Compiled by Bella Elbaum, Ethan Goodman and Kieran MacIntyre
What’s better than music AND lists? When they come together! Every month the M&C Music staff will make a lists of the music we have been listening to. For February we have a lot of new, old and everything in between!
Of Montreal – Wraith Pinned to the Mist and Other Games
If that groovy ass bass line does not entice you from the second you hear it, you don’t deserve your ears. This is an all around happy song, and the first time we are really hearing Kevin Barnes start using more electronic influence in his music.
It’s the kind of song that you can play pretty much anywhere and anyone with two feet and a soul will immediately start dancing.
The energy, the exquisite musicianship and the songwriting all coalesce into something I think even David Bowie would be proud of.
Melody’s Echo Chamber – Crystallized
If Tame Impala had a girl singer instead of Kevin Parker, it would be Melody’s Echo Chamber. She has a wonderful modern psychedelic rock sound that is soothing and makes you want to close your eyes and lay back.
Her voice is soft and melodic and the fuzziness in the background of that song just accents it perfectly. She is from France, so that obviously makes everything she does beautiful.
This tune has the perfect amount of poppiness to it just to make it fun enough for something that you can listen to in your own privacy, or play at a small gathering with friends.
Toro Y Moi – Empty Nesters
This is unlike anything that Toro Y Moi has ever done, and it’s f**king awesome. When thinking about Toro Y Moi first thing that comes to mind is electronic music with a little 80’s flare and lots of synths.
“Empty Nesters” is Toro Y Moi proving to us that he can do a rock song, and do it pretty damn well. This song is soaked in happiness and it is being squeezed out on all of us.
As euphoric as this song is, it still touches on some heavier subjects. Empty Nesters refers to the empty nest syndrome parents feel when their little ones begin their own lives.
Covering topics like the worries of going off to school, and how we could maybe extend our teen years by just a little bit longer.
This was the first Caribou song I had ever heard, and I was instantly hooked by those crazy noises that were coming out of my speakers that kind of sounded like a dinosaur with a sense of rhythm.
This song is a whole platter of different styles of electronic music combined, including some disco, house, and just good ol’ techno.
Dan Snaith of Caribou seriously knows how to write a song that has extremely sad lyrics referring to heartbreaking romances, and combining it with something as funky as this tune.
One of my favorite little touches to this song is that he adds a flute. I always find it really intriguing when people combine classical instruments with electronic music. Two polar opposite genres being forced to work together.
Flying Lotus – Kill Your Co-Workers
This is one of my favorite songs to show people who think they know Flying Lotus’ style. It’s truly different from what us normal Lotus heads are used to. It is so 8-bity!! but still with some Flying Lotus aspects that we know and love.
The way the song progresses from silly and fun to something a little darker sounding and louder, but with a similar beat.
I would not be surprised to hear a drum n bass artist remixing this song. It has the perfect upbeat tempo with a little nintendo sound for the nerd in all of us.
Depeche Mode – Enjoy the Silence
WARNING: THIS SONG MAY GET STUCK IN YOUR HEAD UNTIL THE DAY YOU DIE.
I have had this song stuck in my head for two weeks and counting. Yet, I’m not even sick of it! That’s really saying something. “All I ever wanted/All I ever needed/Is here in my arms.”
Guuhhh just those three lines can make just about any boy and girl cry. The song is sweet and giving a big f**k you to words, and saying that actions are all that really matters.
The deep vocals against the Gothic/pop instruments make for something really majestic, and the guitar parts are the cherry on top. The ending of the song really ties everything together.
Horn parts and an orchestra of synths. This song really shows that Depeche Mode is not only capable of writing heart wrenching lyrics, but have the ear for a good melody.
King Krule – The Noose of Jah City
The first time you hear King Krule sing, and the first time you see what he looks like you will probably doubt your entire life.
He has a captivating deep voice that instantly catches your attention, and he is belting all of this out his thin little bit scrawny physique. His voice isn’t perfect and that’s the best part.
You hear it cracking every once in a while, and it can be rough at times. His lyrics are dark and gruesome, with his reverb vocals telling us about his death, with tingling keyboards in the background.
