tUnE-YaRdS – w h o k i l l [2011]

Posted in experimental,indie pop,psychedelic pop by deek on April 25, 2011

One of the most talked about albums of 2009, if not one of the highest selling, was tUnE-yArDs’ debut effort BiRd-BrAiNs – and not just for all those rogue capital letters. Recorded entirely on digital tape and pieced together on a laptop, it seemed to redefine the concept of lo-fi recording. It was during live shows though that the buzz really built around Merrill Garbus (who is, in effect, tUnE-yArDs). Synchronised drums, loop pedals, an overwhelming sense of joy and the magical, theatrical presence of Garbus herself led people to whisper words like ‘religious experience’ and ‘genius’. Two years on, and Garbus appears to have distilled that live ambience into the recording studio. For, as good as BiRd-BrAiNs was (and it was, for the most part, outstanding), w h o k i l l represents a massive leap forward creatively. There’s an energy and atmosphere to w h o k i l l which seems to just pour off the record. In a world of identikit pop stars, it’s safe to say that you’ll not hear an album like this anywhere else this year. Opening track My Country sets the exhilarating tone early – a thumping, jumping beast of a song which is impossible to sit still to. The rhythm is irresistible, horns blast, and there’s even the odd glockenspiel in there, while dominating everything is Garbus’ tremendous voice, which manages to inject genuine soul into every note. Staggeringly, the rest of the album is of similar quality. It’s difficult to pick out a stand-out track, but Riotriot is certainly up there. A sole finger-picked ukulele sets the tone before building up beautifully as cacophonous drums and a saxophone join the party, until a delicious tribal rhythm strikes up. Doorstep is less frantic if no less effective, an addictive vocal line of “the policeman shot my baby as he crossed onto my doorstep” hinting at a dark undertone beneath the joyous melody. Es-So puts the loop pedals to good use, looping Garbus backing vocals and repeating a ridiculously addictive guitar riff. Like much of the rest of the album, it’s experimental yet utterly accessible, catchy without being annoying and strangely odd without being alienating. For Garbus has that mysterious ingredient to her that keeps you going back to her music – that ‘X-Factor’ before Simon Cowell bastardised the phrase. It’s there in the astonishing, horn-laden swagger of Bizness, in the wonderfully danceable Gangsta, and especially in the delirious rhythms of You Yes You. Even the less immediate tracks, such as Wooly Wooly Gong, have a unique charm revealed after a few plays. It’s an album that it’s impossible to ever imagine tiring of – and as soon as the closing beats of the superb Killa come to a halt, you just want to start it all over again. In a year that’s already been rather special for great albums, Merrill Garbus may well have produced the finest record of the year. -musicOMH

Gang Gang Dance – Eye Contact [2011]

Posted in neo psychedelia,psychedelic pop by deek on April 25, 2011

As a proudly underground entity, Manhattan’s Gang Gang Dance seemed bent on creating one long celestial psych jam. But for 2008’s Saint Dymphna, they pared down the dubby dance experimentation and reaped the rewards (namely, a record deal). Less woozy and intoxicating than its predecessors, that album was a gateway drug into what now turns out to be an even wilder and murkier milieu. GGD’s fifth album and first for 4AD, Eye Contact opens with the 11-minute “Glass Jar,” a freewheeling mass of synths, cymbals, and high moans that withholds the beat far beyond the halfway mark. The song also contains a key clue: a man’s voice declaring with Sheen-like clarity (and/or inscrutability), “It’s everything time.” While Dymphna divvied up the band’s influences over ten identifiable songs, here their entire spectrum of styles gets blasted constantly, each track bleeding into the next. Eastern scales, New Age haze, jungle drums, and druggy rave effects create a dense aural whirl that assumes solid form only briefly: Lizzi Bougatsos keening like a Bollywood star gone dancehall (“Chinese High”); the C+C Music Factory crescendo of “Mindkilla”; and the fantastic “Romance Layers,” with Hot Chip’s Alexis Taylor lounging on a bed of house-inflected ’90s R&B. So, Gang Gang Dance are back to testing boundaries. For them, it’s a return to the future. -Spin

Panda Bear – Tomboy [2011]

