The best music of March 2011

Impose Automaton

The logo may be chillwave, the music was anything but.

Unsurprisingly, March was a fantastic month for music. There were a slew of strong mixtape releases from the likes of Pusha T, Pac Div, Big K.R.I.T., and a resurgence of exciting rock inspired by lo-fi scuzz and nostalgia for an era that doesn't evoke hair metal. And Thurston Moore played the acoustic guitar for us… that was cool.

Best release of March 2011

Dirty Beaches, Badlands (Zoo Music)
Damaged soul, broken beats. You may need to hide your girlfriend/wife/husband (or just your boyfriends, actually) during Dirty Beaches' initial approach. Duck while Montreal-based Alex Zhang Hungtai swoops in crooning low and sultry, single-handedly constructing a nostalgia-narrative around fragments of 50s pop ballads and 60s-era guitar growls that have been jack-sawed and hacked up and left to rust. Or just indulge in a sonic key party and flip that switch, it's a beautiful ride.

Best music of March 2011

K-Holes, K-Holes (Hozac)
What we've got here is (surprisingly) refreshing- a John Cale experimental Velvet Underground reminiscent set of songs that do a pretty damn decent job of containing the band's live energy on record. If this album had been made in 1985, it might have been eye-rollingly derivative, but in today's current landscape, it sounds pretty new and exciting. How many bands did you see at SXSW that utilized free jazz style saxophone?

The Weeknd, House of Balloons mixtape
The Weeknd is making the rounds in the blogosphere as schmaltzy white-boy soul is no longer in the weather report. The House of Balloons mixtape is breaking the mold, much like Odd Future's Frank Ocean, by gracing the Pitchfork pages, who gave “What You Need” Best New Track honors, being declared genre facelifters by Complex and burrowing deeper into niche hip hop blogs like Ill Roots and 2DopeBoyz—who won't even show Frank Ocean love due to affiliation. Yet the media just can't help, but remain cautious of the project simply because The Weeknd are skilled at obscuring its identity.

B. Lewis, Science Within Reason (Self-Released)
Quite effortlessly, B. Lewis welds jam rock horns with bluesy work song vocals, glitched out synths and crackling drums, then cascades into the electro-R&B vibes that FlyLo, Bilal and Shlohmo are cultivating as of late.

Pusha T, Fear Of God mixtape
On “My God” Pusha T's hubris is off the leash and absolutely justified as he raps “bare witness as I unveil this instant classic”.

Burial, Hyperdub 12-inch
The elusive-by-trade beat master grinded out some flawless B-Sides. No interviews, just pure sonic tapestry.

Quiet Evenings, Transcending Spheres (Hooker Vision)
“Transcending Spheres” sways like deep ocean foliage and bellows like a faint solar wind. Time is enveloped by the composition until all that’s left is you and the beaconing void. Not even the greatest Zen Buddhist can explain this sort of oneness.

Dead Gaze, “Somewhere Else” 7-inch
Daed Pizza got it pretty dead on when she called it New Order in a swamp, but you can find the opiatic lushness of Olivia Tremor Control in the b-side track from Dead Gaze's new Atelier Ciseaux/La Station Radar 7-inch. It's right there: the southern sprawling softness of a padded wall of guitars strummed sweetly against an unobtrusive synth wash.

Shlohmo, Places EP (Friends of Friends)
The title track to his Places EP is simplistic in its soothing ruminations of airy coos and acoustic plucking, but once Shlohmo begins his exploration, an alternate universe opens up a new path to nirvana.

Lil Wayne's video for “6'7'”
Hype Williams did so much for the hip hop video that he's become a genre and a verb in the industry. If this were the 90s, Hype would have been strict in sticking to the Inception theme for Lil' Wayne's “6'7'” video. It's not though. Hype Williams has been there, done that and hit a point where he can just mash-up his greatest achievements and it still shits on 90% of music videos made.

Big K.R.I.T., Return of 4 Eva mixtape
The XXL Freshman turns in his homework. K.R.I.T. announces his “old school flow” on “Dreamin'” and proceeds to kick a song that sounds like the subtle meshing of Bun B and Pimp C's flows, the gripping reality of Geto Boys' “My Mind's Playing Tricks On Me” and ATLiens drum nostalgia.

