Shows of Note – Lets Talk Politics

New+Politics+NP

Call it rock, call it rap rock, call it indie, whatever you want to call their style, New Politics is an awesome band. Out of Copenhagen, Denmark, the trio made up David Boyd, Soren Hansen and Louis Vecchio has made their mark on the American college music scene. The band’s hit songs “Harlem,” “Dignity,” and “Tonight You’re Perfect” haven’t gotten old yet and the tunes frequent our airwaves as well as student run stations all over the country.

New Politics has two albums to their name, but the most recent A Bad Girl in Harlem dropped in May of last year. The album has received pretty solid reviews and the band is currently on tour promoting the record. Thefirenote.com said this about A Bad Girl in Harlem:

New Politics

New Politics

“With their sophomore album, New Politics breaks away from their gritty, indie roots, trading it in for a pop rock, punk sound.”

With a different sound in their sophomore album New Politics has shown they aren’t a one-trick pony and can evolve their sound over time.

New Politcis will be performing in the northwest in Portland on Feb. 25 at Aladdin Theater and Feb. 26 in Seattle at Neumos. Don’t miss out on seeing this awesome foreign powerhouse rock Seattle!

 

 

 

Share

Fresh Tunes – Something Old, Something New

the-crystal-method-4e4d3a4153c72

Electronic music has never done anything but change. What began in the ’70s as a sort of novelty has now become a pervasive force with scores of subcultures, styles, and the ability to infiltrate most any musical genre. Daft Punk released their carefully crafted (and divisive) record last year, and now The Crystal Method, another welterweight duo from the nineties, is taking their turn to re-image themselves in this new and incredibly diverse landscape of electronica with their recent, self-titled release.
crystalmethod

Aptly named “Emulator”, the first track on The Crystal Method’s new album is an undeniable throwback to their Vegas days, erecting simmering sonic slides and bumps around spoken vocal samples that build to towering grooves. The true trademark of TCM comes from their vast spectrum of synth textures and percussion. Like a circus with a dozen different acts being performed at once, there is always some new sound, some new melody or pattern to turn your ear to pay attention to. On track six, “Jupiter Shift”, it becomes almost a game trying to follow any one melody or texture as a dozen others crash, rumble, shriek, and buzz all around. It would be exhausting were it not for Ken Jordan and Scott Kirkland’s ability to inject vitality and energy into most everything they craft.

And it’s that energy- that visceral how-do-you-like-me-now attitude balanced with slow, fresh moments of sonic space that makes this album special. A surge of adrenaline only lasts for a few moments before the crash, and likewise Jordan and Kirkland have smartly paced this album to not be completely exhausting to listen to. That being said, only thumping these tracks through a pair of headphones, alone, is a lot like hammering a nail with the blunt end of a knife, that’s not what the tool is for and you are going to hurt yourself. Truly, this album belongs in a place where just as much energy can be expended as what it was constructed with. And that place is a dance floor.

thumpers_galore_album-500x500There’s a powerful sort of magic in the bright memories from childhood, and Thumpers are well aware of it. Friends since the age of 11, the musical duo seem to have harnessed their rose-colored past and crafted something full of smiley, giddy energy in their debit album Galore.

The first track, “Marvel,” acts as a thematic overture for the rest of the album; creative and powerful drum beats, hazy vocals, and synth textures that add fullness to the band’s sound. Even its very first lyric, “stay young”, is an idea this whole album appears to be focused on- almost obsessed with, actually. Throughout Galore the lyrics, “I wish you were sixteen,” “bed jumping, him and her are full of passions tonight,” “we’re tired but ripe,” and, “two beating hearts,” makes the impression Thumpers is aching for you to make your sunny summer memories, which is funny since this album is being released in the middle of February.

Though this is their debut as Thumpers, Marcus Pepperell and John Hamson Jr. are not new to indie music. Collectively they have been a part of the bands Antihero, Pull Tiger Tail, Noah and the Whale, and Friendly Fires. Their experience certainly shows. Galore is full of enough energy to send it bouncing off every wall in the room, but is seems to be done purposely. The sound of each track is similar, but never feels overworked or tired. Through their experience, Pepperell and Hamson have learned control over the atmosphere of each track and the atmosphere of the album as a whole.

