Tag Archives: animal collective

Monthly Playlist: Jan. 2022

7 Feb

2022 is well underway with new albums from The Weeknd, FKA twigs, Mitski and more. We’ve already covered our picks for the most anticipated albums (that we know of) in 2022. Below, we take a closer look at the top five songs of January. Read on and let us know your thoughts!

“Strung with Everything” by Animal Collective

Animal Collective released their new album Time Skiffs in the early days of February. Prior to the album release, the experimental pop group released three singles: “Walker” and “Prester John” earlier in 2021, and the new track “Strung with Everything” in January. The song begins with a slow build-up that introduces key motifs – randomized percussion, the meandering keyboard melody, and the echoing guitar notes. Suddenly, amidst the meditative elements, the song bursts into full focus, complete with surf-rock style drums, guitars and vocals. Although “Strung with Everything” could have used tighter editing (meandering at almost 7 minutes long), the track highlights Animal Collective’s career-long skills at walking the line between commercial and experimental.

“papi bones” by FKA twigs feat. Shygirl

“papi bones” is an energetic Afro pop-tinged track from FKA twigs’ January mixtape entitled CAPRISONGS (full review here). The track highlights the British pop star’s sensibilities at arranging a song for maximum impact: hype-men introducing a club-friendly beat, a sparse dancehall-esque couple of verses from FKA twigs, and finally a joint verse between her and the excellent Shygirl. Readers will recall that we loved British artist Shygirl’s collaboration with another nouveau British export – slowthai – last year, and her energy is just as plucky and vivacious here. All in all, “papi bones” is a fun and infectious track that’s a perfect starting point for FKA twigs’ new mixtape.

“Jackie Down the Line” by Fontaines DC

We talked about this new track from Irish post-punk band in our recent roundup of 2022’s most anticipated albums, and for good reason – “Jackie Down the Line” is a great track that heralds the beginning of the band’s Skinty Fia era. Fontaines DC has proven that they’re an act that keeps busy, quickly following up their 2019 debut Dogrel with the well-received A Hero’s Death in 2020. But don’t think they’re just churning out run-of-the-mill tracks: the band has used both albums to build up a definitive Fontaines DC sound. What does this sound consist of? Well, there’s the fulsome drum beats, rumbling basslines, and (more than anything), lead singer Grian Chatten’s unapologetically Irish vocals – lyricism, accent, idioms and all. “Jackie Down the Line” is a continuation of this same style. In typically Chatten style, the lyrics are poetic, somber and rather difficult to decipher; but we gather that it’s a meditation of the loss of Irish culture (a common theme in the band’s lyrics) as represented by “Jackie” or Jackeens – Irish fans of the Union Jack.

“Sacrifice” by The Weeknd

Although The Weeknd’s new album Dawn FM failed to blow us away (full review here), there were certainly a couple of bright spots on the track-list. One, of course, is the masterpiece that is “Take My Breath” (even better on the album’s extended version), but we already knew that. Of the new songs that were introduced on the album this month, “Sacrifice” really stands out. Here, Abel utilizes a chunky, disco bassline and funky modulations on his vocals, all resulting in a catchy addition to the megastar’s dance-pop repertoire. You’ll be humming this song in no time.

“Postman” by Toro y Moi

“Postman” is a funky, fun track that was released alongside the announcement of Mahal, the seventh album from American lo-fi dance-rock proponent Toro y Moi. Musically, “Postman” is almost like a stripped-down Pharrell song, pairing a bouncy bass and catchy drums with semi-sung vocals – think something along the lines of a very chillwave “Blurred Lines”. The music video is equally fun and plays homage to Toro y Moi’s Filipino heritage – definitely check it out.

Top Five Most Anticipated Albums of 2022

30 Jan

As we near the end of the first month in this new year, it’s as good a time as any to flashforward to the rest of the year. What will 2022 bring? Will we see the end of the pandemic? Will life start returning to the old normal from late 2019, or is that gone forever? Whatever the answers may be for these deep questions lurking around, one thing we know for sure: 2022 is already shaping up to bring a ton of great music.

We skipped ahead to the rest of the calendar to see what’s on the radar. Below are our top five picks for the most anticipated albums of 2022 in chronological order; plus a few rumored releases with no dates just yet (doesn’t hurt to dream!).

Agree? Disagree? Missed something? Be sure to let us know in the comments.

