Allow me to make some recommendations as your journey through this Thursday set of Pick Your Poison. There’s some delightful tracks from Boudoir Noir, Colleen Green, Mellow Yellow, MY BODY< Prima Donna and Shannon Wardrop. In the Soundcloud section after the jump, stream songs from Big Sean (ft. Drake & Kanye West), Butch Walker, Ex Cops, Follakzoid, Los Angeles Police Department, Natalie McCool, Santiparro (ft. Kyp Malone) and Shy Girls (ft. Antwon).
Noah Lennox aka Panda Bear has been making music for a long time. Nine albums and a bunch more EPs with Animal Collective, and counting Panda Bear Meets the Grim Reaper, five solo full lengths as well. That’s a wealth of material, made all the more interesting by how his sonic and lyrical themes have evolved over the last 15 or so years. The one thing he’s never been is complacent, and that’s served him particularly well on landmark records such as 2007’s Person Pitch and 2009’s Animal Collective release Merriweather Post Pavilion. Though each new piece of music stands alone as its own unique statement, we have reached a point where there are certain qualities that define a Panda Bear song. Things like samples, reverb, psychedelia and overdubbed vocal harmonies have become par for the course, it’s just the way they’re presented that has changed.
Following the dark, dub-infested minimalism that was 2011’s Tomboy, it’s something of a relief that Panda Bear Meets the Grim Reaper is a bit more well-rounded, albeit still quite serious affair. Singles like “Mr. Noah” and “Boys Latin” bounce, swirl and ensnare you with their hooks before you have the chance to realize you’ve been sucked in, the words often so obscured with reverb that you’re never fully sure what they’re saying but sing along anyways. That’s part of the charm. Yet when a phrase does come across with clarity, as on the latter track with the line, “Dark cloud has descended again,” it turns a seemingly joyful moment to one of dread. Such is the dichotomy that permeates much of the record, as Lennox embraces the love and serenity that growing older and having a family can bring, while at the same time wrestling with the fear of dying and leaving them all behind. The album title itself spells that out explicitly when the lyrics don’t.
At it’s heart however, Grim Reaper seeks to establish an overall focus on good triumphing over evil and finding the pleasures in life, one day at a time. The two tracks at the center of the record, “Come to Your Senses” and “Tropic of Cancer,” take a break from the frenetic sound collages that dominate much of the album to offer moments of sobering contemplation and outright beauty. On the former, Lennox chants, “Are you mad?” over and over, each time with a slightly different intonation, as if he’s trying to suss out what those three words even mean before finally deciding, “Yeah, I’m mad.” With the latter, harps and pianos plink with a heavenly sort of grace, as Lennox considers life after death and in doing so revives some of the memories of his own departed father from more than a decade ago. It’s a bit of a callback to his 2004 solo debut Young Prayer, which was created as a tribute to him.
Panda Bear Meets the Grim Reaper probably won’t be remembered as the best Panda Bear album, though it is his most accessible and all-encompassing to date. Thanks to its meticulous sequencing and reflective themes, it’s the sort of record that takes you on a journey and leaves you off in a much better place than where you started, even if it took some serious chaos to get there. Chalk up another big win for Mr. Noah.
Happy mid-week to you all. You’re not going to want to miss some great tracks this week from And the Kids, Book Club, The Capture Effect, My Midnight Heart, Sorren Maclean and Their Wedding. In the Soundcloud section after the jump, stream songs from American Wrestlers, Dan Lissvik, Holly Herndon & Mat Dryhurst, In Tall Buildings, Jack Ladder and the Dreamlanders (ft. Sharon Van Etten), Shlohmo, Yowler and more.
There’s some great downloads in this set from How to Dress Well & TALA, Island Apollo, Kid Creme, Passenger Peru, Simian Ghost and Tropics. In the Soundcloud section after the jump, stream songs from Andy Butler, Calexico, Diet Cig, Glen Hansard, Mikal Cronin, Mount Eerie, Slutever, Torres and more.
Hope your weekend was great! Highlights of today’s Pick Your Poison include tracks from The American Spirit, Aphex Twin, Ki: Theory, La Bete Blooms, Radio Birds and WOOF. In the Soundcloud section after the jump, stream songs from Body Language, Hurry, Kate Tempest, King Woman, Marriages, Sarah Bethe Nelson and Vetiver. A.G. Cook also does a killer remix of the new Charli XCX (ft. Rita Ora) single, and Shigeto remixes a track from Hundred Waters.
Every Friday, instead of sharing downloads and Soundcloud streams, we take a quick look back at the many other music-related things that happened this week in a segment that’s appropriately called “This Week in Music.” If there was a great or noteworthy music video that was released, it’ll be featured here. If an artist gave a particularly noteworthy interview, that might pop up in the links below. The same goes for interesting articles related to music, documentaries about bands, and just generally whatever might strike my fancy. If you’ve got something fun or important related to an artist that you think should be mentioned here, shoot me an email! All the information you need is in the sidebar on the right. So here’s this week’s wrap-up. Click the links below, and you’ll be off!
Some delightful downloads in this set of music come from Dan Deacon, Grand Lake Islands, Joey Bada$$, Taylor Locke, Tep No and Valise. In the Soundcloud section after the jump, stream songs from Ava Luna, The Babies, Daniel Rossen, Elliot Moss, Marching Church, The Mountain Goats, Quarterbacks, Ron Flieger and The Sonics.
