Bryce Rudow likes music. You can send all hatemail to [email protected] and tweet vitriol at him @brycetrudow (or follow him to make him feel more popular while getting access to random new music he doesn’t have the time to write about).
Overloaded by all the “new music” options you keep hearing about? We’re here to help. Here are four songs we think you should fucking know (this week).
First off, some HOUSEKEEPING STUFFFFF (meant to be read like “Baseball Stufffff” from Liar, Liar)
– I’m gonna let you finish, but Childish Gambino might secretly be coming out with the weirdest art-hop album of the year. Just check out the newly released “Sweatpants”. He’s also apparently getting so tight-lipped about it that not even the big boys like Rolling Stone and Billboard are getting the leak in advance of its December 10th release date.
– I hope you’ve all seen this by now, but I wouldn’t be doing my job if I didn’t do all I could to make sure you knew that James Franco and Seth Rogan re-enacted Kanye’s new video for “Bound 2” shot for shot and it’s everything.
– Finally, as you may or may not know, I end every GUEST WRITER YOU SHOULD FUCKING KNOW section with the offer:
“If you/someone you know is up for the task of writing non-sequitered musical ramblings, feel free to shoot me an email at [email protected], tell me I look pretty, and convince me why you should be a Guest Writer We Should Fucking Know.”
We’ve had some great pieces written by guest writers who I met by just those means, and I usually get a fair amount of emails from bands that want me to write about them, but until last week no had actually gotten so literal with it. A guy named Cody Valentine sent me a link to a band called All The Best Kids, who play enjoyable but safe funky hip-hop, but more importantly, he was the first person who actually told me I looked pretty. I may think the band needs to pick up a drug habit or attitude problem with their future stuff, but I couldn’t not help out such a sweet talker.
- J Lima Foxtrot – “Bullseye”
Speaking of, you know what’s just as good at grabbing my narcistic attention? Following me on Twitter. I write full time, which means I reason away spending way too much time on Twitter, procrastinating writing important things but telling myself I’m keeping attuned to the happenings of the world. Well, the other day I got a new follower, which means I did my traditional new follower routine: do a little happy dance, sadly feel more validated as a person, and then stalk them to see who they are.
This particular profile, @JLimaFoxtrot, had the biography: “I’m a musician operating out of my tiny studio apartment that has more guitars than pieces of furniture,” so of course I had to click on her Soundcloud, even though I wasn’t expecting much.
Let’s just say, I wasn’t prepared for “Bullseye.”
It’s a dangerously potent combination of Chvrches’ style of electronic pop, HAIM’s slightly folky vocal twang, and Tegan and Sara’s tight harmonies. It’s catchy, hooky, glitchy, and mesmerizing, and it’s got everything necessary to become one of those crossover indie pop anthems that everyone just loves these days (myself included).
I think it took me 45 seconds into my first play of the song to start hunting for her contact information so I could reach out to her. Eventually I learned that J Lima Foxtrot is “a typical 9-5 working professional in the tech industry who just began living a double life as J Lima Foxtrot.” Currently, she’s assembling a back-up band in order to support her recently released self-titled EP.
She says that she “cannot wait to start performing, releasing more music and becoming a part of the D.C. music scene.” Unfortunately, she’s actually tucked out in Ashburn, Virginia, but she’ll learn soon enough.
If you want to download the song, she’s posted it for free here, and remember where you heard about her first.
- Bear Hands – “Giants” and Songs From Utopia Volume 1
I believe in one thing when it comes to both love and good music: sometimes, instead of chasing it around like a madman, you just have to let it come to you when it’s the right time.
I first heard “Giants,” the most recent single from Bear Hands when it was released last month, and I didn’t really give it the time of day. I had loved their first EP and LP and am still mildly obsessed with arguably their best song, “What A Drag,” but I just couldn’t get behind their bizarre choice to rap the verses of what is actually a pretty great love song. I ended up letting the track pass me by.
That is until last week when, in the obnoxiously cute stages of puppy love, I found myself accidentally quoting the song to my girlfriend yet not being able to place where I knew the unique “I am loving you moorreeee” that slipped out of mouth. Finally, after ruining the moment by Googling it, I placed the song and decided, “What the hell, I’ll give it another chance.”
