Latest Features

BPM 5: The Top 130 Albums

By Staff; October 15, 2013 at 12:00 AM 

BPM 5: The Top 130 Albums



You’re Nothing

[Matador; 2013]

You’re Nothing hit like a bolt from the blue at the beginning of a lacklustre 2013 release calendar, and while things picked up, few other records this year can go toe-to-toe with it still. A 28 minute package of pure visceral thrills, on their sophomore effort the Danish young guns spat bile, sneered, jabbed and got under your skin. In more ways than one too – You’re Nothing is one of the most hook-happy albums to emerge from this field in yonks, proudly displaying a silver lining of pop in amongst the immensely stormy clouds. For a record that doubts our morals, proclaims our worthlessness and rattles against the futility of basic affection, it seems wholly content with allowing us to at least chant along in unison, following in lockstep (lol fascism) as they trudge forward to the militaristic snares. “Wounded Hearts” especially clearly shows that lead singer Elias Bender Rønnenfelt has been burnt since New Brigade dropped a couple of years back, and so his natural reaction is to torch everything around him. It goes some way to explain the chokingly thick atmosphere, the smouldering remains as they adopt a scorched earth policy. While not an obvious comparison, there’s a hint of Robert Pollard in Rønnenfelt, a determination to slice the flab and leave only the finest cuts intact – the title track is a mere 106 seconds when it could be three times the length and still as glorious. Blackhearted misanthropy never sounded so fun.

Gabriel Szatan


Tom Waits

Bad as Me

[Anti-; 2011]

Tom Waits is a masterful conductor always on the right track. This is evident from the onset of “Chicago”; from there, Bad as Me churns forward with a wider scope than we might have expected. In his interview with Pitchfork, Waits commented on how his wife Kathleen Brennan “wanted to do 12 three-minute songs,” adding that he has becoming more “economical” in his songwriting process. Market the album as you wish, but Bad as Me doesn’t stand as Tom Waits’ first attempt at compartmentalization; Swordfishtrombones (1983), the first album informed by Kathleen Brennan, was marginally leaner by comparison. If anything, the tightened focus on shorter songs is likely a result of the exhaustion after compiling 56 songs – 30 of which were new – for the stellar three-disc Orphans collection (truly the perfect distillation of what makes Tom Waits the best musician still living).

Even Bad as Me‘s closing song, “New Year’s Eve,” was cut down from what we presume could have been a “Sins of My Father”-sized track; the end result hints at this potential to reach out exponentially, and really it’s the only track to suggest a larger presence. Ultimately, Waits caved to his impulses, also releasing a deluxe CD-version of the album, which adds three bonus tracks. These extra tracks are largely superfluous, yet critical for the Waits completist.

Admittedly, this has been a lot of talk about his back-catalog, but Bad as Me rarely sees Waits branching out beyond what we’ve come to expect from him. This is simultaneously a terrific revelation because his albums have been uniformly great for most of his career, but also disconcerting, knowing there are few dark alleys he hasn’t traversed. The clamoring military-style verses and blue-collar lyrics of “Hell Broke Luce” are a welcome detour, and if we are to resort to Orphans-style categorizations, it appears to be the lone bastard. Elsewhere, I count seven potential bawlers out of thirteen total tracks: “Talking at the Same Time”; “Face to the Highway”; “Pay Me”; “Back in the Crowd”; “Kiss Me”; “Last Leaf”; “New Year’s Eve.” That means bawlers consume 25 out of a possible 44.5 minutes, which equates to 56% of the album. Therefore, Bad as Me is a bawler-based album with a brawler for a title track. But the true bright spot will always be the bastard in his heart.

Michael Tkach


Tim Hecker

Ravedeath, 1972

[Kranky; 2011]

The grainy photograph on the cover of Ravedeath 1972 shows a group of young men pushing a piano over the edge of a tall building’s roof. Really, what better way to describe the sonic deconstruction Tim Hecker has singularly mastered over the years? As always, present here are the clipped signals and extreme distortions of Mr. Hecker’s most compelling work, but broken up into multiple parts, these pieces take on a thematic unity only hinted at on past released. This album was directly inspired by the idea of digital waste and electronic garbage, and here we find the gorgeous ends of such reckless consumerist processing, all tattered sonics swirling into glorious focus. Both gorgeous and harrowing, Ravedeath 1972 has only proven moreso in the past few years to be a high water mark of a brilliant career.

Zach Corsa


Julia Holter

Loud City Song

[Domino; 2013]

The city as a living breathing organism — it’s an idea that artists have struggled with and been inspired by for decades. The hum and bustle of avenues and arteries, of veins and vehicles, has provided ample influence for musicians from the 60’s anti-consumerism folk movement to more modern retrograde ecological ideologies. But nowhere is this comparison and contrast between nature and infrastructure so wonderfully illustrated and set to jaw-dropping arrangements than on Julia Holter’s latest album, Loud City Song. The Los Angeles avant-pop singer has forged a love letter to the paranoia, claustrophobia, and sometimes glacial beauty of living in a thriving metropolis filled with acres of steel, carbon monoxide, and the occasional bit of urban sprawl.

Whether it’s the pop theatrics of “In The Green Wild” or her absolutely stunning cover of Barbara Lewis’ “Hello Stranger,” Holter manages to convey a sense of danger while still allowing a chrome-plated glimmer of light to seep through. But her often tactile observations never come across as elitist or condescending. In her mind, she is just another person in a sea of warm bodies, and that is exactly how she likes it. She has made mention of the fact that “in L.A., it’s like everyone’s invisible. That’s why I like it here.” But as much as she might wish otherwise, there is never a moment on Loud City Song where her voice ever gets lost among the rushes.

Joshua Pickard


Jon Hopkins


[Domino; 2013]

Perhaps Immunity‘s core USP lies in the delivery. Jon Hopkins presented this as a whole, pulling off an interesting trick of allowing the tracks across the album to effectively compliment one another, sounding better in retrospect. That may sound obvious, but given that even high-calibre electronic releases from top level artists are often collections of disparate EPs and 12″s as opposed to being taken as albums proper – from Pink right back to Incunabula – it’s commendable that Hopkins keeps it varied but not disjointed. The edges are rounded off the eye-popping agitation as the record fades to a gentle ambiance. Even in mastering, the volume dramatically dips. There’s a delicious irony in an album ending on the faintest of whimpers blowing his career wide open – now nominated for a Mercury Prize, no-one realistically believes he’ll win, but it’s indicative of a well-deserved breakout year. Dude’s a BPM fan as well, so props.

Gabriel Szatan




[Anticon; 2010]

It took a couple of years and another album, Obsidian, before Will Wiesenfeld’s aims on Cerulean became entirely clear. The suburban Los Angeles based beatmaker, who records as Baths, had already spent a few years trading in off-kilter electronic experimentation as Post-Foetus, but Cerulean proved to be his first formal excursion into the sort of melodramatic songwriting that he’d explore more clearly on Obsidian. Instrumental numbers like “Aminals” and non-album contemporary cut “Seaside Town” showcased Wiesenfeld’s ties to the then nascent LA beat scene and a fondness for the winking self-referentiality contained therein, but Cerulean truly shined in the bedroom romanticism of some of the tracks more minor numbers. “Rain Smell” and “You’re My Excuse To Travel” turned small sentiments into winning mantras, soundtracked by woozy beats indebted to Wiesenfeld’s stint as an ambient composer under his Geotic name. Obsidian delved further into that mode, but the moment’s that it’s explored on Cerulean do it best.

