Jams 2016 Vol. 18


"It's time to listen, it's time to fight // Forward."

~James Blake


The words above are sung on Beyonce's LEMONADE, over a montage of a myriad of different people hold up photos of people who have left their lives. This is the beginning of Act 3 of the album so to speak. After running the song by Blue IvyJames Blake creates the critical point on the album where Beyonce begins to move Forward The lyrics are rich with meaning relating to issues of love, sex, loss, and even social justice. If that weren't enough, two weeks after appearing on the biggest record of the year he had a modest yet prominent release of his third album The Color In Anything. This album is classic Blake: spare songs with lovely vocals backed by interesting electronic and hip hop elements. Many of the tracks involve love, and relate to Blake's girlfriend, Theresa Wayman (singer and guitarist of Warpaint). The album also features an appearance by Bon Iver. This collaboration is perfect and may be a hint that a new Bon Iver album is in our future.

If you're like me and you saw the cover of Anohni's Hopelessness you may think this is an album by a black girl with some facial deformity, but once I listened to the first song I realized it's Antony, singer of Hercules and Love Affair. I was right and I wasn't, because I found out that Antony is transgendered. Having recorded the song Manta Ray for the film Racing Extinction under the moniker Anohni, she became the first transgendered person to be nominated for an Oscar. However, after being denied the chance to perform, she did not attend the ceremony (obviously this was overshadow by the whiteness of the acting nominees). Anohni's voice is unmistakable, it is so powerful and distinct. This record continues what she started on Manta Ray, taking on issues of nature in 4 Degrees and dealing with the topic of drones in Drone Bomb Me and Crisis, and even voices concerns about the President with the song Obama. The sound of this record is much grander than what you may know from Antony. Many of these songs a very touching and completely relateable to the state of our country and world at large. I'm hoping to hear a song called Trump, being that Anohni is from England, she might have an interesting take on the situation. The video below is for Manta Ray, it would've been really great to see her play this at the ceremony, damn Oscars.

At Bonnaroo in 2013 I was introduced to Death Grips while standing outside of This Tent watching them play and I wasn't quite sure what I was seeing or hearing. It just sounded like noise to me, but something about it seemed appealing. When I got back, I listened to I've Seen Footage and got on board with the band, without really digging into their music too much. Not until their latest record Bottomless Pit, did I become a true fan. This is the most accessible Death Grips record. Don't get me wrong there is plenty of noise and dissonance (which is still great) but these songs seem to get stuck in your head more than their predecessors.

While looking at Merge Records' website I cliked on the soundcloud window with Jizzney by A Giant Dog. This band has a great rock 'n roll/early punk spirit in their music (which isn't surprising considering their song Rock 'n Roll). After a droning intro the album gets moving and doesn't slow down until the second to last song. This record is filled with so much great rock energy, it is very heavy yet incredibly infectious.

Finally, let's talk about Radiohead. The band caused a stir of speculation when they deleted their entire online presence, causing people to guess that there would be a new song or album released, Robin Hilton from All Songs Consideredeven guessed that it would a physical release and not be anywhere online (however this was not the case). After releasing Burn The Witch and Daydreaming they released their ninth album, A Moon Shaped Pool on a Sunday (because Radiohead can release their albums whenever the hell they want to). They also made the newThis album seems very tied to In Rainbows, not only is the cover art reminiscent of In Rainbows' magma art, which was filled with every color you can think of, this album is de-saturated and cooled down. This album feels calm and reflective. With their last album, The King Of Limbs, being a venture into electronic music, it seems on this one they're looking back and using styles from all stages of their career. There are acoustic guitar driven songs, piano ballads, and interesting new electronic sounds. Not to say that the guys are recycling sounds, they always continue to push the envelope and do amazing things with their music. On Ful Stop they do something really interested with the repeated bassline which is backed by a droning synth. When the synth play minor chords the bass sounds sinister then as the synth blooms into major chords the bass plays the same notes but now sounds bright and melodic. My brother and I were just discussing this concept and these guys read our minds. Of course one of the highlights of this album is the string arrangements. There are so many gorgeous moments that come out of the strings on this album. This going to make every top ten list and it is one of my absolute favorite records of this year. It has been 5 years since their last record so now everyone is no doubt letting out a sigh of relief, having gotten their Radiohead fix.

Other highlights from this week include Red Hot Chili Peppers new song, indie punk band Beverly's Blue Swell andRooney's Washed Away. To hear the full list with the Radiohead tunes check it out on Tidal. Fly on Voltures! Ca-CAWWW!