While many caught the Kanye bug, we were busy looping Curren$y's latest on repeat and sorting through the mountain of goods that Atlas Sound dropped in one week. It was also a good month for off-beat tapes, weirdo 7-inches, and west coast hip hop, which continues to tear the genre a new one.
Best Release of November 2010
Atlas Sound, Bedroom Database Vol. 1-4 (self-released)
All four of these “volumes” are good enough to blow most of the bedroom pop that drops daily out of the bath tub; Cox is a songwriting savant with a good sense of how to play on noise and texture with supple, melodic delay and looping. But count him more immediately a descendent to the songwriter's tradition that might include Michael Hurley, Todd Rundgren, his own self-avowed favorite Bobby Conn.
There's something more special about a massive Thanksgiving offering than a floating single dropped carefully now and then (or even every Friday) — there is simply too much “content” here to analyze quickly, which is both anathema to being an efficient blogger and counter to every consistent trend in “gaming” a critical music system that for better (not worse), sees less and less jockeying from the likes of Bradford Cox and, apparently, much more free, inspired music.
Best music of November 2010
Curren$y, Pilot Talk II (Roc-A-Fella)
If Curren$y is “High when I stroll, not even leaving footprints in the
snow, you know?” making him rap's illusive Bigfoot equivalent, would
that make Kanye just some drunk douchebag writing his name in the snow?
Gary War, Police Water EP (Sacred Bones)
We've always been great fans of Gary War's gurgling washes of alien synth pop, and the Police Water EP is arguably his most succinct statement of his other-world stylings to date. People like to lump this sort of future sound into a description with at least three posts (post-apocalyptic, post-new wave, “post-future” (?)); Bladerunner is also a useful sign post for these warbly synths. Does anyone ever stop and ask, “Is this what Gary wants?”
Donato Epiro, Supercontinent c30 (Stunned)
Donato Epiro's Supercontinent c30 is number ninety on the Stunned catalogue, which departs from the sun system ambitions of his last for the label, Sounding, for some terrestrial meditations.
J. Cole, Friday Night Lights mixtape
Friday Night Lights is almost entirely produced by J. Cole, proving the kid is capable of directing his own future masterpiece. FNL is a focused mixtape, to a point that its ambition is beyond the definition of a mixtape. I can't help but fall back on the “Villematic” lyrics of there being a feeling in the air that J. Cole is about to drop a classic.
Levek, Look On The Bright Side 7″ (Father Daughter)
There is currently a contest out there to be the schmaltziest, smoothest, downright cheesiest 70s-chunneling white boy soul, and Levek, shit son. Short of a few regrettable skat moments (always the whitest part of white boy soul music), this is taking the cake.
Wonder Wheel, Brave New World cassette (Sixteen Tambourines)
If Paul Rosales is to be believed, his SoCal-based Wonder Wheel project is 36 albums deep since June 2003, though he claims that this tape on Sixteen Tambourins is the first “lyrically and audibly coherent” release in the mammoth home-cut catalogue.
Bomb Zombies, Sincerely Yours (Hellfyre Club)
Nocando is notorious for the thick wordplay caked in eight layers of double speak, but on “F.W.U.H.” he's stripped to the the belligerent declaration of “young, dumb and reckless is the modus operandi” – making Bomb Zombies his possible ign'ant rap outlet.
Bikini, RIPJDS (Lefse)
Bikini might not have the lung capacity to play the same underwater gay clubs as Teengirl Fantasy, but it's giving the True Panther group competition in the dance anthem department.
Air Waves, Dungeon Dots (Underwater Peoples)
Air Wave's album dropped on the last day of the month. Nicole Schneit, sole constant in the band, has been crafting timeless tunes for years prior to her re-location from Brooklyn to Austin. She's re-recorded a number of her old favorites and added collaborators (Yellow Fever's Jennifer Moore as well as Sharon Van Etten) and new tracks on Dungeon Dots. A contemporary classic that should bring tears to Neil Young's old eyes.
Cadence Weapon, Tron Legacy: The Mixtape
Cadence Weapon returns to let us know he's still here like Joaquin, with his mixtape that aims to steal the thunder from Jeff Bridges' CGI-ed wrinkle-free face.
High Wolf/The Savage Young Taterbug 7-inch Split (Not Not Fun “Bored Fortress” 7-inch series)
Savage Young Taterbug's six minute plume haunts the taped samples these sounds initially embodied (say hi to “Home on the Prarie” as it slips by), stitched together like a docile Frankenstein with feedback scars and a simmering pathos embodied in the swirling, damaged savagery young Taterbug has inflicted on his precious.
Baje One & J. Howells Werthman, What's It Gonna Be? (Modern Shark)
Werthman's minimalist style of airy tone manipulation is passive in presence, leaving plenty of space for Baje One to let his mind float lovely across the soundscape. But do not fret, for all the turmoil (like “Taking Your Father To the Doctor”), the gloomy duo know how to find a crack of daylight with the closer “Some More Air”.
Woodsman, “Insects” 7-inch (Fire Talk)
“Insects” has that gushy mash of trippy psych guitar hooks and syrupy mounds of ambience that a lot of people will be turned on to. Think of it as a distillation of this deep space psych band's pop tendencies.
The Queers, Back to the Basement
The Queers are like 128 years old now (minus 100), so people don't care that they're still touring, or that they just put out their “best record since Joe Queer was doing speedballs.” That's ok, 'cause at heart, I'm still a teenage gluesniffer looking for my punk rock girl, so I'll listen to this shit until the day I die (I drink more than Bud though).
Rikki Ililonga & Musi-O-Tunya, Dark Sunrise (Now-Again)
Now-Again continues its reign of introducing its followers to the world's offerings in psych funk and soul with its latest reissue Dark Sunrise, a double disc (three LP) boxset that follows the career of Rikki Ililonga.
Peach Kelli Pop, S/T (Going Gaga Records)
If there’s anything that will toast your buns this winter, it’s the album equivalent of Joey Ramone and Fay Fife smashing on a pile of rainbows, amirite?
This slow-spin disco ball cover of Neil Young's “On the Beach” by Emily Reo.
The lead-off track to Exray's upcoming self-titled album, “You Forgot“.
Brenmar's remix of Teengirl Fantasy's “Dancing in Slow Motion“