starting semi-sarcastically using the pet name “honeybear” and later featuring the line “Maybe love is just an economy based on resource scarcity/What I fail to see is what that’s gotta do with you and me.” There have easily been more sentimental singer/songwriter releases in 2015, but Tillman’s cynicism feels like the most honest thing I’ve heard this year.
If you needed any convincing that Beach House is one of the best bands on the planet, their new song "Sparks" is a strong argument. Ever since their first of two masterpieces was released, 2010's Teen Dream, every new song and album by the Baltimore duo feels like an event. After announcing weeks ago that Depression Cherry, their fifth album and first since 2012's Bloom, would be released Aug. 28 on Sub Pop, we've been waiting with bated breath to hear a new song, and now we've finally got it. "Sparks" first premiered first on a Spanish radio show RTVE and has now been made available to stream via YouTube:
I keep listening to it over and over again to figure out what the hell is going on. That first blast of heavily saturated guitar and Victoria Legrand's layered vocals portend something special, which is just what we get with this gorgeous track. Legrand's organ and voice drone in perfect unison over a corroded digital beat, while Alex Scally's guitar's lay back and add small bits of texture, unleashing that volcanic noise again at select moments. Legrand's voice is more restrained than on previous singles, heavily breathy like My Bloody Valentine's Bilinda Butcher but with her same unmistakable husky tone, which comes through more clearly as the song progresses.The chorus is subtle but lovely, like Neil Young by way of Broadcast, but the best bits are the details—that skip in the beat right before the chorus, those high sliding guitar notes that sound like reverb-drenched shooting stars. It's somewhat long and amorphous but never outstays its welcome. You could listen for days and find new things to like about it.