Archive | October, 2012

Music So Fresh It’s Still in the Bubble Wrap: A List

29 Oct

How fresh are these five artists? So fresh that they make ‘90s Will Smith jealous. So fresh that your organic farm lettuce wilts in defeated dismay. So fresh that they’re still in the bubble wrap. So fresh that… you get the point. On this latest offering from Top Five Records, a sensitive young lad from Nottingham competes for space with a Japanese Britpop band and a Copenhagen soul-pop star. Sound interesting? Read on.

My Kind of Woman, by Mac DeMarco

On first look, Mac DeMarco looks far too ordinary. Dressed down in an old-fashioned plaid shirt and flashing a stoned, buck-toothed grin, he looks like the sort of guy who’d rather chill, relax and have a good time rather than embark on an ambitious road to musical success. And surprisingly, this assessment is not too far off the mark. Mac DeMarco is a laid-back, down-to-earth and ordinary guy who makes laid-back, down-to-earth and extraordinary music, directly because of the way he wields his sincerity as a musical Midas Touch of sorts. On “My Kind of Woman”, Mac writes a beautiful, simple, timeless song about being in love with a woman even though she drives you crazy, sounding a bit like Wilco featuring (non-melancholic) Broken Social Scene in the process. Mac DeMarco (and his music) is old-school, charming and easy-going; a more prolix description of his talent is unbefitting.

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Day and Night, by Diamond Rings

Canadian-born artist and frequent fire-setter of the hipster blogosphere Diamond Rings (aka John O’Regan) first came to prominence with the manically catchy “All Yr Songs” way back in September 2009. In the subsequent music video, O’Regan sparkled like his moniker suggests – because of his infectious energy as well as because of, well, the glitter that might’ve been embedded in his make-up. Banter aside, “Day & Night” is a track from his upcoming sophomore album, Free Dimensional, with beats and synths so happy that you can almost see the rainbows. It’s a bit like Passion Pit with a marked Ok Go verve, but you can just call it dance-pop. “1, 2, let me love you/ 3, 4, love you more/ 5, 6, 7, 8, 9/ 10, 11, 12 all day and night,” goes the glittery, memorable chorus. You can’t not love this song.

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Dude can dance.

Someone Told Me, by Jake Bugg

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On the YouTube page for a song by Nottingham native Jake Bugg, VEVO tried to shove us into watching the latest video by Justin Bieber. We recount to you this dubious anecdote of VEVO-based irony because that was the moment that provided us a perfect perspective on Jake’s genius. Unlike his Canadian counterpart, this eighteen-year-old JB from across the pond does not collaborate with Nicki Minaj in cocky songs meant for teenage girls. Instead, Jake Bugg writes lovelorn songs about girls in a time-honored vibe that’s older than both him and Nicki. On the delicate and poignant “Someone Told Me”, the most obvious approximation of young Jake’s music would be a youthful Bob Dylan, but Nick Cave and Elliott Smith figure in the formula, too. Listen closer, though, and through the endearing Nottingham accent and naïve, well-penned lyrics, one cannot help but think of Submarine-era Alex Turner.  “Someone loved me, but not today/ Will you show me a way how to love?” he asks, a teenager who grew up a little too fast. Don’t be fooled by his Facebook-profile-picture-esque album cover: this one’s a keeper.

Pilgrim, by MØ

MØ (“virgin”) is the stage name of young Danish singer Karen Marie Ørsted. Recently, she’s released a couple of brilliant tracks, “Pilgrim” and “Maiden”, which are as clever and minimalist as her choice of stage name. “Pilgrim” is the more confident and restrained of the two, and that’s why we have decided to cover it.

Slick, sparse hand-claps provide the backbone for this off-beat soul-pop gem; a riveting, lean brass section provides the meat; and MØ’s sinuous vocals the lifeline-blood. The best thing about her is the way she sounds a little like a three-way Battle of the Artists between Santigold, the xx and, say, Brandy. Another awesome thing about her is the way she pulls off the aesthetically-troubled hipster singer shtick; it’s usually impossible to do without arousing scoffs and derision. On the chorus of “Pilgrim”, MØ wails, “All the time I just want to let go, and go/ All the time I just want to fuck it up,” and somehow, you’re intrigued. Even if her troubles are for aesthetic purposes only, she sure as hell knows how to make it work. Oh, and “Pilgrim” comes with a nice visual accompaniment: not since Franz Ferdinand’s “Take Me Out” has a music video brimmed with so much quirk, genius and synchronicity. It’s worth a watch almost as much as the song is worth a listen. Check out both below!