Eternal Tapestry, Beyond The 4th Door (Thrill Jockey)
The new Eternal Tapestry record is already the source of lost hours, zoned out on the carpet, drifting off into the soaring scuzz of extended stoner jams. Beyond the 4th Door is surely going to come with an hours worth of idleness as you admire the incense smoke dancing in the peaking sunlight.

Sir Michael Rocks, The Rocks Report mixtape
The tape is 25 tracks of original music that includes “Bahamas,” “The Sunshine” and “Coochie Crook,” which have been floating around the blogosphere since the days of referring to him as “Mikey”.

ICEAGE, New Brigade
This came out in January elsewhere in the world, but it was just released here in the states on DAIS in March. So good. Like post-punk with a weird hardcore slant and even a slight blackmetal vibe.

Fabric, A Sort Of Radiance
Matthew Mullane's solo synth project on Spectrum Spool — Editions Mego offshoot. Dreamy, floating synth work outs on the same page as Oneohtrix and Emeralds.

Pac Div, Mania!
Pac Div linked up with Don Cannon for its Mania! mixtape, which is putting new use to the “CANNON” sound byte, with the heavy artillery on the album cover.

AIDS Wolf, An Insane and Abstract Hell: Dedicated To Two Dudes From Rusted Shut triple cassette
AIDS Wolf have a massive tribute to the transition of their band from a four piece to a trio, with a title that goes on for a while, and includes some magnificently skronky, vicious gems.

Rayon Beach, “Death Rides A Horse” 7-inch (Hozac)
Let's call Rayon Beach a direct descendant of that most holy of Austin psych lineages, since they've got all the working pieces to make it into the club: a blistering sense of rockist 'tude and the off-the-wall playfulness exhibited in the art of weirdo noise and feedback.

Computer Magic, Electronic Fences (White Iris)
Crafting a groovy yet spacey brand of synth-pop there's nothing groundbreaking here, just solid hits that will sweep you away on a non-stop listening binge. Sounding entirely revamped, “Found Out” is more precise and powerful while avoiding thick over-production.

Thurston Moore, Solo Acoustic Volume 5 (VDSQ)
Ah, Thurston Moore. Do you ever take time off to reflect on your awesomeness? Now you go and rub it in with an album of 12-string tributes of the late, great Jack Rose. Vin Du Select Qualitite already had its own reputation and now you’ve gone and blown it up, for the better.

Chip Tha Ripper, Gift Raps mixtape
Cash Money & Marvelous told all the ugly people to be quiet. Chip's got his own version called “U.A.F.,” which will have those hands up with the quickness.

Derek Rogers, Informal Meditation c60 (No Kings)
Derek Roger's Informal Meditation c60 was recorded live at Emo's in Austin (some on an iPhone, and you can hear people chatting), and the two sides serve as immaculate documents of pin-point focused drone, with slow moving progressions and underwater currents washing the organ and guitar.

Apache Dropout, Apache Dropout (Family Vineyard)
Apache Dropout's self-titled LP is a half-hour of southern fried dialects babbling out hazy proto-punk, utterly blazed boogie down romps and the kind of chugging good ol' blasted rock music that speaks the same tongue from Lou Reed to the band's namesake Edgar Broughton Band.

Screeching Weasel, First World Manifesto
It's easy to hate, but despite punching a girl at SXSW, Ben Weasel's first Screeching Weasel album in nearly a decade is a return to the angry, political, indie-as-fuck punk rock that made him so “lovable” in the first place. Trust me, I've been torn since SXSW, and it's hard to
separate the music from his actions (
even though there are other people in Screeching
Weasel who have been in the punk scene for years).
But it's not like we're calling out
Odd Future for talking about raping bitches, so I just stick to the
music.

Those Shocking, Shaking Days: Indonesia Hard, Psychedelic, Progressive Rock and Funk: 1970-78
Egon and friends have been taking Stones Throw's the Now & Again imprint on a world tour with amazing results. None more spectacular than this look at the garage and psych that came out of Indonesia in the early 1970s. This prolific era in the region's musical history has been explored multiple times in the past couple years, but few have done it so thoroughly as this 20-song comp.

Honorable Mentions

Dom Kennedy, The Original Dom Kennedy mixtape
Hellfyre Club Label, Prometheus mixtape
Recess, Recess EP
Xray Eyeballs' video for “Crystal”:

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