2008: Odds and Ends (Pt. 2)

Here’s part two of my odds and ends list, which focuses mostly on 7-inches, but also sneaks in a purely digital single and one entry that is a bit more difficult to categorize. Coming up soon: my five favorite EPs and twenty five favorite albums of 2008. Until then, have a happy new year!

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Ariel Pink's Haunted Graffiti -

Ariel Pink’s Haunted Graffiti – “Can’t Hear My Eyes” / “Evolution’s a Lie”

This single from lo-fi pop wizard Ariel Pink came as a late surprise this year, announced and released just this month, and has me really excited for more new material in 2009. A-side “Can’t Hear My Eyes” is pure melancholy on a worn out 8-track, lulling and soothing like an off-kilter easy listening gem. Check that out down below and stream “Evolution’s a Lie” over here. Can’t wait to see Ariel open for Animal Collective in January.

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Download: Ariel Pink’s Haunted Graffiti – Can’t Hear My Eyes
Buy: Limited to 500 presses, this may be tough to find. But, check this list of retailers or pick up it from Ariel Pink at his upcoming shows.

WAVVES -

WAVVES – “Beach Demon” / “Weed Demon”

San Diego’s WAVVES (Nathan Williams) certainly lived up to his name in 2008, his music rippling out across the blogosphere and beyond, swelling and crashing hard onto your brain. The “Beach Demon” / “Weed Demon” 7-inch, offered on vinyl through Tic Tac Totally! and as a lossless download on Williams’ own blog, served as a nice companion piece to his noteworthy self-titled debut. Both tracks provide satsifying helpings of saccharine-doused noise, but the sparse guitar riffs and jagged falsetto croons of “Weed Demon” are especially addicting. [Original Post]

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Download: WAVVES – Weed Demon
Buy: All sold out on vinyl, but still available as a free download here.

Fever Sleeves -
Fever Sleeves – “Futuristic Killings” / “Tigers for Hire”

Fever Sleeves were busy in ’08. This past year saw them record their upcoming debut record (Soft Pipes, Play On) and put out their first official release (the “Futuristic Killings” / “Tigers for Hire” 7-inch), not to mention their premiere music video for the A-side of said single. I’m really not sure if I can shower “Futuristic Killings” with enough praise; the track’s surging monolith of hooks is Fever Sleeves’ accessibility incarnate, while “Tigers for Hire” compacts layers of dense riffage atop thunderous drum work until it completely collapses under its own weight. I’ve said quite a bit about this San Diego band over the last six months and I guarantee that you’ll be hearing a lot more about them from this blog and elsewhere in 2009. [Original Post] [#2]

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Download: Fever Sleeves – Futuristic Killings
Buy: You can order this directly from Fever Sleeves through PayPal, just head over to their myspace page.

Dilla Ghost Doom - Sniperlite 12

Dilla Ghost Doom – Sniperlite (“Sniper Elite” / “Murder Goons”)

Stones Throw Records hit us up with a sweet offering from this (unfortunately) one-off hip-hop supergroup Dilla Ghost Doom. Jay Dee, as you know, was lost to complications from Lupus in 2006, but this “digital 12-inch” finds the towering figures MF DOOM and Ghostface Killah taking two sequential tracks from J Dilla’s influential Donuts LP and laying down a pair of perfectly suited accompanying flows. Of course, this also smacks of the oft-mentioned, yet-to-materialize MF DOOM/Ghostface collaboration. Here’s hoping that 2009 will see this project realized or, at the very least, a return of the conspicuously absent Dumile/DOOM/Viktor Vaughn/King Geedorah. [Original Post]

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Buy: No download link, but this is available over at the Stones Throw Records webstore. Each track as a standalone with the bonus mixed version, as heard above, for just under $3.

Girls -

Girls – “Lust for Life” / “Morning Light”

San Francisco’s Girls haven’t released much at all yet, but have seen the few songs recorded to their name inspire a fit of attention on the internet, even becoming a pretty regularly featured item over at Gorilla vs. Bear in 2008. The “Lust for Life” / “Morning Light” 7-inch was released by True Panther Sounds back in July and sold out in about a week. And with good reason, both tracks solidify Girls as one of the more exciting up-and-comers right now. Plus, we should expect to hear a full-length debut sometime next year… so get even more excited. [Original Post]

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Download: Girls – Lust for Life
Buy: As I said, the vinyl has long since been sold out, but check out the other tracks on their myspace page and look for that debut soon.

