Houston, Texas trio Khruangbin (for the phonetically challenged like me, it’s pronounced KRUNG-BIN) came together from a common love of 60’s, 70’s and 80’s Thai funk and soul music (you can listen to their “Essential Thai Funk Mixtape” here). Their new album Con Todo El Mundo is a smoking hot, groove-filled slab of funk, psych and soul. Give “Maria También” a spin below for a sample – you will not be sorry. Con Todo El Mundo is out now via Dead Oceans and I can not recommend it enough. Enjoy.
Ted Feighan is back with his newest and strongest Monster Rally effort yet, Flowering Jungle. His cut and paste production skills are on point as he takes the listener on a groove-filled tour into his world of hip hop beats meets exotica from days past. As soon as the needle drops on track one, “Sunny Sloth”, your troubles are whisked away and replaced with warm thoughts of chilling on the beach in some far away land where Monster Rally is DJing and the Mai Tai’s are constantly flowing. Thanks for the escape, Ted!
Flowering Jungle is available now from Gold Robot Records – you need this record.
I wasn’t a fully committed goth in high school but I listened to my fair share of goth music, and sometimes dabbled awkwardly in goth fashion. The Mountain Goats’ John Darnielle – nowadays known for his storytelling skills, as a lo-fi turned hi-fi musician and awarded novelist – spent his teen years as a “goth kid”, though I reckon we shared a similar awkwardness. So when Darnielle directs an entire album’s worth of songwriting to the genre/culture, it’s because he has enough material to work with.
Whether the Sisters of Mercy-esque strains of “Rain in Soho” or their tribute to the SoM frontman himself, “Andrew Elritch Is Moving Back to Leeds”, Darnielle and company deliver each track with a clear knowledge of and empathy for its subject matter. On “Stench of the Unburied” Darnielle sings, as someone who suffered his way through SoCal summers in all black: “Outside it’s 92 degrees/And KROQ plays Siouxsie and the Banshees”. In typical Mountain Goats fashion, it’s followed by a narrator’s wink and nod: “Ice chest full of Corona and Pineapple Crush/It’ll take 20 years for the toxins to flush.” It’s this tension that makes Darnielle’s songwriting so authentic, endearing, and surprising.
Goths avoids the trappings of a concept album. Musically it wanders, however coherently, from ominous minor key anthems to loungey new wave to flute-driven baroque pop to an entire bonus record of ambient mixes “for the all-night goths who need to reply to the dawn with total darkness.” The thread remains, but Darnielle trusts his listener to figure it out in their own way.
To me, Goths is about the sometimes tragic, sometimes humorous struggle of adolescent identity (which continues to plague some adults). The search for identity often chased by self-doubt and self-consciousness gets summed up in the album’s best line, the chorus to “The Grey King and the Silver Flame Attunement”: “I’m pretty hardcore, but I’m not that hardcore.”
Even without explanation, Goths is a great album. “We Do It Different on the West Coast” – while relevant here – would fit on any Mountain Goats record, with it’s perfectly Californian brand of self-deprecating coastal pride. It’s followed by “Unicorn Tolerance” which is just plain adorable. Do yourself a favor and listen to Goths, regardless of how much black eyeliner, white foundation, red lipstick, and hair spray you have on your person.
[Buy the deluxe edition of Goths on “vampire red” vinyl with the aforementioned bonus LP of ambient mixes in the 3hive Co-op Shop, while supplies last.]
John Dwyer might be the busiest guy in indie rock; releasing an album almost every six months with his band Thee Oh Sees while maintaining a yearly release as Damaged Bug – his weirdo, space-pop solo project.
For those familiar with Dwyer’s Damaged Bug project; his latest album, Bunker Funk, isn’t much of a departure from previous DB releases. For the uninitiated, Bunker Funk is a beat driven, otherworldly, bizarro noise-pop record that will thrill you and weird you out at the same time. Enjoy.
[We have Bunker Funk (2 x LP with etched bug on side 4) on beautiful black vinyl – in the 3hive Co-op Shop, while supplies last.]
