St. Vincent: Actor Pull

St. Vincent

Brooklyn multi-instrumentalist Annie Clark, who records as St. Vincent, is set to release her sophomore full-length on May 5th via 4AD. Don’t get it twisted, this bona fide indie heartthrob is much more than just a pretty face — aside from her remarkable debut album, Marry Me (which I must point out is an Arrested Development reference), Clark has also spent time as a member of The Polyphonic Spree as well as Sufjan Stevens‘ touring band and before that attended the prestigious Berklee College of Music. But, like any great musician, the elements of her impressive past are really just becoming notes in a constant progression as she unravels a range of emotions and themes in increasingly majestic elegance.

St. Vincent’s latest opus, Actor, is not primarily an Arrested Development reference (though it could be), but instead appears to be an allusion to the songwriting process she adopted for the album. While cycling through some of her favorite films (including Picnic at Hanging Rock, Badlands, Pierrot Le Fou, Stardust Memories, The Wizard of Oz, and Sleeping Beauty) with the volume turned down, Clark began each song on Actor as a kind of soundtrack for particular scenes. These musical interpretations were later fleshed out and propelled into their own artistic orbit with exceptional songwriting, clever lyrics, rich arrangements, varied instrumentation, and notable guitar chops. At once cinematic, intimate, genuine, eloquent and at times playful, these songs represent a new level of artistry for St. Vincent and yield a record that is more comfortable, confident, and cohesive than her previous work.

One of Annie Clark’s most apparent strengths is her ability to incorporate ostensibly disparate elements in graceful juxtaposition. Throughout Actor, sweeping woodwinds and strings collide with intricate and occasionally crushing guitar work, bubbling synth, driving electro-bass, and moments of unsettling dissonance. Album opener “The Strangers” is a pastiche of nearly all these elements — its brief, ethereal introduction quickly fades into forceful kick drum stomps and a mysterious swirl of acoustic guitar picks and what could be effects-laden harmonics. Accented by woodwind flourishes, Annie’s angelic vocals float atop this slowly building crescendo until it all explodes into a dense, distorted guitar attack.  The latest single, “Actor Out of Work”, is far more immediate; just over two minutes, the track opens with a quick intake of breath from Clark before an unrelenting burst of bold drums and guitars pierce the momentary silence, with splices of noisy synth cutting in between her smooth, swaying vocals.

Somehow Marry Me was criminally overlooked when I compiled my list of favorite albums from 2007, but I can assure you that Actor won’t experience a similar fate.

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Download: St. Vincent – The Strangers

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Download: St. Vincent – Actor Out of Work
Buy: You can pre-order Actor from Beggars Group USA as MP3 ($8), FLAC ($10), CD ($12), or LP ($12, free mp3 download).
Watch: Check out the video for “Actor Out of Work”, which features a series of actors that make the fire too real and fail to highlight the sale for Annie Clark, who sits in aloof, melodious judgment.

Also, be sure to go see St. Vincent on her upcoming U.S. tour with Pattern is Movement. I haven’t seen her as of yet, but it sounds like her live show is solid. Tour dates included after the jump.

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Atlas Sound Got It for Cheap

Atlas Sound - Time Warp Virtual 7

Beyond the upcoming Deerhunter EP, Rainwater Cassette Exchange, Bradford Cox has been quietly releasing more free music over at the Deerhunter / Atlas Sound / Lotus Plaza blog, including two new entries in his series of Atlas Sound Virtual 7-inches. These latest releases, No.’s 6 and 7, are no doubt two of his finest.

“Solo, Or ‘The Square'” / “Memorial Corridor” (No. 6) provides a double dose of off-kilter pop. The A-side, driven by an obtuse keyboard bounce, drones along in a subtle build up as Cox’s vocals meander and fade into the track’s murky ambience, while “Memorial Corridor” features an extended intro of synth swirls and hiccups before he blows it wide open with a steady helping of head nod-inducing guitar strums and fuzzed-out vocals. No. 7 is a more subdued affair, the breezy “Springtime Instrumental” combines laidback melodies, cool guitar swagger, and solid beats before it gracefully gives way to the title-track “Time Warp”, a dreamy meditation on using wormholes to escape the demoralizing wasteland of suburbia.