Justice -

Justice – “Planisphère”

This last item is not a 7-inch, digital 12-inch, record, or proper single at all. In fact, Justice‘s “Planisphère” was never officially released in any form, but rather was commissioned by Dior Homme and composed by Gaspard Augé and Xavier de Rosnay for their Spring/Summer 2009 runway show. The results are a stunning 17 and a half minute track, a four-part epic built around various permutations of one basic melodic progression. Kind of a collision of minimalist and baroque electronics, this was one of the best surprises from 2008. With this no longer available on their myspace, no discernible plan for release, and links everywhere… just download and enjoy. Available as a single mp3 over here (zshare link). [Original Post]

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Download: Justice – Planisphère (Part 1)

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Download: Justice – Planisphère (Part 2)

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Download: Justice – Planisphère (Part 3)

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Download: Justice – Planisphère (Final)

2008: Odds and Ends (Pt. 1)

Ah yes, I love this time of year. You know, when we all look back on the music we’ve listened to over the past twelve months, attempt to define and evaluate pieces of art in relation to one another, hoping to construct a hierarchy of albums or songs that represents a year in summation. Alright, so only some of us engage in this somewhat masochistic act. Before I constructed such a list, it always seemed particularly daunting, but I’ve found that it’s also an extremely rewarding process… listening to albums comparatively can help reveal what elements really make a record strong by forcing you to internally defend what you like about it. That being said, some things inevitably get left behind in the list-making process because you don’t get to them or because they fall outside of your list guidelines. Reissues, compilations, 7-inches, and the like are often looked over even by the most comprehensive of year-end lists, so I figured I’d give mention to some of these odds and ends that I enjoyed this year. Look for part two (7-inches) soon!

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Sir Victor Uwaifo

Sir Victor Uwaifo – Guitar Boy Superstar (1970-76)

This compilation of songs from Nigerian Renaissance Man Sir Victor Uwaifo is easily my favorite reissued collection from this year… and why wouldn’t it be? At any other time this would be an obscure and delightful find for most Western listeners (even if the man holds a dozen or so gold records), but in 2008 this record is particularly relevant. While the flood of Caribbean and African rhythms and melodies are immediately perceptible, there are also distinctly American guitar influences in Uwaifo’s music, most notably from the blues, funk and psych-rock schools. But, now a large pocket of music in the West seems to be reflecting his style and sound, from the Afropop-via-Ivy League guitar work of  Vampire Weekend to the Africa-tinged, psychedelic calypso-pop of El Guincho. The bombastic opening of “Igboroho (Ekassa 5)” feels like it’s already been sampled by the latter (and if it hasn’t, it definitely should be), while album opener “Kirikisi (Ekassa 24)” reeks of Vampire Weekend’s Graceland-like fusion of musical worlds. To be honest, much of the album is reminiscent of Ezra Koenig and crew, at least enough for an overly accusatory Tiny Mix Tapes reviewer to refer to them as “smirking poachers”. Whatever your level of cynicism, there’s no doubt that Victor Uwaifo is a force to be felt… even today. And for a first taste of this African guitar god, Guitar Boy Superstar is near perfect, even if it leaves out some of his essential tracks.

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Download: Sir Victor Uwaifo – Kirikisi (Ekassa 24)

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Download: Sir Victor Uwaifo – Igboroho (Ekassa 5)

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Download: Sir Victor Uwaifo – Edenederio (Ekassa 40)
Buy: Order Guitar Boy Superstar (1970-76) from Insound on CD or vinyl.

Other reissues/compilations I enjoyed this year:

Faraquet - Anthology 1997-1998

Faraquet – Anthology 1997-1998

Compilation from mostly-disbanded mathy post-hardcore band Faraquet that features remixed and remastered hard-to-find songs from singles and an EP, plus an unreleased track (“Conversations”) and an alternate take (“Sea Song”). If you’ve been relying on The View From This Tower for all of your Faraquet fixes, do yourself a huge favor and pick this up. And if you’ve somehow missed this band all together, but dig complex rock with lots of intricate guitar play, start-stop dynamics, explosive energy, and in-your-face riffage, don’t hesitate to get into to this crucial band from the Dischord catalog.