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Flower Chain, by Taffy

We were piqued from the moment that the hectic bass-and-drums affair on “Flower Chain” set our feet tapping. We were hooked almost immediately after the cool-as-hell guitars kicked in. And by the time vocalist Iris started wordplaying between ‘deny’ and ‘don’t I’, we were giddily in love. Taffy is a band from Tokyo that sounds a little bit like Blur, Pulp, Suede and all that, while dutifully reflecting a bit of the concurrent Seattle grunge scene that those bands themselves were influenced by.

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The funny thing, though, is that Taffy has actually gone on record saying that they’ve never really listened to Britpop at all! Peculiar. However, we certainly aren’t the only ones that see the resemblance. Taffy has been signed on to London label Club AC30, and is embarking on a UK tour this very month. As an added bonus to this brilliant song, the effortlessly- blasé video features the band rocking out both in their human and anime avatars. Taffy is delicious; please do listen to them.

Agree with our top five? Disagree? Let us know in the comments section. 

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NH7 Weekender: Delhi edition

24 Oct

By Anjishnu Kumar (Photographer Siddharth Shah)

As soon as I got out of the car on the Saturday of the Delhi Weekender, I was struck by the scale and sheer ambition of the event that was unfolding.  Buddh International Circuit’s gargantuan Grand Stand stood tall beside the curtained enclosures housing six stages that were to host around sixty bands over the next two days.

This is NH7 Weekender, the biggest music event to ever happen near the national capital.

The last biggest-music-event-ever-to-happen-in-the-capital I’d gone to in the NCR was the Metallica concert in Gurgaon. That day ended with me standing in the sun for four hours without water, with a rather obese gentleman vomiting next to me in regular intervals and having to run away from the venue before the police arrived.

As you can imagine, I was going into this event with a perfectly justified sort of cynicism.

The event was already showing signs of better management than the Metallica affair. The parking lot was a small ocean of grass. I was handed a complimentary glass of water at the entrance, and led through the security check. Things looked good.

We followed the music and ended up at the largest stage, the Black Rock Arena, where a perfectly mediocre whiny alt-rockish band was just finishing up. I didn’t bother finding out who they were.

Next up was Vir Das’s Alien Chutney, boasting of the comedian plus two stalwarts of Indian rock- Warren Mendonsa and Sidd Coutto.

Alien Chutney was half rock-band and half stand up comedy act in which Vir Das regularly walked the thin line between acerbic wit and vulgarity. Alien Chutney started with the surprisingly addictive ‘Villageman’, a ballad about having sex with Haryanvis.

He followed with some more originals, such as his rendition of the Delhi Belly classic Bhag Bhag D K Bose (“Bhag Bhag Madarchod”) and the Heavy Metal Song (“Iron! Iron! Aluminum!”), before finally ending with his attempt at wizard rock, a piece entitled “Harry Is a Randi!”

One band down and nobody had puked near me: already better than Metallica. A pretty good start to the fest.

Up next was Indus Creed, which is apparently one of India’s best alt rock groups.

Stripped of the Alien Chutney’s novelty factor, it was clear that Indus Creed was lacking in a lot of ways. At their peak they came up with decent but somewhat generic alternative rock riffs, with lyrics reminiscent of Linkin Park.

Their seminal song “Fireflies” had an almost Porcupine Tree sensibility: a breath of fresh air in the middle of a rain of angsty power chords.

I found myself wandering to the Other Stage, a small set up next to the much larger Dewarists stage, where we found Barefaced Liar: a trio consisting of a vocalist, flute player and a guitarist that specialized in Spanish inspired music. However, the band relied heavily on lead vocals, and the other musicians did basically nothing but provide backup.

We moved on to the Dewarists stage where Advaita was playing. While their music was technically quite sound, I’m sorry to report that it did not get the blood running. This was a fest that was supposed to be headlined by Megadeth, and I did not feel excited.

Back to the Black Rock Arena, where Zero was just going up on stage. Zero is one of the most critically acclaimed Indian bands, performing an average of only one gig per year.

But damn do they make it count.