Colin Joyce



Does It Look Like I’m Here

[Editions Mego; 2010]

If you’re a fan of straight-up, good-times, pogo-worthy indie rock, you’ll likely be a little fed up as we approach 2014 waiting for the charts to swing back around; if freeform, forward-thinking electronic music is more your bag, this Yung Decade will have been immensely gratifying. 2010 was a standout year, with an array of talent surfacing from the nether regions – Walls, Sun Araw and Actress all entered the public conscience, while Oneohtrix Point Never’s Returnal and Emeralds’ Does It Look Like I’m Here crossed over proper, settling into regular rotation for plenty who had never veered so far left before. People were hardly lacking in choice for hypnotic drones, glossy ambience and buzzy low-end, but the latter pair cemented Editions Mego as the flagbearing label of the loosely connected scene. While key members Steve Hauschildt and Mark McGuire have produced fine solo records, it was on this album where the Ohio noiseniks really hit on something special, dialling down the harshness in favour of softer textures and weaving circles around one another with more conventional chord progressions. The end impression is that of a series of vapour trails left behind as Emeralds continued their ascent; twirling, twirling, twirling towards freedom.

Gabriel Szatan


Autre Ne Veut


[Software; 2013]

Introspection and self-reflection are not exactly frequent fodder for electronic dance-pop music. Thankfully Arthur Ashin, better known as Autre Ne Veut, has a master’s degree in psychology so he knows exactly what buttons he needs to push. On his sophomore record, Ashin smooths out his experimental, glitchy stylings of his debut in favor of a more polished – and more personal – pop pastiche. The result is a record that’s upbeat while still being serious, and always supremely catchy.

The album starts brilliantly with the one-two punch of “Play by Play” and “Counting,” successfully balancing soulful hooks with a huge amount of heart. Elsewhere on the album, “Ego Free Sex Free” manages to be sensual without becoming saccharine – something today’s R&B crooner should strive to replicate. By the end, Ashin has persuaded listeners to shed their own existential fears and (ahem) anxieties about dying and ultimately point it into a more positive direction. It’s much more fun that way.

Brian Hodge


St. Vincent


[4AD; 2009]

With her first album as St. Vincent, Marry Me, Annie Clark stepped out of the shadow of the previous artists with whom she’d been associated, but it was with her second album Actor that she demanded the spotlight. With Actor she found ways to mesh together her acrobatically beautiful voice with her guitar badassery, while still maintaining an ear for detailed and delicate arrangements. The songs all came together into what she called her “animatronic Technicolor ride,” which certainly describes the bright and vivid sound of the songs – but it overlooks the dark nature of them. Lingering in the lyrics are a host neuroses (“what do I keep from the strangers who sleep where I sleep” she sings on the opener); confessions(“Tomorrow’s some kind of stranger who I’m not supposed to see” from “The Neighbors”); accusations (“you’re a supplement, you’re a salve” opens “Actor Out Of Work,” before going even further); and gruesome images (“Laughing With A Mouth Of Blood”). These facets are tucked into tightly written and catchy pop songs that populate the album, which only adds to its intrigue and replayability.

Rob Hakimian


The Horrors


[XL; 2011]

The Horrors’ musical transformation from their 2007 debut album to 2009’s excellent Primary Colours was one of the most surprising in recent musical history. For 2011’s Skying they didn’t make another transformation, but rather smoothed over the cracks and brightened up the sound of their sophomore record. Under their own guidance this time, having been let loose by Portishead’s Geoff Barrow who produced their last album, The Horrors truly grew into their sound. From the horn splashes of “Endless Blue,” to the brutal rockers “I Can See Through You” and “Moving Further Away” and right to the heartbreaking conclusion of “Oceans Burning,” Skying feels like the Londoner’s most complete and well-rounded album to date. None of the songs here can be said to have a great hook, but The Horrors are not looking for radio play with Skying, instead they’ve brought to the table a complete package with an artistic statement that they are a band to be taken seriously, and you’d better start doing so, because they seem like they’re going to be around for a lot longer than any of us would have thought in 2007.

Rob Hakimian



Silence Yourself

[Matador; 2013]

“The world used to be silent/ Now it has too many voices.”

Savages’ guiding philosophy is linear thinking in a non-linear world. In a society obsessed with instant gratification, their music kind of parched, high-concept art that thrives demands your attention. Conveniently enough, it’s the type of music that’s impossible to ignore anyways. Hyper-focused and hyper-aggressive, with buzzsaw riffs and brawny basslines designed to move the ground beneath you, Silence Yourself is equally invested in its songs and their delivery. Savages recorded the songs live in studio, and on songs like “Shut Up” and “City’s Full” they display a tightness that only refines the clarity of their message. Not for the nebbish, Silence Yourself confronts you and forces a response.

Brendan Frank


Owen Pallett


[Domino; 2010]

A name change is a pretty big event for an artist, and for Owen Pallett, it meant he could avoid being mixed up with those pesky Final Fantasy games (and become much more Google-able, thankfully). What seems bigger, though, is the sound that came with the change. Heartland, the first album to bear Pallett’s name, is his fullest, and arguably his most detailed work to date. With the likes of the Czech Symphony string section at his whim, he creates a new world (Spectrum) that even comes with it’s own prelude record (the preceding Spectrum, 14th Century EP) and central character (Lewis). It’s just as well Pallett knows how to deal with grandiosity appropriately, making the pressing, rigid strings on “Keep The Dog Quiet” and almost Noël Coward-like fluttering pomp of “Flare Gun” sound like it’s all relevant and in his grasp.

So tightly is it in his grasp, that he’s able to play about more than he has on other records, dropping into monotone at a moment’s notice (the titular lines of “Oh Heartland, Up Yours!”), or uttering a line so wrapped in fantasy and intrigue, you can’t but not enter into his wonderful world (“I took No-Face by the beak, and broke his jaw, he’ll never speak again”). And amidst the strings, woodwind, brass, and thundering drums, he still manages to insert plenty more fresh and lively instrumentation, like the near-danceable bass on “Tryst With Mephistopheles” or scuttling electronics on stand-out single “Lewis Takes Off His Shirt.” If there’s fault to find with Heartland, it’s that you have to leave Spectrum so soon; thankfully going back over and over a journey easy to make.

Ray Finlayson



The Coyote

[Self-released; 2012]

An experimental work that still pulls you by the ear into its world, James Cooley’s semi-autobiographical The Coyote is emotive and sprawling, cataloguing the perils of young adulthood with a steady, matured voice. But for all of its viscous subject matter, the real triumph here is in Cooley’s music. He speaks just as effectually with his guitar as his voice. Moving along with bottomless, expressive chord patterns, mile-per-second flashes on the upper frets, sly drum work, and an array of electronic flourishes, The Coyote has as many personalities as it does songs. Cooley has to be one of the most criminally underrated artists working today.

Brendan Frank


Broken Social Scene

Forgiveness Rock Record

[Arts & Crafts; 2010]

Almost every song on Broken Social Scene’s previous self-titled album sounded like three bands were trying to play them at the same time. It was an interesting experiment, but the reliably unpredictable Canadian lynchpins have remained just that. Forgiveness Rock Record is less chaotic and more polished due in large part to the decision of masterminds Kevin Drew and Brendan Canning to trim the band’s roster from 19 to 7. Thankfully, the restraint shown in the instrumentation doesn’t carry over into other parts of the music. Forgiveness Rock Record is still admirably ambitious and overflowing with ideas, from the gleaming electronic wash of “All to All” to the delicately epic opener “World Sick.” Even if some of them stick better than others, the energy is undeniable, and it’s a suitably glossy hodgepodge of talent that fits in nicely with their catalogue.