Making music while doing a thousand-yard-stare into the past is not new. What’s special about Thumpers is they have managed to craft something without any eye roll-inducing cliché that usually comes with nostalgia. Galore is creative and lively, and most importantly, it’s just fun.

Share

Shows of Note – Indie Accents

Glasvegas+2011

Lately, The ‘Burg hasn’t been able to get enough of the British indie music scene. There must be something in the water overseas because a lot of our favorite indie acts come are from the U.K. One of these acts is Glasvegas. The four-piece band is from Glasgow, Scotland which is made apparent with the thick accent of lead singer, James Allan.

Glasvegas

Glasvegas

Glasvegas made their debut in 2008 with the release of their self-titled album which featured what is probably still their most popular single “Geraldine.” Since their self-titled album, Glasvegas has produced two more albums, Euphoric /// Heartbreak \\\ in 2011 and most recently Later…When the TV Turns to Static. The latter dropped in September of last year.

If” is the top single off of their recent release but we also recommend checking out “Neon Bedroom Blues” and “All I Want is My Baby.” Popmatters.com said this about the most recent Glasvegas album:

“The new album is technically proficient and features more than its fair share of impassioned crooning by lead vocalist James Allan and driving walls of indie-rock sound. However, the album overall fails to retain the interest of the listener. This is, in part, due to the fact that with a few sonic exceptions, the songs largely sound the same, with Allan crying out (often impressively) over his cousin Rab Allan’s driving lead guitar work or light, light piano on track after track after track with not much variation to make Later… When the TV Turns to Static a terribly challenging or engaging listen.”

Is Glasvegas’s new album too mechanical to listen to or is it a stroke of genius? You can decide for yourself because The ‘Burg is giving away tickets to see Glasvegas live in Seattle at the Columbia City Theater on Feb. 28. The band will also be playing in Portland on March 1 at The Ceremonies. Listen tonight between 6 and 8 p.m. for a chance to see them live in Seattle!

Share

Shows of Note – The Beatles Throwback

default_pr_benson_beatles_04_sullivan_show_1206151347_id_577007

There comes a point in every art form, where evolution is necessary in order for it to progress and move forward. A short but legendary performance by The Beatles has come to represent a point at which the music of the old was almost immediately forgotten. In this one performance, The Beatles brought the “youth” back into music. As our staff watched this performance together we felt excitement, witnessed true magic and even saw our general manger get a twinkle in his eye. It was then that we quickly realized the kids of today will never fully understand the impact of this performance. Landmark bands like The Beatles come along once in a blue moon and they completely reform and reshape the sound and the world of music. Sometimes we even catch ourselves saying “they’re just The Beatles”, or “they’re just a simple 4 piece band” but like much of our generation, we must remember that at one point the lyrics, the hair, the charisma, and the music was a radical movement, even if it seems tame in comparison to today’s trends. One performance was a launching pad to one of the greatest bands of all time and the British invasion. One performance changed the landscape of music and pop culture.

The Beatles

The Beatles

Fifty years ago today (2/09), The Beatles made their first appearance on “The Ed Sullivan Show,” and officially kicked off Beatlemania in America. Feb. 9, 1964 will forever go down in history as one of the most memorable moments in TV history as well as a land mark performance in pop culture and music history. In front of 700 screeching fans in the audience and a record setting 73 million television viewers, The Beatles opened with “All My Loving” at the Ed Sullivan Theater and the world of music would be flipped upside down and permanently changed before our eyes.

Leading up to the performance, several Beatles records had already hit number one on the U.S. charts, and the radio airwaves were filled with their tunes. The earthquake of anticipation surrounding The Beatles’ arrival from England had not been seen since Elvis Presley when he appeared on The Ed Sullivan Show in 1956. But even the Elvis experience could not have prepared the Sullivan staff or New York City authorities for what was about to happen.

