Sunday, May 30, 2010

Haters Gonna Hate

MIA is just fucking cool. There's no two ways about it. She knows how to push the envelope and always stay ahead of the curve. In anticipation of her upcoming third LP, /\/\ /\ Y /\, coverage of all things Miss Arulpragasam has heated up, especially with the Twitter fights she's been picking with everyone from Justin Beiber to Lynn Hirschberg of The New York Times. Today, MIA posted a track that seems fitting given the recent events. Entitled "Haters," the song can be streamed on her digital seizure of a site or downloaded below for your listening pleasure. If you'd like a taste of what else the Sri Lanka native's been cooking up, you can also check out her gingercaust video for "Born Free" on MuzjiksTV. Enjoy.


Friday, May 28, 2010

Arcade Fire's Flame Flickering?

Unless you live under a rock (no offense intended if you do), you've heard that Arcade Fire has released two tracks from their upcoming third LP, The Suburbs. If you want more info on it, you can go here, but that's not what this post is about. Every music blogger in the blogosphere has already added his/her two cents on the strengths and weaknesses of the releases, so anything I add just retraces steps on well-trod ground.

Although it's entirely possible that this pair of releases is unrepresentative of the full-length to come, they're decidedly underwhelming when you consider that this is the same band that debuted in 2004 with the achingly beautiful Funeral. As I searched to find the community's response to AF's new efforts, I came across one particularly interesting remark made by a member of AtEase's message board:

Now, for those not familiar with the albums referenced in the above remark, the poster is referring to Interpol's 2001 debut Turn on the Bright Lights, The Strokes' 2001 debut Is This It, and Coldplay's 2000 debut Parachutes. Save Coldplay's bullshit Radiohead-lite (albeit leagues above A Rush of Blood, X&Y, and Viva La Vida) ripoff, these albums are widely accepted as landmark albums in music—history. Likewise, after these records' release in the wee moments of the new millennium, the respective bands struggled to create another masterpiece in their follow-ups. Chalk it up to pressure, hyperscrutiny, or the old adage "you get your whole life to write your first album and sixth months to write your second," but whatever the case, Antics, Room on Fire, and A Rush of Blood to the Head simply didn't offer the albums-worth of consummate artistry that their predecessors did. That said, these albums were by no means awful; in fact, they stand as significantly above average efforts (Antics is actually in my car's CD player as I write), but they represent a marked decent in quality that would continue on succeeding albums.

By the time Our Love to Admire, First Impressions of Earth, and X&Y hit the shelves, the bands were shells of the former selves (Coldplay essentially just more distilled, derivative horseshit). It is at this third LP where we find Arcade Fire now, having released a solid—albeit distinctly weaker—sophomore album in Neon Bible. If history is any indicator, we are arguably on the brink of the making or breaking of Arcade Fire's career. That is, if we set aside Coldplay for a moment (as they are mainstream and answer to wholly different rules than indie counterparts), we note Interpol and The Strokes' relative dissolution. Interpol's lead singer, Paul Banks, released his debut solo LP, Julian Plenti is... Skyscraper; The Strokes' lead singer, Julian Casablancas, released his debut solo LP, Phrazes for the Young. Bass mastermind and creative force Carlos D. has left Interpol after recording LP4. Interpol has been silent for three years since LP3, The Strokes for four.

So, what does this all mean? Obviously, we'll only know for sure when Arcade Fire's The Suburbs drops on August 3, but if their musical counterparts are any indication, things don't look good. I personally foresee AF assuming a Band of Horses status, cranking out enjoyable music but essentially just mimicking their former selves with nauseatingly saccharine anthems. Granted, that's only my opinion; I want to hear yours. Voice your opinion in the comments.

The Suburbs
Month of May

In the Court of King Kanye

"I don't need your pussy shit; I'm on my own dick."

Hip hop's most hated MC is back with the lead single for his upcoming fifth LP, Good Ass Job, which is expected to depart from 808s and Heartbreak and instead pick up where Graduation left off. Continuing a tradition of bringing criminally slept-on, revolutionary music acts to the mainstream (Can on "Drunk and Hot Girls" and Alan Parsons on "Heartless," just to name a few), "Power" samples "21st Century Schizoid Man," a track from King Crimson's magnum opus, In the Court of the Crimson King. In it, Kanye essentially constructs a massive musical middle finger to the world; the dude's not changing. Don't expect any apologies on this album. Nonetheless, whether or not you despise the man for his antics and arrogance, you have to admit that he's talented, and the bottom line is that 'Ye is going to go platinum regardless of his douchebaggery—Mr. West has proven time and again that he belongs in the uppermost echelon of the rap game.

Power (ft. Dwele) [alt]

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Materialism and Music: Requiem for a Dream’s Commentary on Turn-of-the-Century American Society

You can find the corresponding video clip here.

