The great Compton rapper/producer DJ Quik returns next month with his funkily adventurous new album The Midnight Life, and we’ve already posted the first single “That Getter” and the Suga Free/Dom Kennedy collab “Life Jacket.” The latest track that Quik has shared is “Pet Sematary,” which has slick ’80s roller-disco sonics and Quik sneering hard at everyone who ever doubted him. I can’t think another rapper whose music can sound so warm and friendly even when he’s talking very specific violence. Listen to the track below.
The music isn’t the first thing you’ll notice about Lydia Ainsworth’s video for “Malachite,” one of the year’s best clips. Visually, the clip is a hypnotic nightmare, a cryptic tableau of street-dancers dressed like ghouls and moving like dream-logic wraiths. It’s shot in some nondescript warehouse space and made to look like a single shot, as if to imply that strange and terrifying things are happening somewhere near you right now, in some room you might walk past everyday. But those rave-as-black mass visuals from director Matthew Lessner wouldn’t have the impact they do if not for Ainsworth’s music, a heady stew of gasping voices and tingling synths. The video is a true collaboration — Lessner also wrote the song’s lyrics — but it feels like a demonstration of the ways that Ainsworth’s music can push things even further into the uncanny. On the surface, Ainsworth is one of many people making glimmering, atmospheric electronic pop music in bedroom studios around the world. But almost none of those home-recording auteurs know how to layer up sounds the way Ainsworth does so effectively. And none of them has the power to raise goosebumps the way she can.
We already knew Will Smith’s kids are into cool music, having cited the Purity Ring samples on Jaden’s mixtape The Cool Cafe and Willow’s Radiohead-sampling “Sugar And Spice.” But I’m not sure I ever expected their taste for the underground to manifest itself in an outright weird piece of work. And honestly, “Blue Ocean,” the song Jaden posted on SoundCloud last night, is outright weird. It’s a multi-segmented seven-minute excursion that utilizes samples of Justin Timberlake’s “Blue Ocean Floor” and London Grammar’s “Interlude,” and exists in the same twee/hip-hop Venn diagram overlap as, I dunno, WHY? There are Odd Future-like tendencies in there too, and not just because he raps about meeting a girl with drug connections at Coachella just like Frank Ocean did. The haunting pitch-shifted voices, piano foundation, and general sense of tortured spookiness suggest Tyler, The Creator to me. Near the end he starts rapping a lot like Tyler’s hero Marshall Mathers too, at least when he’s not busy singing like an angel. It’s all over the place and way more abrasively art-damaged than anything his dad ever released. I’m marveling at — if not the quality, the sheer audacity of the thing. Hear it below and see what you think.
Charli XCX’s sophomore album is now a few months away, but with the era of “Boom Clap” probably ending soon, the record label seems to be betting on “Break The Rules” taking its place on the charts. They’ve just released a Tiësto remix for the song, which means the label’s bringing out the big guns. The remix turns the song into an absolute dance floor monster, upping the intensity level by a thousand. Listen below.
“After The Rain” is a soulful selection from Swedish pop experimentalists Little Dragon’s self-titled 2007 debut album. Los Angeles indie-rockers Local Natives must be big fans because, apropos of nothing, they decided to cover it during a recent performance at Santa Monica Pier. Karen O collaborator Moses Sumney sat in for the performance. Watch footage captured by Revolt TV below.
In 1984, Queen singer Freddie Mercury released a solo single called “Love Kills.” The tune, a Giorgio Moroder-produced rippling-synth disco track, was somewhat poorly received at the time; it was nominated for Worst Song at the Razzies after Moroder included it in his soundtrack for the reissued 1927 silent film Metropolis. But “Love Kills” has endured in the popular imagination to the extent that Little Boots covered it in 2009, and Queen have been performing a rock ’n’ roll rendition of the song with Adam Lambert in concert lately. Turns out the rock version of “Love Kills” is not new: Today the band released a guitar-laden take on the song recorded with Mercury before his death. It’s one of the unreleased tracks on Queen Forever, the upcoming retrospective comp that also includes the group’s recently unearthed Michael Jackson collab. I don’t hate the original or anything, but “Love Kills” kills as a power ballad. Listen below.
In July’s Black Market, I wrote a long essay on the ways in which metal bands catfish their fans, and in that piece, I mentioned a number of contemporary examples of this phenomenon, including the “Scandinavian” black-metal auteur Myrkur and the Chicago-based USBM artist Blake Judd, who is best known for his band Nachtmystium. Both these artists deceived their fans in vastly different ways. Myrkur was shady about her origin and identity; her press materials claimed she was a one-woman act from Denmark, although the facts of that EP — specifically that it was being released by one of the biggest metal labels in the world, Relapse, although the artist had zero internet footprint — belied its backstory. Judd, on the other hand, personally interacted with fans via his Facebook account, taking money in exchange for merchandise that invariably never arrived. I don’t mean to equate these two things: Myrkur’s deception was innocent if clumsy, while Judd’s was actual fraud. But both these stories came back to light over the past month, with some resolution.
To the ears of Paramore’s Hayley Williams, the opening piano riff on One Direction’s new single “Steal My Girl” so smacked of New Found Glory’s 2006 single “It’s Not Your Fault” that a Twitter dismissal was in order. Williams, who has been dating New Found Glory singer Chad Gilbert since 2008 (that’s them together at the 2010 People’s Choice Awards in the photo above), disparagingly tweeted the comparison yesterday with the help of a tea-sipping Kermit The Frog: