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Listmas 2012: The Top 50 Albums of 2012 [#20-11]


Here we are, rounding the final turn before the official finish line of this Top 50 list. Yes, the #20-11 albums are a very crucial part of this list, even if they’re not exactly the cream of the crop. I love these albums almost as much as the ones that will come after them, so if you’ve not yet heard any of these, of course I recommend that you check them out. As it has with previous parts of this list, there’s a wide stylistic range of artists and records in this set, including some hip hop, R&B, punk rock, post rock, psychedelia, synth pop and even a record or two so experimental it’s tough to slap a label on them. I hope you enjoy what’s below, but if you’d like to catch up on what’s been covered so far, look no further than the following links:
#50-41
#40-31
#30-21

You can find #20-11 right after the jump!

Listmas 2012: The Top 50 Albums of 2012 [#30-21]


As it so happens, today is the day we make it halfway through this wonderful list of my Top 50 Albums of 2012. In case you missed the first two parts, here’s #50-41, and here’s #40-31. So what can I tell you about this next set of 10 albums? Well, this collection features a bit of psychedelia, some indie pop, healthy slices of retro-sounding synth pop, some quieter balladry, and two punk inspired records that were produced by Steve Albini. Can you guess what they are before clicking through the jump (or scrolling down) to see them revealed? It can be a challenge, but I believe you can pull it off. Or just look below. These are some great records that if you haven’t heard them, you need to be checking them out as fast as possible. What are you waiting for? Let’s get started!

Listmas 2012: The Top 50 Albums of 2012 [#40-31]


Okay, we’ve made it to Day #2 of this Top 50 Albums countdown. Yesterday’s opening set of ten featured some incredible records from the likes of The Walkmen, Jack White, The Smashing Pumpkins and Hot Chip, among others. Go check that out and learn more if you’re interested. As this list gets closer and closer to #1 of course, the titles only get better. This set has got a lot of really interesting genres covered, including psychedelia, folk, R&B, garage rock and even a touch of hip hop. There’s one truly weird entry on here as well, because sometimes you can’t put a genre label on something great. Anyways, there’s lots to love and even more on the way tomorrow. Slip past the jump to check out all that’s going on today though with #40-31!

Listmas 2012: The Top 50 Albums of 2012 [#50-41]


Welcome, friends, to The Big List. Well, any list that’s part of Listmas is big, but only one deserves the title of Big List. The Top 50 Albums is the most coveted of all lists, and when ancient historians look back upon this period of music, it is these lists they will consult. Or human life will cease to exist. We’re dealing with an impending Mayan apocalypse, people! As you may be able to tell by the photo above, I am trying to make this year’s Listmas very “End of the World” themed, though honestly if we don’t survive you’ll never live to see what my Top 10 Albums of the year are. We’re doing this Top 50 list over the course of the entire week, and I’ll reveal 10 new albums a day until we hit #1. So strap yourselves in, turn off your TV or any other distracting items, and prepare to learn a lot more about some of my favorite albums of 2012. Let’s get this ball rolling!

Listmas 2012: The Top 50 Songs of 2012 [#10-1]


Here it is, friends. My Top 10 Songs of 2012. I’m so intensely excited to be telling you all about these tracks that meant so much to me this past year. I like to think that these songs encompass the full spectrum of emotions and beauty that I felt over the course of 2012, which was arguably the most difficult year of my adult life so far. So many people I know that died, so many that got married, so many that got sick, and so many that lost (and later found) jobs. It was a whirlwind of happiness, sadness, celebration and grief. At the start of every year, I consciously hope that everything will turn out for the best, and that it will be 12 months of a joyful high. That’s what we all want in our lives – a pure sense of contentedness. But as many will tell you, the highs seem that much higher when you’ve also experienced your fair share of lows. While I’m looking back on 2012 with a sense of disappointment and regret, the lights are most definitely burning brighter for 2013. With that belief and that hope, let me tell you in greater detail about 10 songs that held me close in the bad times, brought me higher in the good times, and made me feel like a champion even as my world was crumbling around me. These are my Top 10 Songs of 2012.