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Download: Atlas Sound – Solo, or ‘The Square’

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Download: Atlas Sound – Springtime Instrumental

Both 7-inches are available for free download here and over here.

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Clipse (Feat. Kanye) - Kinda Like a Big Deal

In other free mp3 news, Clipse unveiled their first single from the upcoming Till the Casket Drops over at the Re-Up Gang Records blog on Monday. Joined by Kanye West, whose verse is admittedly underwhelming, Pusha and Malice do how they do and bring it like they mean it — urgent, grimy, charismatic. There’s no question that Hell Hath No Fury, which made Clipse kinda like a big deal, is gonna be a tough record to follow. But, as far as singles go, this track is pretty sweet.

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Download: Clipse – Kinda Like a Big Deal (Feat. Kanye West)

Dananananaykroyd: As Spazzy As They Wanna Be

Dananananaykroyd

With difficult to pronounce, difficult to forget, and ultimately silly name in hand, Glasglow’s Dananananaykroyd delivered their anticipated full-length debut, Hey Everyone!, on April 6th via Best Before Records. These hectic rockers double up on guitarists, drummers, and vocalists for their brand of intensely energetic spazcore (self-described as “fight pop”), attempting to defend their reputation as a live band and capture that raucous power of the moment in the recording studio. Take a listen to this album and you’ll have to agree they’ve probably come as close as a band can, pounding out slick riffs and dense drum rips in an adrenaline-driven fury, balancing a crushing onslaught of sound with calculated spurts of technical prowess. Vocals appear, more often than not, as some form of call-and-response yelps between dual singers Calum Gunn and John Baillie Junior or at times simply as a wall of screams from all six members of the band.

One of the strongest tracks on Hey Everyone! is the record’s most recently released single, “Black Wax”. From it’s catchy chord progressions, interlocking guitar parts, killer guitar tones, hand claps, tambourine shakes, shrieks, cheers, and crescendos, the song balances Dananananaykroyd’s explosive energy with smooth accessibility perhaps more successfully than any other track on the record. Meanwhile, “Totally Bone” hits you with an unrelenting assault of thunderous double-drum work and balls-out guitar riffage, accented with venomous barks and shouts.

Dananananaykroyd only allow the listener a few brief moments of respite on Hey Everyone!, driving forward in a manic blur of dexterous carnage and tireless vitality. It’s enough to make one wonder if a band can maintain this kind of over-the-top dynamic before imploding… well, here’s to hoping.

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Download: Dananananaykroyd – Black Wax

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Download: Dananananaykroyd – Totally Bone
Buy: You can pick up Hey Everyone! over at Banquet Records (U.K.), Amazon, or iTunes (just $7.99 and includes a bonus track!).

Deerhunter Announce New EP

Deerhunter - Rainwater Cassette Exchange

Bradford Cox, Lockett Pundt, and the rest of Deerhunter apparently do not believe in making their fans wait. On top of the massive amount of music they’ve put out recently, including Deerhunter’s double-disc Mircocastle / Weird Era Cont. that came out just a little over eight months ago, yesterday they announced the upcoming release of a brand new EP. Rainwater Cassette Exchange doesn’t actually come out on cassette, but look for a digital release on May 18th and then CD and vinyl on June 8th. Until then, feel free to overload on the solid title-track down below.

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Download: Deerhunter – Rainwater Cassette Exchange
Buy: No pre-order up yet, but check back at the Kranky (U.S.) or 4AD (U.K.) websites.

