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).
I’ve spent all week worrying about the Frightened Rabbit concert I’m reviewing at 9:30 Club tomorrow night (writing this on Monday, so adjust accordingly). Expect to hear all about my anxiousness later when me and Kendelyn Ouellette’s early show/late show review goes up, but to summarize, after not being as captured by their most recent album as I had been by their earlier records, I’m beginning to worry this is the start of the end between Frightened Rabbit and I. It’s probably just the inevitable cold feet that comes with any long relationship, but I’m really hoping this show can be the second honeymoon I feel like we need.
But if that flame really is starting to go out, I may have found a new torch with Meursault.
I’m apparently about a year late to the game on these Edinburghers, but thankfully my girlfriend has been trying to convince me to get into Spotify by making great playlists on there, and Meursault were fortunately stuck somewhere in them.
I’m an admitted sucker for an emotive Scottish accent (see also FLUTES), but even still, there’s a quality in lead singer Neil Peonnycook’s voice that captures the poetry in the lyrics impeccably, helping to emphasize the connotations attached to each word.
But what really separates Meursault from other UK crooners is their willingness to experiment with imperfection. They’re at times cacophonous and occasionally unapologetically off-key, but it allows their humanizing rawness to expose itself. And when a tight melody and strong harmony find their way out of it all, it’s a testament to their impressive instrumental capabilities.
I obviously haven’t gotten to spend the time with them that I have with Frigthened Rabbit, so it’s still too early to tell where my heart is headed, but I will say it’s been really enjoyable getting to know these guys.
And with songs like “A Few Kind Words,” Mersault is showing me some new things that Scott Hutchinson and I just never did together…
- Bars of Gold – “Hey Kids”/“Hey Neighbor”
To give you a brief glimpse into the not so glamorous world of music journalism, here’s a pretty common occurence:
– Through people and sources cooler than I, I stumble across a good song/band.
– I write about said band with hyperbolic praise.
– The label the band is on or their PR agency sends me an email thanking me.
– They secretly place my name on an email list to “casually” let me know about every release by every artist on their roster.
– I have to listen to every single one because, like dating, you never know when you’re going to run into “the one.”
– I am bombarded by some OK songs, some not so OK songs, and mostly a lot of forgettable songs that don’t move the needle one way or the other.
But every now and then, something stands out among the tired and poor huddled masses and demands attention, refusing to be ignored.
And trust me when I say this: It is absolutely impossible to ignore Marc Paffi and his band out of Ferndale, Michigan, Bars of Gold.
Their album-opener, “Hey Kids” awakens with the one-of-a-kind gruff yelp of Paffi, famous for fronting Bear Vs. Shark, breaking into a “Once In A Lifetime” stage-setting intro, its unique sound and cadence creating an impact and urgency that carries through their entire album of smart, noisy, rock and roll.
Though with such a blue-collar vocalist, there are times when it sounds like the album marches into the guitar-driven anthemic rock which might have once caused Springstein comparisons that now might venture more towards Gaslight Anthem, but that’s too easy a pigeonhole to place these guys.
Even their more “straightforward” songs have movements, layers, and depth to their instrumentation. Rampant guitar riffs emerge from churning bass lines and militantly-tight percussion backbones meandering blues guitars. And when they decide to really let loose, all bets regarding the instrumentation are off. Let’s just say I was not surprised to find out that the other members of the group are from an experimental jazz outfit called Wildcatting… When you pair that with the emotion of post-punk charging through every vocal line, the result is something a little harder to categorize.
After a raucous nine tracks that bounce from rock to punk to dance, closer “Hey Neighbor” finally tears the album and itself apart with a ferocity solely meant for album closers. It’s sonically powerful but stylistically enticing; it even lets itself cool down and collect itself before one final manic outpouring that comes with the fiery passion of a Baptist sermon.
The group has been slow-cooking its way to this album with a previous effort, multiple bands merging to form one, and previously-Skyping drummers moving back to Michigan (and leaving DC with some harsh words…), but with this release, they have officially made their mark.
