Moon Duo – Circles
Echoes of Suicide, Silver Apples and Spacemen 3 emulate from Moon Duo’s big bad amplifiers, but the San Francisco band develops that into their own brand of psychedelia on Circles, their latest and finest release. The band, which consists of SF psych-rockers Wooden Shjips’ Erik “Ripley” Johnson on guitar as well as Sanae Yamada on keyboards, sounded great on previous releases when they let things fly into extended jam territory (as do Wooden Shjips), but they sound just as engaging in more bite-sized pieces, as on the darkly melodic “I Can See” and jangly title track, which lets just enough light in to help illuminate the rest of the album as a result. They still do motorized rock with Kraut beats like no other, as on songs like “I Been Gone,” but songs like the actually kind of dancey “Dance pt. 3” prove to be the perfect augment to their sound. Badass and no-nonsense, for sure, Circles captures Moon Duo at their best but allows them loosen up stylistically and have a little more fun at the same time.
Taken By Trees – Other Worlds
After leaving Swedish indie pop group The Concretes, Victoria Bergsman has straddled the line between conventional pop wisdom (her duet with Peter Bjorn & John, “Young Folks,” and covers of Animal Collective and Guns ‘N’ Roses) and more worldly aspirations. Other Worlds continues that tradition for Bergsman. Inspired by her travels to Hawaii, Other Worlds similarly concerns itself with one place, or one feel, rather than taking a pan-global approach (similarly to her last album, the Pakistan-influenced East of Eden), though Other Worlds doesn’t sound terribly Hawaiian as it does have a swaying, oceanic feel, like a dive captured in slow motion. “Dreams” beautifully floats into the ether on the strength of Bergsman’s nocturnal voice and chorus-heavy guitars. “In Other Words’” most notable feature is actually its country-inspired steel guitar, but the song’s slow jaunt and vaguely singsongy quality makes it feel like a codeine-fueled cover of a sea shanty. Thankfully Bergsman doesn’t allow her muse to overly rule or define her songs, and Other Worlds is quite distinct and varied, despite its understated island vibe. You forgive some of the seemingly cheesy elements of its theme, like the cutesy vibraphone and steel drums on “Pacific Blue,” because Bergsman weaves them into something unique and seamlessly ties them together with unrelated sounds. The album’s opening songs, for instance, build airy ballads over airy bedroom electronics and found sounds, which come back to the fore with the clanging “Not Like Any Other” and dubby beatwork of “Large,” both of which sound a bit like a chilled out Grimes. Like most of Bergsman’s work, Other Worlds is a feat of subtlety, but is nonetheless memorable, tuneful and easy to submerge yourself in.
The latest from the L.A. sound maestro features contributions from Erykah Badu, Laura Darlington, Niki Randa, Thundercat and Thom Yorke.
The Vaccines – Come of Age – Oct. 2
The second album from the NME-touted Brit punks.
Muse – The Second Law – Oct. 2
The Britpop group turned arena rockers’ next album may have an electro edge, given its first single, “Madness.”
This sumptuous, propulsive track comes from L.A. beat maestro Flying Lotus’ new album, Until the Quiet Comes, due Oct. 2 on Warp (preorder here). Expect more excellent pair-ups, such as another with Thom Yorke, on the album.
Deerhoof – “Fête d'Adieu”
So excited to share a new track from S.F.’s Deerhoof, one of my all-time favorite guitar bands. For a while there, it seemed minus guitarist Chris Cohen, the band was losing steam on the lackluster Deerhoof vs. Evil. “Fête d'Adieu” is very promising, however, employing the poppier balance of melodicism with awkward time signatures and chirpy vocals that they moved toward on the Cohen-less but still excellent Friend Opportunity. Here’s hoping Breakup Song is awesome! (Preorder the album here.)
Everything Flying Lotus does requires us to pay attention — not just because everything he touches, whether it be hosting excellent artists like Jeremiah Jae on his Brainfeeder label or his own work on albums like Comsmogramma, seems to be uniformly excellent, but because there’s a depth of complexity there that extends past sample-rap-repeat. This song for Adult Swim’s Singles Program features guest spots from Earl Sweatshirt and Captain Murphy — who is maybe Tyler, the Creator? So postulates Pitchfork, which may be true, since Captain Murphy was a character from the off-the-air animated series “Sealab 2021” whose original voice, Harry Goz, died in 2003. I love how it starts with this dream soul intro that completely cuts out twice before getting into trading codeine-fueled raps. Sounds like something that would have been concocted at the bottom of the sea, indeed! (Ugh.) Flying Lotus’ new album Until the Quiet Comes is due Oct. 1 on Warp Records, featuring guest spots by Thom Yorke, Erykah Badu and more.
Today (Feb 15th), San Francisco DJ/producer Mophono releases the genre pioneering new album Cut Form Crush on CB Records. On it, the artist presents the three genres he calls Dirt Wave, Thug Jazz, and Skip on Beat. Last year Mophono, who also goes by the name of DJ Centipede, did a record with a project called Mophono's Halftone Society on Bastard Jazz Records, a cool small label out of Brooklyn that another Bay Area DJ/producer/remixer DJ Platurn has also recently released a record through.
For Cut Form Crush, which should appeal to fans of instrumental hip-hop and glitch-hop type beats, Mophono is joined by San Francisco's MC Subverse on "Rep," the album's only non-instrumental track, and by famed LA producer Flying Lotus on the track "Cut Form Crunch." Another LA based DJ/production talent, Gaslamp Killer, will be joining Mophono, along with Citizen Ten, in San Francisco this weekend when the artist will be throwing a record release party for Cut Form Crush on Saturday, Feb 19th at SOM Bar. Meantime, the album (which will be released on both CD and vinyl) arrives in Amoeba Music today. Recently I caught up with Mophono to talk about the new record and his career to date.
Amoeblog: For those who don't know about you, can you give us some history about you as an artist, including releases that people should be aware of?
Mophono: I grew up DJ'ing hip-hop and instrumental, experimental, and electronic music at raves and underground warehouse parties throughout the Bay Area since 1995. Before that it was just a hobby that started from listening to shit like the Beastie Boys, EPMD, and the Art Of Noise. I also definitely was inspired by my older brother, who played me a lot of rap, punk and industrial music, sandwiched with my mother and father's psychedelic folk background.