Superchunk: Leaves in the Gutter

Superchunk - Leaves in the Gutter EP

At long last, indie rock indelibles Superchunk have finally put out a new EP, their first release of new material since 2001’s excellent Here’s to Shutting Up. Well, “Misfits & Mistakes” was previously released as a vinyl-only single… but three brand new songs (especially three as good as these) are more than enough reason to celebrate.

“Learned to Surf”, the triumphant lead track, has been put on repeat a few times over the past couple weeks. With its soaring vocals and two tangled up, absurdly catchy guitar parts, Superchunk decisively silence anyone who may have been wondering if they were still capable of writing songs that demand to be played while speeding down the highway, windows rolled down and volume cranked up. And they ride that wave for the duration of Leaves in the Gutter.

Merge is streaming the entire EP for now, so after “Learned to Surf” has got you grinning from ear to ear, head over there ASAP.

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Download: Superchunk – Learned to Surf
Buy: You can get Leaves in the Gutter over at the Merge Records online store.

New Shugo Tokumaru: “Rum Hee”

Shugo Tokumaru

Last year was a good one stateside for Japanese experimental folk-pop maestro Shugo Tokumaru. Exit, his latest full-length and one of my favorite albums of 2007, was officially issued in the U.S. on Almost Gold Recordings and he even put together a short tour here with support from members of Beirut (which included a performance at the CMJ Festival as well as a quick East Coast run with The Magnetic Fields). It was enough to make me forget that we could probably expect to hear some new music from him pretty soon… and lo and behold, today Shugo released a single with three brand new tracks, three alternate takes of previously recorded songs, and a couple remixes.

The A-side, “Rum Hee”, is rich, triumphant, and anthemic, awash in an abundance of bright hues and sunny textures. Opening with driving guitar strums, sleigh bell shakes, and a background of light bird chirps, the song plays out like the soundtrack for a frolic through a magical forest, its layers of smile-inducing sounds swelling and subsiding, cascading over the listener in exhilarating waves. “Rum Hee” is also given the remix treatment by noise-pop mainstays Deerhoof and Osakan electro-weirdo Oorutaichi. Both are really good, but I figured I’d post the one that I find the most interesting… and to my surprise, it isn’t Deerhoof’s subtle, percussive reworking. Oorutaichi manages to outdo them by reimagining “Rum Hee” as a piece of glitch-laden, beat-driven electronica, all the while maintaining the wide-eyed wonder of the original.

Download: Shugo Tokumaru – Rum Hee (removed by request)

Download: Shugo Tokumaru – Rum Hee (Oorutaichi Remix) (removed by request)
Buy:
Rum Hee is only available in Japan at the moment, but you can pick up the CD and a bonus DVD with footage from Shugo’s U.S. tour at CD Japan for $18.94 (plus shipping). Or, if you can’t shell that out, follow this iTunes link and click “Change Store” to be able to download Rum Hee for about $12. To change back to the U.S. Store, scroll down to the bottom of the iTunes Store homepage, click the “My Store” pull down menu and then click “United States”.

Watch: MP3s are a no-go, but check out the official video for “Rum Hee” which features a mass of black-and-white U.S. tour, travel, studio, and cat footage.

Anamanaguchi: “So Bored”

Anamanaguchi - Blip Festival

While we’re on the cover tip, check out this never-saw-this-coming gem from rising chiptune stars Anamanaguchi. These 8-bit guitar heroes reconstruct the noisy lo-fi of Wavves’ depressive slacker anthem “So Bored” through processed guitars and NES boom-blip. Once you move past that initial unexpectedness, this cover really makes perfect sense. I mean, what’s more lo-fi than modifying old Nintendo systems to play music?

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Download: Wavves – So Bored
Buy: Pick up Wavvves, one of the best records of the year so far, over at Fat Possum Records.

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Download: Anamanaguchi – So Bored (Wavves cover)

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Download: Anamanaguchi – Overarrow
Buy: You can stream the entire record on the player below, complete with seizure-inducing 8-bit video art. Click the “Buy the Album” link in the bottom right to purchase (and yes, this album is available on vinyl).