Thursday, May 27, 2010

Best Coast

If you ask me, the weather is unbearably hot, and recreationaly drying in the sun is not my cup of iced tea. Summer is not my season, and any beach is the place I like the least.

But summer songs -- when played in air-conditioned quarters -- do allow me to escape my angst and enjoy what the summer has to offer: sugary, nostalgic tunes. Best Coast's songs add a dirty dose of angsty lo-fi to California pop. Start with "When I'm With You." And if it's not stuck in your head after one listen, you don't know catchy.

Best Coast, led by Bethany Cosentino, is releasing its debut album in the summertime after plenty of sunny singles.

A pastel boombox, some plastic sunglasses and this yet-to-be titled album may just reverse my mean streak and make me think twice about beachcombing.

Thursday, May 20, 2010


Yes, dears, I realize that much of this week's focus is on The Arcade Fire--that flock of multi-instrumentalist Canadians who recently released tidbits of a few new tracks from their desperately anticipated third full-length album.

But I find it impossible to pass up the chance to illustrate an afro or discuss intriguing collaborations, and The Roots have offered up a two-for-one offer. Thank you, sirs.

The Roots' forthcoming album, How I Got Over, is set for release on June 22 via Def Jam and is expected to feature a host of enthralling artists. Most recently, Dirty Projectors' gorgeous singers and harmony specialists, Amber Coffman, Haley Dekle and Angel Deradoorian, were pictured hanging out in the recording studio in a Questlove-tweeted video. And this collaboration comes as no surprise for those of us who have seen the video he previously shot of Dirty Projectors backstage at "Late Night with Jimmy Fallon." These girls mesmerize with their fantastical webs of harmonies, and Questlove was rightfully impressed.

Also slated for appearances on the album are the captivating -- and previously illustrated -- Joanna Newsom and the two-band man Jim James (My Morning Jacket/Monsters of Folk).

The benefit of being a late-night talk show house band is now clear: it comes with the chance to gain the contributions of the show's musical guests on your latest record. Well, at least if you're a respected group like The Roots, there's a chance that that plan might work, and it has for them. They are some smart fellows.

Thursday, May 13, 2010


M.I.A. knows how to promote an album. Drop a dance floor single, release a graphically bloody music video and speak a few unfavorable words about the most famous pop stars in the world.

The album, due July 13, seems to be called /\/\/\Y/\ -- a needlessly confusing reference to her offstage name, Maya. It will be released on Interscope and her own imprint, N.E.E.T., whose Website showcases a chaotic conglomeration of graphics and moving images that creates the effect of being hit in the face with a parade and a vat of candy. Witnessing it is a fascinating but troubling colorful experience.

The dance floor single, "Xxxo," is available now for download. Bringing that '80s shiny, electronic sound, it is unbearably catchy. It sounds much unlike "Born Free" -- the gritty single that came packaged with a controversially violent video only weeks earlier.

Oh, and those celebrity conflicts of note involve Justin Bieber and Lady Gaga. M.I.A. also knows how to go for the jugular of popular culture.

Thursday, May 6, 2010


Antony and the Johnsons' album covers can be collectively recognized for their black and white, stark, almost lifeless photographs that are as evocative as Antony Hegarty's tremulous vocal delivery. If you witness the cover of their 2009 full-length The Crying Light, which showcases the contorted figure of Butoh dancer Kazuo Ohno, you will realize the visual equivalent of the band's shadowed torch ballads.

But with the release of the band's new record, Swanlights, the mood seems to have shifted. Or -- at least -- the visual image of that mood has.

Swanlights, which is planned for released on October 6 via Secretly Canadian, is covered in a color-tinged collage and charming cursive handwriting. The collage may be of a bloodied polar bear, but the image still does not seem as troubling as the colorless portraits that cover their previous albums.

Special editions of the album will also come with a 144-page book of Antony's artworks and writings. Crafted by an alluring artist, the book will surely be somber and beautiful.