Frontman Rajeev Talwar adopted the persona of a hedonistic but rather likable British opera singer on stage. His overblown antics and Warren Mendonsa’s guitar set the tone for the performance from the outset, leading the audience through quirky lyrics, solid rock riffs and tastefully constructed solos. Finally some REAL rock at the Black Rock Arena!

Zero finished with their cult rock classic “PSP 12”, topped off by another blistering solo by Mendonsa.

Still a little dizzy after Zero, we wandered into the Bindass Fully Fantastic Stage into a performance by Gandu Circus. Now, Gandu Circus is the band that composed the furious Bengali-Rap soundtrack for subversive Bengali movie Gandu. Sadly, however, performing the movie soundtrack was only notable highlight of their show.

Following them was Menwhopause, a witty alternative rock ensemble from Delhi. Menwhopause brought to the table impeccable instrumentality and original melodies that combined both Indian and western elements. Menwhopause played a solid repertoire of soft rock songs, such as “Circles”, “Can’t we be Dreaming?” and “Downtown”. Meanwhile, there was a steady drift of people (from Pentagram which was playing in the Black Rock Arena), saying they wanted to hear a band in which people “could actually play the guitar and sing”.

But compared to the other solid act of the day (Zero), Menwhopause seemed rather subdued… until their final song, that is.

This song took the ‘soft rock’ label, smashed it to bits, and then proceeded to jump up and down on it repeatedly.

“Katil Sardar” is zany, irreverent, and possibly the product of fundamental deranged mind, but all in a good way, of course. This hard rock song has a soft rock song built into it: its lyrics jump from describing a hearty Punjabi meal, advising horny old men to move to New Delhi and ascribing the attacks on World Trade Centre to a malfunctioning bong. Besides, they had an entire verse is made up of terrible Punjabi puns.

Katil Sardar’s National Anthem is Bande-Marte-HUM! (“We Kill People!” -for everyone not from the North)

Is it genius? Or merely the the first step of a progression towards dementia? I cannot say. It probably doesn’t matter.

Following Menwhopause on the Fully Fantastic stage was Shaa’ir and Func , an experimental electronic duo consisting of vocalist Monica Dogra and guitarist Randolph Correia.

While S+F had a few interesting moments (“Shine” was one), I honestly lost interest in the electronica quickly, and spent the majority of their performance staring at Monica Dogra gyrating on stage.

So did the rest of the audience.

We decided to leave Shaa’ir and Func early and head over to Anoushka Shankar on the Dewarists stage, but soon decided that we really had not come here to appreciate Hindustani classical music. Thus ended day one, which definitely offered its moments but had several disappointments as well.

The second day had its work cut out.

Day 2:

I was late to arrive on Day 2 and jumped quickly into the fray.

The Black Rock Arena was hosting Indian metal band Scribe, whose frontman urged the audience to “tickle his balls” as the band passed out beach-balls into the crowd.

Scribe performed reasonable metalcore if you weren’t particularly bothered about things like lyrics, melody, rhythm or originality of any sort.

Their songs apparently had names, but I was not able discern any through the growling.

Sadly, I had to make a hasty egress when the lead singer of Scribe announced that his favourite ‘metal’ band was, in fact, Limp Bizkit.

Next up were Them Clones at the Fully Fantastic stage. Barring atrocious work from the sound technicians that kept the volume far too high for a normal human being, the performance was excellent.

Them Clones as a band seemed transformed from the last time I saw them (in 2010). They seemed much more professional and progressive, and much less like a college band. They played one of the best renditions of “Long Live The Dead” that I’ve ever heard, and introduced us to some of their new music, before ending with the perennial hit “My Life” and a version of the hit “Zephyretta” (accompanied by saxophone).

Them Clones were followed by Shillong-based blues-rock band Soulmate. I hadn’t heard this band before and they turned out to be quite a find. Slick, stylish, original, and supremely confident, Soulmate delivered a performance that would shame most of the more established bands.  Besides, vocalist Tipriti Kharbangar gets my vote for being both the sexiest and most talented woman on stage during this fest.

Soulmate’s cornerstone tracks “Set Me Free” and “Voodoo Woman” transpose effortless, free-flowing blues melodies onto Tipriti’s vocals as they shift between silky smoothness and surprising force. The result is a musical tour de force.

The Bindass stage was already starting to dominate the concert, and next up was Blackstratblues, Warren Mendonsa’s instrumental guitar project with Sid Coutto on the drums.

