Friday, August 1, 2014

"Spooners"- Diarrhea Planet

The consistent word on the blissfully raucous punk sextet Diarrhea Planet is that live they're a must-see, can't miss act. Pitchfork's Jayson Greene went so far as to say, "I simply cannot stress this enough: if Diarrhea Planet are playing in a 100-mile radius of where you are sitting, go there." Scatological names be damned, Diarrhea Planet's assaultive guitar approach demands your attention. This is a band you need in your life.

Of course their shirtless, sweat-drenched, wall-scaling live shows wouldn't be nearly as captivating if the music wasn't equally compelling. New single "Spooners," the latest entry into the well-curated Adult Swim Singles series proves why the Nashville group is worth your time. Casey Weissbuch's drums charge out of the gate with equal parts precision and slop. A guitar part supplied by one of their four, YES FOUR, guitar players hostilely flits in and out of the background like "Eye of the Tiger"'s famous figure. It's the sound of a troublemaker laying back, knowing a fight is about to erupt. And before you can count down from 10, "violence" explodes with the roar of "they're coming up!!" Rather than incite a riot though, the moment provides a terrific excuse to pump your fist and scream along. Unlike other self-serious punk/emo bands crowding the market in 2014, Diarrhea Planet has a sense of humor and it shows in the fake out ending they employ in "Spooners." After two pummeling minutes they fall into a deafening silence, leading you to believe that's all you'll be getting. Live I can imagine the smile on Weissbuch's face as he sits calmly behind the kit, waiting to launch phase two where the song decays into winding solos and feedback. Whatever venue they choose, Diarrhea Planets can't help but have fun.

"Spooners" is available for download Monday on the Adult Swim Singles page.

Thursday, July 31, 2014

"Wonderful Everyday" ('Arthur' Theme Song)- Chance the Rapper

(From: Freshness Mag)

Even when Chicago spitballer Chance the Rapper is at his most crushingly bleak, discussing the personal hell of a lonely night eating days-old pizza or the horrifying rise in shootings when summer hits, there's unmistakable beauty in his work. Chance's way of phrasing, "It just got warm out, this the s*** I've been warned about," combined with his inimitable squawk, tugs at your heartstrings. I'll freely admit when I was in Chicago in the middle of the month, I was tearing up as the aforementioned "Paranoia" drifted out of my car speakers. It wasn't just crushing sadness causing it; there was an odd element of joy. It's clear he had seen the worst in people, but still he managed to care for them. Hearing someone remain strong essentially made me weak.

The joy in Chance the Rapper's cover of "Wonderful Everyday," the Arthur theme song isn't hidden at all. From the stately piano keys that open the track to the initial cymbal washes and Chance whispering "it could be wonderful every day," joy abounds in this take on the Ziggy Marley original. Chance has been performing the familiar tune live for a few months now, but the release of the studio track renders prior versions obsolete. Now he's got a phalanx of vocalists from Wyclef Jean to Jessie Ware and Elle Varner to back him up. They closely follow him "walking down the street," and finish the messages that come from the heart. And then, as if climbing a rainbow, the entire group lifts their voices up in dazzling unison to "work and play." Drums pound and horns bellow without raining on the parade one bit. Nothing can hold something so heartfelt back.

Chance the Rapper is playing a hometown set at Lollapalooza on August 3, which you can see here.

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

"Self Control"- Kate Boy

Electronic pop group Kate Boy sound like they've been manufactured in a laboratory. Not because the Stockholm based trio lacks a soul, but because 2013 efforts "In Your Eyes" and "The Way We Are" sounded too perfect to be engineered by human hands. Synthesizers would slither without going off course. Drum machine strikes were massive, but not overwhelming. Kate Akhurst's hooks could be infectiously "sweet" and you wouldn't have to worry about a toothache because there was just the right amount of bitter. Ultimately that's what made Kate Boy's earliest work sound so "otherworldly," it was "just right" to the point of being unnerving; wandering around in the valley of the uncanny.

New single "Self Control" seems trapped in the quicksand of that uncanny valley. A few shades lighter and the electronic stomps pass for a rallying Katy Perry track. Backwards whooshes opening "Self Control" recall Frank Ocean's warm epic "Pyramids" more than the desolate landscape of Scandinavia. I'm certain the brief stabs underneath Akhurst's chants of "self-controool," littered countless 80s chart toppers. Everything here seems to be pointing somewhere else. That's not the case though. Mainstream pop artists rarely have the unflappable cool Akhurst does when singing about constantly getting something wrong. "In the end you'll make it right," Akhurst insists in the scaling chorus of mechanical claps. Kate Boy may not have the natural look of pop stars, but who cares when the music is this dazzling?

The "Self Control" single is available now through Fiction Records.

"Wide Awake" ft. Cat Power- J Mascis

On "Every Morning," the first single from J Mascis' new solo album Tied to a Star, the Dinosaur Jr. singer/guitarist was struggling to get through the day; "Every morning makes it hard on me," he depressingly whined. To summon the strength to head out into world he had to softly beg "Oh baby won't you see me?" before leaning into a characteristic guitar solo. You could tell if he had any company at all, he'd make it through. If not, he might sit in bed all day.

Though a guitar solo is absent from the considerately strummed folk number "Wide Awake," and it's a few hours earlier, everything else is intact. Mascis is still sitting up in bed worrying about what the day will bring. "I'm wide awake," he repeatedly intones over a delicate acoustic guitar melody. Listening to Mascis' "slacker" moan in such a sparse setting, you can almost hear his eyelids closing and him sliding further down the bedroom wall back onto the mattress. His sleep, or lack thereof, all depends on someone ending his lonely spell. He's been bad at interactions since the early days of Dinosaur Jr. and now is no different. "Walking by your will," Mascis recounts in a tender duet section with Chan Marshall of Cat Power. It doesn't sound like much, but even standing up and walking is a victory.

Tied to a Star drops August 29 through Sub Pop.