Brendan Frank


Arctic Monkeys

Suck It And See

[Domino; 2011]

After moving in a new direction on their third album, 2009’s Humbug, with QOTSA’s Josh Homme behind the decks, the Sheffield quartet opted for a more traditional sound on its follow-up Suck It and See. Released in June 2011 Suck It and See finds Arctic Monkeys at their best; combining harder rock tracks with frontman Alex Turner’s ballads.

The album is solid all the way through with “Piledriver Waltz” being particularly lovely, and far superior of the Alex Turner solo version released earlier the same year as part of the Submarine soundtrack EP. Suck It and See stacks up well against the rest of the Arctic Monkeys’ releases but above all it’s a showcase of Turner’s maturing lyrical ability and the way he combines witty and nonsensical lines with serious counterparts. The album’s finest tracks are all the slower, more lyric-focused, tracks – the previously mentioned “Piledriver Waltz,” the title track and “Reckless Serenade” being the most impressive on an impressive album. 

Johan Alm


Ariel Pink’s Haunted Graffiti

Before Today

[4AD; 2010]

I can understand and somewhat empathize with longtime fans’ concerns that this was Mr. Pink’s sellout moment, what with its 4AD release and promotion on such mainstream programs as Late Night With Jimmy Fallon and, perhaps most worryingly, it’s non-lo-fi sound. After all, wasn’t that “recorded in my bedroom on cassette” sound an inherent part of Ariel’s appeal?

It was, but I also think this argument fails to give proper credit to Pink’s abilities as a pop songwriter, which he’s displayed since (at least) the days of “Are You Gonna Look After My Boys?” off 2007’s Scared Famous. Those pop sensibilities get the studio treatment they deserve on Before Today, from the sunny/fuzzy psychedelia of “Bright Lit Blue Skies” to the warped rock anthem of “Little Wig” and the undeniable catchiness of “Round and Round,” perhaps Pink’s most successful attempt at marrying pop radio hooks with nostalgic atmosphere. If this album is what “selling out” looks like, I wish artists would do so more often.

Josh Becker


The Men

Open Your Heart

[Sacred Bones; 2012]

A few adjectives for Open Your Heart: rambunctious, crazy, mental, heartfelt. All valid descriptions of the The Men’s third and most acclaimed album to date, but on their own, these words don’t feel enough. Rambunctious, but to greatest extent of the word, especially when “Cube” is fluttering crazily about all over the place; crazy and mental, but in the way you can practically feel a hundred sweaty fans pushing you about at one of the band’s live shows (and most evident on the album’s opening one-two punch of “Turn It Around” and “Animal”); and yes, even amidst all the action, there’s still a chance for the band to show their softer side without sounding pastiche or even saccharine. On “Candy,” lead vocalist Mark Perro sounds broken but nonchalant, and it shows in his lyrics.

All considered, and this is The Men “toned down.” Granted, there’s not as much as fuzz as on the preceding albums, but they still know how to kick a door open with their power, even if it is in the form of the injected late night swagger of “Country Song,” or the deadpan lawyer-like personality of Perro on “Oscillation” as the other band members gracefully spiral upwards. Full of expertly infused moments of genre bending and excitement, Open Your Heart is a shining example of why The Men are so important, not just on the punk scene, but on the New York scene, if not a whole further afield.

Ray Finlayson


Sharon Van Etten


[Jagjaguwar; 2012]

Even though Sharon Van Etten goes from strength to strength with each release, her output still feels understated. This is odd, especially since her latest album is her expanding out more than she has. From the beginning jangle of “Warsaw,” she sounds like she’s rattling off the chains of a past life, and from there she breathes deeper and reaches higher than before. Granted, the help of Aaron Dessner on production and the likes of Zach Condon and Julianna Barwick as collaborators is something of an essential aid on Tramp, but if you look beyond the additional arrangements and fine-tuned production, you see can visibly see Van Etten growing and becoming her own force. The bitterness in “Serpents”; the breeziness of “We Are Fine”; the realization that “You’ve got to lose sometimes”; and even the lurch of “In Line” all reveal someone more assured not just in herself, but in her music.

Ray Finlayson


Mos Def

The Ecstatic

[Downtown; 2009]

The Ecstatic was a total surprise – a release by an artist many, including myself, had all but written off. After a stellar debut and equally stellar album-length collaboration with Talib Kweli, Mos Def’s career took quite the nose-dive. The New Danger was interesting but ultimately more promising in idea than execution, and True Magic – the album that preceded The Ecstatic, was a toss off both in content and method of release – no artwork, no promotion, no substance. Mos Def had transitioned from the king of conscious hip-hop into an artist seemingly more concerned with his acting than his rap career. Who knew The Ecstatic, out of nowhere, would not only re-establish Mos Def as one of the premiere rap artists of our time, but also end up being his greatest artistic achievement thus far.

It’s rare for a rap album to have cohesion from a production standpoint, even rarer still when an album features such a long list of producers. But somehow, despite The Ecstatic having a musical identity that pulls from a world-spanning number of different genre influences, it manages to flow beautifully from track to track. And most importantly, the MC at the center of it all holds his own against the impressive and often larger-than-life production. Mos Def has never sounded as urgent or energized as he does on The Ecstatic, and it results in the rare type of hip-hop record that features a singularity in vision both musically and lyrically.

Cole Zercoe



Sweet Heart Sweet Light

[Fat Possum; 2012]

Tales of journeys through hell, rarely spend time on the reconciliation afterwards. After Jason Pierce’s harrowing health scares came to a close post-Songs in A&E, all of his recorded material has spent time in that delirious afterglow. Gospel choirs and krautrock collide on Sweet Heart Sweet Light in glorious uplift, smearing buzzy guitars and wholesome “la-la” over taut motorik beats. With Spiritualized, Pierce’s work had run the gamut from spaced out psychedelia to tortured Brit-pop, but Sweet Heart Sweet Light covers all of those styles and turn them into something uniquely warm and heaven-gazing. When you make it through hell, you’ve earned the right to celebrate it. If Pierce could manage to do so for a couple of albums more he’ll have carved out a nice little optimist-rock niche. So far Sweet Heart is the best of that bunch.

Colin Joyce


BPM 5: The Top 30 EPs

By Staff; October 14, 2013 at 12:00 AM 

BPM 5: The Top 30 EPs



Laid Out

[Friends of Friends / Wedidit; 2013]

By the time this year’s Laid Out EP hit store shelves, Los Angeles’s Henry Laufer had already positioned himself at the forefront of the city’s booming beats scene. His 2011 LP Bad Vibes and some of his earlier shortform work established his status as the city’s foremost constructor of disembodied R&B cuts, as reliant on ambient tropes as the 808 kicks he holds dear. Laid Out features Laufer in his most fully-formed mode yet, traipsing about in his shiftless bedroom garb all the same, but giving those suggestions structure, poise and grace. These are tracks that’ll stick in your head, whether you’re talking vocal collabs with How To Dress Well’s Tom Krell or instrumental tracks, these tracks are sleepytime bangers–tensile beats that’ll carry you straight into the unconscious.

Colin Joyce



That We Can Play

[Hippos in Tanks; 2010]

A grab-bag of the greatest arcade soundtracks that never were, Ford & Lopatin’s pre-namechange debut EP is a singular ode to the brothers Akai, Korg and Roland. Bringing elements that colour some of the more prominent electronic releases of the period front and centre proved a canny move: streaks of neon burn across the mix on “Planet Party,” “Midi Drift” sounds like a blearily-recalled weekend in Tokyo and the infectious “Strawberry Skies” proves the duo can palm off 80s pop bangers if they so choose. Even after countless similar bedroom synth releases have rendered this sound a little outmoded – you can argue “Shadows” sounds like a slightly meaner cut left off Neon Indian’s Physic Chasms – this still represents the perfectly-formed zenith.