To record his third album as Tall Tall Trees, Mike Savino packed up and left NYC to be the sole caretaker of an abandoned retreat deep in the national forests of northern Georgia. So it essentially became a solo (meaning, isolated) effort. As you’d guess, his surroundings inspired a certain sound. Yet, while there is plenty of introspection in the lyrics, Savino’s music is by no means quiet. In fact, it’s a dynamic blend of masterful banjo, soaring vocals, and effects wizardry.
[Buy Freedays on pristine white vinyl in the 3hive Co-op Shop. While supplies last.]
It all started with hearing Thundercat’s ‘Friend Zone’ for the first time. I immediately started thinking about what other songs would go with it in a mix – and it grew from there – 25 tracks of toe tapping groove. Thanks for inspiring this mix, Thundercat!
1. Stevie Wonder – Higher Ground (London, 1974)
2. Thundercat – Friend Zone
3. Al Green – Because
4. Natural Child – Benny’s Here
5. Once And Future Band – Rolando
6. BADBADNOTGOOD & Ghostface Killah – Ray Gun (feat. DOOM)
7. Sharon Jones And The Dap-Kings – Tell Me
8. Carla Thomas – Let Me Be Good To You
9. Lazy Salon – Sea Isle Ice
10. RUMTUM – Lost Ark
11. Gap Dream – Shine Your Light
12. Lazy Knuckles – Polygot
13. Gonjasufi – Ancestors
14. Adrian Younge – La Ballade
15. Blood Orange – Best To You
16. Bad Juju – Up In The Lab
17. Flying Lotus – Zodiac Shit
18. The Meters – You’ve Got To Change (You Got To Reform)
19. Booker T. & The M.G.’s – Chicken Pox
20. The Mar-Keys – Last Night
21. The Courtneys – Mars Attacks (Bobby Draino Remix)
22. Moderat – Reminder
23. Lasso – FkdLtd
24. Madvillain – Heat Niner
25. Dibia$e – Just The Way
If you happened to catch Tim Gane’s Tim Gane’s two-hour takeover of the Solid Steel podcast, you know he digs deep. His set was a mesmerizing tour of rare birds in the vinyl collecting kingdom, including a sinister track by Detroit electro pioneer Shifted Phases that will run you $200 for a decent copy. Gane covers a musical spectrum so wide that his SS mix broke into Mixcloud’s Electronic, House, Jazz, and Techno charts when it dropped last spring.
All this to say, Tim Gane is gonna bring some pretty esoteric reference points to whatever he does – as proven by Stereolab’s history of puzzling the critics – and his Cavern of Anti-Matter project is no exception. The debut, blood-drums is a love letter to kosmische musik, leaning toward the all-analog synth sounds of Tangerine Dream and skittering beats of Kraftwerk, but also borrows from psych rock, improvisational jazz, and early industrial at times. The result is a thrill ride for your ears, best enjoyed with a fat pair of headphones or over a club PA.
Fitting of its crate-digging founder, copies of blood-drums had been selling for $150+ as it was pressed in a limited run on German label Grautag. Now it has been reissued as a 6-sided LP on Stereolab’s house label, Duophonic, which also released the equally compelling follow-up, void beats/invocation trex.
[Psst, you can buy a copy of Cavern of Anti-Matter’s blood-drums reissue at the 3hive Co-op Shop.]
When James Blake first came on the scene, he was exactly what I needed to resolve my schizo relationship with modern R&B: tuneful and earnest with just enough glitch to appeal to my appetite for imperfection. Then he relied too much on his formula, as have numerous followers on, and things became predictable once again.
Along comes Ian Mugerwa – a/k/a ot to, not to – and his debut album of intimate, deconstructed R&B “experiments”, Goshen, on Nicolas Jaar’s Other People label. The compositions take turns evoking dirt-floor blues, avant-garde jazz, even Pablo-era Kanye. The unifying thread is Ian’s vocals which read as personal, hypnotic journal entries, sung/muttered/chanted as he carries us through his coming-of-age years.
This nuanced, eclectic effort could’ve easily veered into self-indulgent territory if it didn’t so clearly yearn to connect. It’s soul music in the most literal sense of the word. In fact, when recommending Goshen to a friend I said, “Listen closely.” It’s the best (and only) way to appreciate this album.
