Amoeblog

Album Picks: AlunaGeorge, Belle & Sebastian, The Dodos, Franz Ferdinand

Posted by Billy Gil, August 27, 2013 09:15am | Post a Comment

AlunaGeorgeBody Music

alunageorgeAlunaGeorge’s combination of The xx’s nighttime vibes with the coolness and precise beatwork of Aaliyah’s collaborations with Missy Elliott and Timbaland might seem like a mess on paper, but Body Music plays out more enjoyably than a thousand breathless, hypey articles could’ve predicted. Early singles “You Know You Like It” and “Your Drums, Your Love” appear here and are as silky smooth as ever, but the rest of Body Music impresses as well — I’m partial to the skittering R&B bounce of “Lost & Found.” Aluna Francis’ vocals are unassuming enough to pull of lines like “your body is like music, baby,” and George Reid’s production is plugged into modern trends — some vocal manipulation here and there, washed out ’80s synths aplenty — but he skillfully calls to mind late ’80s/early ’90s new jack swing in cadence and feel, without ever really appropriating those sounds, something easier said than done. And what’s more, Body Music comes off as pretty effortless and sexy, not cold and calculated. It’s is a rousing success, innovative and intriguing while remaining thoroughly pleasurable.

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Album Picks: Julia Holter, Earl Sweatshirt, Zola Jesus, No Age, Ty Segall, Crocodiles

Posted by Billy Gil, August 20, 2013 09:15am | Post a Comment

Julia Holter - Loud City Song

julia holter loud city song lp amoebaReading about the construction of a Julia Holter album is a bit like reading an art student's honors thesis — one album was built around a Greek tragedy; this one's loosely built around the musical Gigi. Listening, however, is another matter, and Loud City Song might be Holter's most transcendent statement yet. Her voice can come off as icy and ethereal, but on "World," it's firmly grounded and comes through with stunning clarity as she sings of urban melancholia — "what are you wearing? ... I live on the 5th floor of the apartment building ... what am I looking for in you? How can I escape you?" It feels like listening to snippets of phone conversations and thoughts from miles of anonymous citydwellers, while lush horns and harpsichord craft blankets of sound around her. "Horns Surrounding Me" begins with what sounds like someone being chased while she whispers paranoia before launching into a cold, pulsating orchestral pop number. Each of Loud City Song's pieces feels purposeful; you could write at length about each one, like how "He's Running Through My Eyes'" soft movements curl in unexpected ways, or how "In the Green Wild" counters its seemingly carefree, scat-like delivery and standup bass with dread-inducing strings and dark, descending backup vocals. Holter creates her own galaxy on Loud City Song, with each of its songs a strange, spinning planet of sound.

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Album Picks: Washed Out, Jagwar Ma, Valerie June, Medicine

Posted by Billy Gil, August 13, 2013 10:55am | Post a Comment
Washed Out - Paracosm
 
washed out paracosmWashed Out's third album takes the poolside chillwave of Ernest Greene's previous releases and expands it into a psychedelic wonderland of sound. You can picture the paisley and swirling visuals of a song like "It All Feels Right" in its first bars, but Greene's songs aren't loaded with a generic '60s feel. They come to life with the intricate detail Greene slowly pours onto these songs like honey — "It All Feels Right" might be just a handful of chords and simple melody on the surface, but decayed samples, tremeloed vocals, bird chirps and hints of sitar make up a menagerie of sounds to tickle your ear. Songs like "Don't Give Up" return the hip-hop beats and lite funk bass to the mix. "Weightless" lives up to its name as slow-motion dream-pop in which emotions are suggested rather than felt directly, sounding a bit like an electronic version of a Julee Cruise song. The album pulls back into focus with "All I Know," whose jangling guitars and ascendant melodies carry the emotional uplift of U2 or recent M83 yet with Greene's traditional laidback stance, marking among Greene's best yet. Some of Paracosm gets a bit murky in its second half, but Greene is still an expert at pairing atmosphere with pop rooted in various eras and genres. Whether he's vibing '80s synth-funk, hippie-era sentiment or shoegazing solitude, Paracosm is miraculously seamless and enjoyable throughout.

Washed Out Paracosm CD $12.98
Washed Out Paracosm LP $19.98
 

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Album Picks: Pond, Minks, Pop. 1280, Blondes

Posted by Billy Gil, August 6, 2013 08:30am | Post a Comment

Pond - Hobo Rocket

pond hobo rocketBadass Zeppelin riffs barrel through guitar wash on "Whatever Happened to the Million Head Collide," the opening song on Pond's psychedlic, thrilling Hobo Rocket. Three members of fellow Aussie psych poppers Tame Impala and a revolving cast of others make up the amorphous pool that is Pond. The freewheeling nature of these songs reflects an obvious decision on the part of Pond's members to let loose and have a good time, but Pond's songs aren't messy or showy. "Xanman" is as catchy as anything in Tame Impala's catalog, those volcanic riffs burning into your skull as Nick "Paisley Adams" Allbrook screams about the guy who visits you in your sleep and other trippy ephemera. Though they touch on the psych greats of the past — "O Dharma" is a bit of Beatles fun circa Maharishi — the album doesn't feel too derivative. And anyway, Pond is more about the performances. The guitarists harmonize their notes like angels in the dreamier moments and duel like titans when they go full-bore, while Allbrook can coo like MGMT's Andrew VanWyngarden and screech like a Norse black metal singer. Even while seeming like the recordings of a bunch of friends hanging out for a bit and having some fun, Hobo Rocket is one of the best psychedelic rock releases of the year.
 
Pond Hobo Rocket CD $11.98
Pond Hobo Rocket LP $18.98

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Album Picks: Hiatus Kaiyote, Alela Diane, Raw Geronimo

Posted by Billy Gil, July 30, 2013 10:51am | Post a Comment

Hiatus Kaiyote - Tawk Tomahawk

hiatus kaiyoteYou'd be forgiven for scratching your head upon first listen of Hiatus Kaiyote's Tawk Tomahawk. The Australian band doesn't really sound like anyone else, although there are signposts — the vocal swoops and glitched-out organic sounds of Bjork; the the otherworldly soul of Erykah Badu; the atmospherics and layering of Radiohead; and the psychedelic beatwork of J Dilla. Yet Hiatus Kaiyote take what could be a coiled mess of influences and stretch them into something unique and memorable on Tawk Tomahawk. Though things are largely pleasant and ethereal on songs like the stunning "Mobius Streak," frontwoman Nai Palm gets jazzy and raspy on "The World It Softly Lulls" and goes deep and dark on "Malika," while the beats get distorted and aggressive on "Ocelot." Lounges of the future may be spinning Tawk Tomahawk and calling it a classic of forward-thinking soul.

Hiatus Kaiyote Tawk Tomahawk CD $10.98

Hiatus Kaiyote Tawk Tomahawk LP $16.98 [out 9/17; preorder here]

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