The Beatles landed at Kennedy Airport on February 7th, 1964. The band was met by swarms of reporters and three thousand screaming fans. Right as The Beatles walked off of the plane, they were rushed to a Capitol Records press conference where they answered questions from the media in the only way that these lads from Liverpool knew how to. When asked “How do you find America?” Ringo Starr jokingly replied, “Turn left at Greenland.”The Beatles spent the next two days cooped up in The Plaza Hotel while fans did all they could to get closer to them. Groups of teenagers even set up camp outside the hotel. As the show approached, over 50,000 requests for seats came into CBS. However, The Ed Sullivan Show studio could only accommodate an audience of 700. Just 77 days prior to The Beatles performance on Sullivan, President Kennedy had been assassinated. America was ready for a much needed boost, and it came in a package from Liverpool. Four young lads with a sound, a look, an energy and charisma that had captivated America.

At 8 o’clock on February 9, 1964, America tuned in to The Ed Sullivan Show.  Seventy three  million people gathered in front their TV’s to see The Beatles first live performance in the U.S. The television rating was a record-setting 45.3, that means 45.3% of households with TVs were watching. That figure reflected a total of 23,240,000 American homes. Ed opened the show by briefly mentioning a telegram to The Beatles from Elvis and his manager, Colonel Tom Parker and then he introduced the band with this quote:

“Now yesterday and today our theater’s been jammed with newspapermen and hundreds of photographers from all over the nation, and these veterans agreed with me that this city never has witnessed the excitement stirred by these youngsters from Liverpool who call themselves The Beatles. Now tonight, you’re gonna twice be entertained by them. Right now, and again in the second half of our show. Ladies and gentlemen, The Beatles! Let’s bring them on.”

With these words the face of pop culture and music would be forever changed John, Paul, George and Ringo took the stage, opening with “All My Loving” to screeches from teenage girls in the audience. The Beatles followed their hit with Paul McCartney taking the spotlight to sing, “Till There Was You.” During the song, a camera introduced each member of the band  to the audience by displaying their name’s on screen. When the camera got to John Lennon, the caption below his name  read “SORRY GIRLS, HE’S MARRIED.” The Beatles then wrapped up the set with “She Loves You.”

With that one performance, The Beatles and their fans set in motion one of the most monumental changes to the face of popular culture ever seen. We, today’s youth, may look at them now as “…just The Beatles”, but 50 years ago, at a time in our history when the United States was hurting, the fab four wrapped us up in their charismatic arms, gave us “All Their Lovin’,” and changed the world forever.

Someday, 30-some-odd years from now, some college student will utter the phrase…”So what? It’s just Nirvana.” When that happens, just look for one of us. We’ll be one of the ones with magic in our eyes, regaling the student with stories about three lads from another blue-collar coastal town, called Aberdeen…and how they changed the world.

Share

Shows of Note – SASQUATCH!

Sasquatch-Stage-02

If you’re like us, you were counting down the days until the Sasquatch 2014 lineup to be announced. With an added weekend in July, Sasquatch 2014 promised to be not only the biggest music event in Washington, but one of the largest in the country. Artists on the bill like The National, Kid Cudi, Soundgarden, Broken Bells and Frank Ocean got us excited but there are a few artists that have really got us pumped.

Outkast

Outkast

As cliche as it might be, Outkast is a group we just can’t stop talking about. Yes, everyone is excited to see them and yes, they are the main headliner for the Memorial Day weekend but its their first time reuniting in over a decade. Outkast certainly knows how to do a  reunion right. The hip-hop duo will be headlining Coachella in April of this year as well. Not only is this the first time Outkast will perform in a decade, this year marks the 20th anniversary of their debut album Southernplaylisticadillamuzik. Outkast will be on the Sasquatch stage (main stage) Friday, May 23.

AlunaGeorge

AlunaGeorge

Our second pick for the first weekend is AlunaGeorge. Another duo, AlunaGeorge is an electronic trip-hop act with a hint of R&B. Made up of Aluna Francis and George Reid, the two met in an unconventional way for a band to meet, the internet. With a mutual respect for eachother’s music they decided to join force and that is something we are forever grateful for. Catching fire with their single “You Know You Like It,” AlunaGeorge will be on the El Chupacabra stage Sunday, May 25.

