Kendrick Lamar – To Pimp A Butterfly

Kendrick Lamar‘s new album, To Pimp A Butterfly, is out by surprise a full week ahead of time. It’s for sale digitally and streaming in full on Spotify. Click play below. Right now.

I’m sick. I woke up today too ill to even go to work. But then this happened. I’m feeling a bit elevated right now.

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I don’t have anything too meaningful to say yet. Here’s a couple comments I made with friends during my first and only listen:

  • I don’t care about what anyone else has to say on the first day of an album like this, that’s going to have a lot of discussion flying around. I like to hear it “pure” as can be, I suppose. So uh, after 2 tracks I’ll just say that I’m really enjoying this, and the dark swirl of production tics is reminding me of D’Angelo’s latest (Best of 2014 album by the way), in a really positive way. Old and new sounds mixing for something vintage but not dated sounding, maybe?
  • Almost at the end. Loving the thick jazz sound. Not quite jazz-hop in that Digable Planets way, it does remind me of their masterpiece Blowout Comb in a very slight way… which is a good thing since that’s a top 10 album of the 90s for me.

There’s no need for a lot of discussion the moment something as important as this hits our collective ears. Just listen and absorb it. We’ll talk later.

Edit:

Second listen observations: thinking that this evokes the warm but gritty production of D’Angelo’s Black Messiah, the sprawling, psychedelic structure of Shabazz PalacesLes Majesty, and the free jazz embrace of Flying LotusYou’re Dead. It’s no coincidence that all of these featured on my Best of 2014 list. I’m linking it again for emphasis – if you like this, there’s a lot of fun music streaming on that page. This album is hitting me with a deep and immediate connection.

Marco Shuttle – Visione

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Seeing ‘with Donato Dozzy’ attached to the first track on this debut album from Marco Shuttle, I absolutely had to listen. As a total unknown to me, the bespoke surrealism of the cover art caught my eye, but Dozzy grabbed my attention. As half of Voices From The Lake and an incredible techno artist in his own right, this guy will always deserve my time.

Featuring on this album is an endorsement that’s paid off handsomely. This is one of the best albums of 2015 so far. The best news is that the entire thing is streaming free:

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Viet Cong’s explosive debut album [plus my favorite song streaming]

Somehow, Viet Cong flew under my radar for the entirety of 2014. It’s my fault, really. Several friends let me know that half the members were from the short lived but brilliant Canadian band Women, and several more friends simply stated that they made balls out noisy punk-stained rock. The kind that’s darkly beautiful and complex in an unassuming way. The kind that I love.

They were right.

Hear for yourself; here’s the moment I realized that this is perfect.

This song exemplifies what I love about Viet Cong’s sound. It’s a three part suite in miniature, shaped at a glance like some post apocalyptic cousin of The Beatles’ Happiness Is A Warm Gun. We enter with a softly grinding drone and muted drum machine tumbling down stairs. The song bursts wide open with harmonized vocals and a sharply panning metallic guitar strum, while an insistent drum throb swells in the background. Finally, iridescent guitar tones rocket toward the sky. I don’t know if I’m hearing a weirdly tuned synthesizer or effects-laden guitar work; it doesn’t matter. The song absolutely explodes into a rave-up ending that had me grinning from ear to ear, determined to buy this album the moment it’s released.

The weird thing is, I was finally sold on giving these guys a try with a friend’s comparison to This Heat. The legendary experimental band from England released only a pair of bewilderingly fresh albums and disappeared at the turn of the 80s, leaving an indelible legacy that’s rarely touched, much less spiritually evoked. If you’re at all familiar with that band, give this your rapt attention. Right now. See also: fans of The Stooges, Public Image, Ltd., Bauhaus, and probably The Velvet Underground. What these bands have in common is a tough, motor-driven veneer with a knotty, heart-on-sleeve artfulness at center. Mining deeper into this territory, Viet Cong marries ragged noise and unapologetic beauty.

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Check the Viet Cong bandcamp page for another free tune, plus links to purchase the debut album in every format. One listen, and you’ll want to repeat these 37 blistering minutes as often as possible. Keep an eye on this page for the album’s first single and music video.

Oneohtrix Point Never + Philip K. Dick

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Today I’m taking shelter in my apartment while a certain Christian music festival rears its ugly head across the street. Fanny-packed crowds flood the streets below while devotional rock blasts through the windows. I shut the shades and find my Rifts box set, selecting the third and possibly gentlest Oneohtrix Point Never album, Russian Mind.

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Death Grips – Hacker // The internet can be pretty cool.

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If you’re looking for a single tune to define how weird music is in 2012, you’ve come to the right place. This is easily my favorite track on Death Grips’ breakthrough album The Money Store. It’s called Hacker.

This frantic burst of nakedly violent energy feels like it’s on the verge of exploding from the get-go, yet impossibly doubles down on its momentum, throttling away like a madman in absolute command of his vehicle. The spliced-digital-ADD edit of Ghost in the Shell footage is a stroke of genius pairing, as far as I’m concerned. Work like this is what the youtube age is all about. It’s also a great example of how copyright laws are outdated.

While the album was loved and acclaimed by many of my friends, it was this track alone that completely enthralled me. It’s the kind of song that punches first time listeners in the face. I feel like a rocket every time I hear it.

Demdike Stare – Erosion of Mediocrity

This video.  This massive tune.

I don’t really have anything to say about this today.  Just…

Edit:  Ok, I will at least mention that this is one of my favorite moments from one of the best albums of 2012.  I will also note that this video is fucking brilliant.  You’re welcome.

Diamond Terrifier – Kill The Self That Wants To Kill Yourself

Having already introduced Diamond Terrifier here, I’ll strike the heart of the matter: Sam Hillmer’s debut solo album is one of the most transcendent pieces I’ve heard all year.  Simultaneously an abstract yet tactile experience, Kill The Self That Wants To Kill Yourself is dark and beautiful and weirdly refreshing.

The first sound heard on the titular opener is a warming synth pad straight from Brian Eno‘s playbook.  Dream sequence, loving eulogy or triumphant reunion; it’s a lifting wind over which Hillmer solos to melodic catharsis.  Arresting in its direct simplicity, this track eases us into the unshackled gravity of romantic disorientation.  Slipping on a shattered cloudy fabric Oneohtrix Point Never might wear, he never lets the human presence or real instruments drift out of mind.  As the album deepens it never loses grip on the tangible reality of its construction: guitar, handclaps, cymbals and the commanding saxophone are practically visible, yet even the drone swells and programmed drum bits crackle and hum right before me.  There is so much life stabbing outward from the perceptual dervish at the center of this album.  Kill The Self That Wants To Kill Yourself, beyond being one of the greatest titles ever, feels like the beginning of a new fruitful path for Hillmer.  I just hope this doesn’t preclude growth (and future albums) in his main band.  Zs are, after all, one of the most interesting bands I perpetually neglect to share.

I will rectify this.

Here’s a track from the album.  Like I said yesterday, it works best as a single piece..  this is still great.

Buy this at Northern Spy.  As I said before, they are quick with help and priced beyond fairly.

For fans of: Zs, Don Cherry, Fennesz, John Fahey, John Coltrane, Sun City Girls, Coil