Exec Files: Vol. VI

by on October 30, 2014

Posted in: Album Review, Country, Eclectic, Electronic, Folk, Hip Hop, Music, Pop, Punk, Rap, Reggae, Rock, World

The WRMC executive board presents their favorite tracks, albums, artists, and/or music videos of the week, old and new, but mostly new.


TRACK: Waxahatchee – “Bathtub”

Fuck T.S. Eliot, October is the cruelest month. I hold strong and true to my belief that October, more than any other month, is packed with aching. It’s a kind of aching that urges you spend endless hours in a dark room with the blinds down or a bath so warm that it wilts your skin. I know this, you know this, Katie Crutchfield knows this, which is precisely why “Bathtub” makes the perfect soundtrack to all of your October blues. Sit back, snuggle up, and get the Kleenex ready. October’s almost over, but in the meantime, this track is just what you need to carry you over to November, when you might finally be able to bring yourself to listen to the rest of American Weekend without crying. –Dylan Otterbein, Music Director


ALBUM: Panda Bear – Mr Noah EP

Noah Lennox aka Panda Bear returns from the least active period of his prodigious career with a new solo EP after three long years since the more serious and somber 2011 LP Tomboy. Having thus far followed the ‘proper’ artistic development in transitioning from songs that evoke swirls of noise circling around campfires and summer nights to ruminations about fatherhood to anxieties of aging, he finds himself indulging in the next logical age-defined step: mortality, regret, loneliness, pain. Yet, paradoxically, this newest EP, the four track Mr Noah, displays a return to the jubilance and youth found woven into his traditional vocal delivery and bouncy synth-laden rhythms, albeit with a more knowing edge that together promise an exciting 2015 release.

Standout track “Mr Noah” begins with the jagged scrapes of a song trying to claw itself through metal and the distressing yelps of a pup in pain, though it is quickly complimented by an uptempo ever-morphing beat and an infectious, lighter-than-air, scale-climbing vocal hook that shadows the severity of lines like “So much for the safest vibe/Tossed aside/But he burns like a blaze inside/Hey Hey Hey.” Panda Bear artificially augments a feeling of hope throughout the absolutely bubbly “Faces in the Crowd” that features what appear to be brass horn and glockenspiel accents around a thematic sense of fruitless cycles of life found in a reflectively-structured verse that ends right where it began. “Untying the Knot,” the EP’s third track, more facelessly blends into the Panda Bear catalog of yore with its haunting lyrical layers, while “This Side of Paradise” is composed of some of the most structurally pure pop Mr. Bear has toyed with on his own thus far.

While only the first track is slated to appear on his forthcoming album Panda Bear Meets the Grim Reaper (out this January!!!), Mr Noah provides more than enough of the experimental bliss we have come to expect from a long and fruitful career with plenty left over to satisfy die-hards who’ve patiently waited three and a half years for something new from this celebrated solo act. -Chad Clemens, Music Director


ALBUM: Traumprinz – All the Things

Even though this record came out in early August, it only got reliable US distribution now, so I’m reviewing it. Blink and you missed it. The A1 has some incredibly deep dusty chords, which you could be forgiven are the signs of a Johnny-come-lately aping Terekke or something. These chords aren’t organized into some totalizing framework and it’s up to you to dig deep in them. The jazzy melody that comes through will throw some seriously off-kilter stuff your way so watch the heck out. The A2 is a straight-up dusty belter, those diva samples are sending the young German who produces this stuff into some deep dark nights of the soul, trust me. The Christianity-themed B1 is the real star of the release just in the way it messes with the received wisdom on Jesus…let him into your heart, man. There isn’t really much to say about the B2, the coda, other than that it wraps this release up a lot nicer than some better productions get. Watch for it going for $25 on a popular record resale site soon! -Eric Hass, Technical Director

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See http://www.juno.co.uk/products/traumprinz-all-the-things-ep/543906-01/ for samples.


TRACK: Clay and Friends – “Hay Stack Blues”

A lot of friends have recently lamented the absence of music that transcends any singular genre. It seems that the people want some inter genre play, some smooth vibes to stifle stringent categorizations of sound. This week I’m focusing on Clay and Friends’ new track “The Hay Stack Blues.” Clay and Friends is a diverse music project based in the wintry maze of Montreal. “The Hay Stack Blues” is part of their All Day Jam series in which they collaborate with various local musicians from myriad backgrounds and genres to create a masterful mix of musical fusion. Front-man Mike Clay is an avid guitar player and a soft-spoken yet powerful lyricist. If you’re interested in listening to more of their stuff check out “In This House” and their discog on bandcamp. Keep it movin’ -Aaron Slater, Concerts Committee 


TRACK: Drake – “6 God”

If you’ve ever listened to Drake, you probably know that he’s sensitive, vain and uber-controlling of the image he’s created of himself. So when this week, Drake’s birthday week in the month he named his label after, no less, the narrative about Drake in the media focused on his embarrassing airball and beef with Tyga, you knew shit had to change. On Saturday night, Drake graced us with not one or two but three hot new tracks, ostensibly connected to his next project, Views From The Six. The best of these tracks is the uptempo, effortlessly braggadocious 6 God, a track combining the aggression of 0 to 100/The Catch Up with more topical lyricism. Drake responds to bball haters, “rolling swishers hittin’ swishes / got me feelin’ like a ball hog / I don’t pass ’em when I get it,” takes shots at Tyga, “you was poppin’ back when Usher wore a U-chain / god damn you changed” and generally reasserts his confidence, “yeah, my sound got the whole city a way right now / so I don’t give a fuck about what anybody sayin’ right now.” In typical Drake fashion, disses are just mean enough to qualify as a diss and just vague enough to give him plausible deniability when it comes to who the diss is about. Sure, Drake says the reason he dropped these tracks is because hackers had them, but with Drake who knows what’s fact and what’s myth? And isn’t it more fun to pretend all these dope songs are merely a part of Drake’s master plan to protect his fragile ego and achieve cultural omnipresence?