Cage the Elephant

Cage the Elephant

Cage the Elephant is someone else we’d like to see during the first Sasquatch weekend. From Bowling Green, Kentucky, Cage the Elephant formed in 2005 but were discovered by most of us when they’re single “Ain’t No Rest For the Wicked” dropped in 2009. The Sasquatch performance will follow Cage the Elephant’s October release Melophobia, which includes “Come a Little Closer.” Cage the Elephant will be playing on the Sasquatch stage, Friday, May 23.

New Order

New Order

When it comes to weekend two, we’ve noticed a little more rock, in particular, rock a more mature audience on the bill. This isn’t a good or bad thing and there are still a ton of artists we’re psyched about. In particular, New Order. New Order has been around since 1980 and have stood the text of time, working through multiple break ups and reunions only to show up on the Sasquatch bill this year. New Order’s Lost Sirens was released in January of last year and was well received by fans and critics alike. Lost Sirens is the band’s first album since 2005 and Pitchfork.com had this to say about the album:

“As an album, Lost Sirens isn’t at all an embarrassment: it’s a document of a band whose range and reach, rather than power, are what has been diminished.”

Children of the 80s will delight in getting to see this new wave era band rock out at Sasquatch. New Order will be on the Sasquatch stage Sunday, July 6.

The second weekend of Sasquatch features awesome ambient electronic artists as well. Jon Hopkins’ downtempo, chill-out style

Jon Hopkins

Jon Hopkins

has delighted fans, especially in the U.K. where he is from. Hopkins’ Immunity dropped at the end of 2013 with Pitchfork.com stating

“[Immunity}...adds up to a remarkably visceral, sensual, confident electronic record that stays absorbing from beginning to end, and should finally catapult Hopkins to stardom in his own story."

Hopkins promises to bring a mix of slowed down tunes and catchy dance hooks. Hopkins ability to consistently cross genres implementing piano, acoustic sounds and bass heavy electro to make music that should almost be qualified as being in his own special genre. Hopkins will be at the El Chupacabra stage on Saturday, July 5.

Demetri Martin

Demetri Martin

Many people forget that Sasquatch features comedy acts as well. Demetri Martin will be performing at the second weekend of Sasquatch and has proved to be a favorite comedian, especially among the college crowd. Martin was the headlining comedian for Homecoming 2010 at CWU and performed for a sold-out shout. A little unconventional in his stand-up, Martin uses a guitar, one-liners and a “large pad” to tell his jokes. Martin had a show on Comedy Central for two years and now focuses on his stand-up, books and contributions to various TV shows and movies. Martin will be on the EL Chupacabra stage on Sunday, July 6.

Ticket sales for Sasquatch 2014 are tomorrow (02/08) at 10 a.m. Be sure to keep an eye on The ‘Burg’s social media for surprise ticket giveaways and opportunities to win tickets to the biggest music/entertainment event in Washington state.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Share

Shows of Note – Canadian Covers

Walk+Off+the+Earth+255355_10151965813070357_18997

Sometimes Canada really delivers. Avril Lavigne, Justin Bieber and Carly Rae Jepsen aside, certain artists such as Tegan and Sara, Michael Buble and Walk Off the Earth make us give much props to our neighbors up north. Walk Off the Earth may not be as well known as some of the others we’ve listed but they certainly are worth your time.

Walk Off the Earth

Walk Off the Earth

Like Karmin, another artist we’ve recently featured, Walk Off the Earth’s rise to fame was thanks to YouTube. The five-person band got national attention when they’re cover of “Somebody That I Used to Know” got over 156 million views on the YouTube. The success of that video inspired fans to comb over their whole collection of previously recorded unique covers and accompanying music videos. Now, Walk Off the Earth has hundreds and hundreds of millions of YouTube views to their name. The band has five studio albums heavily laden with covers.