Gabriel Szatan


Active Child

Curtis Lane

[Filter / Merok; 2010]

Even in a bumper year for music, Active Child’s first official release stood out from the pack, a perfect entry-point to one of the key players in the white-boy oddball R’n’B revival thing (not calling it PBR&B, sorry). Pat Grossi’s vocal range is a thing to behold, plunging from a piercing falsetto down into an ominous rumble on standout “Weight Of The World” with ease. What’s so endearing is the grace with which Grossi carries these lovesick tales, landing blows but avoiding the cloying despondency that some of his peers fall prey to. A strong 80s vibe persists, especially on the luminous synth tones of “When Your Love Is Safe” and grandiosity of the drums throughout, and this airlocks the songs well – there’s no point penning such earnest music only to get mic-shy when it comes to the crunch. Arguably better even than his debut album proper, the songs on Curtis Lane display a mastery of songwriting that belied Active Child’s then novice status, this the kind of shit that’ll pad out the second halves of mixtapes for years to come.

Gabriel Szatan


Shabazz Palaces

Shabazz Palaces

[Self-released; 2009]

The first swell of music by Shabazz Palaces came to my attention in a way that music hasn’t to me in nearly a decade: It was delivered. By mail. To my doorstep. An unsolicited email in early 2009 from a well-connected person in the Seattle hip hop community decided it was somehow in my best interest to hear Ishmael Butler’s latest project, a double EP release from a group (an entity?) called Shabazz Palaces.

You might remember Butler from his previous rap life as Butterfly, one third of early ‘90s jazz-rap trio Digable Planets. That crew was here and gone before you could say “Cool Like Dat” but Butler, or as he’s known to the community, Ish, has been building sonic castles out of sight ever since.

The music on Shabazz Palaces embodies the very nature of its mysterious arrival: unexpected, obtuse, dense, thematic. It’s elemental and artifactual in its unabashed afrocentrism — the EP features a song called “Kill White T” — but fundamentally inclusive in the way its sonics invite further exploration by anyone who hears it. “Blastit” might be the most beautiful and devastating hip hop track of the last five years: a graceful acoustic intro played on an mbira, an African finger piano, is interrupted by stark, synthesized bass so deep future civilizations on the space-time continuum are being rocked by its reverberations at this very moment.

But that’s what Shabazz Palaces does, it warps the temporal for the benefit of the purely sensory. To wit: The other prominent member of SP, Tendai Maraire, plays the mbira on “Blastit.” Tendai’s late father was Dumi, a famous Zimbabwean musician and the man responsible for introducing mbira music to North America. Shabazz Palaces’ roots are deep. You probably knew them before you even knew them.

Chul Gugich


How To Dress Well

Just Once

[Love Letters Ink; 2011]

Just Once is a pretty ironic title for an EP consisting of material that had seen release twice already. Total Loss emphatically silenced the murmurs that Tom Krell’s creative juices had prematurely dried up, but while the clutch of “Suicide Dreams” taken from Love Remains weren’t fresh per se, neither were they reheated in a lazy attempt to fill the gap. In a bold move, Krell completely changed everything bar the core compositions themselves, offering up four orchestral reworkings of source material so heavily obscured by buzzy distortion it was – at times – hard to admire the fractured beauty. Not so here. 17 minutes of disquieting brilliance, Just Once is a real showstopper, placing Krell’s shrill, brutal falsetto front and centre with scant else bar a string section for accompaniment. While admittedly a tad heavy on the melodrama, it proved that Krell’s riveting vignettes scrubbed up pretty damn well.

Gabriel Szatan


Twin Sister

Color Your Life

[Infinite Best; 2010]

Andrea Estrella’s ever changing hair is a window into Twin Sister’s deceptively simple world. Color Your Life, the band’s 2010 breakthrough EP is a collection of a handful of wispy dream pop tracks, pleasant and plain enough on the surface. There’s something deeper though, and something you might miss if not for the array of strange wigs that Estrella employs at live performances…there’s weirdness, plain and simple. Aquamarine hair that stretches to the floor portend’s “Lady Daydream”‘s labyrinthine construction. It twists and roils under the weight of Estrella’s impassioned vocal take and Eric Cardona’s skipping guitars. But even as these twists and turns occur the hazy tapestry never collapses into anything less than the sum of its parts. Color Your Life might seem like nothing more than a few pretty little tracks, but look to the wigs for all the answers.

Colin Joyce


Sufjan Stevens

All Delighted People

[Asthmatic Kitty; 2010]

Sufjan Stevens has never been afraid of boisterous arrangements. Even from his earliest electronic experimentation the dude has had a flair for the dramatic, a drama that would come to a head in all of his 2010 efforts. Though The Age of Adz took the brunt of the criticism for Stevens’s supposedly newfound eclecticism, All Delighted People cashed in on similar aims with more traditional instrumentation. At 59 minutes, it’s hard to see how Stevens justified labeling this record as an EP (or even a minor release, but the boisterousness of the title track’s orchestral trills and “The Owl and the Tanager”‘ shushed lope ensured that even as an “EP” it stands alongside his best work.

Colin Joyce


Kurt Vile

So Outta Reach

[Matador; 2011]

The acoustic twangs on “The Creature” might seem to signal a slightly folksier Kurt Vile release than usual, but the lyrics are typically introverted and lackadaisical: “They call me the creature of habit / But I’m a man just the same / Ain’t got time for overthinking / So I rely on early intuition.” One of Vile’s strengths has always been his ability to make slacking off look so cool. “Don’t wanna be anything,” as he puts it on “Life’s A Beach,” and not only does he make it sound believable—it’s actually almost admirable. In our increasingly interconnected world, where employees with smartphones are expected to be on call practically 24/7 and a glut of online media makes standing out from the crowd an all the more effortful task, it’s refreshing to hear an artist so plainly not give a fuck about being “so outta reach.” The Springsteen cover seals the deal: has there ever been a better summary of Vile’s philosophy than feeling like a rider on a downbound train?

Josh Becker


Daniel Rossen

Silent Hour/Golden Mile

[Warp; 2012]

Department of Eagles and Grizzly Bear veteran Daniel Rossen stepped out on his own for the release of his 2012 debut EP Silent Hour/Golden Mile. While some artists may have simply ridden the wave of established goodwill, Rossen took the opportunity to create a cycle of songs detailing the intricacies of gently plucked guitar notes, fading piano rolls, and the grandeur of unexpected catharsis.  Written during the media storm following the release of Grizzly Bear’s Veckatimest, Rossen drew himself away from that attention in an effort to focus on his own music – and to keep busy while his other bands were home and out of the studio. Playing out like a warped version of the half-remembered musical memories of his youth, Silent Hour/Golden Mile feels intangible and often wispy, like the remnants of a dream fading away as you rub the sleep from your eyes. It’s a record of unending grandeur and pastoral atmosphere, jutted occasionally by brief peaks and valleys. Rossen may be more well-known for his day jobs in Grizzly Bear and Department of Eagles, but if he continues to produce albums like Silent Hour/Golden Mile, that will change very quickly.

Josh Pickard



You Know You Like It

[Tri Angle; 2012]

The most striking thing about AlunaGeorge’s You Know You Like It EP is how confident they managed to sound for a duo with only a handful of released songs to their name prior. From the off it was clear that AlunaGeorge had started to find their sound; singer Aluna Francis sounds less girlish than before – her assured and measured delivery, which manages to be constantly alluring without ever being overwrought, matches perfectly with the EP’s hintingly sexual nature. These themes are pressed forward by the slinky production; clicks and claps punctuate the sumptuously pulsating bass, covered over by layers of melodic effects that are placed precisely and compellingly around the tracks to accentuate and add to their potency. This all combines to make the three songs on You Know You Like It some of the most irresistibly replayable of last or indeed any year.

