It’s impossible to live up to 16 years of anticipation and hype, but The Avalanches’ Wildflower comes pretty damn close. “Because I’m Me” is one of the highlights to come closest to hitting the euphoric highs of their debut and it finally gets a music video to match. Relying heavily on a sample of Honey Cone’s “Want Ads,” the Australian duo flips the script by replacing the vocals with an obscure sample from a 50’s era Streets and Gangland Rhythms album. The result is something that wouldn’t sound out of place in Jackson 5’s discography, and the video is just as much fun.
With Cleveland being on the radar due to their baseball team’s World Series berth and the ring ceremony for the Cavaliers, it only seems appropriate to highlight Cleveland-based band Cloud Nothings. Their latest single “Modern Act” off of their upcoming album Life Without Sound gives a taste of what’s to come from their new guitarist Chris Brown. Between the sleeker production and the newfound dimension of Brown’s guitar, “Modern Act” is one of the easiest songs from the band to enjoy. Look for Life Without Sound to be released in January.
After a slew of rumors, it looks like RTJ3 is happening after all! The duo of Killer Mike and El-P impress on their latest single, which is available for free on Adult Swim. The track is brief, but at first blush, the song appears to be every bit the densely layered, gritty, and dynamic track one would expect from these two.
In our new Friday Five feature, we’ll introduce five songs from the past week.
“WiFi” (feat. Erykah Badu) by D.R.A.M.
Welcome to the beautifully weird world of D.R.A.M. The man that inspired Drake’s “Hotline Bling” with his breakthrough single “CHA CHA,” D.R.A.M. is frequently absurd, soulful and brilliant all at once. As such, his pairing with Erykah Badu about, well, Wi-Fi signals, makes perfect sense. It’s a lush, funky track that is two parts Funkadelic and one part Stankonia-era Outkast. Big Baby D.R.A.M. is available now.
“A-YO” by Lady Gaga
Lady Gaga is continuously evolving and reinventing herself as an artist, and that process continues on her latest release Joanne, out today. With a more adult-contemporary/country vibe, the album has a who’s who list of contributors that include Josh Homme, Mark Ronson, Father John Misty, and Kevin Parker, which lends to its slightly disjointed feeling when taken as a whole. When it clicks, however, it works splendidly.
“The Castle” by The Flaming Lips
Between a misguided cover album, an overstayed Miley Cyrus partnership, and their last immensely abstracted release The Terror, you’d be forgiven for thinking that The Flaming Lips had essentially burned out as a studio band. Enter “The Castle” which not only is their best song in years, it also doesn’t sound too far removed from Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots. It’ll be interesting to see if the rest of their upcoming release Oczy Mlody follows suit, but in the meantime, this gives Flaming Lips fans something to tide them over until the album drops in January.
“Here In Spirit” by Jim James
Straight away, this is by far and away the best solo work ever written and released by James. His solo albums have always had a laser-focus on social commentary and a much more soulful than those more familiar with My Morning Jacket would expect. Never has it ever come together as well as “Here In Spirit,” which, in the most flattering way, is channeling some serious Marvin Gaye-type vibes. Eternally Even will be released on November 4.
“Alakazam !” by Justice
The other immensely popular French electronic duo is back after a five-year absence with their album Woman, due for release on November 18. For those that were let down by Justice’s follow-up work after their great debut album Cross, you’ll find a lot to like here as well as on their other singles “Randy” and “Safe and Sound.”
DC’s Oddisee is truly an old soul when it comes to hip-hop. While many have gone further and further into a highly synthesized soundscape, Oddisee is known for his incredibly organic productions that always harken back to what many would consider the golden age of hip-hop in the late 80’s and early 90’s. Showing off his positivity driven lyricism on this particular track, Oddisee is not only a great producer but also a pretty good rapper to boot.
Former actor Alejandro Rose-Garcia is now making a name for himself as a musician, and his Americana project Shakey Graves has been taking the world by storm. Extraordinarily talented as a solo artist, it’s his breakthrough duet with the equally talented Esmé Patterson that is being highlighted here as it is not only Rose-Garcia at his most approachable, but the undeniable chemistry is something to also be marveled.
Along with Queens of the Stone Age, Masters of Reality is one of the trademark bands of the desert rock scene and lives up to their Black Sabbath namesake with their psychedelic take on blues music. “Rabbit One” in particular is led by a gorgeous and silky-smooth bassline and terrific drumming from Ginger Baker (of Cream fame). It’s a beautiful, slow burn of blues-rock at its most primal, and well worth repeated listens.
For once a musical icon is trending on Twitter not due to an untimely death but rather because of the awarding of the Nobel Prize in Literature to one Bob Dylan. Although famed for his lyrics, some essays/articles are questioning whether or not Dylan deserves the award (he does). If you agree with the decision or not, it is unquestionable that Bob Dylan not only influenced generations upon generations of musicians and artists with his music but millions of individuals with his poignant and always thoughtful lyrics that contain vivid imagery rarely seen in pop music.
After four years, Rachael Yamagata is finally back and sounds more invigorated than ever. Her trademark voice enchants from the beginning, but where she would typically settle for an acoustic and intimate backdrop, the song surprisingly expands to a backing band complete with a horn section. If it weren’t for Yamagata’s earnest vocals, the song would venture dangerously into the realm of cheese, but she pulls it off successfully. It’s great to hear her talents on display again.
Cibo Matto has made a career of making daring, genre-defying music. Abstract yet powerful, the haunting oddity of “Sugar Water” was underscored by the fantastic Spike Jonze-directed music video. Even by listening to the song alone, Cibo Matto’s breakthrough single still holds its own 20 years later, as does the rest of their debut, Viva! La Woman.