Mendonsa had already delivered brilliant performances as part of Alien Chutney and Zero, and he did not disappoint here.

Most of his songs were from his new albums, the only two exceptions being “Ode to a Sunny Day” and “Ode to a Rainy Day”. For the majority he didn’t even bother naming them, letting the music speak for itself.

Since I can’t simply tell you to listen to song X on Youtube, I must tell you that Mendonsa painted sonic landscapes with his black Stratocaster and guided the crowd through a gamut of emotions that blues music rarely takes one to: sheer bliss, hope, and childish wonder.

However, it cannot be described in words so perhaps it is futile to even try. Blackstratblues was my favourite performance of the event and for me, Mendonsa was the star of NH7 Weekender, not Megadeth.

Mendonsa was joined by Vishal Dadlani of Pentagram and Prithwish of Them Clones as Blackstratblues ended with a reinvention of Zephyretta.

With some reluctance I left the Fully Fantastic Stage to return to the Black Rock Arena.

It was Time.

The crowd that gathered in front of the stage was immense but it was already tired after the fierce moshing that took place during the last concert.

(One source maintains that Bhayanak Maut’s Mosh Pits involved people punching each other with buckets.)

But as Dave Mustaine walked up on stage, all the injuries and tiredness were forgotten. And the crowd went up in a deafening roar.

I honestly have no idea what Megadeth played for the first fifteen minutes. I found myself headbanging even as a mosh pit opened up and I was pushed in. The next few minutes are a haze of bodies slamming into each other until Megadeth paused playing to tell us that they were touring to commemorate the tenth anniversary of their studio album Countdown to Extinction.

Megadeth played the entire tracklist of Countdown to Extinction.

Debris rained from the sky.

Clothes were torn.

People were sent sprawling onto the ground.

Girlfriends were hurriedly evacuated from the front rows by their boyfriends.

At one point I was the only guy with a shirt on in a five-metre radius.

As the Countdown album ended, Megadeth receded from the stage.

It was ten pm. Time for the concert to end.

The crowd roared, demanding Megadeth come out and play “Tornado of Souls”.  Mustaine walked out onto the stage, exhorting the crowd to cheer, playing one half of the audience against the other.

He told the crowd that he considered people in America spoilt, compared to the hardships his fans have to face in a country like India, shedding a lone tear at the end of the monologue.

The irony of that statement was not lost on me. After all, he was addressing possibly the most pretentious, privileged and generally spoilt group of individuals in this nation today.

And suddenly the rest of the band was back and Megadeth’s trademark riffs filled the air. The hitherto sobered crowd went wild, and for one last time, I found myself in the eye of a tornado.

Das Racist at The DNA Lounge (12/10/2012)

19 Oct

You take Das Racist, a ridiculous alternative hip-hop group whose humour, all-over-the-place allusions and stream-of-consciousness style of rap would never fly were they not so good at it and put them on a stage with Le1f, Lakutis and unheard-of Oakland artist Safe and you might expect something special. I certainly hope not though, because they gave me what was by far the worst concert I’ve attended this side of Euphoria.

Expectations

It is possible that you, the reader, may not really know of Das Racist. Despite flirting with breaking through many times, they never really managed that final step that puts a band on everybody’s lips.

These are really smart guys. Their lyricism is undeniable, and their subject matter is unique. Intelligence though is worthless unless paired with some skill and not only do these guys have flow on the level of half of the rappers you see owning the charts, but they pair it with consistently sick beats. Put everything together and you get the freshest feel in rap since Eminem first started dropping records. They might not be big, but they certainly deserve to be. With concerts like this though, you can understand why the reality is rather different.

The Club

The club is probably the best place to start. I don’t need to ask, I know they got it from the hellhole store. The concert was slated to start at 10PM and yet until midnight the club was owned by Crap DJ + Friends. I wish that I could call those Friends amateur rappers. Amateur implies some desire to become skilled, some promise of quality. The only thing I could hope for from these people was that they would stop. On the plus side, they gave me time to catch up on work and meet some nice, new people. Meeting people at concerts can be hard, but when you have as good an opening topic as how terrible that DJ was, things become easy.

To add to the pain, the place was a true hipster dive. Hipsters are like hippos, you see them on television and every now and again you will see one in captivity, but until you meet a whole herd of them in their natural habitat, you can never realise how truly irritating they are. I don’t even want to make the standard jokes as that would only trivialize the incredible hate I now feel for them. I am never going down that area of San Francisco again.