And they’ve made it impossible to ignore.
- Blood Cultures – “Indian Summer”
Somewhere beyond Google’s reach, I once wrote about how easy it is to make soft electronic-pop sound good, but how hard it is to make it sound great. It has to exist in the perfect balance of variables that are so seemingly picayune that it’s daunting to comprehend.
But Blood Cultures has done just that with his first release, a song called “Indian Summer.”
I’ll be the first to admit that I don’t often listen to heavily-produced electronic trip-pop/dream-pop. That might be because it’s a genre I just made up, but it might also be because there is such a deluge of this type of music that it’s hard to find the songs that elevate themselves above all the “listenably good, but ultimately forgettable” similar songs (blame/thank Logic and Ableton for this).
But luckily for me, Ruckus Rhythms kicked my inbox’s door down recently and introduced themselves (expect to hear all about it when (spoiler) I bring them in as the Guest Writer You Should Fucking Know next week). They sent me a link to their latest playlist, or “playlust” as they call them, and I was pleasantly surprised with the opening track, a song called “Indian Summer” by someone named Blood Cultures.
Turns out that someone named Blood Cultures is someone from Jersey who only recently released this one song and has kept any biographical information to his or herself. Fortunately for him/her/them though, this one song is pretty fantastic. It has the hypnotizing repetitive Pacific guitar of Broke For Free, the breezy vocals of Washed Out, and a bouncy breakdown that suggests dancing oneself clean.
It’s a strong opening statement from the enigmatic Blood Cultures, but remember my one saying about acts who go the mysterious route:
When you’re this talented, you can’t hide behind anonymity for long.
And now, it’s time for a very special edition of…
THE GUEST WRITER YOU SHOULD FUCKING KNOW: Patrick Gardner Edition
Editor’s Note: Patrick Gardner and I were college roommates all four years at Boston College and even moved into a lovely row-house in the Boystown section of Chicago after graduating (as friends…not that there’s anything wrong with that…). We may have met over Facebook due to a shared love of the band Say Anything, but he’s also the person that introduced me to E-40 and the Hyphy movement, for which I will be forever grateful.
- 2 Chainz – “Used 2″
So while Bryce has a great ear for new music and bands you should be paying attention to, my taste is a little more…shallow. I’m here to satisfy your guilty pleasure track of the week.
This week, I’m going to focus on a jam that I’ve been blasting shamelessly now ever since the release of BOATS II, and I feel deserves a bit of airtime: “Used 2” by 2 Chainz, a single which pays homage back to Juvenile’s “Back that Ass Up,” and is every bit as entertaining.
In “Used 2,” 2 Chainz, a College Park native, is paying tribute to one of the iconic songs in Atlanta hip-hop history. The song honestly feels like a track off a mixtape where the artist is freestyling on an existing beat and just rapping for the fun of it — except in this case, the Hair Weave Killa took the time to add major label production value and release it as a single.
I’m going to chalk it up to the fact that Tauheed Epps aka 2 Chainz aka Tity Boi is now 36 and has been in the rap game since 1997 and only recently made it to the big stage, but the guy just seems to be having the time of his life. That’s what makes his music so entertaining – he’s got the charisma of a guy that finally made good on his dream, and he’s going to enjoy every damn moment of it.
The best part of the accompanying video is that he gets the Cash Money gang back together for a good old-fashioned block party. Seeing Juvenile, Mannie Fresh, Birdman, and a grown-up Weezy hanging out on the block with 2 Chainz is like being a fly on the wall for the greatest 15-year reunion ever (One question I do have though – is Mannie Fresh a vampire? Guy hasn’t aged a DAY. Even Juvenile’s got some grey in his goatee these days).
And let’s be serious. 2 Chainz isn’t rapping about ANYTHING of substance, but like he says on his track “Black Unicorn,” “Lyrically I could be Talib Kweli, but with gold teeth it’d be hard for some to believe.” #TRU.
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.