Walk Off the Earth’s most recent work, R.E.V.Ofeatures Walk Off the Earth’s hit single, “Red Hands” along with their “Somebody That I Used to Know” cover. Fans are calling the album, “upbeat and smooth, but edgy enough to keep you engaged.” Professional critics are giving the album mixed reviews but All Music Guide had this to say:

“A confident, delightfully quirky, and endlessly inventive band having fun and delivering a kind of lightly experimental sunshine pop for the 21st century, complete with huge choruses, xylophones and trinkets, maverick rhythms, and a charming, fun spirit of adventure.”

Walk Off the Earth will be in the northwest  Feb. 23 at The Knitting Factory in Spokane, Feb. 25 at the Crystal Ballroom in Portland and Feb. 26 at Showbox SoDo in Seattle. We’re giving away tickets to the Seattle show tomorrow (02/07) between noon and 1 p.m. so be sure to tune-in for your chance to win!

Share

Throwback Thursday – February 1994

Green+Day+BMT

If Nirvana‘s Nevermind was responsible for effectively killing the age of hair metal with its dynamic hard hitting music and the gravely voice of Kurt Cobain, then Green Day‘s Dookie brought us out of the haze of grunge and over produced pop music. With Dookie, Green Day made punk music commercially acceptable. Dookie flipped the bird to authority and convention while smiling in the frowning face of grunge music. Dookie swept three snot nosed punks off of the streets of Berkley, California and in a wave of youthful rebellion and teenage angst, Dookie inspired a generation and served as a launching pad for one of the most successful bands in the world. This month, the diamond certified album turns twenty and is just as relatable in 2014 as it was in 1994.

2012GreenDayDookie950G211112In 1992, Green Day released Kerplunktheir second studio album through the independent, Lookout! Records. Pop-punk hooks and lyrics caught the attention of Rob Cavallo who was junior A&R scout at Reprise Records. Cavallo signed the band and agreed to produce Dookie. While the punk scene in Berkley disowned them, the rest of America loved Green Day after their legendary performance at Wood Stalk 1994, which was dubbed “Mudstock” after the band started a mud fight with the crowd. Dookie produced five hit singles, won them a Grammy for Best Alternative Music Album, and to date, has sold over 8 million copies in the United States. With Feb. 1, 2014 marking the 20th anniversary of Dookie’s release we’ve put together a track by track examination of one of punk’s favorite albums.

1. Burnout : Billie Joe Armstrong sings “I declare I don’t care no more”  to open this misfit’s manifesto. It’s the perfect opening line for a major label debut of a post-Nirvana album filled with teenage angst and hormonal rage. It’s a two minute burst of buzzsaw guitar and snotty hooks that sets the tone for the album.

2. Having a Blast: The band keeps the early album energy going here with the angsty “Having a Blast.” Armstrong sings about tying explosives to himself, “think about the times we’ve spent and what they’ve meant” in this breakup rant. Melodic hooks over choppy guitars keeps the edge alive early in the album.

3. Chump “Chump” follows the model laid down by bands like the Ramones and Sex Pistols. “Chump is punchy and likable in its own right, its most memorable moment is probably its closing guitar swells and drum groove. This would lay the ground work  for Dookie’s first big hit.

4. Longview Best known for Mike Dirnt’s infectious walking bass line, this is song where the three Green Day instruments are used in such isolation that the whole band deserves recognition for selling their parts and adding to the eventual buildup. Starting with Dirnt’s Bass lines and Tre Cool’s Slow intense drumming, it’s when Armstrong’s driving power chords kick in, that the song reaches the apex of it’s adolescent rock catchiness.

5. Welcome to Paradise: This was the Only Kerplunk track to be re-recorded for the major label debut. While similar to the three opening tracks, but with a more socially aware hook, this song is a tribute to the band’s humble surroundings and would become Dookie’s second single.

6. Pulling Teeth: Though this song never achieved the “a classic Dookie single” status, “Pulling Teeth” shows off Armstrong’s songwriting skills. With a Beatles-like melody in the verses, as usual, Armstrong is in a distressed state, pledging his allegiance to his girl-friend even though it is obviously an abusive relationship.

