In case it hasn’t been obvious, we here at Tiny Mix Tapes are pretty stoked on Ryan Power’s upcoming album Identity Picks, and with good reason. Power has managed to create that rare kind of intellectual pop music that manages to call to mind a number of references without ever really fitting into any one style or genre. For example, while Ryan A. Detwiler heard an eclectic combination of Kaputt-era Destroyer, Hot Chip, and Will Oldham, I heard Todd Rundrgren with a good dose of Jim O’Rourke’s Insignificance-style cynicism, while my girlfriend heard Justin Timberlake via Ariel Pink. However, despite the disparity of these references, they all have a common thread that actually sums up one of the best things about Power’s work. In a recent interview, Power spoke at length about how he hopes that “the art of songwriting” comes back because of the current emphasis placed on gimmicky production. And there is indeed a pretty clear difference between songs that work because they rely on (in Power’s words) a “wonky beat in Ableton using samples of your friend taking a dump” and songs that work because they’re immaculately crafted structurally.
“The Prize,” Identity Picks’ first single, is an excellent example of why the latter type of songs tend to rule so hard. The track has a theoretically complex chord progression, but Power manages to wrangle a melodic hook out of his sophisticated harmonies at every turn. Then there are the absolutely cutting lyrics that seethe over relationships with the kind of honest intensity of the aforementioned O’Rourke or the oft-forgot Quasi. Throughout, Power’s production is sparse and on point; there’s nothing here that shouldn’t be. This attention to the actual craft of “the song” is what calls to mind so many other great songwriters/bands when listening to Power’s music. It can often be easy to make something interesting through sonic gimmicks, but it takes something like Power’s structural ingenuity to create truly memorable work that places him among the many rad dudes that his works initially call to mind.
Consider the Space Pizza. It drifts alone, bearing witness to every transgression down on Earth yet offering no judgement. Its cheese froze at some point in the -50-0°C temperatures of the stratosphere; if the balloon somehow holds up for another 30 kilometers, it’ll reach the first stages of the thermosphere, where it’ll burn to ash and float off into the cosmos. Maybe the certainty of its disintegration clarifies everything for the Space Pizza. With Erik Satie lulling it into its final slumber, it comes to perceive multitudes within itself: youth, growth, hyperbole, geographic loyalty, ambition, friendship. Above all, the Space Pizza embodies the classic, if underrepresented philosophical concept known as “pizza being in space.”
After a series of scene-defining digital releases, short-run tour 7-inches, and the Scott Pilgrim video game OST, New York’s 8-bit shredders Anamanaguchi dropped their new album Endless Fantasy on May 14. The album’s 22 tracks expand the quartet’s NES-derived melodies and pop-punk rawk-band aesthetics into more territory than ever: electro club zones, slow-jam ballads, ambient interludes, anthems to soundtrack a midnight cruise through Neo Tokyo. The video for the album’s title track showcases the kaleidoscopic, culture-colliding audio-visual language the band has developed over years of multimedia omnivorousness.
Subliminal anime interrupts shots of New York’s streets. LED-illuminated nightlife rages on as pizza ascends. We feel the kind of feelings that only emojis can properly convey. The video arrives in the wake of the band’s insanely successful Kickstarter campaign, which allowed them full creative control of the album’s release and its many attendant media. If this is the kind of “weird internet stuff” we can expect from the newly $$$-laden Guch-bros moving forward, Space Pizza is only the beginning.
• Anamanaguchi: http://anamanaguchi.com
“Ancient Questions” (live)
As we recently reported, Mount Eerie is releasing a live 12-inch via XRA Records. Titled Live in Bloomington, September 30th, 2011, the album captures Mount Eerie as a three-piece (two keyboards, one guitar, and an Elverum) during a period after the release of 2009’s Wind’s Poem and before 2012’s Clear Moon (a period known to Mount Eerie fans as M = 2π(t - tp) /tY, a reference to the angle from the periapsis of the elliptical orbit to the mean Sun). The album, which features 10 songs, even sees the group going back to Microphones material with one of my personal favorites, “Karl Blau.”
XRA is sharing “Ancient Questions” with us, and it sounds fantastic. Thanks Mike Bridavsky at Russian Recording!
Look for Live in Bloomington, September 30th, 2011 on July 9 via XRA.
“Word is Bond”
Joey Bada$$ is set to release his Summer Knights LP on June 12, just around the time the kiddies are fresh out of school and a year after dropping 1999, one of 2012’s most buzzed-about mixtapes. A lot’s changed since then: the 18-year-old Brooklyn rapper has rubbed elbows with the likes of A$AP Rocky, Raekwon, and Smoke DZA; caught the interest of Roc Nation; and was earned the title of XXL Freshman. With all the laurels piling up, you might expect Bada$$ to get a bit cocky — but, thankfully, refreshingly, “Word is Bond” skips all the pretenses. The Statik Selektah-produced track screams “summer stoop jam,” bristling with breezy piano samples and gritty scratches. From a production standpoint, Bada$$’s music has always tended towards early-90s nostalgia, but his rapping on this cut is anything but dated: he hotfoots around like only a New Yorker can, slipping in and out of double-time as he weaves together references to tetrahedrons, Charles Dickens, and former Gotham governor George Pataki. So much for a lazy summer vacation.
• Joey Bada$$: http://badassjoey.tumblr.com
The Subtle Body Wears A Shadow
The music that is Diamond Terrifier has narrated my time growing within the confines of New York City, Brooklyn, and Long Island. Not only is it sonically reminiscent of how my father mused my creativity as a child, but it feels as though Sam Hillmer’s music as <>T is the perfect soundtrack to the highs and lows of being surrounded by a million things working at once. As is New York: meeting new people you admire, finding meaning within an overabundance of variety, hearing music in the subway as the train transitions to a screech, saving moments and smiles more than money, fluttering from hunger to shock to joy to insomnia, and being a being within a bigger being.
Picking up from last year’s album Kill The Self That Wants To Kill Yourself, Diamond Terrifier brings to you four long-burner tracks out today called The Subtle Body Wears A Shadow. The intro track, “Shrine Flu,” was first heard in its early stages last year on the Words+Dreams tape Shrine Flu. But as an album opener, the track really sets the tone of Sam’s brass-beaten breath and love of seared electronics, which wake-waves listeners into “Two Witnesses,” baring an array of furiously flying fingers, wailing out cries of disparity and joy, anticipation and daunt. Flip to the B-side to hear “Triple Gem” and the title track. “The Subtle Body Wears A Shadow” is a fantastic closer to the intensity that is this release, finding calm within Sam’s storm of sax, harmonizing with the electronic hum and glittered tingles of metallic drips.
The Subtle Body Wears A Shadow is out today via Terrible Records on LP/CD/digital formats. I pre-ordered a copy as soon as I knew it existed and can’t wait to go to my Grams’ house and spin it like a mad man! DO NOT sleep on this.
“Ruff Town” ft. Cormega
Hempstead’s Roc Marciano and Queensbridge’s Cormega have teamed up before on the posse cuts “Tricks of the Street” and “M.A.R.S.,” but this is their first pairing to date, which is kind of surprising considering they came up around the same time within 30 miles of one another and clearly share many of the same influences. Plus, they’re both short guys, who, in spite of their stature, sound like they could kill you without batting an eyelash.
No word yet on whether this track is off Roc’s forthcoming production album, Marci Beaucoup, or just a loosie. Either way, look out for that album as well as Corey’s Mega Philosophy, which is produced entirely by living legend Large Professor.