Cultural decontextualization, there is a can of worms. Think twerking, a dance phenomenon erased from a localized context and turned into mass market pop. Tracking these things is a depressing game for anyone interested in the popular culture. Watch punk morph into its commercial antithesis or, in the case of this song, watch Madonna steal her dance moves from an NYC drag queen. This track comes from DJ Sprinkles’ 2009 magnum opus 120 Midtown Blues, an album in which he chronicles his time in NYC’s unglamorous late 1980s and early 1990s underground. It’s a deep house track that ends with a monologue about Madonna’s theft of the Vogue dance move from a broke and strung out drag queen. Who knows if it’s true but I’ll take DJ Sprinkles at his word. Enjoy.
Scope Owl Eyes and their lovely cover of Daft Punk’s “Something About Us”. The band takes a softer touch but fitting modern homage to Daft Punk’s 2001 “Love Theme from Intesrtella 5555“. Enjoy…
On February 21, Durham, NC based electronic duo Sylvan Esso released their single “Coffee” on iTunes. “Coffee,” a track loyal to the dance floor sounds of the band’s previous single, the handclapped “Hey Mami,” but is less persistent. The melody waits for you: it is inviting, as it oozes with soul and sophistication.
In the duo’s live WAMU session, singer Amelia Meath’s performance is all-in, as physicality and musicality impact one another. Her body moves in waves, floats ethereally, then hunches and contracts as her voice silences. She and bandmate, Nick Sanborn, perform to one another in a lovely, yet unfinished and raw call-and-answer. Meath’s voice is a soulful whisper and instinctual cry—an easy-to-drink potion, which, when entwined with Sanborn’s cerebral instrumentation, creates a sound that both thinks and feels.
Young Magic’s lead single off upcoming album Breathing Statues is a worldly hodgepodge of cooing atmospheric textures and hollowed-out breakbeats. Now just a two-peice, the duo still creates a kaleidoscope of sound that is as equally complex as it is mesmerizing. Think pagan ritual meets eastern psychedelia. Melt into their newest track, “Fall In” and remain on the the look-out for more to come from the Australian-Indonesian sonic pairing.
Listening to Josh Furey’s music is something like staring at a Japanese woodblock painting—nature swirls and branches out organically in front of you, depicting something beautiful in the simplest of colors and shapes. The Canadian producer knows how to create environment with his graceful blend of hip-hop and ambient instrumentation. Both his debut full length Archaeology and last December’s Petals excelled in this quiet, profound way, where nothing more than a few sounds shared a single track’s space.
The title track from Petals is just that: the longing twang of a sampled instrument, a healthy amount of recorded fuzz and crisp drums that branch off as the song meanders onward. Furey creates something peaceful and wise in the mixture of these sounds, akin to the psychedelic dub of Forest Swords but without the anxiety and darkness.
Petals is out now on Nocturne Records.
VNTC’s Regaws packs in a listening experience that paints, a backdrop of a suave lower Manhattan hotel lobby. The opening notes whirl like foam amidst tunnels of water—so it only fits the progression when the song is slowly pulled out of water and onto land, as the guitar rhythmically surges through muted keys and a subtle drumbeat. I am reminded of how a guitar can color a piece of music with earthiness, planting each chord firmly, the resonant keyboard plucks like melodic rain.
The guitar begins to slowly riff midway through the song. Every reverberation is familiar but stationed affront a novel backdrop, as it evokes styles of early rhythm and blues guitarists. Married with simple ambience, the guitar plays the record into a sultry sort of euphoria. By about three-fourths of the way in, the melody becomes imbued with uncontrolled guitar riffs and opens to the sound of emptiness. Then, the next few seconds of the piece seem to answer all questions as to the sexual nature of the beachy, bluesy tune. Musically, the choice to include the speaking part is ambitious, albeit perhaps a bit heavy-handed. It certainly adds a final, climactic movement to the piece, but unfortunately, at that point, there is not much left to the imagination.
The last minute of the song is where I find myself most entrapped. It is perfect chaos, as the guitar peaks sporadically throughout varying movements, only to gently fall and end the piece in an audible splash, like a dream being put to sleep.
Originally a solo project of Thom Savage, Kins has evolved into a trio whose music really strikes a crucial chord. Kins capably intertwines its jazzy guitar work with Thom’s breezy falsetto segments to create those airy, coastal vibes wafting through your speakers. In a way, the band, Brighton by way of Melbourne, promenades into a state of dreamy art rock arrangements and exits somewhere in a comfortable realm between the XX and Local Natives. The real craft behind Kins though, is the easy progression between their subtle croons and their sprawling guitar instrumentation. It feels like a band you’ve been loving on for years.
Kins will be joining us in the District as they tour across North America. Be sure to catch them at DC9 on February 19th, and listen in to my favorite tracks below.