7. Basket Case: The distress of “Pulling Teeth” is almost a prelude to Armstrong’s mental torment by covering his anxiety attacks and panic disorder diagnosis. “Basket Case” became one of Dookie’s”biggest hits, with Green Day fans relating and singing along.

8. She The fifth and final single from the album. The band continues whipping out more rapid-fire punk riffs and sneering melodic hooks. Armstrong wrote the song in response to a feminist poem his ex-girlfriend showed him; she then dumped him and moved to Ecuador.

9. Sassafras Roots: With the pop-punk barrage of noise hardly slowing down, Armstrong sings what sounds like a conversation with himself about getting ready to call a crush on the phone. “I’m always like you with nothing else to do; can I waste your time, too?” when in reality, it was written about the same ex-girlfriend that inspired “Chump” and “She.”

10. When I Come Around: If there’s one track that pushes the album from punk rock to straight up rock, its “When I Come Around.” Green Day proved themselves to classic rock fans and it’s no surprise this song is still heard on rock radio. “When I Come Around” showed Greenday’s rock aspirations for the first time.

11. Coming Clean: In one of the record’s often forgotten songs, Armstrong offers some of his most confessional lyrics, opening up about questioning his sexuality: “I’ve found out what it takes to be a man; now mom and dad will never understand what’s happening to me.”

12. Emenius Sleepus : This song continues the trend of brief, less-than-two-minute tracks. “Emenius Sleepus” helps close out the album a tale about an old friend that comes off a tad underwritten compared to other cuts. Although “Emenius Sleepus” is the only song on the album with lyrics written by bassist Mike Dirnt.

13. In the End: Another brief melodic song, at this point, the album reverts to a more familiar flow for a punk album with a heavy Operation Ivy feel that inspired Green Day in the first place. But even when operating with less than two minutes, the band preserves the classic verse/chorus/bridge pop structure.

14. F.O.D. : While it’s not quite Good Riddance (Time of Your Life).”  Green Day closes the album of charged-up punk songs with an acoustic guitar. Well, until the electric guitars ruin the whole wet dream right around the minute and a half mark. The title stands for “f&*# off and die” with Armstrong sending a literal good riddance.

15. All By Myself (hidden track): If you made it through the silence after “F.O.D.” you will find this hidden track, written and sung by Tré Cool. It was sadly or happily, (depending on how you feel about songs sung by drummers about masturbation) his last major vocal contribution to Green Day.

Take some time to listen to an album that revolutionized the music industry and the minds of America’s youth.

Share

Shows of Note – Head of State

The+Presidents+of+the+United+States+of+America (1)

With perhaps the most annoying name in rock history, The Presidents of the United States of America, certainly don’t make annoying music. Most famous for the catchy “Peaches,” the band is also behind the “Lump,” “Cleveland Rocks,” and an awesome cover of “Video Killed the Radio Star.”

PUSA

PUSA

The band is known for their awesome live shows, and have a 4.6 out of 5 rating on Ticketmaster. The band claims that they make “silly music” and one of their career highlights was having Weird Al Yankovic parody “Lump,” into “Grump.”  Front Man Chris Ballew had this to say about the honor in an interview with Noisetrade.com.

“…it is an incredible experience to see Weird Al pretend to be me! The best thing that’s come out of that is that we are still friends. He’s a great guy and a really good listener and storyteller.”

Weird Al would go on to direct a music video for PUSA and has guested at a few of PUSA’s live shows.

PUSA will be playing in  the northwest Feb. 14 at the Crystal Ballroom in Portland, Feb. 15 at The Showbox in Seattle  and Feb. 16 at The Triple Door in Seattle. The ‘Burg will be giving away tickets to The Showbox show so be sure to tune-in to The Wake-Up Call tomorrow (02/06) between 6 and 8 a.m. for a chance to win tickets!

Share

Shows of Note – The ________ Beat

beat5

The English Beat known in North America as The English Beat and Australia as The British Beat, are a ska band from Birmingham, England. Formed in in 1978, their songs are a mix of ska, pop, soul, reggae and punk rock, and their lyrics deal with themes of love, unity and both social and political topics.