Animal Collective – Time Skiffs

Release date: February 4

Time Skiffs, the 11th full-length album from the experimental pop group Animal Collective, is set to come out in just a few days. The album has been heralded through a couple of great singles already: the almost 60s-inspired “Prester John” and the sparkly “Walker” and in 2021, followed by the energetic “Strung With Everything” earlier this month. According to their label Domino Records, Time Skiffs is expected to be similar in sound to the well-received Strawberry Jam almost 20 years ago, which started off the band on their rise to fame. Here’s hoping that’s the case!

Spoon – Lucifer on the Sofa

Release date: February 11

Austin-based rock band Spoon is set to release their tenth studio album Lucifer on the Sofa on February 11th. So far, two songs have been released from the album: the jangly “Wild” from earlier this month, and last year’s hard-hitting “Hardest Cut” – which was also one of our favorite songs of the year. The album was recorded in Austin – in drummer Jim Eno’s own studio Public Hi-Fi, no less – and the band has indicated that the city will feature in spirit. “We just wanted to do a different thing this time, and experience the vibe of a city,” said singer Britt Daniel in a recent interview with the magazine Texas Monthly. If the first two tracks and this backstory are anything to go by, Lucifer on the Sofa should be a fantastic addition to Spoon’s already legendary repertoire.

Charli XCX – Crash

Release date: March 18

English pop star Charli XCX is set to release her fifth album Crash on March 18th. Charli’s been teasing the album for the past four months, starting with the synth-heavy “Good Ones” back in September 2021. That dancefloor-ready track was followed in November by “New Shapes”, a stop-start song that featured fellow female pop singers Christine and The Queens and Caroline Polachek. If these two tracks are anything to go by, Crash is going to be impactful as the name suggests.

Wet Leg – Wet Leg

Release date: April 8

Despite having barely four songs to their name, British two-piece Wet Leg have built up a level of hype that you don’t see very often. Rhian Teasdale and Hester Chambers – ex-college mates and decade-long friends – released their first track, the post-punk track “Chaise Lounge”, in June 2021, and haven’t looked back since. The disaffected, slackerish track became somewhat of a viral hit last year, and the band followed it up with the equally good “Wet Dream” in September. Wet Leg released the last two of their four songs so far in November 2021, the same day that they announced the release of their debut album Wet Leg on April 8, 2022. So far, the band has set the hype bar high; let’s hope the debut album lives up to it.

Fontaines DC – Skinty FIa

Release date: April 22

Fontaines DC, the Irish post-punk band, has announced the release of their new album Skinty Fia on April 22, following the Grammy-nominated sophomore album A Hero’s Death and incredible debut album Dogrel. Along with the album announcement, the band released the first single “Jackie Down the Line” – a heady track that juxtaposes lead singer Grian Chatten’s hypnotic vocals against jangly instrumentals. Both albums from Fontaines DC so far have been meditative yet catchy works that pay homage the band’s Irish heritage – we hope Skinty Fia is cut from the same mould.

Expected 2022 Releases

Arctic Monkeys

Matt Helders, the drummer for Sheffield-based indie rock mainstays Arctic Monkeys, made news in November last year with the admission that the band’s new album is “pretty much” ready for a 2022 release. They’ve also released a tranche of tour dates, including the first-ever Los Angeles version of Barcelona’s storied Primavera Sound festival. A new album does seem imminent – personally, we hope that it’s of a different flavor than 2016’s Tranquility Base Hotel & Casino.

Rina Sawayama

After a fantastic debut album that blew us away in 2020, Japanese-British pop star Rina Sawayama is expected to release a sophomore album later this year. Ms. Sawayama has kept busy since her debut through joint tracks with the likes of Elton John and Charli XCX. In a Tweet last year, she seemed to indicate that a new album will drop in “late summer” 2022 – no word since, though.

Kendrick Lamar

Kendrick fans have been waiting a long time since 2017’s DAMN. (which, fun fact, is the only non-jazz or classical album to ever win the Pulitzer Prize for Music). There hasn’t been a confirmation that a new album is set to drop in 2022, but Kendrick is set to perform at the Super Bowl LVI half-time show in a few weeks – that’s got to be a sign, right?

Cardi B

Shockingly, for all the time that she regularly spends in the public discourse, Cardi B only has one album to her name – her fantastic debut album Invasion of Privacy (2018). Of course, in the intervening three years, she’s had world-dominating hits like “WAP”, “Up”, and the recent collab with Lizzo called “Rumors”. There’s no indication yet that a new album is set to drop, but surely she has enough material to release one soon?

Lizzo

On a similar note and for similar reasons, Lizzo is also due for a follow-up album, especially after her chart-busting track “Rumors”. 2019’s Cuz I Love You gave her a much-deserved public spotlight – here’s hoping she takes advantage of the attention with a new album soon.

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.

Agree? Disagree? Let us know in the Comments section.

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