Clipse Presents: Re-Up Gang

Clipse Presents: Re-Up Gang

Just recently, the latest record from the Clipse crew has been made available to stream on imeem. I’m not sure how I feel about the production on this record, or the fact that they recycle some tracks from We Got It for Cheap Vol. 3, but I’m willing to give anything that Clipse touches more than a fair chance. Take a listen for yourself before the album comes out (on August 5th) and if you’re not feeling the production either, participate in the remix contest they’ve got going on by downloading the acapellas for the album over at the imeem page.

Let’s hope Clipse are saving the real fire for their upcoming record, ‘Till the Casket Drops, that’s supposedly due out in November (cross your fingers now, people).

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Download: Clipse Presents: Re-Up Gang – Fast Life
Buy: Pre-order Clipse Presents: Re-Up Gang from Amazon.

Lust for Girls

Girls

Despite being a band in its very early stages, San Francisco duo Girls (Chet JR White and Christopher Owens) have already garnered attention from some serious internet indie heavyweights (Gorilla vs. Bear, Pitchfork). They haven’t released a full-length, or even an EP, as of yet, but the few tracks that have come out of this band so far hint at a decent range of exceptional pop sensibilities. Of the five songs they’ve got floating around, I’m particularly amped on “Lust for Life” and “Hellhole Ratrace”.

These two tracks are a bit like two sides of the same coin; while they both operate on the same basic songwriting principals, the end results are quite different. “Lust for Life”, the title track from their most recent 7-inch single, is an upbeat blurb of endearing pop. Somehow lyrically earnest and farcical all at once and driven entirely by a single catchy guitar riff and vocal melody, with just a subtle one-measure variation on both, it’s impressive that they can even pull this song off. But, Girls appear to have a peculiar knack for utilizing simplicity in all facets of their music. On “Hellhole Ratrace”, in which the guitars and vocals rely heavily on just two basic chord progressions (over about 7 minutes), they again harness that same kind of unrestrained straightforwardness and repetition to craft a more pensive, mesmerizing track. Here, Girls start out simple and sparse, but gradually add layers of sound until the song becomes a surging wall of shoegaze-like guitars. This builds against the plainspoken melancholy in the nearly-pleading lyrics rather effectively, conveying a sense of genuine honesty in the emotional reiteration of the chorus.

They’ve got a couple more tracks up on their myspace that are worth checking out as well; “Lauren Marie”, with its twangy guitar strums, haunting synth, and sparse percussion, is almost The Jesus and Mary Chain by-the-numbers, and “Morning Light” finds Girls exploring lo-fi, garage-rock sounds. Considering they’ve only got a few songs out, I’m surprised at how often I find myself coming back to them.

Still waiting on news of a full-length, but you vinyl-indulgers might wanna check out the Lust for Life 7-inch that’s out on True Panther Sounds. Only 500 copies were pressed and they’re selling quick, so pick one up while you can.

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Download: Girls – Lust for Life

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Download: Girls – Hellhole Ratrace
Buy: Order the Lust for Life 7-inch from the True Panther Sounds webstore.

Mock Orange Finally Gives U.S. Some Captain Love

Mock Orange - Captain Love

I’ve written about Evansville band Mock Orange on other occasions. In fact, their latest effort, Captain Love, was one of my favorite albums of 2007. The thing is, to the dismay of domestic fans, the album was only released in Japan last year due to always-problematic “label issues”. But now these fans can stop dismaying and start rejoicing, for on September 9th it will finally see a U.S. release courtesy of Wednesday Records.

Expectations have a tendency to grow exponentially when a band disappears for a while after releasing the best album of their career, but (against all odds) the long-awaited follow up to 2004’s impeccable Mind is Not Brain does not fail to deliver. Full of enough infectious guitar riffs to span two or three albums, Captain Love is polished, captivating, and, as I’ve said before, their most accomplished work to date. I’d say they seem to have pop compositions down to a science, but the songs certainly don’t feel like they’ve come from a stale laboratory setting. These suckers are full of life; picture running through fields on sunny summer days, floating on clouds, and emotions on sleeves. Check out “World of Machines” and “Song in D”, which placed first in the Rock category of 2006’s International Songwriting Competition, and you’ll see what I mean.

Hopefully these guys will get some much-deserved attention this year. For a band that’s been around for a while, and that’s this good, Mock Orange has been criminally under-received. Show some support and do yourself a favor by pre-ordering Captain Love. If you do, you’ll get a free poster and one-inch button featuring Kathleen Lolley‘s cover art for the record, which is clearly pretty awesome. Plus, it’s only $10 (not to mention the band gets 80% of the proceeds)… small price to pay for one of the finest, catchiest indie rock albums you’ll hear all year.

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Download: Mock Orange – Song in D

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Download: Mock Orange – World of Machines
Buy: Pre-order Captain Love from the Wednesday Records webstore.

New Grizzly Bear Song: “Two Weeks”

Grizzly Bear

After Grizzly Bear unveiled their latest song on David Letterman last night, internet dwellers have been on a mad quest to find some kind of streaming video online… and that includes the band themselves. So far YouTube and the other outlets have failed to provide, but this morning an mp3 of the performance has cropped up on forums, blogs, and a myspace bulletin from the band. “Two Weeks”, the second so-far-unreleased song they’ve revealed in the past few months, certainly delivers some “sunnier, poppier” sounds as promised. Beautiful stuff. I don’t know if I’m willing to say it’s as excellent as “While You Wait for the Others”, but it’s not far off.

