The Velvet Underground, "I’m Not a Young Man Anymore"
This never-before-released VU track is off the upcoming Lou Reed and John Cale–curated 45th-anniversary re-release of White Light/White Heat, and was recorded in 1967 at the Gymnasium in New York City. OK, now let's all go reread Laurie Anderson's beautiful farewell to Lou and have a good cry.
I didn’t write about “Bound 2” when I reviewed Yeezus in June because I didn’t know what to make of it. The album’s closing track is obviously gorgeous and superficially reassuring as a callback to West’s soul-sampling College Dropout aesthetic. But given what comes before that song on Yeezus, I couldn’t buy into the popular theory that “Bound 2” was somehow a “happy” ending to an otherwise diseased, exorcistic record. To me, “Bound 2” was like a warped parody of the “good” Kanye that people prefer to the more authentic “bad” Kanye that presides over the rest of Yeezus. (Only in the context of Yeezus could a line like “I wanna fuck you hard on the sink / after that, give you something to drink” pass for chivalrous.) “This might be what you want from me,” he seemed to be saying, “but can you really believe this bullshit after everything I’ve just shown you?” Watching the overtly cheesy video for “Bound 2” — dig the omnipresent Ellen logo, which only adds to the flimsiness of the presentation — confirmed this theory for me. “Bound 2” isn’t a love song, it’s a garish pantomime of love scoring cheap visuals and stiff “romantic” posturing. It’s a phony denouement to a downbeat story that passive-aggressively rubs the audience’s nose in its fakeness. I know people want to laugh at this video, and they should, because it’s knowingly stupid. But never forget: Nobody exploits the public’s need to feel superior to Kanye West better than Kanye West. He laughs harder, and more bitterly, than all of us.
Jeezy has decided to name this song "Benihana" as an homage to the fantastic circus of a restaurant chain. The song is chock-full of food references from all three rappers, and the hook contains both Paula Deen and Greg Maddox references. So yes, listen to this. Loudly.
Church is ostensibly a country singer, but “The Outsiders” — the title track from his upcoming album, due in February — is totally a heartland prog-rock song, like “Born to Run” with 2112 chops. It’s not really the kind of tune that’s considered pop music anymore. But because Church has a mainstream country fašade, he was able to perform “The Outsiders” at the CMAs on Wednesday. Here’s what happened: A grand total of four loud guitarists formed a loud guitar army. Flames shot in the air. A ripping Geddy Lee bass solo was ripped. It was the proggiest musical performance to air on prime-time TV since (I’m guessing) 1981. To say that I am now mildly excited about this record would be an understatement.
Flume ft. Ghostface Killah and Autre Ne Veut, "Space Cadet"
Quite a few reasons to love Ghostface on display right here. There's him being down to get on a track with a couple of new-school laptop pop weirdos in the first place. There's Flume's loopy swirl and Autre Ne Veut's glass-shattering falsetto in no way inhibiting him from going — if you'll pardon my speaking colloquially here — hard as fuck. And above all, there is the fact that it is 2013 and THIS MAN IS STILL BRAGGING ABOUT HIS WALLABIES.
Let’s give it up for Danny Brown’s excellent new-ish LP Old for being — among its many other attributes — the best-sequenced album of the year. Like Journey’s “Don’t Stop Believin’,” this record is all rising action, building toward an ecstatic EDM rap climax that nods to A$AP Rocky’s “Wild for the Night” while inhaling handfuls of Molly. “Wonderbread” is a brief segue into weirdness for weirdness’s sake from Old’s front half. It’s begging to be skipped over on an album loaded with highlights, but I haven’t been able to get it out of my head for weeks.
Every fall, New York City is bombarded with a number of things, from fallen leaves to bed bugs and rent hikes. Another mainstay is the CMJ Music Marathon, which began on October 15 and officially wraps on the 19th.
In the landscape of festivals, it's closer to a SXSW than a Coachella, as events occur in venues throughout the boroughs. There's no way to see everything, or even most things, so it becomes a week of stumbling upon shows, missing others, and actually attending pre-planned events. Or avoiding the behemoth altogether. I did not avoid the behemoth.