Posted in neo psychedelia,psychedelic pop by deek on April 6, 2011

At the end of 2009, if you glanced at a rock critic’s “best of” list, Animal Collective’s Merriweather Post Pavilion was probably on it. The album followed what had been 10 years of recording and touring for the band, but soft-spoken member Noah Lennox took the newfound success in stride. “I think one thing that helped us is that we had kind of a slow build,” Lennox tells Weekend All Things Considered host Guy Raz. “It wasn’t like we were playing to 10 people and then suddenly we were playing shows of 20,000 people or something like that.” Another thing that might have helped: Lennox was far, far away from the limelight. A few years ago, he moved from his hometown of Baltimore to Lisbon, Portugal. Lennox also records as a solo artist under the name Panda Bear. His third album, 2007’s Person Pitch, also landed on many year-end lists, and his fourth, Tomboy, comes out this month. Lennox says Tomboy has a darker feel than much of his past work, due in part to his work habits in the basement studio where he recorded it. “There are no windows, so every day I would go in there and turn off the lights and have my gear set up,” Lennox says. “You can’t help but have the atmosphere and environment come out in what you’re doing.” Lennox’s music, both as Panda Bear and in Animal Collective, is dense and filled with soaring refrains, which he creates using sequencers, synthesizers and many layers of vocals.”I like to think of it like salt and pepper — you put these weird little sounds in there to spice up the song,” he says. “I’ll often think about making music and making food. I’m a terrible chef, though.” Tomboy also sports another trademark of Lennox’s catalog: a cavernous sound heavy with reverberant echoes, much like those that occur naturally in the churches of Lisbon. Lennox says he’s always been attracted to those big, hollow tones. “These stone buildings that have really high ceilings … it’s always been a type of sound I’ve been drawn to,” he says. “I kind of slap it on everything, unfortunately. Music just sounds really good to me in that kind of space.” – NPR

Ariel Pink’s Haunted Graffiti – Before Today [2010]

Posted in lo-fi,neo psychedelia,psychedelic pop by deek on October 23, 2010

Ariel Pink (born Ariel Marcus Rosenberg on June 24, 1978) is a Los Angeles based experimental/pop musician. Pink boasts a cult following and endorsements from more widely known artists such as fellow founding Paw Tracks group Animal Collective. After years of recording in relative seclusion in the hills of Los Angeles, Ariel Pink (the first non-Animal Collective member on the Paw Tracks roster) made his official Paw Tracks debut with The Doldrums. Recording at home with a guitar, bass, keyboard, and 8-track (the drum sounds were created with his mouth). Ariel Pink blends Lite FM and warped lo-fi pop into something by turns beautiful and confusing. Some may find his personal yet detached approach highly addictive, while others may be instantly turned off by the obvious lo-fi production and the vocal drumtracks. -last.fm

Deerhunter – Halcyon Digest [2010]

Posted in dream pop,indie rock,neo psychedelia,psychedelic pop,shoegaze by deek on October 3, 2010

The Atlanta-based quartet’s fourth album combines calm shoegaze pop and noisy punk rock to create a dreamy, psychedelic sound.

of Montreal – False Priest [2010]

Posted in funk,indie pop,neo psychedelia,psychedelic pop,soul by deek on August 14, 2010

Let no one say Of Montreal’s Kevin Barnes is not adventurous. After releasing one of the decade’s wildest psychedelic pop albums in Hissing Fauna, Are You The Destroyer?, Of Montreal followed it up with 2008’s Skeletal Lamping, which was released on just about every format you can think of. Recently, and worked on a song for a Nick Jr. comp for Yo Gabba Gabba! For False Priest, Barnes went into the studio listening to Parliament/Funkadelic, which he plans to combine with the psychedelic work of his previous material as well as ’80s No Wave. While Barnes has a tendency of making such preposterous statements, he usually backs it up with solid recordings, which is more than can be said for most of his peers -prefixmag.

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Papercuts – You Can Have What You Want [2009]

Posted in dream pop,indie pop,psychedelic pop by deek on February 20, 2010

Yeasayer – Odd Blood [2010]

Posted in electronic,neo psychedelia,psychedelic pop by deek on January 7, 2010

Atlas Sound – Logos [2009]

Posted in ambient pop,indie pop,psychedelic pop by deek on December 26, 2009

Blind Man’s Colour – Season Dreaming [2009]

Posted in neo psychedelia,psychedelic pop by deek on December 26, 2009
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