It seems like I say this every year, but there’s absolutely no way that the Class of 2015 will be able to top the Class of 2014 in terms of overall success. If you’re looking at statistics and equations, it’s pretty much a mathematical impossibility. And you know what? That’s perfectly okay. In fact, I’ve gone out of my way to select artists for this year’s class who will probably not catapult to the top of the charts and get nominated for copious amounts of Grammys. It’s never been a popularity contest, even if some of the artists have become massively popular anyways. The goal of the “Class of…” project is to shine a light onto bands and musicians who are deserving and likely to receive strong raises in their profiles over the course of any given calendar year. The expectation is that they have the talent and promise to do great things, of course whether or not they actually accomplish them is another matter entirely, as a few have turned out to be duds or late bloomers. Either way, all of the 10 artists named are kept under careful watch by yours truly, and you’ll be able to find out about their latest and greatest happenings for the next 12 months right here on the site with periodic updates as to their progress.
I’m tremendously excited to reveal the Class of 2015 below. While the goal is to offer up a diverse array of talents across many different genres, I couldn’t help but notice a small theme with a majority of this year’s class. Should projections prove true, 2015 will be a big year for 70’s style folk singer-songwriters. If David Bowie’s glam rock era helped define 2014’s main sound, the intimate and personal songs of Nick Drake and Harry Nilsson may be where we’re headed next. I mean, if Sufjan Stevens can pop his head up from wherever he’s been hiding to announce a new album that’s a “return to his folk roots,” then like the groundhog it must be a signal of things to come. Rest assured though that everything below is not exclusively for bedroom headphone listening. So without further ado, let’s jump right in and meet the Class of 2015!
There’s some great downloads in this set you won’t want to miss from 8th Grader, Gorgeous Bully, The Last 24, Riva Ridge and Tim Myers. In the Soundcloud section after the jump, stream songs from Bjorn Torske, Carmen Villain, Jose Gonzalez, KOPPS, Marika Hackman, Mew, Santiparro (ft. Will Oldham) and St. Vincent.
The site was “off” for Martin Luther King Day yesterday, but we’re back in style today. Highlights in this set come from Arca, Chromatics, KNTRLR, Lowin and Radical Dads. In the Soundcloud section after the jump, stream songs from Bells Atlas (covering Future Islands), Bils., Cheatahs, Oscar, Sannhet, Sharon Van Etten, Yak and more.
You’re not going to want to miss downloads in this set from Black Dave, Hanni El Khatib & Freddie Gibbs, Kin Cayo, Project Pablo, Twin Wave and We Do This. In the Soundcloud section after the jump, stream songs from C Duncan, Dinner, In Tall Buildings, Jason Molina (ft. Will Oldham & Alasdair Roberts), Jonathan Emile (ft. Kendrick Lamar), Marika Hackman, Mikky Ekko and Vision Fortune.
It seems like with each new year, the “Class of…” project gets stronger. That’s pretty much by design, though when I first introduced the Class of 2014 I wasn’t so confident it was going to work out. The Class of 2013 had set the bar almost impossibly high, what with now household names like Haim, Chvrches, Little Green Cars and Savages all part of that universe. Yet this past year’s group of 10 artists not only managed to hold their own, but one in particular rode the train to stardom and the third biggest selling record of 2014. And to think that when I made the introduction last Januaryu nobody had any idea who this artist was, to the point where a show was booked for a tiny 350 capacity venue and it took awhile to sell out. I’ll tell you all about that, and recap how the other nine artists in the Class of 2014 did after the jump!
Highlights of this mid-week edition of Pick Your Poison include tracks from Baby Baby, Best Girl Athlete, Paperhaus, Puzzlecut and Warning Light. In the Soundcloud section after the jump, stream songs from Cylinder, Dutch Uncles, Grooms, Inventions, Moonbabies, Moon King, A Place to Bury Strangers and Tsembla.
Don’t miss highlights in this set from Acid Baby Jesus, Chastity Belt, Diamond Rugs, Durante, Low Low Low La La La Love Love Love and Miss Kenichi. In the Soundcloud section after the jump, stream cuts from Django Django, Iron & Wine, Joe Pug, Marika Hackman, Phosphorescent, Wand, Waxahatchee and Years & Years.
Following up Friday’s post-holidays mega edition of Pick Your Poison, I’m pleased to announce that this segment will continue to be a daily post every Monday through Thursday throughout 2015. While that may be good news for those of you who rely on Pick Your Poison to discover new music, there’s also going to be a slight change in the format of it this year as well. First, in terms of content, there will be less of an emphasis on downloadable mp3s and a greater emphasis on streaming songs. That’s less a decision I want to make and more one that I’ve been forced to, seeing as how I’m starting to have some trouble filling these posts with halfway decent content even though they’re only four days a week. Artists are offering less downloads these days and more Soundcloud or YouTube streams, so that’s the direction this segment will also begin to move towards. Secondly, say goodbye to Pick Your Poison intros. The last couple of years, I’ve been using the opening paragraphs of each edition to talk about something happening in the world of music, to help preview a concert happening in Chicago, to talk about what new albums are being released on any given week, and other things. That ends today. This is the last proper introduction I’ll give for a Pick Your Poison segment in 2015. From here on out, all writing done for this segment will simply list off some of the featured downloads and streams. If you’re looking for show previews, commentary on important music news stories, links to interesting and fun music videos and other quality content, those will still exist on the site, they’re just getting their own separate posts from here on out. As a result, the amount of content being posted on Faronheit will increase a bit. I’m not going to go into what some of the new posts and segments will be about, except to say that the goal will be providing you with things that are unique, fun and engaging. Sound good? Okay then, let’s dig into this Monday edition of Pick Your Poison. Important tracks in this set come from As Lions, Busses, Meaxic, Panda Elliot and Stamping Mill. In the Soundcloud section after the jump, stream songs from Action Bronson, Atelje, Butch Walker, Charli XCX, The Dodos, Future Brown (ft. Tink), iLoveMakonnen and Swervedriver.