When I hear King Krule I imagine going to some obscure New York Lounge in the 60’s and hearing him sing, while I sip on my whiskey, and smoke a cigarette.
Having someone so young think about the gruesomeness and tragedy in this world shows us that it’s never too early to think about what it will be like to take our last breath.
Elastica – Mad Dog God Dam
As my first free for all, I wanted to share one of my favorite songs ever.
No special reason why this is here other than it being SO F**KING COOL.
Elastica (fronted by former Suede guitarist Justine Frieschmann) were the smarmy female response to the testosterone fueled bravado that was Britpop. In their two records, Elastica proved they had just as much attitude as Blur along with the songs to back em up. They were smart, fun, funny and incredibly cool.
As we know, actions speak louder than words, and Elastica didn’t need rousing Riot Grrrl statements to show that women could kick ass. Just listen to the opening lines of “Mad Dog”: “Don’t need no credit card/To make my charging clear/Don’t want you on your back/I just got on my feet.”
Still not convinced that these girls could balance badassery and sex appeal? Go check out “Car Song” or “Your Arse, My Place” and get back to me.
Aphex Twin – 28 Organ
After a long break, Aphex has returned! Winning the Grammy for Best Electronic Album with “Syro,” it seems that he’s just gearing up to keep twisting our ears.
In interviews, the enigmatic artist has assured us that he’s always busy making beats, bleeps and bloops, stockpiling tracks until the public bugs him enough to compile the material into albums.
Backing up his claims, last month he anonymously released over a hundred old song scraps and demos onto Soundcloud to the disdain of Warp records.
He then followed it up with the release of the equally great “Computer Controlled Acoustic Instruments pt2.” “28 Organ” blends a mind-bending beat with squelching synths and warm video game melodies in a way that only Aphex could.
It’s a sprawling, emotional seven minute romp that doesn’t waste a second.
Beck – Cold Brains
After winning Album of the Year with “Morning Phase,” I decided to take a stroll through Beck’s back catalog only to stumble on one of my old favorites.
“Cold Brains” has all of Beck’s creativity and stellar songwriting without the unnecessary silliness, out there samples and his infamous “hot dog dance.”
A strummed acoustic guitar pads Beck’s abstract, emotive poetry sung in his classic slacker style while a shimmering arpeggiated synth, echoing piano and Nigel Godrich’s glossy, washed out production fill the listener with all the warm and fuzzies needed for a stoned and rainy day in bed.
“Cold Brains” is a comfortable college favorite to lay back and empty your head with.
Autolux – Sugarless
As an LA native, I’m always looking for local artists to replace GnR, RHCP, The Doors and the Sunset Strip in our musical canon.
This noisy, experimental trio gave us hope with their blaring, beautiful debut “Future Perfect.” In “Sugarless,” they carefully balance the chaos with the delicate “impossible day” refrain sung by the ever talented, incredibly badass chick drummer Carla Azar.
As if that weren’t enough, they build the song to a huge climax, turning feedback squeals into a hook, only to add on another layer of infectious backup vocals before it all fades into a wash of noise.
Rumor has it they’re currently working on their third release. Until then, I’ll keep “Future Perfect” on repeat when I need a solid dose of feedback and melody.
Cibo Matto – MFN
Cibo Matto are back, and badass as ever with MFN (Mother F**king Nature) off of last years half-baked concept record “Hotel Valentine.”
The food obsessed New York duo made their mark on college radio in the early 90s with the stellar “Viva! La Women” which combined trip hop beats, surreal samples, noir horns and the cutest Japanese voices to ever creep into your heart.
Just don’t let their adorable nature fool you–they’re all attitude, with seasick synths and sharp, witty verses that could cut a gorilla in two.
Speaking of, Miho Hatori (vocals) joined Gorillaz to voice the animated band member Noodles while Yuka Honda, Cibo Matto’s other half went on to work with Sean Lennon (who joined Cibo Matto on bass for their excellent second record “Stereo Type A.”)