Listmas 2012: The Top 50 Songs of 2012 [#20-11]


As we drift ever closer to the finale of these Top 50 Songs of 2012, let me tell you a bit about what these next ten songs have going on for themselves thematically speaking. There’s a couple R&B love songs, a couple synth pop love songs, about three songs that are unfiltered and angry as they get, and a couple mellower, more relaxed moments. The key thing they all have in common is passion, whether it be for another person, against another person or for life in general. Not everything in this set will likely please you, but if you can discover something new and enjoyable out of this set, I hope you’ll find it worthwhile anyways. For more, let me encourage you to check out the other songs that have been covered on this list so far. Click for:
#50-41
#40-31
#30-21

Listmas 2012: The Top 50 Songs of 2012 [#30-21]

Today’s set of ten as part of this Top 50 list cuts right through the middle, but this is the point where I think we really start to hit the meat and potatoes section. Not that the songs that came before it in #50-41 or #40-31 were bad by any means, but as the numbers get lower I get more excited to write about these songs. I genuinely hope you’re enjoying this list so far, and there’s two more days to go until we finally hit #1! For now, please enjoy my Top 50 Songs of 2012, #30-21.

Listmas 2012: The Top 50 Songs of 2012 [#40-31]


Let me start this second set of my Top 50 Songs of 2012 by giving you a small bit of background on how this list was put together. The rules are simple, really. After assembling a list of songs worthy of ranking, I start at #1 and work my way back to #50. In order to qualify for the Top 50, the song must have appeared on an album, EP or 7″ single released sometime in the calendar year of 2012. In an effort to broaden the scope of this list, I also limited this list so only one track from each artist could be included. If you check out my Runners Up list, you’ll notice a few songs on there from artists appearing on this Top 50 list. They’re extra songs I loved this year but was unable to include due to restrictions of time and space and rules. Other than that though, this list is pretty encompassing of the many great songs this year had to offer. Here’s a link to see songs #50-41, which went up yesterday. Now please enjoy #40-31!

Listmas 2012: The Top 50 Songs of 2012 [#50-41]


Hello friends, and welcome to the official start of Listmas 2012! It’s been a long time and a lot of songs coming, but we’ve finally made it to that crucial end of the year point where we can look back on the music from the last 11 or so months and place the ultimate judgement upon it. Then we’ll forget all about it weeks later when 2013 starts to consume our brains. Some songs stay with you more than others, just as some songs stand out and make you question what you knew or thought you knew about music as a whole. Selecting my Top 50 Songs of 2012 was no easy task; in fact, I find it much harder to do than selecting my Top 50 Albums of the Year. It’s because albums are collections of songs, and judging 40-60 minutes of music is easier than judging 3-4 minutes. Still, I felt very strongly about a number of tracks this year, so much so that I’ve created a list of 50 more “runners up” that I feel are worth listening to if you haven’t already. I didn’t rank the runners up, but simply placed them in alphabetical order. It makes for a remarkably exciting playlist that I hope you’ll listen to. As for my official Top 50 Songs, that starts in the here and now, and each is assigned a number and official rank. We’ll be doing this 10 songs at a time, one set each day through Friday. That said, please enjoy Faronheit’s Top 50 Songs of 2012: #50-41.

Listmas 2012: The Top Songs of 2012 – Runners Up


This isn’t much of a post, except to say that in advance of my Top 50 Songs of 2012 list, I wanted to give you more this year. What follows below is a Spotify playlist featuring 50 songs that I consider to be great tracks from this year, but not quite enough to make the official list. I haven’t assigned any of these tracks numbers, and they’re all in alphabetical order by artist. It’s just another great snapshot of some tracks you may have missed, so I hope you’ll at least check some of them out, if not listen to the entire 3 hour playlist. Call it a bit of bonus fun. Enjoy!

Lollapalooza 2012: Preview Guide

Hey friends! I’m happy to present you with Faronheit’s Guide to Lollapalooza 2012. Whether you’re headed to the festival this year or would just like to learn a little more about the artists performing on this year’s lineup, hopefully this guide will point you in the direction of the acts you won’t want to miss. Before we get started, I should go over a few details to help you interpret this properly. The purpose of this guide is not to analyze every act on the lineup and weigh who you should go see at what particular time. Simply put, I picked 10 acts from each day, irregardless of what time they are playing, and attempted to explain why they’re worth seeing. It’s a very good lineup this year, so choosing only 10 from individual days was tough, but I like to think this is distilled down to help you have the best possible Lollapalooza experience. I should note that some of the small side stages and Perry’s go largely ignored in this guide, because I think if you want to know where to go for dance parties or American Idol runner-ups, you can find them yourselves. Speaking of finding things, make sure you look at the festival map before going to Grant Park, if you’ve never been before. Knowing where the stages are located and that it’s a 15 minute walk from one side of the park to the other is very, very important. In the guide below, I’ve indicated when and where the acts I’m recommending are performing, and they’re ordered by time slot to help plan out your day. Additionally, if you’d like to hear music from the artists I’ve mentioned below, along with a bunch of other acts, there are links to individual day Spotify playlists for your enjoyment. I’ve structured those playlists thematically rather than by time slot to provide you with the best possible listening experience. All that said, I hope you’re ready to have a lot of fun this weekend. Drink plenty of water, dip yourself in sunscreen, and try to rest whenever possible. Those are my tips for surviving the weekend. Without further ado, click past the jump to view my Guide to Lollapalooza 2012!

