“Stones in My Heavy Bag”
Before 2012’s Blood Rushing and Perlas, before the beautiful trio of Graphic As A Star, This Coming Gladness, and A Wolf in Sheep’s Clothing, before even lesser-known albums like Born Heller and SOS JFK came the understated Little Life. Released in 2001 and self-recorded by Josephine Foster during her time as a music teacher, the 11-track album takes inspiration from early American music and channels it into a collection of sweet folk songs dedicated to her young music students.
While much of Little Life features playful nods to Tin Pan Alley rhythms and light-hearted, Ella Jenkins-esque storytelling, “Stones in My Heavy Bag” slows the vocals and rhythm down to a beautiful crawl. Here, Foster, who has consistently displayed a nuanced appreciation of structure and form, dwells on the same chord for the entire song, punctuated by ukulele strums and Foster’s harmonized melody that harkens back to work songs, spirtualized music made here for the classroom. Sure, “Stones in My Heavy Bag” technically moves toward its inevitable conclusion, but it feels circular and ever-lasting.
Little Life is reissued today via Fire Records.
[Photo: M Borthwick]
Mr. Muthafuckin’ eXquire
Mr. Muthafuckin’ eXquire caught my attention in 2011 with his Merry eX-Mas & Suck My Dick mixtape, and it was filthy. Not just lyrically, but in sound: it sounded like trash. Oh, but I LUUUV trash. Especially musically. And when it’s tolerable to listen to at length, then serve me up a fresh pile of it: steaming. However, that’s not the case here with Kismet. Almost every track has a different producer, and I actually almost believed Curtis Mayfield produced “Vanilla Rainbows” (but then remembered I’m dumb, and that he died years ago). Yet, the playfulness of Kismet is perfect for that summertime vibe/feel. It’s in the air. We’re all waiting. So let Mr. Muthafuckin’ eXquire please ya warm desires. Licking lyrics in your ear like a lollipop sweating flavor, Kismet features Goldie Glo, Heron, Gorgeous and Joe Blacks, Danny Brown, Nacho Picasso, Flatbush Zombies, Adrian Marcel, and the “TOASTY” dude from Mortal Kombat II. It’s ill. It spits on every grave. It’s stonewalling you. It’s fiery. It’s Mr. Muthafuckin’ eXquire’s Kismet. Thanks for slipping me this post just to funk it up, Z.
• Mr. Muthafuckin’ eXquire: http://www.LifeIsPassion.com
“Listen to Your Heart (feat. Neon Bunny)”
In the Korean pop monoculture, independent anything is rarer than kumiho teeth. So this electro-pop refresher from bedroom producer Smells and bathroom chanteuse Neon Bunny is like a double rainbow. Between the generously French house progression, the arena-compressed percussion on the second verse, the Korg M1 solo, and some anachronistically tasteful sidechaining, “Listen to Your Heart” is 2009 vintage blog-house translated to Hangul. Check it out below (plus the video for Neon Bunny’s most recent solo single, “Oh My Prince”), and show these Seoul upstarts a little love — you know the clubs in Hongdae don’t pay, right?
“こにち (Konichiwa) [ft. YUNGストレス]”
Entering 25th century Japan has never been easier and, lo and behold, a popular fad to follow the second decade of North American culture and art. Having found 日本人 (Japanese)’s accessibility so immediately, “Konichiwa, mother fucker” [i.e., “こにち (Konichiwa) [ft. YUNGストレス]”] has stretched its way across the country, lending ear and camaraderie among fishermen, hack-punkkx, liquid chemists, and biotechnologists; the phrase has reach maximum digital memory. Swoops and curves, wrist movements and mind flexuality has become household hilarity, and pursed puckered — nevermind. Angular spoonfuls of wasabi float into your brain surge, yet simmering and halting upon recognition that it was only a taste. Focusing now on the — how do you say — late-night neon attitude of the position: or yes. Yes all that and “Hi.” Can you imagine melting everything this current generation uses physically into something that’s entirely biological and internal, like on a level so miniature that it exists in blood cells? That means we’d already have utilized all our planet’s natural resources and powered everything internally, but off refined materials passed down from generation to generation. Like, immediately understanding how gasoline is depleted and understanding the sense of savings in things that can never be revitalized. Fuck. More polar bears, maybe? 日本人 (Japanese) has the secrets, and there’s a load of hints in “こにち (Konichiwa) [ft. YUNGストレス].” So rinse and repeat and listen super carefully, with all three.
