What We’re Listening To: July 2011
Remember, during the halcyon days of the video store, the “Staff Picks” shelf? The place where employees got to lobby for their favorite films, and the place where you could go for a reliable selection when you just weren’t sure what you wanted to watch? We’re taking that principle and running with it: eMusic is proud to present this regular, monthly roundup of our editors’ and members’ current faves. Whether it came out 30 years ago, or was just released last week, if we’re listening to it, and if we’re excited about it, you’ll find it here. And if you’d like to participate, just drop a line to firstname.lastname@example.org, and we’ll get you in the rotation!
Conquering Animal Sound is made up of just two people, Anneke and James who, according to their Tumblr, "make music in their flat every day." And that's exactly what Kammerspiel sounds like: small, delicate, hand-crafted songs that move like the tiny ballerinas atop miniature music boxes. The music is spare — tiny, tinkling bells, quiet xylophones, a few whispery clicks and snaps — and Anneke's childlike voice seems simultaneously full of... wonder and caution. "Flinch" is built from plinking plastic pianos and odd snatches of percussion, "Tracer" is shivery and quiet, a low bass hum and sporadic synths that blink like distant airplanes. This is warm, deliberate music, as gentle as a lullaby, as soft as falling snow.more »
After a year of manic online grandstanding, the enigmatic cult of World Unite Lucifer Youth Foundation turned out to be just a bunch of bros from Manchester, England. As luck would have it, the bizarre, self-spun hype preceded an excellent record: a mercurial art-rock hodgepodge of garbled group chants and inversely beautiful shadowy guitars, ramshackle and alluring in equal measure. Placid folk, world beat and angular Krautrock united in their swift-moving landscapes,... all capped with the hectic messianic howls of frontman Ellery Roberts - and as he shrieked "I love you forever!" on the first track ("LYF"), it was hard not to feel stirred by his promise.more »
Arizona's Meat Puppets — alt-pop misfits in America's post-hardcore underground, freaky-deaky guest-stars of Nirvana's MTV Unplugged — are seemingly indestructible. Their grunge-era corporate dalliance may have been a study in how major labels screw you up, and thereafter singer-songsmith Curt Kirkwood had to go it alone for a stretch while his bass-playing brethren Cris lost the plot to a crippling cocaine addiction. But after reuniting for 2007's Rise To Your Knees, the... brothers, backed by drummer Shandon Sahm, have returned to their strengths, cutting career-best music into their fourth decade of 'Pupptery.more »
Their 13th studio album, Lollipop is, from start to finish, an absolute joy, the kind of effortlessly adorable "mature" guitar-pop record which R.E.M. have struggled — and failed — to make over these past 15 years. Tunes (and, dagnabbit, are they melodic!) like "Orange," "Hour Of The Idiot" and "Damn Thing" reactivate that rollicking, acoustic-textured, enigmatically-worded songcraft coined by college rock in the mid '80s, and indeed, the Meat Puppets in the mid '90s.
Governed by punk's contrary consciousness, but equally wrapped up in rootsier traditions, the trio here touch on "Notorious Byrds Brothers"-type folk-rock ("Town"), rockabilly ("Baby Don't") and even reggae ("Shave It"), while striking up their own peculiar ruckus. If there's a greater confidence about him than in the spidery SST days, Curt still delivers the weirdest, most bamboozled stoner/psych lyrics ("I tried to slap the face of an alien," from "Amazing," etc).
Meat Puppets will never be humdrum, or grown-up. They're more extraordinary than ever — the Kurt with a 'K' would definitely be grooving on these latest transmissions.