Safe

We gained a bit of a respite from the sonic sludge of that DJ with Safe, an Oakland R&B artist. He was okay and anything was better than what was playing before, but I would not track him down. I honestly wouldn’t even listen to him again. I might even change the channel if he was playing on the radio. However, he was as the music of the spheres compared to what came before, and sadly what came right after.

Lakutis

After a little more quality time with DJ I-don’t-need-to-be-good-if-I-look-hipster-enough, we finally got to see someone known. Admittedly it was Lakutis, the Cappadonna to DR’s Wu-Tang Clan, but he’s something, isn’t he? If stoned out of his mind counts as something, then he most certainly was something. He just wasn’t very good. At one point, he jumped into the crowd and refused to return, leaving his poor friend on the beats stranded. That was probably the only memorable part of his thankfully brief time alone on stage. His friend did manage some decent jokes though. All told though, not really best of the best of the best of the best ahh.

Le1f

Le1f is a full-on internet celebrity. Not content with merely producing such things as Combination Pizza Hut and Taco Bell, he plunged into the public eye with Wut. He also makes for a pretty impressive stage presence.

He ended with Wut and while the rest of his set is nowhere near that level, it still made for quite an enjoyable piece. He may not have the portfolio to follow Kanye and Drake from behind the beats to in front of the mic, but he was there and he was good. Also, whatever else one says about him, his performance certainly gets interesting.


Das Racist

Finally, we had DR themselves take the stage. They threw down a pretty strong set list. Starting with Who’s That? Brooown! they also went through some of their strongest stuff, like Rainbow in the Dark, Rapping 2 U, Amazing, Brand New Dance and Michael Jackson. These are all great stuff for a club and great songs to sing along with. Singing along though requires the rappers to actually be singing though.

To be fair, Dap did an incredible amount and sang pretty much every word of every song into his distorter. Heems and Kool A.D. though seemed happy to let the crowd do all the work though. In hindsight, Das Racist is not really a band that is at its best live. They need the beats to balance with the vocals and they need you to be in the right frame of mind to appreciate their lyrical wit. However, they could have tried. They were clearly stoned, but they seemed far from incapacitated. They just came off as callous.

There’s not really much more to say. They would have been disappointing all by themselves. They certainly weren’t worth all the wasted time waiting for them. When the crowd knew every lyric and DR let us sing the whole thing, it felt in parts like a celebration of what they have become. It felt more like a statement of why they will never be anything more.

Dinosaur Jr. at The Fillmore (10/10/2012)

16 Oct

Dinosaur Jr. are gods of their own little corner of alternative rock. It is a slightly dark corner, somewhere a little older and a little dirtier than the Las Vegas strip club that was Nirvana breaking into the mainstream, but an important corner nonetheless. In that little room with no floor, only pavement and with pixies playing in the dust of old cocaine, alternative rock learned much of what it was going to become. Cults still visit to sacrifice guitar strings and torture amplifiers to the ghosts of Neil Young and Sonic Youth albums. People sensible enough to live in San Francisco just hit The Fillmore instead.

Before I get into the concert, I apologize for the poor quality of the photos.

Shearwater

Before Dinosaur Jr. came to the stage though, we were treated to Shearwater, a band which I will admit to never having heard of before this concert. They were actually pretty good. A little inconsistent, but pretty good. I saw a hipster-looking girl quite literally fall in love with the lead singer. I may never see them again, but she has enough photos to keep her company until the end of time. As should you. Check them out.

As would mark the night though, they had a few sound problems themselves. One guitar pretty much failed to respond at some key moments. On the flip side though, it seemed to mostly have been intended for noise and I did get to see a guitar rage-trashed, which was almost worth the price of admission itself.

Anyway, they are quite good alternative rock. They have that shimmering, washing over you sort of sound that works so well when heard live. The crowd loved them from their first song onwards. Them telling a few stoned idiots to shut the fuck up didn’t hurt either. Pick up Animal Joy, they seemed to play most of their songs from it, and they were awesome. It is undoubtedly a band better heard live though. You need the drum to kick through you and the vocals and guitars to subsume you. However you do it though, listen to them. They are worth hearing.

Dinosaur Jr.