Rob Hakimian


Holy Other

With U

[Tri Angle; 2011]

Holy Other is right at home on witch-house purveyor Tri-Angle, as these eerie washes of R&B filtered through the lens of haunted ambience both embody and transcend most aspects of that fleeting sub-genre. Still, to lump Holy Other in with Salem and Balam Acab is to short-change the scope of the vision at play here. Imagine a narcotized, post-party Burial stumbling home through a late autumn gutter. From “Know Where”‘s unsettling burble to the vaporwave-esque sunset vibe of “Yr Love,” there’s a singular vision at work, a sense of disconnect and twilight expansiveness that suits these ghostly songs perfectly. By the time we reach the head-swimming layers of “With U,” we’re sold on this world, and we’ll return often.

Zachary Corsa




[Self-released; 2010]

Arriving in the last few weeks of 2010, Mesita’s Living/Breathing EP shows that you should never make your assessments about the year past too early. I personally wouldn’t be surprised if this had found its way into people’s top ten of that year and also number one EP full of perhaps the greatest feel good moments. That vibrant and brilliant energy that “Living/Breathing” gives off could fuel the weariest of minds into doing anything while the clattering and spiraling “Jet Trails” would lift them up again before the EP had ended. But one of the strengths of the EP was that it showed a softer side to James Cooley; “For The Best” is a simple guitar and drums track that has him whispering his deep down hopes but when the chorus comes charging in he’s ready to wipe the slate clean and just get on with making brilliant music.

Ray Finlayson


Zola Jesus


[Sacred Bones; 2010]

Zola Jesus – aka Nika Roza Danilova – always had a huge voice, but it was her Stridulum EP that allowed it show itself in its fullest and most breathtaking form. Matched to deep, trembling tones and thundering drums, it found a new world to inhabit, one that felt much higher than the tinny, fuzzy one on her underrated preceding debut The Spoils. Her reach on Stridulum is enormous, filling empty warehouses with a voice that sounds both desolate and reassuring; on “Night” she sounds intimidating in her comfort, singing “In the end of the night when I can be with you” like that’s the only outcome; on “I Can’t Stand” she sounds like she’ll break through fields of barbed wire to remedy the state of the person she’s singing about in the song; and “Manifest Destiny” has her sounding like she’s standing tall despite the bellow of warning sirens and effects that sound like buildings crumbling in one themselves. Stridulum marked a place on the earth for Danilova, and on the EP she sounds like she would die a thousand times before even considering giving it up.

Ray Finlayson



The Face

[Greco-Roman; 2012]

Before the critical and commercial smash of their debut album Settle, London brotherly duo Disclosure released an EP called The Face that perfectly encapsulated everything they wanted to achieve, and distilled the UK’s current penchant for vocal-led pop house music – disconcertingly well, especially for a couple of teenagers. Utilizing the voice of Sasha Keable, clips from porn videos and their own seemingly innate ability at creating utterly irresistibly dancey beats and hooks, The Face has no trouble whipping up a sweaty and electrically charged atmosphere for its 21 minutes – even if you’re listening to it while walking around the vegetable aisle at the supermarket. This faultless introduction from the duo became something of a calling card and led to them getting many big names on their debut album inside a year of its release.

Rob Hakimian


Flying Lotus

Pattern+Grid World

[Warp; 2010]

Though Flying Lotus (neé Steve Ellison) has found a way to obliquely explore psychedelia through nearly all of his cosmic constructions, in 2010 he addressed it directly and explicitly. The same year’s Cosmogramma was all about blasting into outer space, but Pattern + Grid World went straight to other realms. These are fractious, colorful, patterned beats that bend and refract around Ellison’s clattering drum production. We’re talking synths in kodachrome and violent bursts of sunlight laden ambient noise. You can call any abstract electronic music transportive, but Ellison did it right here. Not only are you elsewhere, your feet aren’t even on the ground. Your head’s not even in the clouds, its in the pattern + grid world, enjoy it before it wears off.

Colin Joyce


BPM 5: The Top 100 Tracks

By Staff; October 9, 2013 at 1:30 AM 

BPM 5: The Top 100 Tracks

Five years ago, on October 5th 2008, the domain name was registered by a bunch of kids who wanted somewhere to express some thoughts about music they liked. The name, One Thirty BPM, was a reference to an of Montreal lyric from the song “Suffer For Fashion”; one carefully chosen for its rolling-off-the-tongue and its esoteric appeal to fans of a certain type of music. In fact, it turned out to be a little too carefully chosen – over the years, I’m not sure that anyone actually caught on to the of Montreal reference; more often than not we were mistaken for a dance music oriented site, and eventually we opted to change our name to the much simpler and more acronym-able Beats Per Minute – BPM. Not that we weren’t a dance music site at all – in fact we more or less let our team of writers, which has swelled and contracted continually in size over the years, write about whatever they wanted. From indie to classic rock to hip-hop to pop to electronic to dance and even classical – we’ve had it all on BPM. It’s been a project that’s been close to the hearts of all those that have contributed, but especially those of us that have been with it for the whole five years. Even in times when we couldn’t give it as much love and attention as we wanted to, we’d always hold it up somehow, passing the buck from New York to London to Los Angeles. We had help from team members all over the States (Georgia, Florida, Vermont, to name just a few) and all around the world from Canada to Sweden to Australia to Scotland to South Korea. This has allowed us to be introduced to like-minded people that we never would have met otherwise, and all I can say is if you’re thinking of writing for a music site – or starting your own – go ahead and do it, just for this reason.

The community of music writers out there is vast and varied, but all are welcoming. Having that central tenet of musical passion as a bedrock to your relationship before you’ve even met is an incredible springboard for friendship, and many strong, long lasting, and continent-spanning relationships have been made out of One Thirty BPM’s inauspicious beginnings. But let us not forget the main reason that we came together in the first place, and the reason that we’ve kept it going for these last five years: the music.

The period of October 2008 to October 2013 presents some of the most interesting, diverse, controversial and original music that there’s ever been. And with the rise of the internet and social media, it’s never been more widely spread or discussed. It’s been our pleasure to add our voices to the chorus of commentators that now inhabits certain corners of the internet, and we’d like to take this opportunity of our anniversary to try and make a summation of all that has happened in the last 60 months of music. Over the next couple of weeks, to celebrate our fifth anniversary, and a truly unique and new era of music creation, sharing and discussion, we’re going to be unveiling a number of lists that try to sum up what we’ve made of the last five years. We’ll be revealing our best 30 EPs, 100 tracks and (for reasons that are hopefully obvious) 130 albums, from BPM’s lifetime (October 2008 to October 2013). It’s been a lot of work, but we’re extremely proud of the outcome, and we hope you’ll join us in celebrating it by sharing, commenting on or even merely reading what we’ve put together.

Rob Hakimian

[The Top 100 Tracks][The Top 130 Albums][The Top 30 EPs]

Acts to See at CMJ 2012

By Evan Kaloudis; October 17, 2012 at 12:12 AM 

It’s CMJ time once again: one week of madness in which everyone’s band, publicist, manager, and mother take over New York to conduct “business.” Here’s our list of acts to catch if you’re in NYC this weekend. Check out the list below and be sure to check out our party tomorrow at noon.