(Sequenced for flow – not ranking – purposes.)
Tyvek “Choose Once” (In the Red)
My single of the year, from my album of the year. So raw, so good.
Mass Gothic “Every Night You’ve Got to Save Me” (Sub Pop)
Family Sing-Along Song of the Year honors go to this raucous doo-wop jam.
DIIV “Under the Sun” (Captured Tracks)
Shining down from a shimmering crack in the clouds that hung over 2016.
A Tribe Called Quest “We the People…” (Epic)
I could have chosen any of a half dozen tracks off this album but this here’s the anthem, get your damn hands up.
Francis and the Lights w/ Bon Iver “Friends” (KTTF)
Alan Parsons meets auto-tuned R&B meets, well, Bon Iver.
KAYTRANADA “LITE SPOTS” (XL)
Half this song is impossible to dance to; the other half is impossible not to dance to.
De La Soul “Royalty Capes” (AOI)
I wish this album had been more fulfilling than my anticipation of it, but there are some real gems amidst the scattershot experiments. This one’s about why a guy can’t find vintage De La on any of the streaming services.
Beach Slang “Spin the Dial” (Polyvinyl)
“I was born at the bottom
But I never belonged
I’m hardly ever right
But I’ve never been wrong”
Could’ve been ripped straight from Paul Westerberg’s notebook.
The Men “Dreamer” (We Are the Men)
What you’d imagine to be playing anytime a parent pounds on their teen’s bedroom door and yells, “Turn it down!”
The Radio Dept. “Committed to the Cause” (Labrador)
A slinky statement of a song with hints of Prefab Sprout and St. Etienne.
Parquet Courts “Steady on My Mind” (Rough Trade)
Grandaddy “A Lost Machine” (Sony)
Man, this album can’t come soon enough…
James Blake “Love Me in Whatever Way” (Polydor)
That laugh track makes this even more heartbreaking than your average James Blake song.
ot to, not to w/ Noah Smith “Regretta I” (Other People)
Listen very closely.
The xx “On Hold” (Young Turks)
I know their 15 minutes of fame should be long gone, but that Hall & Oates sample…
Sonny & the Sunsets “Needs” (Polyvinyl)
The album where Sonny fell in love with a drum machine and made some goofy babies like this one.
Sunflower Bean “I Was Home” (Fat Possum)
Critics fawned over their debut but I found most of the album kinda boring. That said, this single is some transcendent psych rock amazingness.
Terry Malts “Used to Be” (Slumberland)
Terry Malts has been to me in the early 20-teens what The Wedding Present was to me in the early 1990s – completely durable and indispensible.
The Intended “Don’t Wait Too Long” (In the Red)
Rollicking goodness from Detroit’s garage (or basement, as the case may be) scene.
Leonard Cohen “It Seemed the Better Way” (Sony)
I’m a man of faith but after a year like this one, I get it. I really do.
David Bowie “Lazarus” (ISO/Columbia)
As my grandmother was bedridden and dying of cancer she’d ask my mom to open the curtains so she could watch the birds in the tree outside her window. When I first heard the bluebird line, I crumbled into a sobbing mess. Bowie gave until the very end…ain’t that just like him?
Mora Tuga is the imaginary world that RUMTUM (sometimes known as John Hastings) created through drawings as a kid. A graphic novel that he wasn’t able to finish as a kid has now been completed through his new LP of the same name. Like RUMTUM’s drawings and illustrations, his music is created very much in the same way, as layers upon layers of guitars, percussion, synths and more play and bounce off of each other with precise intent.
Mora Tuga is clearly a labor of love. I highly recommend getting lost in it. Give “Hemispheres” (below) a spin – it’s a perfect peek into the world that RUMTUM has created.
Mora Tuga is available now on vinyl through the fabulous Wax Thématique Records – you’d be a fool not to get a copy of this on vinyl. If vinyl is not your thing you can get it digitally from RUMTUM’s Bandcamp page. Please enjoy.
RUMTUM – Hemispheres from Mora Tuga (2016)