Dinosaur Jr. was, as Shearwater did promise us, mind-blowing. They came out, looking older and rather impossibly grumpier than they should and launched directly into the music. The song list was mostly from I Bet On Sky, as expected, but Little Fury Things came out somewhere around the second song, which was much sooner than I expected. There were also a couple more songs from their early days, including Just Like Heaven, and even a song from back before Dinosaur Jr. was formed. I’ll admit that they didn’t break into a Billie Holiday cover in the middle of the set, but it was certainly as varied as anyone could want.

I have only heard two Dinosaur Jr albums; I Bet On Sky and their classic You’re Living All Over Me, and that was most of their set, but they jammed hard on every song they played. So much was improvised that despite having heard something like four fifths of the songs they played before, two thirds of the music was brand new and the entire thing was excellent. Live music never feels like a recording, but this was a whole new beast that just happened to be wearing familiar clothes. J Mascis’ skill with the guitar has never been questioned, but nothing highlights as clearly as being able to completely tear apart old songs in a live performance.

However, much of the music’s novelty is due to the failure of the sounds crew. The vocals were incredibly soft at the beginning for both Mascis and Barlow, and while Barlow’s improved, J Mascis would not deign to do something as menial as fixing his vocals. In fact, were it not for the fact that I saw him sing, I would not have thought him capable of speaking. Lou Barlow had some fun chatting with the crowd, which included a mention of a certain band from San Francisco that forced them to change their name, but J Mascis never approached the mic for anything but singing. He even cut Lou Barlow off a couple of times, playing right through the chatter. One got the feeling that Dinosaur Jr. is happy enough with what it is, and feels no need to beg you to make it bigger.

Appearances aside, the sound was poor and the vocals non-existent. Dinosaur Jr. to start with is a noisy band, but the vocals do something to soften the sound. Take that away, and the performance becomes pretty loud. Add to that the facts that their improvisations were even noisier and that I stood about 20 feet closer to the stage than I should have and it took me three days before my left ear stopped ringing. Mere noise is easy though. The fact that this was good music through and through is what makes that feat impressive.

This may have been a different sound from the recorded one that drew me there and I may have had to fill in the words myself, but this was one of the best concerts that I have ever been to.

-Nikhil

Top Five New Songs to Break the Silence

9 Oct

Greetings. We realize that it’s been a disastrously long time since this site has directed the questing listener towards any good music. We also realize that there is no better way to redeem ourselves than by presenting you, reader, with five new songs that are sure to, well, strike a chord, whatever your genre-preference.

In the time of our lengthy absence, quite a few things have happened in the world of good music. Animal Collective, venerable mainstream-tiptoeing giants of the indie world, released a new album, as did equally beloved rock band Grizzly Bear. Flying Lotus put forward another experimental banquet, while recently-divorced Kim Gordon and Thurston Moore of Sonic Youth teamed up with the world’s most famous widow Yoko Ono for an intriguing project entitled, simply, YOKOKIMTHURSTON. Space-rock pioneers Muse also released a new album, and fellow country-men Coldplay thought it would be clever to have a Barbadian superstar play a Japanese woman in a song entitled “Princess of China”. Meanwhile, England also gave us the latest Adele-inspired offering in the form of Jewish class-act Jessie Ware.

So what should you listen to amongst all this exciting new music? Read on!

Dark Doo Wop, by MS MR

Sparsely-titled NYC duo MS MR Lizzy Plapinger and Max Hershenow (MS for her, MR for him) really like Tumblr: so much that they released their debut EP, Candy Bar Creep Show, on the platform for all and sundry to hear. The EP itself is full of operatic, lush drama that’s just a beguiling sneer short of Lana del Rey and a crisp shade of vulnerability more than a household radio-hit. However, it can be argued that MS MR are still to find their true sound to go with their well-formed Tumblr identity.

But all is forgiven because of ‘Dark Doo Wop’, which evokes the same haunting, ethereal beauty of witnessing graphic violence set to a score of 50s Stepford-pop. “This world is gonna burn, burn, burn, burn/ As long as we’re going down, baby you should stick around,” sings Plapinger, and in her supreme gift she makes you feel both the helplessness of her world collapsing around her, and the sickly romance of wanting him to stick around despite it all. If you’re going to listen to only one song from this set of five, it’s this one.

