Canadian superproducer and part-time pop deconstructionalist Chilly Gonzales has worked with a fascinating array of artists including Feist, Daft Punk, Drake, Peaches, and Jamie Lidell. Now that he’s based in Germany he’s teamed up with the techno producer Boys Noize under the name Octave Minds. The duo’s self-titled album is out next month, and single “Anthem” is an impressive piece of work. The instrumental track is pretty far from the usual Boys Noize wheelhouse, inhabiting some splendid middle ground between chamber pop, post-rock, and techno. (FWIW, they call it “new age electronic romance.”) The mood is upbeat and inspirational; explains Gonzales in a press release, “Picture the rebirth of spring, flowers opening, let the French horn take you away to a place without tears and pain! ’Anthem’ is exactly that — an anthem for feeling good about the future.” It certainly made me feel good. Listen below.
Guys, I usually kick off the Black Market with a lengthy introductory essay, an aggregation of my thoughts on the month in metal. But August … August kinda ate me alive. That is not to say that I don’t have thoughts, or that August didn’t generate enough thoughts to inspire an essay. I do! It did! And then some! Truth is, this past month delivered a lot more than I could possibly sum up in this space, and you’re gonna read about/hear a whole lot of it below anyway. So this month, I’m gonna cut short the preamble and get right to the music.
Chastity Belt put out the wonderfully titled No Regerts earlier this year, which takes a more serious tone than Julia Shapiro’s other project Childbirth (who got 2014 off to an awesome and funny start with the maniacally impish “I Only Fucked You As A Joke“). Chastity Belt’s dynamic was established in part by the stylish black and white video for “Full” this winter. Now here’s another dramatic clip. “Black Sail” begins with a group of settlers burying a body and performing a funeral, and it’s best to just leave it at that. Be warned that this gets pretty violent, but it lends a somber gravity to subject matter that’s a heavy trope in 2014. Watch it below.
Back in April, we marked the 20th anniversary of Britpop with Stereogum’s Britpop Week. We chose the date for a few reasons — the week marked the anniversaries of both Pulp’s His ’N’ Hers and Blur’s Parklife, Damon Albarn was conveniently releasing his first solo album almost to the day of Parklife’s 20th birthday, and it fell just after April 11, the day Oasis released their first official single, “Supersonic.” Though “Columbia” had been circulating for some time before that, the band hadn’t yet caught fire. “Supersonic” was the first in a stretch of three singles (followed by “Shakermaker” and “Live Forever”) that drummed up excitement for Oasis’ debut before its August 29, 1994 release. Which, you know, worked, considering Definitely Maybe was the fastest-selling debut album ever in the UK to that point.
BoJack Horseman is a new animated sitcom on Netflix about a washed-up sitcom star who happens to be an anthropomorphic horse-person. The first season is already streaming, and there’s a second one on the way. The show has a very serious cast of voice talent, with Will Arnett in the lead role and Aaron Paul, Alison Brie, Amy Sedaris, and Paul F. Tompkins backing him up. And the show’s creators also roped a big name into doing the theme music. Black Keys drummer Patrick Carney is responsible for the loungey minute-long instrumental that soundtracks the opening credits; check it out below.
The Weeknd shared one-off track “King Of The Fall” earlier this year to promote the announcement of a five-date tour with ScHoolboy Q and Jhené Aiko. Just a few weeks before that tour is set to begin, he’s shared a video for the song. It’s a typical Weeknd affair, featuring slick production values and pretty girls, all while Abel Tesafaye walks around in slo-mo and pretends to be an innocent observer even as his lyrics betray otherwise. Watch below.
Killer Mike is one of the great interviews in all of popular music, as he showed in a recent CNN appearance, in which he talked, with great eloquence and emotion, about the fucking absurd police presence at the protests in Ferguson, Missouri. But Mike also appears to know how to tailor his message to his audience, and he came off just as well earlier this week, when he was interviewed on Fox Business Network (by the former Alternative Nation VJ Kennedy!) to talk about the police presence in Ferguson. Mike’s father is a former Atlanta police officer, and on Fox, he talked about how the best way for police to stay safe is to become involved with the communities they’re promoting. He also ingratiated himself with the Fox set by mentioning his NRA membership and invoking his Constitutional rights. If anyone can get a message across on Fox News, it’s this guy. Watch it below.
Ariana Grande’s sophomore set My Everything, out this week, is part of at least two long legacies. The more obvious of those is the tradition of children’s TV stars stepping into the industry machine and walking out pop stars on the other side. The album is exceptional for what it is — a compendium of conservative yet youthful takes on a wide range of styles with a relatively hip slate of guests including the Weeknd, Big Sean, and Childish Gambino. As the stylistic gulf between the sassy, brassy “Problem” and the EDM-poppy “Break Free” hinted at, Grande and her team cover a lot of ground on this record in the horizontal sense. There’s some trad ballads, some hip-hop-oriented tracks, a few that skew toward EDM without going all-in like “Break Free” — and what could have been an unlistenable jumble is instead a smooth ride. The album should help Grande cover a lot of territory in the vertical climb-to-stardom sense too. Although My Everything’s songs scan as slightly anonymous, as professional grade radio jams they range from good to great; anything on My Everything could work as a single. And even if Grande is still struggling to project a compelling persona on screen and in the vocal booth, My Everything succeeds as a transitional step on the path from teeny-bopper to genuine pop star. The record suggests commercial safety for now and opens the door to further mature exploration down the road. Despite obviously following in the footsteps of Mariah Carey, it embodies that sentiment Britney Spears expressed with “Not A Girl, Not Yet A Woman,” only with songs Grande could still feel respectable singing 20 years from now assuming her career lasts that long.