Jens Lekman – WWJD Mixtape [Gothenburg, SE]

Pop

No, this isn’t some Christian attempt to be hip and spread the word of god via collected songs. “WWJD” actually stands for “What Would Jens Do?” As he explains on the soundcloud page:

While travelling through midwest America some time ago I stopped at a gasstation and bought a WWJD bracelet for $1.99 and insisted that it stood for ‘What Would Jens Do?’. I would look at it when I felt indecisive, think about what Jens really would do and then do the opposite of that. I thought that would be a good way to find some new paths in life, and to get away from the paths I kept taking that didn’t lead me anywhere good.

 Sure, maybe that’s a little quirkier than might seem possible, but this is coming from a guy who sang about flirting with a deaf girl in sign language, so let’s call it just the right amount of odd. Which makes it all the clearer that, rather than simply sharing stand alone outtakes (“WWJD” is the first track, “What’s That Perfume That You Wear?” comes in at 15:25, and “I Remember” finishes the mixtape up at 26:25) from his album currently in the works, he has woven them throughout this excellent mixtape that slides effortlessly from one track to the other. Old songs and new sit next to each other and never feel out of place or even of a different time. And while discovering the sorts of tracks that Jens enjoys is delight enough, to get a glimpse of the caliber of his new material is at is the sweetest treat of all. It’s the emotionally insightful, hilariously self-deprecating, and beautifully lovelorn take on pop that he’s so well-known for: strings and beats and that grand tenor of a voice removed from time and place. So enjoy this endlessly enjoyable mix, where all the songs “are stations on a longer journey, where loops and smaller fragments, ideas for songs and favourite songs by others swoosh by outside the window. Feel free to open that window and feel the breeze in your hair.”

Night Falls Over Kortedala is one of my favorite albums of all time, highly recommend a spin, also, enjoy the one picture on Jens’ instagram of him holding an adorable kitty.

Run the Jewels – Blockbuster Night Pt. 1 [Atlanta/Brooklyn, US]

Hip-hop / Rap

Here’s what you’re gonna do: you’re gonna listen to this massively intelligent insight bomb Killer Mike drops on CNN’s Brooke Baldwin regarding Ferguson, which is a truly horrifying and disappointing (though tragically not surprising) blight on America’s already rocky reputation. After you do that, maybe read and share his Billboard op-ed piece where he attacks the fundamental issues that need to be addressed. Then, maybe after some of your own research, when you feel like you have a fully formed opinion and are satisfactorily upset over all the bullshit, press play on Blockbuster Night Pt. 1. Let the rap duo that are giving The Throne a run for their money’s uncut disses-upon-disses be directed at anybody who contributed to the ridiculous GoFundMe for the cop who shot a harmless 18-year old and provide catharsis. Let El-P‘s sinister and swaying, clicking and clacking beat on the track spread fear in the hearts of hate-mongers all around the world. Sure, it’s an inherently apolitical track, but it’s got an intensity that can be focused anywhere and will cause immeasurable destruction that simply cannot be denied. After Mike’s final line, “tell ’em fuck ’em, I never loved ’em and salutations” lands like bricks just after the beat drops out, you know exactly who has just passed through. Run the Jewels are back, and it’s looking like they’re here to do that voodoo that they do (so damn well) all over again. 

RTJ2 (sequel to last year’s fantastic self-titled debut) is out October 28th via Mass Appeal Records.

Hello Saferide – I Was Jesus [Stockholm, SE]

Twee / Indie / Pop

hellosaferide

Jesus, Martin Luther King, Jr., and Ghandi are the go-to choices for the somehow always relevant “if you could meet one historical figure…” question, and understandably so. They did great things in their lifetimes. Swedish pop project, Hello Saferide‘s lead single, I Was Jesus, from upcoming September (3rd) release, The Fox, the Hunter and Hello Saferide (out via Razzia Records) poses the question what would have happened if these infamous examples of peace and progress came back as women? And despite a sugary musical backdrop and vocals that put your favorite sweet to shame, the answer isn’t very easy to swallow. Whether it’s suddenly not being believed in after performing miracles, being praised for the weight loss from a hunger strike, or just simply being too wiped out to exist, Annika Norlin’s portrayal of the patriarchy takes it to extremes but never feels exaggerated, and is endlessly amusing. Most impressively is that it comes across with humor and poise over a strolling, mid-tempo beat and pleasant synth tones and plucking guitars. This is how I prefer my strong feminist declarations: served over a piece of pop perfection.

Pre-order the album here and explore her back catalogue here!

Photay – Reconstruct ft. Seafloor / No Sass [Woodstock, NY]

Electronic / Modern Jazz / Hip-Hop / Funk

New York producer Photay (Evan Shornstein) released his self-titled debut album about a year back (pick it up for free!) and was barely noticed. It was a compilation of the work he’s produced over the period of 2010-2012. Following a trip to West Africa, the album was heavily influenced by African natural sounds. Interesting as it was, it definitely put him on the radar for me.
So when he released No Sass I (with the internet) welcomed his new sonic palette of glitzy horns, staccato-ed beats resulting in equal parts jazz, hip-hop, funk and well, awesome.

His new self-titled album is due later this month on the 26th and from the sound of it (get it?), he’s definitely worked it out this time.

Fans of Aphex Twin, Tennyson, and Capital Cities will love his sound.
Show him some well-deserved love at this facebook and souncloud page.

 

 

Rustie – Attak ft. Danny Brown [Glasgow, UK]

Electronic / Trap / Rap

Did you hear Side B (Dope Song) off of Danny Brown’s fantastic 2013 album Old? If no, go ahead and treat yourself. Don’t worry, I’ll wait. Wasn’t that great? Both as a song as well as an introduction to how  these two giants in their respective genres work together. Pleasant synthy intros lull you into thinking that you’re in for a luxurious pop song, until Danny’s killer flow comes in and completely stomps that idea out without remorse. Suddenly you’re hearing jittery drums coming in as jittery as machine gun fire and you’re trapped in the intensity of Danny Brown‘s words and Rustie‘s glitchy beat. They’re forgiving though, letting you up for a gasp of air when Attak retreats for a minute as it brings back the opening synth melody. It’s a trick that never fails though, as it’s actually just another build-up into the next pummeling drop. This track has got me all sorts of hyped for Rustie‘s next album Green Language, out August 26th via Warp.

Keep up with Rustie on facebook and twitter, and maybe Danny Brown as well.