Live Album Compilation: Animal Collective – Centipede Hz [Download]

By Evan Kaloudis; August 1, 2012 at 1:48 PM 

Animal Collective‘s new album, Centipede Hz, isn’t out until September 4th, but if you’re too anxious we’ve got you covered. We’ve compiled all the best sounding bootlegs into one package.

Using some deductive reasoning by picking apart interviews and lyrics we’ve managed to piece together all the live and working titles of the tracks on the album.

1. “Moonjock” (new, previously unheard song)
2. “Today’s Supernatural” = “Shaker” / “Stop Thinking” / “Let Go”
3. “Rosie Oh” (new, previously unheard song)
4. “Applesauce” (new, previously unheard song)
5. “Wide Eyed” = “Change”
6. “Father Time” = “A Long Time Ago”
7. “New Town Burnout” = “Take This Weight”
8. “Monkey Riches” = “Knock You Down” / “Pulse”
9. “Mercury Man” = “Mercury” / “Hasdah”
10. “Pulleys” = “I’d Rather”
11. “Amanita” = “Crimson” / “Little Kid”

So we’ve put together the following live tracklist, and included live versions of the band’s standalone 7″ — “Honeycomb” (previously known as “Frights”) and “Gotham” (“Your Choice”) — as bonuses. Check out the tracklist and download below.

1. Today’s Supernatural (aka Stop Thinking) [The Mateel Community Center, Redway, CA, 2010.04.12]
2. Wide Eyed (aka Change) [The Mateel Community Center, Redway, CA, 2010.04.12]
3. Father Time (aka A Long Time Ago) [ATP, Butlins, Minehead, UK, 2011.05.14]
4. New Town Burnout (aka Take This Weight) [ATP, Butlins, Minehead, UK, 2011.05.14]
5. Monkey Riches (aka Knock You Down) [ATP, Butlins, Minehead, UK, 2011.05.14]
6. Mercury Man (aka Mercury) [The Mateel Community Center, Redway, CA, 2010.04.12]
7. Pulleys (aka I’d Rather) [ATP, Butlins, Minehead, UK, 2011.05.14]
8. Amanita (aka Little Kid) [ATP, Butlins, Minehead, UK, 2011.05.14]
9. Honeycomb (aka Frights) [The Mateel Community Center, Redway, CA, 2010.04.12]
10. Gotham (aka Your Choice) [Prospect Park, Brooklyn, NY, 2011.07.12]

Download: Centipede Hz — Live Album Compilation by Beats Per Minute
Note: You might have to add a .zip to the end of the file to open it.

Look out for a fresh link to our Merriweather Post Pavilion live compilation soon. If we mixed up any of the tracks on this mix we’ll release a second version with corrections. Lastly, special thanks to Animal Collective fansite Collected Animals for providing the bootlegs and community that helped make this compilation possible. Enjoy.

BPM’s All-Time Favorite Live Albums

By Staff; July 18, 2012 at 11:35 AM 

There’s something special about the live album. In the studio, the artist has seemingly endless resources; they can record take after take, use overdubbing, have the producer worry about the tone of the recording — all while seeking perfection. But in the heat of the moment, while playing live in front of thousands of people, can your favorite artist hit all their notes, connect with the audience, and even transcend the studio recording? Unfortunately, not everyone can, which makes the live album a quintessential part of any well-respected artist’s catalog.

Here are some our favorite live albums of all time. The list is by no means definitive, but each and every one of these releases deserves a spot in your music collection, if not (at the very least) a listen.

Evan Kaloudis

The Allman Brothers Band

At Fillmore East

[Capricorn; 1971]

The Allmans were great on record in their heyday, but like the Grateful Dead, the true extent of their prowess needed to be seen live to be believed. Easily the Allman Brothers Band’s finest hour, 1971’s At Fillmore East put the precognitive musical interplay of the Allmans’ chunky three-guitarist, two-drummer unit on full display over two spellbinding nights at the titular New York City venue.

The double album splits the difference between blues standards by the likes of Blind Willie McTell and Ellmore James, here transformed into blistering Southern rock gems, and originals from the first two Allman Brothers Band studio albums that get stretched out into exploratory jazz fusion workouts. The first half showcases Duane Allman’s slide guitar mastery, pitting brash shuffles like “Statesboro Blues” and “Done Somebody Wrong” against the yearning blues of “Stormy Monday,” while on the second half, the mournful quietude of “In Memory of Elizabeth Reed” gives way to the white-hot guitar wizardry of the labyrinthine “Whipping Post.”

At Fillmore East is the definitive document of the ’70s Southern rock movement, but it is also a bittersweet victory, as Duane Allman’s and bassist Berry Oakley’s lives were both claimed in separate motorcycle crashes months over the same stretch of Macon, Georgia road within the eighteen months following the album’s release.

Craig Jenkins

Andrew Bird

Fingerlings 1/2/3/4

[Grimsey; 2002, 2004, 2006, 2010]

Many – myself included – will often go on about how an Andrew Bird live show is better than hearing him on record. What about Bird’s live output, then? While there never will be a substitute for seeing Bird create the loops in front of you (probably sporting some wonderfully colourful socks, too), recordings of him on stage certainly help bridge the gap between his albums and actually attending one of his shows. And there’s been plenty of recordings done (Live in Montreal, iTunes Session, Fake Conversations – the list goes on), but the best material comes from his somewhat regular Fingerlings releases.

At times we get to hear what sounds like Bird alone in an empty venue, before the audience show their appreciation come the end of the song; just like when you see him live, you easily get completely absorbed and forget the context (see the first half of Fingerlings 1 for the best example of this). Elsewhere he’s got a band by his side, and the tension sounds it’s been increased tenfold, especially in regard in the stuff from Fingerlings 3, which is contrasted by absolutely wonderful solo renditions of “Scythian Empires,” “Dark Matter,” and “The Happy Birthday Song.”

The material doesn’t matter though, as Bird makes everything transfixing when he puts it in a live setting, such as his take on old blues classics (“Trimmed + Burning,” “Richmond Woman”), tracks from his back catalogue (“Depression Pasilio,” “Dance of Death,” the latter of which is near enough three times the length of the original, and perhaps three times as good), or just fresh takes on his recent songs (“Danse Carribe,” “The Water Jet Cilice”). With Bird’s music, there’s always something to be transfixed by, and this holds especially true when you capture him a live setting.

– Ray Finlayson


Super Roots 9

[Thrill Jockey; 2007]

Super Roots 9 is an excerpt of a 2004 Christmas Eve performance by Boredoms, everyone’s favorite psychedelic-tribal-drone collective. A single, 40-minute track that revolves around Yamantaka Eye’s manipulated choral samples and the group’s signature triple-drumset attack, the album was criticized on release for veering towards monotony.

But repeated listens reveal that “Livwe!!” is a carefully orchestrated track that breathes and shifts in a calculated manner; the interplay is far too precise to dismiss this affair as some throwaway improvised performance. The evidence of rehearsal shows in the first few minutes, when vocals and cymbals sing out in accelerating unison until the two sounds flow together in a beautiful rush, a moment met with enthusiastic applause. When the drums finally roll in, Boredoms take you on an energetic krautrock freak-out that simply doesn’t relent. Once Super Roots 9 locks into its groove, you inevitably find yourself locked in as well.

– Jay Lancaster

Bruce Springsteen & The E Street Band

Hammersmith Odeon London ’75

[Columbia; 2006]

This album was recorded during Bruce Springsteen’s very first show in Europe as he was touring the now-classic Born to Run record and it’s the finest live document of Springsteen to be officially released (there’s a few bootlegs that rival it from the ’78 tour). The Born to Run tour was also the introduction of Steven Van Zandt to the E Street Band line-up and he’s shining here, playing more far more lead guitar than we’re used to with Springsteen – to best effect.