St. Vincent – Rattlesnake
A bouncing, crunchy synth pulse open St. Vincent’s self titled release while warmly distorted vocals, flanged hi-hats and sweeping alien noises creep in close behind.
As always, Annie Clark layers textures, hooks and vivid imagery with an effortless grace, but this time, it’s open and accessible without losing the creative edge she’s known for. “Rattlesnake” recounts one of St. Vincent’s naked adventures through the desert.
The first time she pants “Sweating, sweating/No one will ever find me,” she sounds completely free. Repeating the line (while being chased by the titular serpent), the same words take a terrifying turn. Fun, exciting and forward thinking songwriting at its finest.
Clearly, working with David Byrne on 2012s “Love This Giant” taught her a ton. As a whole, “St. Vincent” is a blast, flawlessly binding vicious, fuzzed out riffs to creative caricatures, comments on religion and our addiction to the internet, information and technology.
Unlike the artsy, self destructive “Strange Mercy,” her self titled effort shows that Annie Clark can have a good time without compromising her heady blend of cathartic art pop. The deluxe edition of ’St. Vincent” that came out earlier this month adds a couple killer bonus tracks and gives us a chance to revisit one of the best records of 2014.
Tom Waits – Blue Valentines
For Valentine’s, my girlfriend and I took a pleasant trip up to San Francisco via Monterrey. Driving through the dark fog of the winding 101, Tom Waits, and more importantly, the fact that she didn’t know much of his stuff came up. Stop the car.
An hour later and his classic live record Nighthawks at the Diner is wrapping up and she’s hooked. Outside of being a nice way to wrap up February, Blue Valentines finds Waits at one of his most beautifully haunted career highs, before he went full Tim Burton and just a bit after he was in his drunken, folksy jazz balladeer phase of self discovery.
It’s dark, raw and naked, with just a jazz guitar, his voice and a healthy dose of reverb. It’s a reminder of his stellar storytelling abilities and just how good of a singer he really is.
Father John Misty – Bored in the USA
When I first heard this song a month or so ago I thought I was listening to another piano lounge tune, then I realized it was the psychedelic wordsmith with a voice of gold, Father John Misty.
Father John Misty, otherwise know as Josh Tillman, ex-patriot of Fleet Foxes, came out with an incredible new album “I Love You, Honeybear” this month (Feb. 10th) and this song had to be one of the best cuts from it.
“Bored in the USA” is rebirth of 70’s Country brilliantly anointed with Tillman’s wordy, biting sarcasm. “Is this the part where I get all I ever wanted?” A morose Tillman ostensibly asks you, if there is one thing that can hook you in with Father John Misty is Tillman’s soothing yet empowering vocal range if not his cheeky wordplay, his music is grandiose and humility juxtaposed into an irreproachable Folk Rock elixir.
This song captures the perfect feeling of ennui one can feel at times all while seeking succorance of the “White Jesus”. If the canned laughter towards the end of the song doesn’t crush your soul, you don’t have one. This guy is the smartass the 2015 music landscape needs and “Honeybear” is one of the year’s best albums so far.
John Carpenter – Night
The closer off of legendary B-Horror auteur John Carpenter’s musical debut “Lost Themes”, released February 3rd, is an hypnotising late night drive through a neon city while a tenebrific haze follows you.
Arpeggiated synthesizers with minor nuances and a guitar hitting drawn out notes give a feeling of harrowing badassery expected of Snake Plissken when he walks in the room with his giant ass revolver, if you don’t know who that is, you might as well go to some other listicle swill.
This album reflects Carpenter’s minimal yet enticing score work from his earlier films, which was analog electronic music at it’s best and it is great again here. “Night” is a visceral dive into the darkness of your mind, as if you were immersed within one of this legend’s films.
OT Genasis – CoCo (Borgore Remix)
“Baking Soda, I’ve got Baking Soda!” OT Genasis repetitively cries out in his asinine ode to the white stuff, “CoCo”. If you haven’t heard this song yet, you’re f**ked now.
This ubiquital song immediately gets stuck in your head, even if you don’t want it to. No matter how hard I try to escape, the moment someone says “I’m in love with the coco!” I start saying it, then you start saying it, game over. This song could not get anymore over the top, oh wait, Borgore remix.