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Download: Faraquet – Call It Sane
Buy: Order Anthology 1997-1998 from Dischord Records in vinyl ($11 — comes with free mp3 download), CD ($10), or digital formats ($7).

Nigeria 70: Lagos Jump (Original Heavymight Afrobeat, Highlife & Afro-Funk)

Nigeria 70: Lagos Jump (Original Heavyweight Afrobeat, Highlife & Afro-Funk)

As I’ve said before, it’s been quite the year for African and other non-western music. Nigeria 70: Lagos Jump is an excellent collection of music from the exploding Lagos scene during the 1970s. Though Fela Kuti was the monumental figure that primarily helmed Nigerian Afrobeat, this record focuses on the many other groups and artists from the early period of Nigerian independence that united under the common calling of towering funk and political change. Essential listening.

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Download: Olufemi Ajasa & His New Nigerian Bros. – Aiye Le

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Download: Peter King – African Dialects
Buy: Nigeria 70: Lagos Jump is available on iTunes or from Amazon.

I’ve also started to get into Arthur Russell‘s Love Is Overtaking Me and Dennis Wilson‘s Pacific Ocean Blue / Bambu (The Caribou Sessions), though I’m not sure I’ve processed them enough to give them a fair entry here. But, both are certainly worth your attention. You can listen to some tracks at each respective link.

Fourteen Awesome Covers from 2008 (Pt. 2)

And here’s the second part of Fourteen Awesome Covers from 2008. If you’re a regular reader of this blog you’ll most likely be familiar with a few of these entries, but they certainly bear repeating. In any case, I hope you dig the rest of the list! I’m going to take a little break for holiday stuff, but I’ll return with a new post on Friday. So, have good holidays yourselves and look for more year-end fun coming soon, including my favorite EPs and albums of 2008.

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MGMT - Electric Feel (Justice Remix)

Though Justice‘s remix of MGMT‘s Prince-lite single, “Electric Feel”, may be approached more traditionally than Panda Bear’s take on “Boneless”, it remains only slightly less transformative. They don’t leave much untouched here, altering song structure, instrumentation, pacing… and even though the original vocals remain, Gaspard Augé and Xavier de Rosnay have upped the effects on them quite noticeably. The results absolutely destroy the original; Justice’s trademark synth and bass combo, accented by string hits, surging horns, and a syncopated, Daft Punk-style breakdown near the song’s close, provide a much need backbone to the track. This kind of sex-in-the-digital-age anthem (“Baby girl, turn me on with your electric feel”) should have always sounded like this.

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Download: MGMT – Electric Feel (Justice Remix)
Buy: You’ve got this B-side, but you should also pick up Justice’s debut,, from Insound.

The Very Best - Cape Cod Kwassa Kwassa; Birthday

And what 2008 retrospective could be complete without mention of Esau Mwamwaya and Radioclit’s project, The Very Best? These guys should win any and all “blog darling” awards; they charmed the hell out of just about anyone who listens to music and puts a finger to keyboard. They also recorded a whole lot of great tracks for their self-titled mixtape that essentially amount to covers, and after sorting through them all I’ve finally settled on a couple favorites. I didn’t think Vampire Weekend‘s “Cape Cod Kwassa Kwassa” could be any more likeable, but Esau and Radioclit get it there by heading back to its roots, turning it into an all-out Afropop party jam, while The Ruby Suns lend a hand with The Very Best’s complete reinvention of “Birthday”. Ryan McPhun and Esau trade vocals over a dense psychedelic canvas, managing to breathe new life into one of the most played out Beatles songs. Check out that mixtape if you haven’t already done so and get ready for the official debut album, which comes out sometime in 2009. [Original Post] [#2]

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Download: The Very Best – Cape Cod Kwassa Kwassa (Vampire Weekend cover)

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Download: The Very Best – Birthday (Feat. The Ruby Suns) (The Beatles cover)
Buy: The Very Best Mixtape is available for free over at their myspace page.