Goooo, by TNGHT

TNGHT really like colors. The cover art of their eponymous EP is a promising, confident riot of colors and (to take forward the obvious metaphor we’re building towards), so is their music. Think Timbaland on MDMA, or for the hipsters, karaoke-track Sleigh Bells (but harder, better, faster, stronger). TNGHT consists of Glasgow-based Hudson Mohawke and Montreal-based Lunice, but their sound is of a frantic, hedonistic NYC party: the sort of the unadulterated ecstasy from which the Weeknd’s soul-crushing post-high R&B could have possibly derived from.

‘Goooo’ is a prime example of TNGHT’s brilliance, with a tinny hair-raising whine leading into some of the boldest, slickest beats you’ve ever heard in your life. The whole ‘song’ blips and bleeps along with the assertive ferocity that can’t be bought or mimed: TNGHT is just that cool. When you hear the biggest names in rap and hip-hop dropping a verse or two over TNGHT’s beats (it’s going to happen soon; this seems almost built for that), remember: you heard it here first.

Rosie Oh, by Animal Collective

When we last saw Animal Collective, their drugged-out campfire-electronica was, much to fans’ surprise, slathered in a wholly accessible pop sheen. Consequently, yet unexpectedly, they were on the precipice of mainstream success, but managed to keep enough of their inimitable quirk to satisfy fans who have been there from Feels and earlier. The question with Centipede Hz, the new offering from the Baltimore group, was whether it would lean more towards their pop album Merriweather Post Pavilion, or hearken back to the ‘Fireworks’-era Golden Age. The answer, of course, is what we should have expected from Animal Collective: it is neither. In fact, it’s something else altogether.

Our favorite track off of the album has to be the swirly, beautiful ‘Rosie Oh’, a track that’s so upbeat that it could be the music for the forest-friends sequence of Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. Especially since Merriweather, Animal Collective (Panda Bear in particular) have gotten very good at writing metaphorical lyrics that double as pop songs. “You had opened up the door and made a place where I could sit inside and fortify/ But I said no I’d rather not; said no I’d rather not step in,” sings Panda, but soon sees the error of his cold-shouldering ways. “I’d like to embrace it all; have I made this or is it that I’ve been made?” he wonders later. Try to catch the words, if you’re not too busy grinning from how happy ‘Rosie Oh’ makes you.

Nothing That Has Happened So Far Has Been Anything We Could Control, by Tame Impala

Close your eyes for a minute, and think of every single 60s psych-rock cliché you can possibly think of. A crash of cymbal, followed by a deep drum flourish; slightly off-tune piano; distorted, lingering vocals tweaked into cryptic depths; the slightest peppering of Eastern inflections; and a good old-fashioned dreamy, ebb-and-swell three-minute wordless segment bang in the middle. Until we heard Lonerism, Perth band Tame Impala’s second album, we didn’t think it was possible to recreate all those elements into a song without sounding like you’re just ripping off from a bunch of immortal bands. You could put “Nothing That Has Happened So Far…” right in between “Whole Lotta Love” and “A Day In The Life” on a 60s playlist you’ve heard tens of times before: and you’d be hard-pinned to cop out this song from October 2012. It doesn’t hurt at all that singer Kevin Parker sounds almost exactly like John Lennon.

Listen to this song if you’ve ever wondered why they don’t make music anymore quite like Zep or Floyd or the Beatles.

Yet Again, by Grizzly Bear

Grizzly Bear makes pretty music. It’s not pretty in a sugar-rush twee way. It’s not pretty in a vulnerable solo/acoustic way. And it’s not pretty in any way that uses modern-day sound-engineering tricks. Grizzly Bear makes full-bodied, organic music which is pretty because it’s technically flawless, musically upright and just plain real. You can picture these guys playing guitars and drums and singing choruses into a microphone each: in fact, you can almost see them performing right in front of you. In the era of dubstep and EDM, when you really don’t know what the music ends and where the smoke-and-mirrors begin (or, really, sometimes what ‘music’ is), Grizzly Bear are a comfortable, honest reminder that real music – the kind even your grandparents could recognize as music – still exists.

“Yet Again” is the lead single off of their remarkable latest album Shields. (Watch the music video for the same above: it is a suitably pretty video about the troubled life of a teen-aged ice-skater.) While it doesn’t equal Grizzly Bear’s career-wide shining jewel, it does remind one nicely that they’re as brilliant as ever. The wistful vocalization in the middle is a little Suzanne Vega, we thought, and just as well: they possess her brilliance at writing an honest-to-God good song. Listen to “Yet Again” if you just want to listen to music that sounds like music, goddamnit.

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