The sound throughout the album is fantastic and the band is arguably at their best, elevating the slightly weaker songs like “She’s the One” to the same heights as Springsteen’s strongest material. Despite clocking in at little over two hours the record constantly keeps the attention of the listener as Springsteen and the band are delivering one mindblowing rendition after another. It’s all but impossible to mention highlights as all the tracks could be chosen but the version of “Lost in the Flood” that is included here blows the studio version out of the water and ranks as arguably my favourite live performance of all time. A must-have for any rock fan.

– Johan Alm

Built To Spill


[Warner Bros.; 2000]

Long heralded as a band that has to be seen live to be appreciated, Built To Spill attempted to capture the concert magic with the 2000 release Built To Spill Live, recorded on their tour in support of 1993’s Keep It Like A Secret. The release comes off of a streak of their best albums, and the live album format provides a chance to showcase these tracks. Indeed, “Car,” from Keep It Like A Secret, surpassed the album version in its emotional power and serves as possibly my personal favorite live recording of any song, period. Otherwise, the song selection is strong throughout, including covers of songs originally by Love As Laughter and Halo Benders, as well as the band’s well-known tunes “The Plan,” “I Could Hurt A Fly,” and “Randy Describes Eternity.”

But, what makes the Built To Spill Live album so fun is the inclusion of two 20-minute super jams, one on the Keep It Like A Secret closer “Broken Chairs” and the other on the Neil Young classic “Cortez The Killer.” Built To Spill’s mythos is based on jams like these and to hear them released with such fantastic recording quality is both a treat to hardcore fans the band and casual appreciators of stoney guitar jams.

– Philip Cosores

David Bowie


[RCA; 1978]

Recorded in the heart of Bowie’s Berlin period, Stage does an admirable job of passing off his studio experiments with Brian Eno as arena rock. There’s a decent helping of Ziggy Stardust classics here–all of which sound great–but the real story is how well the Low and Heroes material translates live. Bowie’s diet at the time was famously heavy on powdery white things, but unlike his previous, glam-era concert release David Live, the drugs don’t affect the performances. Bowie is sharp throughout, and with the exception of an awful cover of the Doors’ “Alabama Song (Whiskey Bar),” the song selection is faultless.

– Sean Highkin

David Bowie

Live Santa Monica ’72

[EMI; 2008]

Live Santa Monica ’72 is taken from a FM broadcast of Bowie’s show at the Santa Monica Civic Auditorium on October 20, 1972 and while it was finally properly released in the summer of 2008 it had long been available in less legal packaging. The broadcast was long bootlegged and saw several semi-legal releases in 1990s and it was long considered something of a holy grail among Bowie fans, and it’s easy to see why.

Live Santa Monica ’72 captures Bowie in the midst of his Ziggy Stardust era and Bowie and his band are completely on fire here with Mick Ronson showing just why he’s one of the most underrated guitarists of the classic rock era. The setlist is heavily based on the then brand new The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars as well as Hunky Dory – both among the very finest rock has to offer – but one of the true highlights of the record is Bowie’s haunting rendition of Jacques Brel’s “My Death” – it’s worth the price of the album alone.

– Johan Alm


Donovan in Concert

[Epic/Pye; 1968]

Donovan in Concert, recorded live in ’67 at the Anaheim Convention Center, has the Scottish troubadour interweaving folk, jazz, and psychedelic vibes alongside Jamaican saxophonist/flautist Harold McNair. Transitioning starkly from a carnival barker’s anecdote about how “Donovan the phenomenon” has the power to part the clouds and usher in the sun, subdued requiem “Young Girl Blues” features jazzy flute lines slipping and sliding between privy, penetrating lyrics: “Coffee on, milk gone/ Such a sad life and fading/ Yourself you touch, but not too much/ Certain people tell you it’s degrading.” Elevating the mood with upbeat ditty “There Is A Mountain,” Donovan’s peppy delivery and Candy John Carr’s clonky bongos barrage craft an aura of spontaneous, carefree primitivism.

After drawing on previously released material off Sunshine Superman, Mellow Yellow, and A Gift from a Flower to a Garden, Donovan treats us to a “pretty little song” that he confesses with a playfully chuckle to not knowing “what it’s called quite yet. “ Though it appears as “Pebble the Man,” on the liner notes here, this track would officially be released the following year as “Happiness Runs” on Barabajangal. Liberated from the prickly needles of competition, longing, and desire, Donovan plays spiritual mistral in channeling an elegant and profound canon of Zen Buddhist philosophy: “Everybody is a part of everything anyway/ You can have everything if you let yourself be.”

Closing out the show with “Mellow Yellow,” fans keep the beat with emphatic communal handclapping atop sparse, molten saxophone flourishes. As a crooning Donovan tweaks his lyrics to confess a love for the City of Angels, the crowd erupts in euphoric hooting and hollering: “I’m just mad about Los Angels/ L.A.’s mad about me/ I’m just mad about – good – old – L – A/ And L.A.’s mad about me!”

– Henry Hauser


Introducing: Teen Suicide

By Colin Joyce; June 18, 2012 at 10:45 AM 

We’ve been following Baltimore-based lo-fi punk duo Teen Suicide pretty much since their first release went up on Bandcamp, so it was with great pleasure that we were given a chance to chat a bit with singer/guitarist Sam Ray. Check below for a sampling of Ray’s various projects, and read about crazy shows in Philadelphia and Ray’s ambition to write the best pop songs in the world.

“Under African Skies” and the Return to Graceland

By Jeremy Bunting; June 13, 2012 at 11:17 AM 

Paul Simon, Miriam Makeba, and members of Ladysmith Black Mambazo at a concert in 1987. Photo by Luise Gubb.

I was drinking heavily on the night of May 25th when I received a text message from BPM guru Evan Kaloudis. It said, “Hey- you like Paul Simon, right?” At the time, I liked everyone, everything, and everyone’s things, so my reaction was something like, “Shit yeah!” or, “Damn straight!” or, “Pour me another.” In any case, the next morning, when I was looking through my messages from the night before for anything incriminating, or at the very least anything that indicated what had happened to my shirt (still missing in action), I came across the conversation. Apparently, I was to cover a screening of “Under African Skies,” a documentary about the Paul Simon album Graceland, which, until then, I had never heard of, though I had neglected to mention that to Evan the evening before. Oh, yes, and there was to be a Q&A session with the man himself after. I guess he assumed that I loved Paul Simon because of my known obsession with folk and Americana, but at the time my only experience with him had been when someone put on “The Sounds of Silence” in a smoke filled dorm room my freshman year of college. The choir boy-ness of it bothered me, and so I dismissed the man entirely. Obviously I had some catching up to do. Luckily, my current means of employment consists of five student workers sitting in front of one phone that rings once or twice an hour, if at all.

A BPM Guide to Record Store Day 2012

By Erik Burg; April 17, 2012 at 3:18 PM 

We hope you have all been saving your money, because Record Store Day 2012, the vinyl celebration’s fifth anniversary, is shaping up to be one of the best yet. Here’s an in-depth look at some of our favorite reissues, exclusives, and releases which we think are worth lining up for this year. You can find the entire release list over at the official Record Store Day website along with a database of participating stores near you.

US Releases:

Pharcyde – Bizarre Ride II: The Singles – Delicious : 7×7″ : 2,500

Definitely one of the cooler reissues this RSD, Bizarre Ride II is getting what can only be described as the ultimate package. Listed online at $55 dollars you’ll get a 2xCD remastering of the classic hip-hop album, seven 7”s, expanded liner notes, a poster, a puzzle and vintage photos of the group all put together in a unique flip-top box. It’s definitely been a bizarre ride for the group since the release of this historic record, but there is no denying Bizarre Ride II’s place in history, celebrating its 20th anniversary this year.

