Overloaded by all the “new music” options you keep hearing about? We’re here to help. Here’s four songs we think you should fucking know (this week). Feel free to leave your suggestions in the comments too.
- Little Green Cars – “Harper Lee”
The two singles Little Green Cars have released, “John Wayne” and the above “Harper Lee” would have you believe that they are a very talented blend of Band of Horses, The Decemberists, and even Neil Young, with just enough Shins pop-sensibility to really make moves commercially (I’m sure there are some other folky, alt-country influences in there that I don’t feel knowledgable about to discuss here too). And that’s totally fair; in another world, like when I wrote about Eliza and The Bear a few weeks ago, I believe that with the right breaks and a more discerning popular audience, these five Dubliner’s take on Americana could easily be the next big thing in rock (or whatever rock is these days).
But that judgment is only applicable before you give their latest release, Absolute Zero, a full listen. In it, you’ll hear traces of Local Natives or Frightened Rabbit’s gang vocals and songs like “The River Song” or “Kitchen Floor” that feature their female vocalist, Faye O’Rourke, finding a heart-wrenching blend of Florence (sans Machine) and Zola Jesus.
*Semi-aside: Honestly, while I may be showcasing “Harper Lee”, as it’s the actual single and the song with the fun video, “Kitchen Floor” may be the highlight of the album. It’s a tormentingly beautiful lament of the song that is one O.C. season 2 finale away from being the next “Hide and Seek”. I promise you, the minute it’s released on Soundcloud or YouTube or Spotify, I will be linking to it. Then we can talk about our emotions together.
But until then, your best bet of hearing “Kitchen Floor”, and “Red and Blue”, and all the other wonderful deep cuts that are on Absolute Zero is by checking out their show next Wednesday (the 20th) at DC9. It’s officially the inaugural winner of what Svetlana and Shauna (the big-wigs here at BYT) are letting me call the “Show You Should F*cking Go To“. Each month, I’ll pick one band that I write about who will be playing a show in the DC area that you (the avid, impressionable reader) should go to. This month, it’s a no brainer. Getting to see this powerful band play such a small venue is going to be one of those times you tell your friends about when you’re pissed that their next tour through here will be a sold out Black Cat show.
- Rhye – “Open”
When HAIM released “Falling” a few months ago, completing a 6-great-songs-out-of-6 songs-released run, I admitted that I had to write them about them, no matter how late to the buzz bandwagon I was, just because of the musical tear they were on.
Rhye is hitting that level. Their hit single, “Open”, may have actually been released on an EP about a year ago, but it’s getting incredible traction now, and it’s bolstered by an LP, Woman, that is more impressive with each listen.
Gawker recently critiqued its merits as ideal sex music, and it’s easy to see why. The angelic, whispered vocals that harken to Sade seduce the listener over minimalist art-pop that borrows from R&B, baroque pop, and even a bit of restrained funk at times. The bare, glistening neck of the starkly lit woman as the cover art is the perfect physical representation of this music: smooth, vulnerable, and tempting.
And now that you’re probably a good bit into the song, you’ve checked out said cover art, and you’re just now letting your mind wander a bit towards the NSFW, it’s probably a good time for a mind fuck. Those romanticized, assuring, satin-sheet vocals come courtesy of penis-carrying Mike Milosh. I know. I didn’t even realize it until I started doing research for this article. It’s an interesting development… I still haven’t figured out how that affects my appreciation or enjoyment of the album, but I still have it on repeat, so there you go. Don’t believe me? Here’s a video of him serenading his wife with a piano version of the song. And here’s an old song of his. Yep, that just happened.
Now go pick up Woman and put it on during all those romantic St. Patrick’s Day weekend moments.
- Earl Sweatshirt – “WHOA”
“Fuck that, [a slang term used by African-Americans to describe other African-Americans] think because you fuckin’ made ‘Chum’ and got all personal that [aforementioned slang term] won’t go back to that old fuckin’ 2010 shit. About talking about fuckin’ and all that. Fuck that.”
Before the song even begins, we get a warning from Tyler the Creator, simultaneously the King and Joker in the Odd Future deck, that “Chum” (and all the love people like me gave it when it was released) does not mean a new, less aggressive approach from the Wolf Gang. Unfortunately for them though, as much as they may wish it, they can never go back to that 2010 shit.
When Tyler hung himself in the video for “Yonkers” and everyone began downloading Odd Future-affiliated albums like Radical, Bastard, and Earl, it became part of their mystique that each line spit could be more offensive than the line before it. They were pissed off kids who weren’t getting the attention their talent deserved, and they were lashing out at the world around them.
But now Tyler is a rock star and Earl is praised as one of the new leading talents in hip-hop. The world has embraced them; all they can rally against is that newfound fame while proving to the world that they haven’t let that fame change them. Now, fortunately for them, over a simple old-school high-synth beat, Earl’s pure talent and flow is able to show why he’s capable of delivering in this new, bright spotlight, regardless of context or controversy (or lack thereof). The wordplay and verse structure is so complex I had to look up the lyrics to make sure I was getting everything. The accompanying video, directed by Tyler, is a casual visual cacophony that could be a bizarre sequel to Beck’s “Loser” if you wanted to give it that much credit and stands as a testament that Odd Future, though popular, is still going to do all they can to separate themselves from universal commercial appeal.
Sure, it’s no tear-jerking personal manifesto like “Chum” was, but it’s a good nod to Earl’s roots and just the kind of surprise follow-up that I’m sure Odd Future found hilarious when releasing.
- Giraffage – “All That Matters”
Giraffage, the stage name of San Franciscan native Charlie Yin, calls himself sample pop, which makes SO MUCH SENSE for a genre name. Is that already a thing and I’ve just never heard it? If not, can we make it an official sub-genre, throw Gold Panda and Starslinger in there, and let me have a way to describe this specific type of electronic pop that I find myself enjoying more than most electronic-based music these days? Ok great. Now that that’s settled…
Needs, the latest release from Yin, has some stellar bits of sample pop on there. While it’s not perfect by any stretch, it’s light years more advanced than his 2011 release Comfort, which, while not bad, is unmemorable and flat compared to the expansive sound on his latest release. On Needs, Yin throws the kitchen sink of electronic music at you, all while staying in the general realm of his bread-and-butter signature style. “Money” contains elements of what my coworker, Taylor (who moonlights as a house DJ under the name Geedon), tells me is “progressive house”, and songs like “Thinking About You“, which flirts a little too heavily with cheesy R&B, are saved by things like unexpected dabbles with wobbles (Dabbles With Wobbles needs to be a trivia name for dubstep DJ’s, by the way).
While “Home” and “Close 2 U” definitely elevate the album, “All That Matters” is the true gem of record, as it settles Yin’s octave-dropped main vocal line in perfect balance with the cooing female-vocal sample that plays a role more similar to a percussion instrument than vocals; the soft, rolling buzz that kicks in is the cherry on top.
Needs can be grabbed here for a price that you determine (so let’s face it, free). Giraffage was just on tour with XXYYXX and is doing a few spots during SXSW, and I’ll be interested to see where he ends up after all this.