• 日本人 (Japanese): https://soundcloud.com/japanesevaporwave
El-P & Killer Mike = Run The Jewels
Peanut butter and jelly. Bacon and eggs. Farrah Abraham and recorded sound. When these things come together, the results are nothing short of magical. The heroic tag-team of El-P and Killer Mike definitely falls into the same category. Ever since last summer, when the former produced the latter’s stellar R.A.P. Music LP, it’s been difficult to picture the two apart; El Producto’s brazen beats are just too good a match for Killer Mike’s deep-fried flow, their combined sound transcendent of the typical restrictions of scene, sound, and subject. So yeah, you could say that I’m pretty excited for Run the Jewels, the (FREE!) joint album the buddies will unleash later this month on Fool’s Gold.
Lucky for us, the duo has unveiled “36” Chain,” another cut from the upcoming record. The song is a part of the Adult Swim Singles Series (say that 10 times fast), a 15-week bonanza of free tunes, and while it doesn’t carry quite as much heft as previously-heard tracks “Banana Clipper” and “Get It,” it’s got plenty of things going for it. El-P’s always had a penchant for playing with textures; his production here features some 8-bit, Anamanaguchi-style bleepity-bloops sprinkled on top of the usual brassy framework. The two MCs split the rhyme-time 50-50, leave the hooks at home, and kick back for a good ol’ freestyle sesh. It’s short, it’s sweet, and it’s just the type of thing to make you wish this album would just hurry up and come out already.
Check out “36” Chain” over at Complex.
Father John Misty
“Fun Times in Babylon”
I have some friends who think they have Father John Misty (a.k.a. Josh Tillman) all figured out before they hear a note of his music. They typically know that he was the drummer for Fleet Foxes and think that, because he has a beard and plays vaguely folkish pop music, he must be part of the same neo-hippie folk revival. Well, while some of those things are true, there are a couple of things that keep Tillman’s music removed from that world. First of all, there are the great chords. Unlike a lot of other current singer-songwriters, Tillman knows exactly when to utilize complex harmonic movement and when to keep to a simple I IV V blues progression. Many likeminded artists might stick to the simple stuff and dress it up with big arrangements, but Tillman is equally comfortable letting his structural material speak for itself or fleshing it out with strings and horns. Basically, the guy knows what suits his songs.
The other big thing that sets Tillman apart is the lyrical content of his song. These are not feel-good songs, guys. Tillman is a master of writing incredibly cynical, darkly comedic lyrics. The music videos for Father John Misty’s songs typically play up the black humor and cynicism beneath even the sunniest of Tillman’s harmonies, and this new video for “Funtimes in Babylon” off 2012’s Fear Fun is no exception. In it, Tillman wanders around what appears to be the wreckage of a crashed airplane in the middle of a suburban community. It’s pretty reminiscent of the whole plane crash storyline in Breaking Bad but with way less meth and way more dance moves. It’s also got a great plot twist at the end.
Oh, and I totally forgot; another thing that sets Tillman apart from many of his folkie peers is that he’s pretty awesomely batshit crazy. For example, the man now has a perfume line appropriately titled “Misty.” The perfume is made by SANAE Intoxicants who have previously collaborated on smells with the likeminded Will Oldham.
You can watch the video for “Funtimes in Babylon” above. Fear Fun is out now on Sub Pop. “Misty” is available for pre-order via SANAE Intoxicants.