Pitchfork Music Festival 2012: Sunday Recap


Well my friends, we made it. Let’s put the 2012 Pitchfork Music Festival in the books, because it’s finished. It was a wild and crazy weekend, one that you can read about in depth via the daily recaps I’ve been posting. This is the third installment of such recaps, and essentially the final one. Tomorrow I’ll be posting a final wrap-up of the entire weekend, along with photos from the many, many sets I bore witness to, but in the meantime we have Day #3, aka Sunday, to discuss. Let’s dig in.

Unlike the last two days, there was no threat of rain or storms when I arrived in Union Park on Sunday. Nope, just nothing but sunshine and a few white clouds. My day started with Unknown Mortal Orchestra, who seemed more than willing to take the low 90 degree temperatures and sun as a sign they should get as bouncy and funky as possible. Their performance was actually a welcome distratction from the heat, as they ran through their debut album and a couple new songs with lighthearted joy and effortless three-part harmonies. Overall I consider their set to be well balanced and nice, even if there wasn’t a whole lot memorable about it.

For a minute right before they started their set, I was hoping that Iceage would be the best show to come out of Sunday at Pitchfork. The band is known for their explosive performances in which much moshing and injury tend to occur. To make matters worse, Iceage suffered a setback just a couple days earlier when all of their gear was stolen out in the Wicker Park neighborhood. Whether it was because of that unpleasant experience or the heat or a combination of things, the band’s set was anything but cool. They play super fast and super energized punk rock, but none of that was on display in Union Park. They looked like they absolutely did not want to be there. Two songs in, one of their amps blew out, and they spent a few minutes trying to replace it. Instead of trying to entertain the crowd or even apologizing, they simply sat there patiently waiting while somebody scrambled for a new amp. Things really weren’t any better once the performance started again, as they thew out very standard and relaxed versions of the songs on their debut album New Brigade. They were even less entertaining than your average punk band, which is saying a lot. Talk about a let down. I just want to know what happened to this band.

You know who put on the show I expected Iceage to put on? Thee Oh Sees did. I had heard good things about their performances, but didn’t anticipate it’d turn out even better than expected. Each band member has their own distinct personality on stage, and it’s fun to watch them all do their own separate things yet come together to make such sprawling and fun garage rock. As the proverbial frontman of the group, John Dwyer kept tearing off into these inventive guitar solos while also head banging, frequently spitting, and sticking his tongue out like Michael Jordan. Come to think of it, some of the great moments during Thee Oh Sees’ set were rock and roll MVP-worthy, so maybe such a comparison isn’t too far off base.

A day before the Pitchfork Music Festival started, I saw Ty Segall play a shortened performance at the 500-capacity Lincoln Hall. It was so loud that my ears were ringing for the rest of the day. It was a good, punishing sort of loud though, and it made me anticipate his festival set that much more. What he delivered was the same, only longer and on a much larger scale. Before his band’s set though, the always controversial Rockin’ Rian Murphy came out to introduce him, earning both cheers and jeers from the crowd, some of whom probably remembered his infamous introduction of Pavement at the festival 2 years prior. He was much more brief and a little less controversial this time around, but that sort of humor is exactly what Segall was hoping for when asking Murphy to do the introduction. As for the set itself, it was again punishingly loud, but has such a manic pop energy you almost can’t help but be sucked in by it. There’s a certain surf rock element mixed in amongst the garagey, fuzz-laden reverb that makes it perfect for summer, too. Somehow a cover of AC/DC’s “Dirty Deeds Dome Dirt Cheap” found its way into the set list too, and it fit right in. Later on he’d do some crowd surfing, simply because he’d earned it. Kudos to Segall and the band for having an absolute blast on stage while blowing out everyone’s eardrums.

