Arcade Fire – Reflektor

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Instant Classic

I get that The Suburbs was a polarizing record, as it often is when a band decide to change direction and become massively popular as a result of that. But for me, The Suburbs represented a return to great form (not that they ever really fell out of form), filled with delicate mid-tempo pop gems that were easier to digest than the grandiose statements of Neon Bible. It was also evident that the band were trying out different new directions; punk in form of “Month of May”, ABBA vs. krautrock in “Empty Rooms”, and most notably the dance-friendly vibe of “Sprawl II (Mountains Beyond Mountains)”. So in the end, it was  hardly a shock that James Murphy was brought in behind the knobs and switches on the next Arcade Fire’s album.

Upon first listen, it’s evident that “Reflektor” is certainly less dramatic and emotionally charged than what we’re accustomed to hearing from the Canadians. What we get instead is Murphy’s trademark punkish disco that sounds vibrant and spirited in true LCD Soundsystem style. And compared to the overall sensation of Arcade Fire’s former albums, “Reflektor” have ditched the Springsteenianism in favour of the spacey disco of mid-70’s Bowie. All this adds up to their most loosely fitted single, much less concerned with formative structures, and it breaches beyond the bands musical comfort zone. The track is buildt upon a bass line vaguely reminiscent of Moroder’s “Chase” and a rhythm section that is undeniably Murphy. The atmosphere is filled with spacey psychedelic horns, and in the end, the only thing that sounds as traditional Arcade Fire, is the refrain. In a year that brought us The Next Day and Random Access Memories, it’s both fitting and comforting to hear their change of direction and hopefully it’s indicative of the sound on the forthcoming album.

Reflektor, a double album comprised of 13 tracks, will be released October 29 via Merge. The title track is out now, also available on Spotify.

The Stepkids – The Lottery

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Stone Throw Records latest offering comes from the Connecticut three-piece The Stepkids. They’ve shared stage with the likes of Lauryn Hill, 50 Cent and Alicia Keys, and their boundary-pushing psychedelic soul has been compared to Thundercat and Janelle Monáe.

Their upcoming sophomore album Troubadour is led by “The Lottery”, a song deeply rooted in the 70’s, fusing the psychedelic funk of Roy Ayers with Steely Dan’s blue-eyed soul. It feels oddly out of place with the times, but that’s what makes it all the more fascinating.

Silent Noise Parade – We Used To Drink

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It turn out to be to be a fairly slow week of new musical encounters, so I decided to go on a ‘blogroll stroll’ to seek out something new and fresh. I found this  catchy synth-driven pop gem through the wonderful blog of Hearty Vibes. In short, Silent Noise Parade is a five-piece band; formed roughly about 2 years and recently released their full-length debut, Electric Lives and the Nightmare That Follows. While nothing on the album is as amazingly catchy as “We Used To Drink”, there are bits and pieces of lovely electronic psychedelia, echoing the likes of Sleigh Bells and Crystal Castles.  But where “We Used To Drink” excels is in the ingeniously melodic synth- hook, with one or two nods towards M83’s “Kim & Jessie”.  If you’re still not convinced, then head over to GoldenPlec for more reasons to embrace this upcoming Irish act.

Toro Y Moi – Never Matter

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“Never Matter” is the continuation of the sound that Chaz Bundick introduced on the two singles, “So Many Details” and “Say That” that preceded his newly released third album, Anything In Return. On these tracks, he left behind his energetic take on spaced-out 70’s style funk of Underneath the Pine for a more “elevated” Discovery-era Daft Punk disco. “Never Matter” along with “Harm In Change” and those two singles represents the best from an otherwise scattered and unfocused album. The track is a real disco stumper with an energetic vibe, delivered on top of a confident bass line. There’s also a nice spacey synth solo at the end that perfects one of Chaz Bundick’s finest songs to date.

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Ween – Mutilated Lips [1997]

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retro_turntable_speckcase-p176835142239651308en7rr_216What a great year for music 1997 was. Besides Yo La Tengo’s masterpiece posted earlier, Radiohead and Daft Punk both released history defining moments. Not to forget other great works by The Chemical Borthes, The Verve, Depeche Mode, Björk and countless others. But one that’s often forgotten is Ween’s neo-psychedelic experimental-rock piece, The Mollusk. The record has on several occasions been compared to The Beatle’s White Album –  a fitting comparison in many ways since both albums took all sorts of ideas and turned it on its ear. I’ve had a hard time picking a stand-out track, there are at least a handful of them, but “Mutilated Lips” is as stunning and silly as it gets – a perfect summary of the record.


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KOTA – Masters Of The Sun

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“Masters Of The Sun blends vocoder vocals stuck on repeat, contemporary synthesizers, hip hop beats/breaks into a big eclectic mess. Fascinatingly it pretty much works. KOTA, an acronym for Kids Of The Apocalypsem seemingly have a knack for marketing and adapted a WU LYF-style appearance to gain some exposure, very apocalyptic and as expected there’s almost no information to be found of the band whatsoever. Their website claim that they originate out of Greenland, but we suspect that’s highly unlikely. Listen to “Masters Of The Sun” below or check out their well-made apocalyptic video.

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