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Weekly Roundup: together PANGEA, Winter, Cass McCombs, En, Wand

Posted by Billy Gil, October 15, 2015 03:45pm | Post a Comment

together PANGEA – “Blue Mirror”

together pangeaWe loved together PANGEA’s last album, Badillac, but this is just next-level. Produced by The Replacements’ Tommy Stinson, there’s more than a little bit of that band’s piss ‘n’ vinegar as filtered through TP’s surfy garage pop melodies (that sounded a lot grosser than I meant it to). The jangly track comes rom The Phage EP, which is out tomorrow on Burger.

 

Winter“All the Things You Do”

winter bandWinter’s Supreme Blue Dream has been one of the sweetest albums to come out of L.A. this year, a candy-colored swirl of shoegaze guitars and feathery melodies. “All the Things You Do” continues in that same vein, its loungey chords and kaleidoscope synths giving way to bruising guitar swells. It’s the first new song they’ve released since Supreme Blue Dream and could be on a new album the band is looking to release next year. They’ll be at S.F.’s Brick and Mortar Oct. 18 and L.A.’s Echo Nov. 24. Download the song now from Amoeba.com!

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9 Awesome Albums That Came Out This Week

Posted by Billy Gil, September 25, 2015 06:30pm | Post a Comment

This week was a huge one for new releases. Instead of doing my usual handful of album picks, I’m picking out nine that stand out.

 

Chvrches - Every Open Eye

chvrches every open eye lpScottish trio Chvrches made electro-pop gems splattered with emotion on their beguiling debut. For album No. 2, they just get craftier, creating songs that sound like the soundtrack to your wildest dreams. “Never Ending Circles” opens the album on a note of big, open-armed camaraderie, the kind of drinking song or team anthem that’s nearly impossible to pull off. That sense of momentum carries through song after song. “Leave a Trace” finds frontwoman Lauren Mayberry’s vocals at their strongest — hers is the kind of voice that makes it impossible to feel lonely or sad when you’re listening to it. “Keep You On My Side” is a hi-NRG-inspired jam that calls to mind the best of Erasure or early Depeche Mode with its fluttering synths, but its hard-hitting beat updates the sound for the EDM generation. Every Open Eye doesn’t quite have a song that lands with the same power as “The Mother We Share” or “Gun,” but The Bones of What You Believe was an album of peaks and valleys, whereas this one is a steadier ride, coasting on the band’s increased confidence. It’s life-embracing pop music of the highest order, something we all need from time to time.

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Weekly Roundup: Wand, Kelela, Mystic Braves, Tropic of Cancer, Little Wings, Gardens & Villa

Posted by Billy Gil, September 3, 2015 11:08am | Post a Comment

Wand – “Dungeon Dropper”

wand bandEven though the Bay Area’s Wand just released an excellent album in 2015, the heavy psych-poppin’ Golem, they’ve already got another on the way. 1000 Days hits on Sept. 25, and it’s their Drag City debut. We previously heard “Stolen Footsteps,” and now we’ve got “Dungeon Dropper,” a two-minute nimble metallic groover with a thick winding riff that squeezes out psych-rock colors like an anaconda.

 

Kelela – “Rewind”

kelelaL.A. R&B songstress Kelela has a new EP on the way called Hallucinogen, due on her own Cherry Coffee imprint Oct. 9. The song, produced by Kingdom, Nugget and Kelela, is a lot more forthright than those on her excellent Cut 4 Me mixtape, full of freestyle-inspired beats, full-bodied vocals and Janet-esque coquettishness. 

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Weekly Roundup: Julia Holter, Wand, Gardens & Villa, Cold Beat, Jessie Jones, Talk in Tongues

Posted by Billy Gil, July 9, 2015 09:33am | Post a Comment

Julia Holter - "Feel You"

julia holterL.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”

wand bandOne 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.

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Album Picks: Kendrick Lamar, Tobias Jesso Jr., Nic Hessler, Wand

Posted by Billy Gil, March 17, 2015 12:42pm | Post a Comment

Kendrick LamarTo Pimp a Butterfly

kendrick lamar to pimp a butterfly lpKendrick Lamar’s breakthrough second album, good kid, m.A.A.d city, left such an impression that hype for a follow-up has been through the roof. So forgive the Compton rapper if he kind of Beyonce’d To Pimp a Butterfly, teasing singles before announcing a release date and suddenly putting it out a week early. Pulling the rug out from hype and inevitable backlash, it gives us a change to all hear To Pimp a Butterfly at once, in all its glory. Butterfly doubles down on the idiosyncracies of good kid, eschewing club-friendly tracks in favor of those that cast a light on Lamar’s pure skills as a rapper and wordsmith—always celebrated, yet perhaps distracted by stellar production and good kid’s concept-album style—as well as his ability to put together a layered and compelling album. Tracks like the “For Free” interlude are showcases for Lamar’s dexterity, while “u’s” desperate, verge-on-tears delivery find him at his most vulnerable —Drake’s never done anything like this. The production across To Pimp a Butterfly, courtesy of such luminaries as Flying Lotus and Thundercat, like those artists’ work (and similarly to D’Angelo’s recently released Black Messiah), effortlessly melds hip-hop, R&B and jazz on excellent tracks like the off-kilter “Institutionalized” and gorgeous “These Walls” to exist in some mystery middle space, without drawing attention away from Lamar’s star power. While headier tracks dominate the album, Lamar unleashes a couple of huge singles at the album’s closing. At first, “i” could come off as Lamar’s “sell out” track, catchy enough to sit alongside Pharrell’s “Happy” as a crowd-friendly that sands off his rough edges, but it serves as a bit of a breather here, dressed up in The Isley Brothers’ unstoppable “Who’s That Lady,” though Lamar’s lyrics remain deeply dark, exposing his own depression, and a spoken word passage that delves into a discussion on racial slurs adds context. Following the reclaiming of racial stereotypes on the absolutely killer “The Blacker the Berry,” To Pimp a Butterfly ends ultimately feeling conflicted yet triumphant. It’s a deep, complicated work, yet not one that feels the slightest bit overstuffed or overwrought. Kendrick Lamar successfully defies all expectations yet again, on what’s sure to be one of the year’s best albums.

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