TRACK: Dej Loaf – “Try Me”

Bold statement without supporting factoids: Nowadays it feels like there’s more experimentation, stylistic mixing and unique characters than ever in hip-hop. Not to say current hip-hop is better than past hip-hop, that’s a stupid debate with no answer, just that from Young Thug to Run the Jewels, there’s a whole lotta really unique stuff popping off in the age of the internet. The most recent eye-catching, fire-spitting synthesis of current rap trends comes from 23-year old Detroit rapper Dej Loaf, whose scary, sing-songy track “Try Me” positions her somewhere between ILoveMakonnen‘s melodic poetry and Chief Keef‘s world-weary gangster nihilism. The song is somehow simultaneously something you’d listen to while drifting off to sleep and the hardest, most murderous track you’ve heard all week. Lines like “love wearin’ all black, you should see my closet / rock that all white, when I’m feelin’ godly” somehow coexist with drill-esque introspection like “I been out my mind since they killed my cousin / free my cousin Devin, man he just called me,” and as if that weren’t already amazing enough, Dej Loaf takes it to another level and combines the two styles (wordplay and world-weary) in single lines like “Mind full money, got a heart full of demons / Mobbin’ like Italians, we really take yo fin gas-Charlie Dulik, Concerts Committee

Download Dej Loaf’s similarly awesome new mixtape Sell Sole here: http://www.datpiff.com/Dej-Loaf-Sell-Sole-mixtape.658115.html


TRACK: Cat Stevens – “Miles from Nowhere”

Off my favorite Cat Stevens album Tea for the Tillerman (1970) is “Miles from Nowhere,” an inspirational track for anyone and everyone contemplating the journey of life. Students chugging along on homework will identify with lines like, “Look up at the mountain/ I have to climb.” The song has a spiritual feel, due to the lyrics and the gospel-like background vocals. Cat comforts us, resolving that we must take our time, because as we know, life’s not about the destination. Give the title track “Tea for the Tillerman” a listen too. It’s an underplayed number with a lot of soul, and it’s possibly Cat Stevens’ shortest song at just about 1 minute long. Wish Cat Stevens could play the soundtrack to your life? Watch Harold and Maude, which, with an entirely Cat Stevens soundtrack, might be about as close as you can get. -Halley Lamberson, General Manager


 

TRACK: O Re Chori

If you’ve taken the class Indian Cinema Romance, you know the movie Lagaan. From one of the most popular Bollywood movies to date, “O Re Chori” is about love. The movie follows the lives of people from a village who have been challenged by the British to a cricket match. If the British win, the villagers have to pay three times the tax. If the British lose however, no tax for the next three years. The song follows the three lead characters and maps out the love triangle. It mixes Bollywood with some musical like English lyrics. Listen and love. –Aashna Aggarwal, Business Director


ALBUM: Cold Foamers – All Cold Everything

Philadelphia lo-fi wunderkind, Alex G has an extensive bandcamp discography that you should familiarize yourself with now if you haven’t yet.  His most recent release–this past summer’s finely crafted, DSU–is a bundle of delicate guitars, fragile, often pitch shifted, vocals, and jarring DIY instrumental distortion.  Cold Foamers, also from Philly, play a similar tune on their debut All Cold Everything, expressing the same introverted feelings of loneliness that seem run deep in the bedroom pop crowd. Given Philadelphia’s proximity to New Jersey and the fact that All Cold Everything was produced by Alex G, it’s not surprising that I was immediately taken by the album’s sound. Lead singer Asher Dark’s vocal stylings draw influence from a range of esteemed freak-folk artists like Elliott Smith, Daniel Smith of Danielson, and Daniel Johnston, (how’s that for an average sounding name chain).  Dark’s voice, when paired with Cold Foamer’s angular guitars, stings just like your favorite yelpy 90s indie rock band. Though the vocals are distinct, Cold Foamers’ lyrics are sparse and oft repeated over drawn out distortion in a dramatically emotional fashion. Opener and album highlight, “Tantrum”, starts out slow, builds for about two minutes until it suddenly collapses into a crescendo of screaming and distortion that more than justifies the track’s title.  The rest of the album follows suit in similar contrasts of soft and loud.  The penultimate track and album highlight, “Time For Some Awesome Breaking and Entering” features the refreshing presence of a female vocalist to temper Dark’s mumbles and wails that dominate the rest of All Cold Everything. With barely any decipherable lyrics, the closing track, “Sixteen”, is a powerhouse testament to the value of a good ol’ guitar solo, and is sure to leave you reeling. -Kate Leib, Creative Director

Best Tracks: “Tantrum”, “Calm Down”, “Die, Yuppy Scum!”, “Druglord Landlord”, “Rebecca”, “Time for Some Awesome Breaking and Entering”, “Sixteen”

All Cold Everything is out now on a name your price basis on Bandcamp and physically via SlugSalt.


Album: Grouper – Ruins

Grouper released an album today that will get us all through the winter, in the melancholy way. Portland ambient artist Liz Harris recorded Ruins in solitude in southern Portugal, and the result is a sparse and strikingly beautiful album. In “Lighthouse,” a stand-out track, the only sounds that interrupt the quiet simplicity of her voice and the piano are the chirping of frogs in the background, and the soft creak of her piano bench. This entire album deserves a listen, preferably on a cold rainy morning with a cup of tea. –Julia Welsh, Programming Director


You can find these people plus the rest of the WRMC general board in the station lounge every Monday at 5 pm.