I really enjoyed Yellow House and Friend, but these new songs are somehow reaching new heights. I’d say the anticipation for the next record is just about at a fever pitch, guys… unveil another track and the internet may explode.

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Download: Grizzly Bear – Two Weeks (Live on David Letterman)

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Download: Grizzly Bear – While You Wait for the Others (Live on Morning Becomes Eclectic)

UPDATE: Video footage is now available.

Dilla Ghost Doom

Dilla Ghost Doom - Sniperlite

Earlier this week, the much-lauded Stones Throw Records released a digital single from Dilla Ghost Doom. Three instantly recognized names in the hip-hop world, even in truncated form, collide for a frustratingly tantalizing posthumous glimpse into what might have been a fully realized project had we not lost the great J-Dilla at such a young age. Combining two of the instrumentals from Dilla’s excellent Donuts, MF DOOM and Ghostface Killah both lay down awesome performances (as is to be expected). The guitar-driven psych-hop of “Sniper Elite” (originally “Anti-American Graffiti”) is the perfect space for DOOM’s off-kilter drawl, while the dark, NYC-on-hallucinogens of “Murder Goons” (Donuts‘ “Geek Down”) finds Ghostface reppin’ Staten Island with typical ferocity and quick-witted bravado.

The Sniperlite digital single gives you the two standalone tracks plus the as-intended combined version for just $3… better cop that shit while ya can.

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Buy: Download it from the Stones Throw Records online store.

Stones Throw also announced that they will be releasing a special boxed set for a complete reworking of Madvillainy by Madlib. These sets will be exclusively available at their webstore and produced according to pre-order demand. Includes the 25-track remix album, a cassette of the original Madvillain demo tape, and a lot more. The full details from Stones Throw after the jump.

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Download: Madvillain – Boulder Holder

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Water Curses

Animal Collective - Water Curses

Since the release of Sung Tongs, Animal Collective have developed a clear pattern to their releases; after each full-length they give us an EP that serves as a vehicle for either like-minded leftovers from the preceding album’s recording sessions or additional explorations of basically related musical ideas (often with tinges of the next project). And as any Animal Collective follower knows, they’ve been constantly evolving, with a given album centered around a decidedly distinct sound that then spills over into an intervenient EP. Their latest, Water Curses, seems to be the first to break this mold. Though the EP contains three tracks recorded during the Strawberry Jam sessions, and one new song (“Seal Eyeing”), none are particularly “like-minded”. Indeed, none of the songs would really feel at home on AC’s most recent masterpiece, but instead most seem more grounded in the ambient psych-pop of 2005’s Feels.

The title track, with its manic, bubbling electronics, sweet and infectious melodies, and driving energy, probably comes the closest to being a strawberry jam; yet, there’s still something there that doesn’t quite fit. But, aside from all of these broader stylistic considerations, “Water Curses” is simply one of the best songs to come out of the Animal Collective camp in recent years (and that’s saying something). Inordinately catchy, unabashedly pop, it’s a relentless sonic assault that builds itself into a kind of sugary transcendence that you just can’t seem to listen to enough. And although the rest of the EP is substantially more reserved than the opener, which results in some uneven pacing, it’s still pretty fantastic. I’d say it’s essential for existing fans, but unlikely to convert any non-believers… hey, who needs them anyway?

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Download: Animal Collective – Water Curses
Buy: Order Water Curses from Insound (CD) or Amazon (Digital).

Women

Women - Women

The eponymous debut from Alberta-based, lo-fi rockers Women is one in a recent slew of excellent releases from a handful of seemingly-out-of-nowhere new artists. Recorded in the basement of labelmate Chad VanGaalen using what are described as “ghettoblasters and old tape machines”, the production of the record is especially important. At times it’s almost suffocating, as layers of compressed sound, tape hiss, static, and feedback descend upon you all at once, while at other moments it feels exceptionally spacious… like you can hear the very room it was recorded in. Amidst this clutter, Women take jangly guitars, chaotic noise, droning ambience, and a kind of weirdo 60s-pop sensibility and pack them all into this oddly-paced opus.

Of particular note is “Black Rice”. Simple, catchy, and strange, this track could be called an accessible gem compared to much of the rest of the album. Vocals meander and echo through the swell and swirl of the music, detailing vaguely psychedelic imagery with hints of falsetto and subtly hypnotic melodies. I can’t help but feel that there’s something here that says “Animal Collective“, but it seems to be buried beneath a myriad of other elements and influences. Maybe it’s the casual waves of psychedelia or the bending vocal melodies, or maybe it’s the fact that the last lyric I can recall being about rice was found in AC’s “Peacebone”: “The other side of takeout is mildew on rice” (black rice indeed). And that’s part of the beauty of this record, really. Women are able to integrate a diverse range of influences without becoming a sum of them. Rather, they’ve adopted and coalesced them as a loose framework for their own prevailing ideas and, in turn, have crafted a damn fine record (… I’ve been watching a lot of Twin Peaks).

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Download: Women – Black Rice
Buy: Buy Women directly from Flemish Eye Records or from Insound.