Lots of words ahead so let’s keep it short. Make sure to get your tickets to All Things Go’s Fall Classic happening September 13th featuring Future Islands and Bear Hands and U.S. Royalty and Tove Lo and Haerts and other people.
Onto the music!
- Interpol – El Pintor (streaming now on NPR)
As I was writing this week’s column, I found out that Interpol’s new album El Pintor is streaming in its entirety on NPR Music. So far, all I’ve heard is the single “All The Rage Back Home” a pretty good song whose main characteristic is that it sounds a lot like an Interpol song. However, Interpol are one of “those bands” that it’s important to keep tabs on (I think we all believe they have another “NYC” in them or something), so let’s just thank NPR and spend the next few days poring over this one. Cool? Cool.
- Run The Jewels – “Blockbuster Night Part 1”
Last year’s Run The Jewels album is going to get buried under the Yeezuses and Nothing Was The Sames when we reflect back on “hip-hop in 2013” in a few years, but it was one of the best hip-hop records of the past few years. Maybe it’s because their sound is almost timeless that it’s hard to specify with a certain year, it’s just an aggressive but simple beat and Killer Mike and El-P trading throwback but unrelenting verses, but this album is going to age very well even if it doesn’t resonate with a specific year or time period.
Also, Run The Jewels doesn’t know how to take a break, which really messes up chronological orientation. Just a year after releasing Run The Jewels, on the heels of wild acclaim, they’ve already released the first single for their follow up LP, Run The Jewels 2, which is set to be released on October 28th. At just over 2:30, it doesn’t have a chance to let up from its bombastic introduction, and it’s a definitive statement that these guys don’t believe in sophomore slumps.
But on a more important, political note (because KNOWING WHAT’S GOING ON IN THE WORLD IS IMPORTANT), Killer Mike has been making headlines for the past few weeks because of his involvement with what is going on in Ferguson, Missouri. He penned an open letter on his Instagram, he wrote an op-ed about the situation for Billboard, and he sat down with Spin for a great Q&A about why he believes it’s important to start and engage in these kinds of dialogues.
Hip-hop used to be a political art-form, and it’s pretty cool that one 0f its most talented badasses remembers that.
“We trust police with the power of life and death and with that trust comes a greater responsibility to be better than the current standard of policing I see across America everyday. Being a cop must be hard. My dad was one, and never wanted any of his children to follow in his footsteps. Being a cop is often seeing the worst of the human condition and behavior. With all of that said, there is no reason that Mike Brown and also Eric Garner are dead today — except bad policing, excessive force and the hunt-and-capture-prey mentality many thrill-seeking cops have adapted.” – Killer Mike
- Drunk Tigers – “D0wntown/Eye in the Sky”
In 2009, I was continuing to try and make music post-graduation, long-distance, with my best friend and music-writing soulmate Patrick. This usually meant working on pieces of songs bits at a time and the recording processes we squeezed into our calendars were a Miller High Life-fueled mix of “figuring it out on the fly” and fucking it up and just not caring.
One long weekend, we spent what felt like 4 days straight working on what I still believe is the best song we ever wrote — a very generous ear would recognize it as a simultaneous homage to “All My Friends” and “The Loneliness and The Scream.” We killed ourselves getting it done, but we did it.
However, late that Sunday night, as I got on the highway to make the hours long drive back home and I put the mp3 of the song on, I noticed something. Something I couldn’t believe we hadn’t noticed for four days straight.
It was too fast.
We had been so deep into the weeds of the song, we didn’t realize the whole thing felt like it was on an Adderall binge. I called Patrick, I broke the news to him, and the minute I said it, he realized it too. Four days down the drain.
I say that all because until now, I think Drunk Tigers probably were going through the same thing with their pre-Downtown/Eye in the Sky releases. There were good ideas and moments, but if given a month away from the song and a chance to tweak it, there are things I’d bet they’d change — “I sound like I’m trying to be British here,” “This part is a mess,” “This sounds like a ____ rip-off,” etc. But, luckily, that’s what being in a band is about — not everyone is Sylvan freaking Esso — and it feels like with the two-song release they put out last January, they’ve finally figured out how to start sounding their best.
Their lead singer’s voice is confident enough in its monotonic nature to not take on the affectations that popped up in their earlier material, the hurricane guitar riffs swirl in and out with grace instead of destruction, and they learned a way to be “folky” (for lack of a better word) without being “twangy” on “Downtown.” On “Eye in the Sky,” they found a way to have that rock swagger without just turning it up to 11.
I only happened to stumble onto these guys thanks to DC Music Download’s “DC’s Most Unique Band Names” article, but they were a really fun discovery, and assuming they will read this (because I will tweet it directly at them), I would like them to know that I fully support the direction they’re going.
Now update your Facebook page every now and then and play more shows, Drunk Tigers! Thank you.
- GoldLink – The God Complex
One of my favorite writers is a guy named Matt Taibbi who was at Rolling Stone forever. On top of great insights and ballsy journalism, he also once went two weeks without posting his regular column only to break his literary silence with a sincere apology explaining that he wasn’t proud enough of the pieces he had written and didn’t believe in putting up something that was half-assed just because of a deadline.
And while I have definitely thrown up something half-assed before, I’m going to pull a Taibbi when it comes to DC’s own GoldLink. I’ve been wanting to write about him for a while and very much had plans to do so this week, but after a blistering Trillectro set (congrats DCtoBC team), I need to go back and reevaluate some things.
I promise, more on GoldLink really soon, but in the meantime, here is a great song off God Complex.