I’ve still not come around to the rapped verses (which I blame on their having toured with GZA and Killer Mike), but I’ll be damned if that chorus and breakdown don’t perfectly articulate the dumb happiness that comes with discovering new love. They’re delivered with shit-eating-grin energy and the lyrics are simple but emphatically honest, because that’s what love is: “And you’re loving me whether you want to or not, but I want you for sure/I am loving you more….You say ‘Darling am I chore?’/I know you love me, but I am loving you more.”
And that could have been all well and good, but finding a way to appreciate this new side of Bear Hands gave me the courage to take on another project of theirs that never hooked me the first time around: their 3-song EP Songs from Utopia Volume One that was released on July 4th of 2012 and which is, to quote the band, “a collection of quasi-political ‘thought pieces’ that serve as a manifestation of overwhelming white guilt and a pinko elitist liberal arts education…It is also a birthday present for America.”
Heavy stuff right?
And not what I expected when I first hit play. I mean, these were sort-of stoners who went to Wesleyan and opened up for MGMT. In a time when NO ONE is using politics as a subject to sing about, even as our country just continually kind of spins in the drain, it was just really unusual to be bombarded with the harsh truths about our country’s place both historically and presently in regards to the rest of the world.
But songwriter Dylan Rau is able to remind us how much we suck with such an intriguing blend of indie rock that it’s hard not to tap my toes as example after example is levied against AMURRICA. The opening track, “What I’ve Learned,” slips from churning protest song to frenzied outburst and back again; the following song, “Bullshit Saviour Complex” is a woozy downtempo’ed disco anthem; and the EP-closer “Disaster Shy” sifts all the excess instrumentation away to magnify the songs message, eventually snowballing into a rallying cry of “I am just so hungry/Mother said let my tongue bleed.”
So I don’t know if they made the mistake of releasing what sounds like a late Fall/early Winter album in my head in the middle of the summer or if I made the mistake of not appreciating it when it first entered my life, but now that we’re both in the right place and the right time, with each repetition I find myself listening to it and declaring, “I am loving you moorreeee.”
- Conner Youngblood – “Aqua Regia”/“Amelia”
Conner Youngblood was one of the very first artists I ever wrote about when I was handed the reigns to the TYSFK column. I waxed poetic about his wobbly jam of a song, “Monsters,” while admitting that I didn’t know much about him other than that he had a few great releases already under his belt. Luckily, after having a few brief correspondences with him over the past few years, he’s less of a mystery now.
The Nashville resident just recently toured across the pond opening up for Willis Earl Beal and Deptford Goth, and is close to finishing up a new album that I’m really, really, really excited to hear. Until then though, we have his newest dual-release ““Aqua Regia/Amelia” to enjoy.
Musically, “Aqua Regia” is his most grandiose sound yet. With an introduction that lets me know what it would sound like if The Weeknd actually had emotions, it slips into a song that is equal parts quicksand sinking and sunrise rising. “Amelia” on the other hand takes the ominous wobble of “Monster” and sets it over a tin-roof rainstorm introduction in order to soften this song into a beautiful back-talking summer storm. It actually reminds me of my favorite song of all time, “Gravity Rides Everything” by Modest Mouse, and not just sonically, but in how it makes me feel while it plays. When listening to these songs, it all just falls, falls right into place.
Conner told me that both “Aqua Regia” and “Amelia” were written in the same day, and in the “same state of mind,” but true to form, he was humbly curt when extrapolating any further than that: “Not sure what else to say about them, but I’m happy with the way they turned out.”
Me too, Conner. Now finish the album soon please while we move onto a very special edition of…
THE GUEST WRITER YOU SHOULD FUCKING KNOW: Chris Richards Edition
Editor’s Note: I read a lot of music journalism and despite the wealth of material available, it’s actually pretty rare to find a piece that really and truly blows me away. This is mostly because it’s hard to successfully reflect upon a subjective experience like music (trust me). It takes real skill to encapsulate the deepest meanings of something that at its core is meant to be greater than just words.
However, last week Chris Richards of the Washington Post — and of the defunct legendary DC band Q and Not U — reviewed Kanye West’s performance at the Verizon Center and it does just that. Enjoy the amazing writing, and I promise to do better from now on.
