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.
Sam Cook-Parrott loves him those oldies, and I’ll be damned if I don’t love that he does. Hot on the heels of the quasi-split album TOTAL REQUEST with Kyle Kaos from back in January (which we showed some love), Philadelphia pop-punk outfit Radiator Hospital are releasing a new, proper LP in September that is already available for (free [if you’re heartless]) download, titled Torch Song (to be physically released via Salinas Records in August), which is an open-ended album exploring the different kinds of relationships you can have in your life and how weird and wonderful they all are. Cut Your Bangs is an excellent bridge between this new album, and previous album-opener Do You Remember? in its shared love for that swinging doo-wop feel that nearly forces you to sway your shoulders. It is a nice call-back amidst the much more explosive pop-punk that makes up most of this new album, with the sweet chorus depicting a friendly (romantically?) tease about a cosmetic choice repeated between verses of progressive doom and gloom. The ostensibly amusing quickness of little white lies turning into maggots nestling in the liar’s dead heart perfectly captures the hopeless romantic in Cook-Parrott dramatically distraught when a relationship doesn’t quite work out as it should. Radiator Hospital’s explosive music and lovelorn lyrics can be ridiculous and heartbreaking and even a little uncomfortable, but what keeps you coming back for more is that, above all, it’s always fun.
You might not want to mention that you’re part of “a sinister and evil cult which lures young people into drug-taking” when meeting your significant other’s parents for the first time, but it’s how New Zealand duo Steven John Marr and Indira Force, aka Doprah, want to figuratively shake the world’s hand. What’s especially funny is that it sets up their music’s aesthetic to a tee. On self-titled EP opener, Stranger People, the vocals stretched to feel like a drug-addled haze fill the space between the diamond-caliber twinkle of the beats to create a pure, soaring work of electronic weirdness. It’s the up-and-coming band putting out their all, both in terms of effects and composition, pulling it off in an eerily elegant manner. And while the lyrics aren’t always completely discernible, what words and phrases poke through only add an effectively dark tone against the pastel palette this band paints with. “We’re in denial / and it’s so refined” is one of the greatest lines I’ve heard all year and I can only just make it out; that effort and luck makes it all the more the precious gem of lyricism that it is. It’s a twisted and gothic affair, but one you can enjoy with a champagne glass of the finest crystal cut.
It’s been four years since we’ve heard from lo-fi pop-rockers Avi Buffalo after their well-received, self-titled debut album, where the vortex of confusing but strong feelings that come with youth was explored in grossly explicit but sharply clever detail. Introducing their new upcoming album, At Best Cuckold (due out Sept. 8th in Europe and the 9th in North America via Sub Pop), in an interview, the band said that all the time had been spent trying “to get tones,” and it seems like we’re hearing them hit that perfect note on first single So What. This much more sonically polished effort that previously heard from this band is the kind of breezy, jangly indie that gets its slow but solid energy from the start of the sun’s setting. The summery guitars have the young vitality of a student enjoying time off, but the rolling drums have the slightly more aged and subdued knowledge of someone thinking about the commute to work tomorrow. Rather than tearing itself into two, this duality helps keep the song shooting forward while keeping that beach-breeze-in-a-bottle feel. Frontman Avigdor Zahner-Isenberg’s voice is the real star of the song, walking the line between youthful freedom and matured reservation with a confidence that surely caused the expected question mark from the title to run in fear. The Southern California natives sang melodic songs about being young on their debut, but the years that have passed are certainly heard on this new track and in the band coming into their own sound.