T. Rex – Electric Warrior – Rhino : 6×7″ : 2,825

No need to hide my bias, I think Electric Warrior is one of if not thee greatest rock album of all time. And this year on RSD, this classic Marc Bolan album will get a significant facelift. Packaged in a beautiful clamshell box, Rhino will release the entire album along six 7” records, including the album b-side “Raw Ramp.” Each record sleeve will contain a portion of a photo of Bolan, combing the records to reveal the rock star in his prime. The Rhino press release listed the boxset at $50, a pretty novel price considering the exclusivity and the fact that Bolan collectors drive the price up on releases like this very quickly. In the UK, Polydor is also said to be reissuing the record on 2xCD and vinyl as well.

Destroyer – Destroyer’s Rubies – Merge : 2xLP : 2,000

There’s no denying that Canadian rock group Destroyer completely owned 2011. Kaputt was one of our favorite records of the year, and on the band’s ninth studio album they gained more fans than ever before thanks to hits like “Kaputt” and “Blue Eyes.” So it only fits that they would rerelease one of their best albums on Records Store Day. Destroyer’s Rubies is getting a US vinyl printing for the first time ever, and on ruby red wax to boot. The double LP will also feature a twenty minute bonus track titled “Loscil’s Rubies” mixed by Scott Morgan who also worked on the bonus track for Kaputt’s double pressing. It’s an exhausting but incredible album, and with the way so many people fell head-over-heels for Kaputt, I have to imagine this special release will sell quick.

Gorillaz, James Murphy, Andre 3000 – “Do Ya Thang” – Capitol : 10″ : 500

I think in our crazy, fast paced world, where cycles of hype only last a week (unless you’re Lil B apparently) and everything is either the worst or the greatest, we tend to throw aside historic moments as if they’re expected and completely taken for granted. “Do Ya Thang” might be an example of that, the 14 minute epic from Gorillaz, Andre 3000 and James Murphy. Aside from hip-hop and rap, so rare are these collaborations that this group of historic musicians deserve a round of applause just for putting anything together. But the final product exceeded many critic’s expectations, an expansive and bombastic track that is a testament to the artists’ creative energy. “Do Ya Thang” deserves celebration.

Animal Collective – Transverse Temporal Gyrus Domino : 12″ LP : 3,200

Named for the band’s exhibit at the Guggenheim Museum in New York, Transverse Temporal Gyrus might not be the new Animal Collective album we’re anxiously awaiting, but any new material from the seminal group is good news. The 12” is said to be a collage of different sections of music from the performances, each of which were three hours long, so it will no doubt be interesting to see how this record is mixed. To go along with the launch, oft Animal Collective collaborator Danny Perez will launch a website featuring visuals from the performance and a stream of the longer versions of the tracks, so if you don’t scoop this limited release you can still check out what Animal Collective have been up to since Merriweather Post Pavillion.

Shabazz Palaces – Live at KEXP – Sub Pop : 12″ : 2,000

Sure you could head over to Youtube and fire up Shabazz Palaces’ live session at Seattle’s KEXP from this past year. But it’s not every day that you get a chance to own one of those awesome sessions on vinyl. The space rap duo laid down some of their best tracks from 2011’s smash Black Up, and even though the album was a bit inaccessible for some, the live tracks are immaculately crafted and an example of some of the most unique hip-hop being made today. Pressed on gorgeous purple vinyl, this release is sure to jump off the shelves this April.

Arcade Fire – “Sprawl II” – Merge : 12″ : 3,000

What’s there to say about the Grammy winning album The Suburbs that hasn’t already been said? Arcade Fire have a long history of 7”, 12” single and other various releases, so 2012’s RSD release is nothing too particularly new for the Canadian collective. The 12” single will feature Damien Taylor remixes of both “Sprawl II (Beyond Mountains)” and “Ready to Start” on the b-side. Taylor and Arcade Fire have worked together in the past, so expect a tight and well produced pair of tracks, and a nice little compliment to fill out an already heaping stack of various Arcade Fire material.

Danny Brown – XXX – Fool’s Gold : 2×12″ + 7″ : 1,000

The proliferation of indie music blogs influencing hip-hop has been a trend I’ve loathed other the past two years or so, but there’s no doubt that Danny Brown might be the next big thing. Last year’s freely distributed mixtape for Fool’s Gold took the industry by storm, and now the nineteen track tape is getting a proper vinyl pressing on two 12” and an additional white 7”. XXX was an album that took me a long time to get into, but judging by everything the enigmatic MC has done since this mixtape, grabbing this limited release will be a wise investment.

The Refused – The Shape of Punk to Come – Epitaph : 2×12″ : 500

The Swedish punk band were “cool” a bit before my time, but the band’s influence on underground rock music since their time has been undeniable. So it’s only fitting that Epitaph is rereleasing the group’s final album The Shape of Punk to Come in a gorgeous, colored 2xLP package. Along with the remastered LP, the package will also include a poster and expanded liner notes.

UK Exclusives:

2 Many DJs – As Heard on Radio Soulwax Pt. 2 – Play it Again Sam : 12″ : 2,000

I don’t even want to think about the copywriting nightmare that the Dewale brothers must have gone through to try and make this work, but on RSD in the UK the historic mixtape As Heard on Radio Soulwax Pt. 2 will be getting a proper physical release. The schizophrenic, wide-eyed release was the third in a long line of these early mash-up albums for the Dutch duo, but Pt. 2 always remained the most successful both critically and commercially. Considering all the crazy CD bootlegs and fan forums dedicated to Soulwax/2 Many DJs, it will be nice to have an official vinyl pressing offered to those loyal UK fans.

J Dilla – “Think Twice” – BBE : 7″ : 225

If there’s one artist from this generation that has caused colossal uproar in the vinyl collecting and music preservation circles, it’s the late James Yancy. Detroit’s J Dilla may have left us early, but his legacy continues to live on, especially this year as BBE releases a special 7” for “Think Twice.” Backed with the excellent “E=MC2 (Feat. Common), this incredibly limited 7” is not one to miss.

Hot Chip – “Day and Night” – Domino : 12″ : 1,000

So this might be the most boring release on this list, but it just shows how excited I am at the prospect of any new Hot Chip. Domino will release a one sided 12” featuring a remix by Caribou lead man Dan Snaith’s alter ego Daphni. The two are a match made in heaven, so look out for the new single when you’re elbowing your way to the front of the line. Listen to the track here.

Battles – Dross Glop 4 – Warp : 12″ : 500

Battles’ Glass Drop seemed like a rather divisive album in the band’s catalogue, but the exciting and fun album was one I kept coming back to throughout 2011. And if nothing else, if you have to applaud the band for supporting the album with a ton of remixes and fan service. And with Dross Glop, the fourth release in the remix series, the band collects all the prior work and adds a ton of new edits to make one awesome package. Collaborators include Gang Gang Dance, Shabazz Palaces, The Field and Pat Mahoney among others.

Top 10 Tracks of the Week 03/24/12

By Staff; March 24, 2012 at 2:54 PM 

In this weekly feature we’ll compile our top 10 most viewed pieces of new music from the week preceding. These can be anything from completely new songs to live versions of new songs to new remixes of slightly older songs to covers that have just surfaced. Stay up to date wit the week’s most talked about music and vote in our “Best of the Best” vote after our rundown.

Latest News and Media
Features More
Twitter icon_twitter Follow

Banquet Media