This week's Songs of the Week is dedicated to CMJ: the best from the sets I made, those I missed, those I'm planning on seeing, and those I ultimately will never see.
Origin: Los Angeles via Washington, D.C.
140 Characters on Ideal Setting for Listening to This Song in Your Normal Life:
Where music can be blasted, preferably when you have a task that must be completed, like intense dusting --> rest of album is evolved Zhané.
The band Dale Earnhardt Jr. Jr. has no connection to the NASCAR driver, nor to his legendary father, other than lifting the name for their own musical purposes. And they don't necessarily write songs that call to mind cars hurtling around a track hundreds of times. Their second album, released on Tuesday, is called The Speed of Things, however, and that doesn't necessarily solve the NASCAR confusion. We now conclude the racing-related explanations, and we highly recommend you check out the record. We're also very pleased that DEJJ's Joshua Epstein and Daniel Zott are taking this turn as guest editors on Songs of the Week.
Like Shyne and Gucci Mane before her, Lauryn Hill has now recorded some bangers from prison. With her release (after a three-month stint stemming from tax-evasion charges) imminent, Hill gives us some new music, and a statement: "'Consumerism' is part of some material I was trying to finish before I had to come in. We did our best to eek [sic] out a mix via verbal and emailed direction, thanks to the crew of surrogate ears on the other side. Letters From Exile is material written from a certain space, in a certain place. I felt the need to discuss the underlying socio-political, cultural paradigm as I saw it. I haven't been able to watch the news too much recently, so I'm not hip on everything going on. But inspiration of this sort is a kind of news in and of itself, and often times contains an urgency that precedes what happens. I couldn't imagine it not being relevant. Messages like these I imagine find their audience, or their audience finds them, like water seeking it's [sic] level."
Arctic Monkeys, “Why’d You Only Call Me When You’re High”
Admittedly, I didn’t pay a ton of attention to these guys when they were this year’s model in laddish, sloppy Britpop in the late ’00s. But Arctic Monkeys’ evolution into witty, glam-rockin’ misanthropes has been a welcome (if not surprising) development. The group’s latest, AM, takes an old-man’s stance toward the night life (the incongruously “No. 1 Party Anthem” is a majestic Beatlesque ballad that you can’t even waltz to), but standout track “Why’d You Only Call Me When You’re High” exhibits Alex Turner’s still stinging lyrical perspective on how relationships get warped between pint-pulls and bong-rips.
So Drake took "It's Yourz," off Wu-Tang Forever — one of the greatest, hardest, truest punch-your-best-friend-in-the-face rap songs of all time! Of all time! — and integrated it into a, uh, you know, Drake song. And people are mad. But come on: This is Drake being Drake. We're still mad about Drake being Drake? Now relax, and imagine fleets of tweens across the North American continent, tracing their hero Drizzy back to his source material — "MACHINE GUN RAP, FOR ALL MY N----- IN THE BACK" — and just having their fragile little unformed minds obliterated.
My biggest pet peeve as an official Professional Music Writer Person is the drumbeat of fake news involving album covers, track lists, commercials plugging the future existence of other commercials, etc. Releasing the name of Track 8 on your unreleased album isn’t news, it’s a press release, OK? And yet, here I am, plugging an ad for the release of the new Arcade Fire single coming Monday. I have no idea if this tone poem composed of synths, bongos, and self-conscious “mystery” is an introductory prelude to the song or merely incidental music for a promotional campaign. I sense that there’s a choir of severe-looking Canadians about to explode at roughly the 50-second mark, but that’s purely conjecture. Either way (damn it) they totally got me with this.
Stereogum explains: "[Spike] Jonze is about to unveil his next film — Her, with Joaquin Phoenix as a man who falls in love with a computer — and Karen has written a song for it ... in the movie, Phoenix and computer-voice Scarlett Johansson sing it as a duet. But Karen's also recorded her own delicate, lovely version of the song." Thanks, Karen: Now we know exactly when during Her we're going to break down into endless, inconsolable sobs.
I first heard about this song when my friend Evan tweeted about it: “Whoa, this new Smash Mouth song sucks. Oh wait, it's Nine Inch Nails. Everything is wrong.” I assumed he was exaggerating about the Smash Mouth thing. He was not.