Shlohmo – “Emerge from Smoke”

Only a Shlohmo track can give you the sense of being stuck at the bottom of a deep well and then turn that well into a place of almost womb-like serenity.

The L.A. producer just premiered a single to be released March 17 via a collaboration between True Panther and his own WeDidIt collective. It’s out now on iTunes, but you can also pre-order the 7-inch here, which includes the single’s corresponding B-side, the promisingly titled “Ode 2 Tha Whip”.

There’s a lot to love on this track. “Emerge from Smoke” comes outfitted with a somber melody that lurches itself out in teetering synths and long, fuming bass tones that labor underneath to carry the song forward. As usual, Shlohmo demonstrates his awareness of how nuanced percussion can add entirely new dimensions to a track. All the syncopated plinking and hissing leads to a drum break punching in about half way through. Towards the end, the solitude is pierced by a gaggle of silvery, stricken guitars wailing up from the bottom of the well, and the percussion and synths come crashing back down on top of them in a final caterwaul.

The single arrives with the announcement of a spring 2015 tour, the dates of which you can check out here.

-Tom Fullmer

of Montreal – “Bassem Sabry”

I distinctly remember the term “asexual beige” being idiotically lobbed at of Montreal’s last record, Lousy with Sylvianbriar. The band’s subtle subversion of blues rock on that project definitely wasn’t what many were expecting after the manic chamber pop of Paralytic Stalks, and Q Magazine apparently took it especially hard.

But worry not, Q: Kevin Barnes et al. are back and sexier than ever with new single “Bassem Sabry,” taken from next year’s Aureate Gloom. If I had to pin down the sound of this track, I’d call it moody chamber funk, but honestly that’s pretty irrelevant to me at this point. As far as I’m concerned, K Barnes has yet to fail at crafting a self-reflexively personal journey with any style of music he has tried up to this point, and I have no reason to suspect that’ll change within this next album cycle. Listen above and feel the beautiful misery!

Aureate Gloom is out 3 March via Polyvinyl. Our review of Lousy with Sylvianbriar:

Big Blood – Unlikely Mothers

Psychedelic and prolific folk rock outfit Big Blood have recently released their second album this year, and you can stream it via the widget above. The title of this thing: Unlikely Mothers.

It’s a double album that features a series of long, patient, and droning psych folk dirges that are both eerie and gorgeous. The album’s cover art and concept directly reference the aunt and mother of frontwoman Colleen Kinsella, both of whom were nuns during Vatican II; however, Colleen’s mother left to pursue other things–you know, like being a mother.

While some of the tracks–and this record, generally–feel unnecessarily long-winded, there’s something twisted and alluring about the nine songs here.

Check a review for an older Big Blood album here.

Liars – “Mask Maker” (Extended Version) (Video)

Released earlier this year, Liars’ diverse but focused project, Mess, received average to good reviews, mostly because even though it was interesting, progressive and at the same time still quite retro, they did little to stray from their usual early 2000s dance punk sound. The intro track “Mask Maker” led the pack with a viscous New Order-esque bass beat, peculiar lyrics and a synth horn section that could have come from a punk Atom Heart Mother; and was noticed as one of the best–if not the best–tracks on the record.

Consequently, the release of the new music video for “Mask Maker” was pretty exciting, as Liars would have the chance to put their aesthetic talent to use once again to match the boldness and power of the track. Characteristically the video features a minimalistic approach, each band member wearing white suits and being drenched in multicolored wool threads, with jumps from image to image in time with the beat. Although I would have enjoyed a reference to whatever the lyrics actually meant, I actually preferred the abstract approach.

If you haven’t heard the track, the video is an interesting accompaniment, and a must see for Liars aesthetic lovers.

- Fin Worrall

Joey Bada$$ – “No. 99″ (prod. Statik Selektah)

What makes Joey Bada$$ such an interesting MC at the moment is, not surprisingly, his combination of youth and talent. This combination leaves us with a technically gifted rapper who is currently at the most crucial moment in his career. While he certainly deserves to succeed, there is always a chance that that simply doesn’t happen–if you think he isn’t smart enough to know this, diagram his internal rhymes and ask yourself that question again. The result? Joey is a with a highly skilled artist earnestly putting over 100 percent effort into everything that he does. On “No. 99,” Bada$$ doesn’t make it sound easy. He’s consciously making what he’s doing sound as difficult as possible. At the midway point, he swaps 90′s style New York delivery for off the wall Jah inspired rapping akin to Kendrick Lamar’s recent style. All the while, he treats the beat as merely a suggestion for the ways his words should play with the time signature. Similarly, the 90′s Boom bap intertwines with the more modern bassline lurching behind it. We end up with a microcosm of Joey Bada$$ himself: reverent and irreverent at once. Yet all the while, he’s unbelievably entertaining while he’s making his statements.

