None of these are especially groundbreaking or new release, but just some of the songs I’ve been addicted to lately. Their vibrations are good on the ol’ ear drums.
Crystal Castles – Violent Youth
Won’t go into too much detail on my love of Crystal Castles – just know that it’s immense. The entirety of their third self-titled album (or Crystal Castles III or just III) is a hauntingly bleak construction. It’s a nihilistic mix of sorrow and lurking sinisterness.
Violent Youth succeeds by being one of the less-screechy songs, and Ethan Kath’s pitch-shifted vocals work wonders with the erratic staccato beat. The imagery created by the lyrics is tragic, and works as something of a sequel-song to the similarly desperate lyrics of Intimate from their second album (there actually are lyrics in Intimate – once you’ve heard them you’ll wonder how you missed them on the first listen)
BT – Flaming June (Laptop Symphony Rework)
BT: another artist I can’t express my love for. A musical genius (literally, if reports of his IQ are to be believed) he’s never been one to shy away from completely re-tooling his sounds, leading to completely different sounding albums in succession. Flaming June was one of his dancefloor mega-hits, originally released in 1997. It’s still a great song, but he’s revisited it with years of new equipment and technologies to completely rebuild the song.
It’s an astoundingly good remix of a song that doesn’t completely dismiss the original song, but perfects it and reinvents it for a new era of dance music. It drops different reworkings of its signature hook along the way, until an absolutely sublime culmination of all of them hitting at once (4:07 in the clip above). This is one of those songs that really captures the transcendental mood of good trance music, and it’s best listened to on GOOD headphones when no one can see you dancin’ crazy to it.
Hot Chip – And I Was A Boy From School
Hot Chip aren’t a band I’ve really gotten into all that much, although I like what I’ve heard. And I Was A Boy From School (or “The Boy From School” as the studio requested they shorten it to – original title is listed on iTunes for the curious) is a great example of how all electronic music doesn’t need to be designed purely for a dancefloor.
It’s a cool mix of melancholy harmonies and regretful lyrics with a funky beat guiding it along in the background. The bridges are segued in smoothly, not jarringly, makes it an all round pleasant (if not bittersweet) tune to get through the day with.
Azaelia Banks – 212
This one comes with a language warning! One of the most profane songs you’ll ever hear, but also one of the catchiest. It’s full of bravado and ego but most importantly confidence. There’s not a single line that sounds like Azaelia Banks doesn’t mean exactly what she’s rapping, and it’s a breathless rundown of the person she’s singing about. It’s a filthy four-lettered song (it seems appropriate that the video above features her mouth quite prominently) that gets in your head and doesn’t leave for days. Lazy Jay’s Float My Boat is also awesome on its own, but the addition of Banks’ lyrics and her furious delivery of them brings an effortless cool to the proceedings. And I want that Mickey Mouse jumper.
The Knife – A Tooth For An Eye
The Knife are another one of the bands I love very dearly – Silent Shout is still, in my eyes, a perfect album from start to finish. This year’s Shaking the Habitual wasn’t quite as solid an effort for me, but still a massively impressive album of which this is the standout. Those who aren’t used to Karen Dreijer-Andersson’s vocal style probably won’t be as easy to persuade into loving it, but this is an endlessly infectious song that I just love.
PNAU – Lover
Now for a band that’s quite often hit-and-miss for me. When PNAU hits, they hit well – Embrace, The Truth, Wild Strawberries – all great songs. Lover comes from their first album, and just has all the trademarks in a dance track I like – decent beat, good progression, slightly dark/sinister sounds. It also gets bonus points for sampling Laura Palmer’s love theme from Twin Peaks. Still waiting for the day when YouTube user takesomecrime decides to dance to this (if you’re unfamiliar with his work, check it out here)
*I’m not the Dave in the video linked above – much as I wish I had those skills. Just the best link I could find for the song.
Michael McCann – HungHua Brothel
Don’t let the name fool you – it’s actually from a classier place. This is one of the many excellent tracks from Michael McCann’s excellent score for Deus Ex: Human Revolution (an amazing game you should play if you haven’t). In the context of the game, it’s while you’re exploring a brothel in China, and it’s meant to be indicative of the sort of bad-life the workers therein are being subjected to.
Outside of that context, it’s a writhing, moaning, sexy song that pounds away in your ears with this great insistence. Again, dark and sinister sounding song, done well. I’ll admit it’s short, but I love every second of it.
SOLO – A Runner
Now for the down-tempo song. SOLO is the pen name of Australian actress Sophie Lowe (Beautiful Kate, Blessed, The Slap) and I came across it on her soundcloud account. It’s a haunted lament for the guy who’s left her with barely a word, and it sees her utilising breathy Julia Stone-esque vocals, but not in a way that makes me want to send my speakers hurtling to the pavement like Julia Stone’s voice. It sounds best on a good set of headphones (the moment the drums kick in is great), and is one of those songs that works infinitely better when you listen to it at night.
(The image for this article on the frontpage comes from http://www.fullhdwpp.com/wp-content/uploads/Mouse-with-headphones.jpg)