The Ruby Suns - Palmitos Park

I don’t think there’s much question that the tidal wave of tropical sounds that’s presently cresting over the West has bestowed us with some of the finest records in 2008. The peak of that crest certainly includes the releases of like-minded globalist-pop crafters The Ruby Suns and El Guincho, and considering that Ryan McPhun has already shared the stage with Pablo Díaz-Reixa, perhaps this cover was inevitable. Trading El Guincho’s set of energetic Caribbean influences for more subdued Caribbean influences, The Ruby Suns’ take on “Palmitos Park” is just one more reason I hope this wave never breaks. [Original Post]

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Download: The Ruby Suns – Palmitos Park (El Guincho cover)
Buy: Order The Ruby Suns’ Sea Lion from Sub Pop Records in CD or digital format.

Blind Man's Colour - Taste; In the Flowers

Since the announcement of Merriweather Post Pavilion, the last few months of 2008 have turned into a waiting game for Animal Collective fans. To help pass the time until January 2009, many have delved into the number of live bootlegs circulating the internet, and some have even tried their hand at covering a few of those unreleased tracks. The output from Blind Man’s Colour (a.k.a. Collected Animals user “Pavey Bare”) has been the best by far, his sparse versions of “Taste” and “In the Flowers” became fixtures of my pre-MPP listening rounds (along with the Hove Festival bootleg). Stripped down to a bare minimum of guitar, voice, and simple percussion, these covers are more Sung Tongs than Merriweather Post Pavilion and will surely serve as interesting antitheses to the sleekly produced studio cuts. [Original Post]

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Download: Blind Man’s Colour – Taste (Animal Collective cover)

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Download: Blind Man’s Colour – In the Flowers (Animal Collective cover)
Buy: Blind Man’s Colour is currently looking for a label to release their debut record, but check their myspace for updates.

Wilco and Fleet Foxes - I Shall Be Released

Here in America, 2008 was a year that signaled a distinct political shift with the historic election of Barack Obama. Unsurprisingly, many bands and musicians threw their support behind Obama in subtle and not-so-subtle ways (“Noise for Obama”, anyone?). Wilco decided to encourage voter participation by offering a free mp3 of their cover of Bob Dylan’s “I Shall Be Released”, recorded live in Bend, Oregon with support from the golden voices of Fleet Foxes, to anyone who “pledged to vote in the 2008 Election”. Yeah, it’s doubtful that this had a real impact on the outcome, but indeed we were released from another four years of guaranteed blatant condescension and international aggression. Here’s hoping that the next four years turn out to be a little better.

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Download: Wilco and Fleet Foxes – I Shall Be Released (Bob Dylan cover)
Buy: Pick up Wilco’s latest (Sky Blue Sky) from Nonesuch Records and Fleet Foxes’ self-titled, debut full-length from Sub Pop Records in CD, vinyl, or digital format.

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A Few More Awesome Covers:

Ariel Pink – She’s Gone (The Dovers cover) [Myspace]
First Aid Kit – Tiger Mountain Peasant Song (Fleet Foxes cover) [Youtube]
The Ultimate Awesome – Coverage (The Descendents medley) [Myspace]

Fourteen Awesome Covers from 2008 (Pt. 1)

The first of my year-end lists comes in the form of a two-part installment of awesome covers from this year. From straight covers, to bold remixes, to complete reinventions, to tribute albums, 2008 was packed with surprisingly good covers… a few of which I’ve mentioned in previous posts. However, the first half of these are all new to the pages of my blog. Enjoy and look for part two on Monday!

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Panda Bear - Boneless

I’m starting to get the impression that a year in music won’t feel complete without contributions from Animal Collective, especially in light of their serious domination of last year. Obviously, A.C. output has been less abundant in 2008, but all that they’ve given us has been great. Panda Bear‘s sole offering is his fantastic “remix” of The Notwist‘s “Boneless”, which is a pretty modest labeling. It’s really a cover, or more accurately, a full-blown reinvention of the original. Panda works his sampledelic magic, pulling riffs from the obscure, layering sounds, sun-soaked melodies, call-and-response, and sweet cascades of vocals between soft, falsetto chants of “BooOOOooneless”. As if I needed anything beyond repeated listens of Person Pitch to remind me of how much I want another Panda Bear solo record. The good news is that if the setlist from his recent show in Miami is any indication, one may be on the horizon.