- Garrett Cottingham

Torche – “Minions”

Every time I listen to Torche, I catch myself thinking how much cooler they would sound if they dropped a bit of screamo to match the bassy, grinding, sludge metal-influenced guitar lines that have become their signature sound. However, I must remind myself that not every sludge metal band wants to sound like EyeHateGod. In fact, Torche have built up such a unique sound that it would be a bit unfair to compare them to any other band or genre.  Guitarist and vocalist Steve Brooks said himself how he didn’t consider Torche a metal band, and although that’s debatable, their peculiar sound and aesthetic has some difficulty being labelled.

It’s been two years since the release of their last album, Harmonicraft, and with a new album on the horizon, Restarter, the time has come to sample the new single, “Minions.” The track is a direct reference to their sludge roots, with a heavy, dragging bass line held back by some Sabbath-style hat/snare percussion. Each verse ends with a slurred “come my minions,” which I can just imagine being powerfully shouted in unison with the crowd in concerts to come. The song isn’t particularly progressive, a bit of a throwback really, but that doesn’t mean the next album will be just another Torche album.

- Fin Worrall

Father John Misty – “Chateau Lobby #4 (in C for Two Virgins)” (Video)

Singer-songwriter J. Tillman, a.k.a. Father John Misty, just dropped a simple, kaleidoscopic video for the song “Chateau Lobby #4 (in C for Two Virgins),” which is one of the many tracks that will be featured on his upcoming album, I Love You, Honeybear. It’s currently looking at a February release via Sub Pop Records.

While I find the video underwhelming, I’m completely swept off my feet by the song. Tillman’s voice is lovely and inviting, and horn section on this thing has a spice whose origin I can’t quite put my finger on. Is it South American? Middle Eastern? Maybe a mix?

The instrumentation is wonderfully layered, and the story told in the lyrics is worth diving into as well. Definitely looking forward to this record.

Perfume Genius – “Fool” (Video)

The previously loved Perfume Genius tags some visuals onto the Too Bright cut “Fool,” which had me curious considering the track features a completely unexpected ambient pop-style interlude right in the middle of its run-time. How exactly would this musical transition be handled? Well, with violet curtains, a feather boa, and candles, of course!

It’s a pretty abstract set of visuals here, which only brings up more questions in the face of the song’s already esoteric storyline. While I don’t find it as gratifying as PG’s other recent music videos, it’s still an opportunity to see Mike Hadreas interacting with a strange cast of characters while rocking golden roller blades. Kudos to director Charlotte Rutherford.

Kemialliset Ystävät – Alas Rattoisaa Virtaa

It is pretty much impossible to classify the music of Finnish collective Kemialliset Ystävät. I might say its style is kind of psychedelic, appears to be predominantly electronic, and has exotic elements, but half the time I can’t even tell what is generating the sounds on latest album Alas Rattoisaa Virtaa: Live instrumentation? Sampling? Synthesizer? Voice? You could say it is a mash-up of world music (particularly from the Far East), krautrock, chiptune, and plunderphonics, but in the end I’m not comfortable isolating any one of those (micro)genres. Ultimately, Alas Rattoisaa Virtaa is sui generis – the style is Kemialliset Ystävät’s alone.

The result is an ironically whimsical experience. Alas would be the perfect soundtrack for a Hayao Miyazaki movie – images of Spirited Away and Porco Rosso filled my head, well before the oinking pig samples that come in at the end of the clap-led centerpiece “Vettä Yarahille.” A few more of my favorite moments are the initially boisterous and later moody “Arkistorotat/Risuilla Täyteyssä Salissa,” the clanking and marching “Naderbux & Sundergrund,” and the ethereal “Hetkinen,” which I swear sounds exactly like part of the Spirited Away soundtrack. I wish I could, as usual, lay down a bunch of interesting genre descriptors to posit an idea of the aesthetic and pique your interest. But I hope my inability to do so for this LP will have the same enticing effect. I’ll try one last film allusion: if there were a Studio Ghibli-produced adaptation of The Wizard of Oz, this would be the score.

- From my joint Ultima II Massage Alas Rattoisaa Virtaa review for The Arts Fuse

Zion80 – “Metatron”

Exploring Jewish music through the inspiration and lens of legendary Afrobeat godfather Fela Anikupalo Kuti would already be no easy task for anyone with the balls enough to attempt it. But 13-piece band Zion80, led by Jon Madof, isn’t afraid to step into a musical world uninhabited by the majority and make the songs their own, which is exactly what they do on “Metatron”. The nearly 10-minute track is a wild but supremely focused mix of bold, brave horn sections, heavy percussion and enough screaming, mind-melting electric guitar effects to make a grown man squeal like an unhinged schoolgirl. Zion80 gives a mix of the traditional, the psychedelic and the hypnotic on “Metatron”: it’s not quite all Afrobeat, not quite all klezmer, not quite all rock. But when the parts collaborate to make the sum, it truly adds up to something unexpected and powerful.

- Ron Grant