Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Jónsi - "Boy Lilikoi"

Sigur Rós fans rejoice. Jónsi, the Icelandic's band's unofficial "frontman," is expected to release an album's worth of solo material in early April. This is probably old news to most, but it is news worth celebrating, nonetheless. The album, simply titled Go, will feature nine tracks - none of which are longer than five and a half minutes. And according to some of the tracks' titles, Jónsi will also be speaking in English (no Hopelandic?). Sigur Rós this is not. This also isn't Jónsi and Alex, thankfully.

The album's first single, "Boy Lilikoi," is further evidence that this isn't simply Sigur Rós Pt. 2. You can stream this song and others for free here.

Simply put, the song is gorgeous. If this track mirrors the rest of the album, Sigur Rós fans should expect the same sweeping, beautiful arrangements that normally define the band's sound. However, the song also suggests that fans should anticipate a more straightforward approach. "Boy Lilikoi" does not meander as some of the more dense Sigur Rós songs do. That is, there is a stronger sense of melody, and there are more noticeable hooks and harmonies (think Sufjan Stevens or Owen Pallett). Perhaps, then, Jónsi represents a more accessible Sigur Rós?

Here is the best part: Jónsi's vocals are the highlight of the track. He shows off his range - his ability to reach impressive and beautiful octaves - but he also sings more consistently. We hear Jónsi throughout, and that is a good thing.

The lyrics, however, are another matter altogether.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Class Actress

I like electro or dance pop just as much as the next person. In fact, I probably like it more than the average listener. And I've enjoyed its recent popularity with artists like Lady Gaga, Annie, Dragonette, Goldfrapp, etc. Still, most of these female-centered, eletropop groups are beginning to sound strangely similar; there is too much of the same, I'm afraid.

Or is there?

Brookyln's Class Actress, namely with track "Careful What You Say," are doing something new. Although it doesn't seem like it at first, their EP - "Journal of Ardency" - is a breath of fresh air. No, there is nothing new about this sound. Here's what is new, however: it's actually really good and unique. Like similar artists, the music is fun, danceable, and represents a less-than-subtle nod to 80s synth-pop. Below the surface, though, lies a more complex approach. In the same vein as Depeche Mode or New Order, Class Actress want to dance, but their more elaborate arrangements suggest they want to do it meaningfully and only after they have the listener's complete attention.

And it doesn't hurt that I can actually tell their tracks apart (here's looking at you, La Roux).

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

How to Dress Well & Cokc Dokc ("drone&b"?)

To an extent, this post is simply echoing the good folks at No Conclusion. Fortunately, they have helped spread the word about one of the most interesting sounds of 2010 - How to Dress Well & Cokc Dokc. Strange name. Even stranger sound. Is it good, though? You bet.

Therefore, I think it's necessary to say a few words about this group - even though I'm not the first - for two reasons:

1. Their sound is unique and completely subverts the latest lo-fi, dream pop craze; imagine Bon Iver's vocals, the almost unlistenable yet compelling lo-fi quality of Wavves, and jj's dreamy, mysterious approach to R&B. It's haunting, really, but catchy as hell at the same time. They describe their latest EP, for instance, as "four more drone&b, abstract pop cuts from yr lo-fi shai boysssss."

2. They've released six - yes, six - EPS in only a few months, and all of them can be download FOR FREE (!) from their blog.

Do yourself a favor; jump on this bandwagon now.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Avi Buffalo - What's In It For?

Are you fan of MGMT? The Shins? Band of Horses? I don't blame you. However, another potential "it" band of 2010, Long Beach's Avi Buffalo, are making music that sounds like all three of the aforementioned bands (and perhaps more). They wear their influences on their sleeves, but the few songs they've released suggest that Avi Buffalo are capable of much more than imitation; with such a small selection of songs, though, my judgment might be ill-timed, and this burgeoning band might simply be derivative. With lyrics like, "You are tiny and your lips are like little pieces of bacon," it is at least safe to say they're interesting. Decide for yourself. If "What's In It For?" is any indication, Avi Buffalo really might be worth the hype.

Download the track here for free.

Friday, February 5, 2010

Nika+Rory - LA SUXXX

I'm usually alone when I try to defend auto-tune. Admittedly, the propensity for artists to use this feature has become a little ridiculous, but I would still argue - even if I have to argue alone - that it can work when used well. To make my case stronger it seems, Nika+Rory emerges with "LA SUXXX" - an insanely catchy, danceable yet intense song that is completely saturated with auto-tuned vocals (download track for free here). Nika Danilova, from Zola Jesus, and Rory Kane's side project is immediately promising, and I predict they will be a group to watch in 2010. There is something special, after all, about a band who make auto-tune seem new and effective, a group who mix traditional R&B and dance in a familiar yet unique way.

Recommended for fans of Sleigh Bells, Alaska in Winter, Discovery, jj, etc.