The Israeli bass thaumaturge gives this song a badass “Gorestep” treatment, with a drop that is the sonic equivalent to a Terminator s**tting it’s pants with minor glimpses into the track’s goofy lyrics.
I first heard this when I saw Borgore on Valentine’s Day and it completely blew me away, literally. If you want something for your next party’s playlist to freak people out, this is a must.
Jeff Rosenstock – Nausea
This guy is the bathrobe wearing hero of the losers everyone needs in their life. Whether it’s his Arrogant Sons of Bitches or Bomb the Music Industry work, Jeff Rosenstock is the bluntest and funniest guy in the moshpit.
His music is noisy, humorous and at times poignant underneath all of the jubilant instrumentation. “Nausea”, off his new album “We Cool?” released this past Tuesday, is an anthemic yet sullen tune that perfectly captures the reticent genius this guy has won me over in the past with. His vocal style, often clamorous bluster, is transfixing at first but it grows on you immediately, if it doesn’t, that sounds like a “you” problem.
This song, along with it’s hilarious music video, is a great starting point for anyone looking to get into his music. A friend once made allusions to Thom Yorke when talking about Jeff Rosenstock, not entirely an ostentatious comparison, Rosenstock is the reigning mad scientist of punk rock.
Funkadelic – Hit it and Quit It
I’ve been on a major Parliament-Funkadelic grind of recent, George Clinton’s summation of Proto Funk work is a must for any dedicated music nerd’s collection, my favorite iteration being the Funkadelic days with the seminal 1971 album “Maggot Brain”.
This cut from that record, “Hit it and Quit it”, is the sexy ass tune you wish you were conceived to. The bass and guitars scream 1970’s porn and the swooning vocal’s from P-Funk founding member Bernie Howell is a fervent aphrodisiac in of it’s own.
You can’t find Funk this sincerely groovy anymore, “Maggot Brain” recalls a time zeroth to all the bat s**t and wondrous directions P-Funk went in, on their proverbial space ship of debauch, whether you just want to gyrate to some incredible Proto Funk or have an audible backdrop to your get down time, this tune is the only logical choice.
Fix You (Four Tet Remix)
Four Tet is one of the best Electronic Music producers in the world, and not because his first name is also Kieran. Kieran Hebden, otherwise known as British Garage wunderkind Four Tet, makes ingenious music that is cerebral, experiential, moving and resonant, even in it’s quietest moments.
Along with his incredible original compositions, the reimagining of other peoples songs he does is out of this world, as can be seen here with his skeletal yet beautiful rework of “Fix You” by Coldplay. “Fix You”, otherwise known as the sad Coldplay song that isn’t “The Scientist”, is transformed here into a very intimate and crestfallen meditation with Chris Martin’s a capella vocals and soothing xylophones and bells throughout.
Hebden did what he does best here, took something meant for a stadium into the chill out room and amplified the emotion five fold. It took ten years for this to be released, which it finally was this past Friday, but after listening, it feels like it was always there in the first place.
Viet Cong – Silhouettes
There is a pervasive amount of Post-Punk bands currently in vogue, but not one band championing the gloomy stylings of Joy Division is as versatile or as terrifying as Canadian group Viet Cong.
Consisting of ex-members of the Art Rock outfit Women, their eponymous debut album, released in January is eerie, pathos-inspiring and raw.
This penultimate cut from the record is punky, zonked out and overall truly nefarious. Matt Flegel’s vocals are an amalgam of Ian Curtis bellow, Peter Murphy snarl and Robert Smith melodrama, basically goth heaven.
But this record is not a banal rehash of the gloom rock of old, it is more so a breath of fresh air into a scene that is too often saturated with the same shoe gaze-y lorn.
“Silhouettes” has the no bulls**t guitar riff, the droning drums and a frosty synth that pierces through you like a bullet. The guys of Viet Cong have gotten the whole Post-Punk/No-Wave scope down to a science, perfectly capturing the best elements into this leviathan of song.