Clint Mansell: Summer Overture (2000) [Requiem]
György Ligeti: Lux Aeterna (1966)
Steve Reich: Come Out (1966)
Radiohead: Fitter Happier (1997)
Philip Glass: The Grid (1982) [Koyaanisqatsi]

A background: The above research paper was one of my final assignments for the Film Music course I took as freshman at Davidson College this spring semester. In it, I examine the musical elements at work in Darren Aronofsky's Requiem for a Dream (scored by Clint Mansell). Any and all comments are welcome. As always, Muzjiks appreciates your readership.

Pronounced 'mɨˈnɒmɨnə'

The multi-instrumentalist, program-creating three-piece of goofballs better known as Menomena are finally back to release their third LP, Mines (artwork and tracklist below), after three years of side-projects and extensive recording sessions. Today, the Portland-based group graced the indie world with the first taste of what LP3 will hold when it's released on July 27. As expected, it's wonderfully weird, but it's also a lot more texturally sparse than Friend and Foe, the trio leaving significant open spaces between the keyboards, TVOTR-esque horns, and percussion for their Brent Knopf-led harmonies. However, the song builds over the course of its nearly five-minute playing time a la "Air Aid." Needless to say, "Five Little Rooms" more than piques my interest for the full length coming a couple of months.

01. Queen Black Acid
02. Taos
03. Killemall
04. Dirty Cartoons
05. Tithe
06. Bote
07. Lunchmeat
08. Oh Pretty Boy, You’re Such A Big Boy
09. Five Little Rooms
10. Sleeping Beauty
11. Intil
Five Little Rooms

Saturday, May 15, 2010

This... is BoomBox

Featuring Zion Godchaux, the son of ex-Grateful Dead singer Donna Jean Godchaux, BoomBox offers a refreshing new spin on the jam band genre, incorporating elements of electronic music into the usual blend of jazz, dub, blues, funk, and rock. Treating musical ideas in an Igor Stravinsky-esque copy/paste fashion, the two-piece develops short, catchy motives—a guitar riff, a synth line, or a head bob-worthy drum break—and creates songs through an additive/subtractive technique. The building and subsequent deconstruction of texture and timbre serve as the primary sources of musical interest. A persistent groove, however, is present throughout every BoomBox piece, making every track off of the band's debut and Live Music Archive bootlegs irresistibly danceable. In a sense, BoomBox bridges the gap between the classic Phish or Dead jam rock and genres like turntablism-centered independent hip hop and psybient. Although Godchaux's thin vocals admittedly leave something to be desired, this music is simply not about vocal chops; this is about the groove in its purest sense. As BoomBox's "Midnight on the Run" implores: "Better put 'em on, your dancing shoes." Enjoy.

Midnight on the Run

Friday, May 14, 2010

Lysergic Audio Diethylamide

Believe it or not, the dweeb picture above with the Felix shirt and an amusing likeness to this Asian makes some of the grooviest dub-ambient fusion you'll ever hear. Hailing from Europe (as seemingly all notable electronic musicians do), Ott creates psychedelic musical soundscapes that incorporate elements of dub, electronica, ambient, and trance music, all with an exotic Indian tinge. In "The Queen of All Everything" and "Rogue Bagel," the second and third tracks off Ott's 2008 sophomore effort Skylon, Ott displays these influences outright in an enrapturing blend of eclectic—yet altogether functioning—styles.

The Queen of All Everything
Rogue Bagel

Jónsi Does MGMT

When this man opens his mouth, the angels speak. It's as simple as that. The fact that Jónsi can conjure his ethereal vocal timbre on command is a testament to the capabilities of the human voice. Especially in this age of AutoTune and lip-syncing, such a feat is even more remarkable. Entering the indie mainstream with "Boy Lilikoi" (see 1:01) this past winter, Jónsi has hit the festival and gigging circuits of late, playing all over the US and Europe. The Iceland native peddles his own take on dream pop, which has proven to be far more accessible to the average indie listener than the Vonlenska-laden post-rock of Sigur Rós. Aligning with the accessible bent of his solo effort, Jónsi covered MGMT's 2008 crossover hit "Time to Pretend" during a live performance on BBC Radio 1, reimagining the song entirely. The cover is rather sparse texturally, an airy piano accompanying Jónsi's otherworldly voice as the tempo is slowed and what originally was the indie equivalent of a club banger is transformed into to a thoughtfully melancholic look at the realities of pop stardom.

Time to Pretend (Live cover on BBC Radio 1)


The group of musicians that once was an outlet for Thom Yorke to perform his 2006 electronic solo effort is seeming more and more like a bona fide band. Atoms for Peace now has an official website complete with a store that sells posters, water bottles, and shirts. Although the site's design is obviously a reworking of Radiohead's W.A.S.T.E., the simple fact that time (likely in the form of Stanley Donwood) was invested in created a legitimate online home for the band implies that AfP is more than a fly by night ordeal. While reports maintain that AfP's gigs are high energy and feature Yorke in peak form vocally, the Radiohead purist in me grieves at the thought of never seeing Thom, Jonny, Ed, Colin, and Phil on stage together again—no less an LP8. Whatever the case may be, you can count on Muzjiks to bring you the latest. The beast has risen again.

Jam (Live in Oakland [4/14/10])
Follow Me Around (Live in Oakland [4/14/10])