Hey there, everyone who’s not at SXSW!
The ‘beach pop’ phenomenon of the last few years has resulted in a body of pleasant, inoffensive, but fairly insubstantial material, along with some good songs from acts like Best Coast and more sterling music from Beach Fossils last year. If you live in a temperate location in the Northern Hemisphere and presentiments of Spring leave you longing for a return to that sound, you would do well to consult with Balue, hailing from the sandy beach mecca of Denver, Colorado. They’ve mastered the wistful mid-fidelity aesthetic that serves as the (sub) genre’s entry requirement, added some correspondingly wistful lyrics and then made the crucial next step of finding noteworthy hooks, especially Worry Toobs lead track, “Australian Summer,” “Looking for a Pearl,” and on “Darlin’,” which kicks off by playfully stepping up to the brink of simply becoming Ducktails “Hamilton Road” before repeatedly pulling back at the last moment. “Brain Folds” deserves particular admiration as a well-considered nod to Olivia Tremor Control (by way, perhaps, of Dr. Dog)
Go download Worry Toobs for free and pretend you live on the Pacific Coast.
2009’s Datum was a very pleasant amalgam of chamber folk and instrumental pop redolent of days gone by, but this new offering is something altogether more magical. Drape Me In Velvet sounds like a lost work of The Clientele produced by the Avalanches which has spent the last 12 years sitting in an attic where rays autumnal light are always filtering through clouds of dust motes. Rarely is instrumental music this bursting with melody or so evocative in texture. An album one listen to repeatedly with never lessening delight. It might be the anti-Chillwave, and I’d rather smile mistily at all its gentle little turns than say another word about it.
Drape Me In Velvet is out from Häpna.
Keeping abreast of – and thinking about – electronic music, particularly that subsection designed for dance floors, can be exhausting, not so much because of the pace at producers and their machine symbionts flood the world’s communication systems with new variants, fusions and sub-generic tweaks and re-imagingings, but because of the endless debates about stagnation, commercialization, and authenticity that quickly follows each new permutation.
It is most soothing, then, when artists come around who approach established electronic genres with enough skill, craftsmanship and discernment to wash the grime of internecine quibbling from one’s mind.
Yes – I can use the word ‘dubstep’ again.
That’s thanks to Pachydermy EP from Ickis Mirolo, member of an Irish production cadre and its attendant Dublin-based netlabel, First Second. “Crickets” and “Insects” finds a position between turn-of-the-millenium originalism and “future/post” texturing from where the music can sound like a vital distillation of a genre, neither a tired rehash, a failed experiment, a regrettable fusion or a didactic bore. “Moth” plays with house and techno, which are actually the mainstays of the label so far – their introductory compilation, Zero One, is full of slick, tasteful house and techno numbers, alluding to many eras and locales without sliding into mere homage. David Kennedy’s two-track XOX/OXO joins feathery rave to steady disco, Bobofunk goes more of straight 2-step route, indulging along the way in a chintzy, fun garage remix of Madonna, Cult Clone drops two delicate tracks that fall between Four Tet and the Field, and Cameron Duffy makes some velvet-smooth with just enough force to drown out any complaints of gentrification.
Go give them all a try, and keep your ears peeled. First Second looks to have a great year ahead.
Just last month we nominated Peter Broderick as the person responsible for the largest body of wonderful music in Two Thousand and Eleven, and now he again presents a collection of sounds that you very much need to hear. We won’t say much of anything about this new album; it speaks for itself not only in terms of quality, but also in a more direct sense as it is also a website. (And you thought that was only for terrible ideas from the 1990’s!)
I’m very glad that I found this amazing drone-ambient piece by Reykjavik-based artist Russel Harmon on NFOP just now. The Ben Frost reference definitely makes sense – yet the beauty and harmony (ha, almost a pun – so close) Russel, who also plays guitar in the Icelandic instrumental outfit PORQUESÍ, manages to add to the intense sounds made me play this one over and over again.
An EP will be out his March, so until then close your eyes (press play before that, sorry I forgot) and enjoy the “Tragedy Fractures”.