“What was that?
It was a concert.
It was Kanye West.
It was a Thursday night at Verizon Center that felt like a hallucination. Or a miracle. Or a shouting match between a rapper and the universe, and the rapper won.
It was our most imaginative contemporary pop star at his peak — quite literally appearing atop an artificial glacier during the seething reveries of “Power,” rhyming about the perks of invincibility.
It was an alternate universe temporarily housed in a downtown sports arena, with most of the action unfolding in the shadow of that alien iceberg, which spit out gobs of pixelated lava, a few genuine fireballs, a squadron of masked dancers who alternated between flowing white robes and flesh-toned body suits, and a beardo dressed as Jesus of Nazareth.
It was, obviously, a spectacle.
It was “Monday Night Raw” at the Vatican.
It was Vanessa Beecroft marching her models into Superman’s Fortress of Solitude.
It was Stanley Kubrick shooting a porno on Broadway.
It was every bit as magical as Pink Floyd’s flying pig, Daft Punk’s pyramid or Parliament-Funkadelic’s Mothership.
It was every bit as Afro-futuristic as Sun Ra’s interplanetary jazz, Rammellzee’s cosmic boom-bap or Parliament-Funkadelic’s “Mothership Connection.”
It was a lot of things all at once.
It was an assault — a high-budget, high-decibel incursion that threatened to drown out West’s charisma but never came close.
It was a dystopian Halloween party, with the 36-year-old hiding his face behind an array of luxury masks that made him look like a Mexican luchador. Or Damien Hirst’s bling-skull. Or a millionaire bank robber just doing it for fun.
It was a heist, with West getting something out of us that no other artist seems currently capable of extracting: an impossible blend of admiration and tolerance.
It was a hit parade. And a frog march. Those ecstatic singles — “Through the Wire,” “Good Life,” “Flashing Lights” — had to elbow their way onto a set list dominated by selections from West’s furious new album, “Yeezus,” often getting bruised up in the process.
It was an exorcism. Pushing his voice toward something feral, West moved to these detonative rhythms as if trying to escape his body.
It was an act of autoerotic voyeurism, the rapper writhing around on the ground during “Guilt Trip,” admiring himself on the giant, circular video screen rotating overhead. “Make the screen spin faster,” he demanded.
It was a pro athlete relishing the Jumbotron replay.
It was Jimmy Stewart in “Vertigo,” falling to his subconscious doom in a psychedelic nightmare.
It was a dream that felt deceptively coherent. The kind that makes perfect sense when it’s unraveling in your brain but abuses logic when you try to explain it in the morning.
It was like nothing else that West’s peers are dreaming up today.
It was a demand that we expand our notions of pop greatness. The Beatles and Marvin Gaye heroically built their empires with bricks of love, but West’s raw material is “awesomeness,” the word he’s been using a lot lately to describe music’s mystery and magnetism and ability to nourish unknown appetites.
It was his most complete iteration of “awesomeness” yet.
It was — for 12 minutes or so — an extemporaneous airing of grievances, sung or screamed. “Ain’t never been a rapper to have problems with two presidents,” he gripe-bragged. And later, “The CEO of Nike, Mark Parker, wouldn’t get on the phone with Kanye West for eight months!”
It was another punch at another glass ceiling, followed by some rolling around in the shards.
It was YouTube chum — a screed that made West sound awful, even though he was arguing for freedom and possibility. “They’ll tell you I’m insane,” he said. “That’s because they’re scared of their own dreams.”
It was, somehow, proof of his sanity.
It was dark thoughts and good times.
It was a recitation from West’s glossary of sins followed by a come-to-pretend-Jesus moment. After snarling for 100 straight minutes, the rapper peeled off his mask for “Jesus Walks” and smiled a brilliant smile at the man he had paid to dress up as his Lord and Savior.
It was a fresh reconciliation of the high, the low, the real, the surreal, the sacred and the profane.
It was psychotic.
It was a blast.
And then it was over.”
If you/someone you know is up for the task of writing non-sequitered musical ramblings, feel free to shoot me an email at [email protected], tell me I look pretty, and convince me why you should be a Guest Writer We Should Fucking Know.