If you’ve heard The Men‘s new album Open Your Heart, you know it has a fairly wide set of sonic influences it draws from. They’re not afraid to do heavy garage-psych rock or ’90s style alternative rock one minute, then be hammering on blues riffs or exploring some alt-country the next. In other words, The Men are a band of many hats, and they wear most all of them well. Watching them perform live, you get more of a sense as to how that works out, with individual members taking turns singing lead vocals on songs. The whole thing is a very technically impressive show, and they’ve got just the right mix of energy to keep a crowd entertained. What I failed to see was the crowd giving the same love back to them. There were cheers and applause, but no energetic jumping, hands in the air or exuberant “woos” that you might expect for such a solid set. Maybe the heat was getting to more than just the bands.

After a couple hours of energizing and fun rock music, Real Estate came out to calm everybody down for a bit. Their music is the perfect soundtrack for a day at the beach, and a 90 degree, mud-caked Union Park was about as close as you could get for their set. Actually, the hard-crusted softball diamonds might have been even better. The last time I saw Real Estate at the 2010 Pitchfork Music Festival, I was in the middle of a hot and sweaty crowd bored out of my skull. I had high hopes that this time would be better, as their latest album Days is particularly excellent. Even as they didn’t do much beyond stand there and play their instruments, I felt like just listening to their performance while spread out on some grassy area in the shade was enough to make it enjoyable. Turns out I was right, and it was a delight. Only one guy had a better idea, I think. When I was taking photos of the band, I saw a guy underneath the stage, sitting in a hammock drinking cold water and eating pizza. His idea was just a little better than mine.

I wish I could say something exciting about Kendrick Lamar. I really do. At this point in the day I was meeting up with some friends over where he was performing, and part of me was intrigued to see how he’d stack up against an A$AP Rocky or Danny Brown from previous days. After a DJ played popular hip hop songs for the first 15 minutes of his set, Lamar finally came out, no hype man or huge crew with him. I respected that, and I respected the few songs I heard him perform. Part of me wishes I would have picked another location to stand, as the sun was hitting the stage at such an angle I couldn’t see anything happening, but just the audio was good enough. What really disappoints me is that Lady Gaga apparently showed up and watched his set from a backstage area and I didn’t know about it until hours later. It’s always fun to spot a hugely famous person at a music festival, even if that hugely famous person is Lady Gaga.

After feeling only okay about Kendrick Lamar’s set, I felt like Chavez might return some heavier rock music to my day. I’m always interested in seeing how well a reunited band functions on stage, and whether their performances improve with time. Others were not as interested, I think. For being on the large Red stage, the crowd for Chavez was surprisingly small. Those watching weren’t so much engaged with the music, and the band was met with polite applause rather than overt enthusiasm. Thinking about it, I wonder how many in that crowd or at the festival on a whole know who Chavez are given their meager two album and one EP output from the mid-90s. In spite of the somewhat tepid and minimal crowd, Chavez seemed dedicated to putting on an excellent set. They recreated the songs from their records with ease, even if their performance was anything but. Guitars got heavy and muscular competing with one another for space, and Matt Sweeney’s vocals held just the right amount of tension to create a foreboding and dark atmosphere. On a hot and sunny day, that’s a pretty monumental task to accomplish.

The word part about AraabMuzik‘s live performance is that there’s nothing and everything to look at. On the one hand, the guy is by himself on stage, armed with a laptop and an MPC drum machine. He would not move from that spot for the entire set. Rather, he wouldn’t move his FEET from that spot. His hands, however, did all the work. If you need a lesson in AraabMuzik, simply watch this video and you’ll understand everything. You couldn’t see that well simply staring at the stage, but for this one watching the big screen video monitor was supremely advantageous so you could best see the technical and physical prowess it takes to make such dynamic dance music. Sure, it’s DJ and dubstep essentially, but it’s so fun and impressive I wish I could watch him all day long. And yes, the crowd was absolutely into it as Union Park erupted into a massive dance party. Chicago rappers Chief Keef and King Louie came out and added some live vocals into the mix near the end, and as much as I like those guys, I think the set was just a bit better before they showed up. Still, it made for one of the most impressive sets not just from Sunday, but the entire festival.