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Buy: Sorry, no download link for this B-side, but the 7-inch single is still available as a digital download from the Domino Records webstore for just under $2 (well worth it!).

WHY? - Close to Me

WHY? has easily become the best thing happening over at Anticon these days. And after honing his skills on two excellent albums with a full band line-up (Elephant Eyelash and, more recently, Alopecia), Yoni Wolf decided to try his hand at The Cure’s “Close to Me”. A bold choice, as no doubt many listeners are likely to have a certain level of attachment to such a classic track. But, WHY? transforms the original’s bouncy, melancholic pop into a churning, distorted ball of beats and feedback where Yoni’s nasally drawl feels right at home. I suppose it also helps that his psyche wholly resonates with Robert Smith’s sweetly tortured lyrics; add some bizarre imagery and these words might fit nicely on one of his own albums.

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Download: WHY? – Close to Me (The Cure cover)
Buy: Pick up WHY?’s latest, Alopecia, from the Anticon online store.

Deerhunter - Oh It's Such a Shame

With three albums, a handful of EPs, and a ton of other music out in 2008, it’s been quite a year for Bradford Cox projects. The selection for this list comes from Deerhunter and Jay Reatard‘s split 7-inch of traded covers. Deerhunter adopts the choppy, palm-mute heavy past/future punk of “Oh It’s Such a Shame” and smooths it out into a more extended burst of fuzzed-out energy. Definitely one of the more straightforward covers on the list, but nonetheless awesome.

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Download: Deerhunter – Oh It’s Such a Shame (Jay Reatard cover)
Buy: Physical copies are sold out, but the “Fluorescent Grey”/”Oh It’s Such a Shame” 7-inch is still available as an MP3 or FLAC download from Matador Records.

Banjo or Freakout - Archangel

Alessio Natalizia burst onto the scene this year with a whole lot of free lo-fi pop, blog-posted under his Banjo or Freakout alias. There’s been a pretty continual outpouring on said blog, of both covers and originals, with a lot of his tracks getting featured on the pages of numerous blogs and webzines. My favorite of the many exceptional covers is probably his take on Burial‘s “Archangel”. Deconstructing dark, lumbering strings, breaks, static, and chopped-up, modulated vocal loops, Natalizia reimagines the song as a tranquil, hissing drone of bedroom-pop that feels just a stones throw away from some of Bradford Cox’s Atlas Sound work or even the more subdued, ambient moments of Animal Collective‘s discography. And while it’s obvious no cover could ever hope to live up to the original, this attempt is so interesting that it pretty much makes that fact irrelevant… this guy is someone to keep your eye on.

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Download: Banjo or Freakout – Archangel (Burial cover)
Buy: Available on the first Banjo or Freakout covers CD for £5, which is limited to 150 copies and may or may not be sold out.

Enjoyed: A Tribute to Björk's Post

Enjoyed: A Tribute to Björk’s Post is the latest in a series of Stereogum curated tribute albums. I found the last two to be a little hit or miss, but this third offering is pretty fantastic (save for maybe a track or two). It was even tough to whittle it down to just three songs, but ultimately the fractured minimalism of Dirty Projectors‘ “Hyperballad”, High Places‘ rhythmic, beat-laden take on “The Modern Things”, and No Age‘s pop-as-dissonance approach to “It’s Oh So Quiet” all standout for me. But, I really do recommend downloading the whole album over at Stereogum.

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Download: Dirty Projectors – Hyperballad (Björk cover)

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Download: High Places – The Modern Things (Björk cover)

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Download: No Age – It’s Oh So Quiet (Björk cover)

Fever Sleeves: “Futuristic Killings” Video

Fever Sleeves

An awesome new music video from San Diego progressive tech-pop riffers Fever Sleeves (full disclosure: these guys are friends) hit the web this week. You may recall “Futuristic Killings”, the A-side from their recently released debut 7-inch, from my original post a few months back, but this song kicks as hard as it did when I first heard it. The video finds the too-much-fun-loving ghost figure from the album jacket, dubbed Ghordon Ghost, stop-motion animated in a quest to “find a place of his own”. Leaving his home (the Armadillo-Tank on the cover of “Tarkus” by Emerson, Lake & Palmer), Ghordon voyages across a myriad of albumscapes before settling on the “Futuristic Killings” 7-inch.

