Music Updates for March

Music Updates for March

By Nick Darbonne, Assistant Music Director
(Nick Tunes, Wed. 1-3 AM)

Here’s what I’ve been digging (and not digging) in March! I’ll keep this list updated as the month goes on.

Adult Books: Running From the Blows

This is some solid garage punk. Very Burger Records. It’s fun music, and though it’s not particularly profound, it’s got… I won’t say energy, because it’s totally punk for stoners, but… attitude? Or something. If you play alt. rock or punk, look into some of the tracks I marked on this one. This is the kinda thing you’d buy on cassette. Cassettes are hip.

Choir of Young Believers: Grasque

I don’t think this is getting enough attention. It’s a weird album with lyrics in English, Greek, and Danish, and an ethereal sound that sits somewhere in an alternate version of the 1980s. They’re using a synthesizer that was employed for a lot of popular music (the Yamaha DX-7!) but the rest of the instrumentation wouldn’t have happened at the time: Grasque doesn’t sit tightly in any genre. It’s the result of a culture of music creation that’s turning away from irony and tongue-in-cheek renditions of past musical forms: whatever they’re doing here is overwrought and sincere. It’s amazing and it will take you somewhere. Songs are long and flow into one another: the album is made up of a few suites. You wouldn’t know it on the radio, though… Honestly, this one is worth listening to off-air as well. But play “Serious Lover” on air. I seriously love it. I would call it “post-chillwave,” if that means anything to you.

Guerilla Toss: Eraser Stargazer

You probably won’t care for this, but whatever. It’s different and it’s filled with enough “fuck you” punk energy to make up for the fact that it was a studio recording. Noisy and dance-ready, these post-post punks put out a super entertaining record that’s just as fun as it is exhausting (No, I can’t get through the whole thing in one sitting). The promo materials from DFA mention the music as a cathartic experience, and I totally understand. Recommended if you like furious, female-fronted punk.

Lushlife+CSLSX: Ritualize

We have hip hop. Sometimes. This is good and I think it’ll have some crossover appeal with indie kids. It’s a fun album that remains about as introspective as fun rap music can get, but the production is solid and the energy is good.

M. Ward: More Rain

Hey, this is really good. (P4K didn’t like it, though, so expect it to do poorly). I’ve always dug M. Ward; his stuff is very low-key and folksy. I figure it’s rainy day music (haha) but it works when you want something laid back and fairly quiet that’s drawing heavily from American musical traditions. By the way, he’s the other half of She & Him. I didn’t even know that until recently.

Prince Rama: Xtreme Now

Absolutely bizarre dance music. A far cry from their earlier, almost ritualistic psychedelic music. It’s not special as far as dance music goes, and it won’t win any EDM bro converts, but it’s worth playing a few songs off this if your show veers into the dance-y or the weird.

Tokimonsta: Foreve

Pretty mainstream friendly electronic album. Some pretty stuff, some trap. (I think I marked which tracks were which). But for what it is, it’s pretty good. If you like R&B-inflected West Coast EDM, you’ll dig it. Less interesting than some of her previous albums, I think.

Unloved: Guilty of Love

I’m not big on the vocals here. But if you’re into mutated soundtrack music (or if you dug Adrian Younge’s Something About April II) I would recommend you give it a try. It’s dark and has a unique sound that draws from old film soundtracks (particularly the Italian ones) and old girl-group kinda stuff. Oh, but Younge recently released an instrumental version of April II; maybe you should listen to that instead.

Album Review: Art Angels by Grimes

Album Review: Art Angels by Grimes

By Amanda Roche / DJ Panda / Pandemonium, Fridays 11 p.m.- 1 a.m.

 

Art Angels, released in November 2015 by Grimes, will take you to a place far, far away from REALiti… With waves of artfully crafted refrains, ballad-like synth verses, and just enough “weirdness” thrown in, Claire Boucher has finally fully embraced her “pop” side, after a what seemed like struggle with Roc Nation, the Jay Z-helmed management company she signed on with in December 2013.

As she relates in an interview with Emilie Friedlander from The FADER, “I think the real world was always just this thing I had to deal with, and then Grimes could be a thing which was how I wished it was.” Grimes, both in the way she produces music and her public image, is a bit of an oxymoron – even while she idealizes her music, Grimes writes and produces with infinite precision. In fact, Art Angels was delayed due to the fact that Boucher learned to play, mastered the production of, recorded and self-engineered every instrument on the new album herself, including guitar, drums, keys, ukulele, and violin.

Art Angels embodies somewhat of a dichotomy of Boucher’s music; while Grimes was on the label Roc Nation, her major fan base gave her flak for becoming “too mainstream” in her song “Go” with Blood Diamonds, released in August 2014. “Go” was originally written for Rihanna, and the timing of the release coincided with an album that Grimes decided not to release – leading fans to believe that the criticism of “Go” was what lead to the album’s cancellation, which was not the case. Grimes continues to struggle with producing her music naturally (and keeping music as an outlet for herself), caring deeply about the perception of her fans, and her spot in the cultural limelight since the widespread acclaim of Visions in 2012.

Media critics embraced Art Angels, calling the album “Wonderful and Horrifying Hyperspace Gospel” (SPIN Magazine) and “her most audacious album to date” (Pitchfork). And fans agreed, with the album scoring an 8.7 user score on Metacritic and many positive blog reviews, such as Under the Radar. Fears resulting from the controversial “Go” release, it seems that fans and the media have widely accepted Grimes’ affirmation of her pop influences in Art Angels.

Whatever “weirdness” that may seem to be lacking in the album’s music, Grimes overcompensates with peculiarities in the music videos released for Art Angels’ tracks. Flesh Without Blood/ Life in a Vivid Dream, the first video from the album released after REALiti, combines the two album tracks into a theater-esque Part I/Part II series. Flesh Without Blood features Claire Boucher in a multitude of costumes, from a Victorian-style badminton player to an angel in a cowboy hat to a 1920’s-styled steampunk gang member. The second half of the video – Life in a Vivid Dream (or Part II) – takes a surreal twist with the Victorian and angel versions of Claire. Kill v. Maim, released in January 2016, continues as Part III of Grimes’ flirtations, with additional shockingly bizarre and hypnagogic Scenes and Acts, as well as even more copious amounts of blood than previous videos.

The increasing strangeness of Grimes’ music videos aside, Art Angels truly embodies a new level to Claire Boucher’s music – from underground genius to tech savvy pop star, her music style continues to grow and solidify the person and persona of Grimes’ as a nuanced, larger-than-life, trailblazing artist.