The English Beat

The English Beat

The band is consists of Dave Wakeling, Ranking Roger, Andy Cox, David Steele, Everett Morton, and Saxa, they released three studio albums in the early 1980s: I Just Can’t Stop It, Wha’ppen? and Special Beat Service, and a string of singles,such as Mirror in the Bathroom“, “Too Nice to Talk To“, “Can’t Get Used to Losing You“, “Hands Off, She’s Mine and All Out to Get You. After the the band broke up in 1983, Wakeling and Roger went on to form General Public and had a couple of hit singles in North America, while Cox and Steele formed Fine Young Cannibals with vocalist Roland Gift from the ska band Akrylykz. In 2012 the band emerged and went on a long awaited U.K. tour.

The English Beat will be performing in the northwest on Feb. 21 at The Showbox in Seattle and Feb. 22 at the Wonder Ballroom in Portland. We’re giving away tickets to the Seattle show tonight (02/04) between 3 and 6 p.m. so be sure to tune-in for your chance to win!

 

Share

Fresh Tunes – Indie and R&B

Mutual-Benefit

Mutual Benefit’s debut LP, Love’s Crushing Diamond, is beautiful. It’s a simple, sunbathed collection of tracks that – to be completely honest- took us entirely by surprise.

a4241493582_10This folk album is warm and earnest and a bit slow, entirely unlike the rollicking folk pop that finds its way onto top 40 playlists all over. The songs on this album often start after a good fifteen seconds of fooling around and giggling, or after what seems like a sort of coalescing of separate sounds; on “Let’s Play’ / Statue of a Man”, a drummer gives a few taps while a keyboard plinks about aimlessly over what sounds like a children’s toy coming to life. Somebody hiccups and laughs quietly and suddenly every click, plink, and strum is together. This small bit of playfulness makes many of the songs feel quite open ended, like a group of friends sitting down and making something they all love together.

Jordan Lee, the master songwriter behind this album, doesn’t seem to be grappling for attention in the same way that other artists are. There are neither ear worm hooks to get stuck in one’s head, nor foot-stomping choruses to shake stadiums of sweating, dancing people. Instead, Lee has crafted something that flows easily and joyfully and quietly. I think much of this album’s power lies in the sentimentality of the listener. If one has ever felt a pining for home or old friends or slow, sunny days I think that person will find much to love in this music.

Devonté Hynes- the man behind Blood Orange- seems to be restless. Prior to Cupid Deluxe, he recorded five albums underBlood-Orange-Cupid-Deluxe three different groups.  He has written or produced songs for Sky Ferreira, Florence and the Machine, Theophilus London, and Britney Spears. Despite his eclectic musical past, Hynes newest album is incredibly focused and cohesive.

At the moment, many indie rockers seem infatuated with recreating the sounds of the 1980s, and Blood Orange is no exception. Every track is a swirl of R&B, new age beats, and vocals provided by either Hynes himself or one of the many guests he brought along to help him articulate his often mournful sentiments. Caroline Polachek (of Chairlift) and Samantha Urbani sing wet-eyed echoes of Hynes, or duet with each other throughout the album. On “No Right Thing”, Dirty Projectors’ David Longstreth lends his voice to make tight harmonies that glide over the skittering and shaking beats built by producer Clams Casino. Rappers Despot and Skepta make appearances, breaking out of the traditional 16-bar form, and spin their own nostalgic tales of broken relationships and recording equipment.

There are many guest artists on this album with their own voices. And like a conductor with an orchestra, Hynes carefully crafts a single space for all his voices to inhabit. Whether that be the head-nodding album opener “Chamakay”, or “High Street” that races through memories of a newly successful artist, all the tracks on Cupid Deluxe mutter or shout proclamations of heartbreak or loneliness or emancipation from comfort. Hynes has gazed inside himself and collected his fears and sadness to create something meaningful. With this album, Hynes leads us through a world of alienation and struggle that we would have otherwise missed.

 

Share