According to a recent blog on their myspace, their debut full-length Soft Pipes, Play On is “97% done” and will see a digital release “very soon […] with a very special album release show/party to follow soon after”. So, keep your eye out for that. And since these guys are one of the best things coming out of San Diego, I’m sure you’ll be reading more about it here as the details unfold.

Fever Sleeves are also still deciding on where to release the CD & Vinyl formats of the album. To any reps that might be reading this: if your label wants a piece, get in there while you can.

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Download: Fever Sleeves – Futuristic Killings
Buy: The 7-inch is available for $5 (PPD) through PayPal over at the Fever Sleeves’ myspace. Orders include a CD-R for mp3 ripping ease.

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Download: Fever Sleeves – Maximum Castles
Buy: From the Black Box Vol. 1 compilation, which is available in digital or CD format on Amazon. You can also send an e-mail to Black Box Studios and order it directly.

My Girls

Animal Collective

In the ever unfolding wait (which has unsurprisingly devolved into “omg did this leak yet!11!??!) for Animal Collective‘s insanely anticipated Merriweather Post Pavilion, the internet was first (unofficially) graced with a couple two minute snippets of the rich melancholy of “Also Frightened” and “Bluish”, two obvious sources of the early labeling of the album as “electronic Beach Boys”. Very soon after, a more complete, but still slightly truncated rip of epic electro-tribal pop closer “Brothersport” hit after it was included in a low-radar French podcast. Serious drama has followed, culminating in Grizzly Bear getting accused of being a “global leak source” and asked to apologize to Animal Collective and Domino Records by the now-notorious Web Sheriff.

Well, turns out another track has surfaced. This time it’s the glorious “My Girls”, formerly known as “House” and “Material Things”, which has been a personal favorite from the number of live bootlegs I’ve been obsessively listening to over the past couple months. And the album version not only manages to live up to my expectations, which was a monumental task in itself, but handily surpasses them in a haze of surging, layered pop euphoria. Absolutely beautiful. I have no clue how they do it, but after only a few glimpses into their studio work on Merriweather Post Pavilion there’s no question that this will be one of the most amazing albums to hit 2009 and another in a series of great albums from the Collective.

It’s streaming over at icantfly.com for now. Check it.

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Download: Animal Collective – Water Curses (from the Water Curses EP)
Buy: No pre-order for MPP yet, but keep your eyes on the Domino site. You can buy Water Curses here.

Juicy Results

Rafter (Photo by Lizeth Santos)

The results for Asthmatic Kitty‘s latest music video contest, which I mentioned in my previous post on Rafter‘s gonzo-dance opus Sweaty Magic, are in… and the panel of judges, which ran quite the gamut (Adrien Grenier from “Entourage” and Planet Green’s “Alter Eco”, the creators of “Yo Gabba Gabba”, Dan Deacon, Liars), have declared Dax Norman‘s animated video for “Juicy” the winner. This video is pretty awesome in itself, but Norman’s bizarre pastiche of disparate imagery also serves as a kind of metaphor for Rafter’s compositions: a myriad of elements colliding and melding together, at certain moments feeling unfinished, but at others feeling like an unpolished gem that can only be judged within the terms it itself has created. Either way, it’s worth at least a couple viewings (even if only in an attempt to unravel its mosaic of weirdness). You can also view the second and third place videos over at the Asthmatic Kitty website.

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Download: Rafter – Juicy
Buy: Order Sweaty Magic from Asthmatic Kitty.

Rafter also contributed a track to the upcoming Engine Room Recordings Guilt by Assoication Vol. 2 compilation, which features a handful of indie artists laying down covers of select guilty pleasures. Check out his percussion-centered version of OMD’s “If You Leave” down below and head over to the Engine Room website where they’re streaming the entire album for a limited time. Its got My Brightest Diamond filling out Gloria Jones’ “Tainted Love”, The Forms tackling Billy Joel’s “We Didn’t Start the Fire”, and Kaki King doing Justin Timberlake’s “I Think She Knows” (!!).

Download: Rafter – If You Leave (OMD cover) (removed by request).
Buy: You can get Guilty by Assoication Vol. 2 from iTunes.