Beach House is pretty much the polar opposite of AraabMuzik, yet at Pitchfork Music Festival they performed back-to-back. I wonder how many fans there are of both artists. Given that Beach House’s new album Bloom is one of 2012’s finest, I was excited to hear some of that material performed live. The band was pretty varied in their set list though, pulling a lot from their back catalogue and most notably their previous album Teen Dream. Not that anybody minded, of course. There were sing-alongs, and the crowd was huge and enthusiastic in spite of the drifting and relatively quiet material. With the sun setting, shade was covering almost all of the area around the Red stage where the band was, and the weather cooled down a bit too, so conditions were just right to fully enjoy all they had to offer. Beautiful and soaring as the material is, and Beach House performed it perfectly, they’re not the most exciting band to watch live. Victoria Legrand never moved from her keyboard, and Alex Scally sat on a stool most of the time, only getting up on occasion and wandering a few steps. I suppose it was an appropriate on stage demeanor for the manner of music they were making.

It’s been four years since Vampire Weekend played at Pitchfork Music Festival, a fact which they reminded everyone of during their Sunday night headlining set. Back then, they were just a hotly buzzed about band with a brand new debut album, and performed an afternoon set. They like performing at night, singer Ezra Koenig said, because the weather is cooler and they can get a little looser. They were very loose and very fun this time around, and the massive crowd was there pretty much for that explicit reason. I saw a lot of dancing happening at sets this weekend, but right in the middle of Vampire Weekend’s set I looked around the park from a pretty far distance away from the stage and noticed that almost everybody was dancing at least a little bit. They breezed through songs big and small, everything from “Holiday” to “Oxford Comma” to “The Kids Don’t Stand A Chance” and “I Think UR A Contra,” while also slipping in one new song without really saying a word about it. Overall it was a pleasant and delightful way to end the festival, and I think that just about everyone left with a smile on their face. Chalk up another win for this year’s Pitchfork Music Festival.

Pitchfork Music Festival 2012: Day 3 Preview


As Pitchfork Music Festival weekend is nearly upon us, you may be wondering: What’s the weather going to be like? My response to that is: Let me tell you! At the moment, Friday will be sunny and 90 degrees for a high. Saturday will be 85 degrees with a 40% chance of scattered thunderstorms. Statistically speaking there’s a 60% chance we WON’T have thunderstorms then. Finally, on Sunday it’s set to be 88 degrees and sunny. Pitchfork Music Fest weekends have been much, much worse in the past. Still, with all that sun and with pretty hot temperatures at hand, there are two essentials you’ll need all weekend: water and sunscreen. Stay hydrated and avoid sunburn. Those are the keys to a successful weekend not just at Pitchfork, but everywhere. Cue the shooting star and “The More You Know” graphic. Okay, so the last couple days I’ve run previews for Day One and Day Two of the festival, along with a collection of songs from every artist performing and a carefully curated Spotify playlist. In other words, things are going along just swimmingly here during Pitchfork Music Festival Week. Today the preview coverage concludes with a look at the artists performing on Day 3, which is Sunday. Will it be great? Of course it will, and I’ll explain why in the paragraphs below. As usual, my personal picks for each day are highlighted with stars (**). As a manner of housekeeping, I’d also like to mention at this time that Pitchfork Music Festival coverage will continue all weekend long and through Monday, where I’ll bring you plenty of day-by-day recaps and share plenty of photos taken of the many bands performing. Keep an eye on my Twitter account as well for more up-to-the-minute updates during the fest. Thanks, and I hope you’re looking forward to this weekend as much as I am!

**A Lull (Blue Stage, 1:00)
Dirty Beaches (Green Stage, 1:00)
For the third day in a row, a local Chicago band is performing an opening set at the festival. That’s one of the nice things about the Pitchfork Music Fest is that they do try and give some love to the local music scene every year. A Lull is one of the more interesting bands you’ll find in Chicago these days, crafting tightly wound and endlessly fun but off-kilter psych-pop. They use a lot of tribal rhythms and harmonies amidst their drifting guitars and synths, and they do sound a bit like Animal Collective. That’s intended to be a compliment, by the way. As a contrast, Dirty Beaches doesn’t call Chicago home, but then again he’d be hard pressed to call any place home. Alex Zhang Hungtai is the man behind Dirty Beaches, and while he has associations with Taiwan and Canada, he’s spent most of his life drifting from country to country and never staying too long. That informs his music in a lot of ways, a lo-fi pastiche of ’50s doo-wop and rockabilly mixed with garage rock surges and arrangements that are forceful, minimal and threatening. His debut album Badlands is quite good, as is his live show reputation. Choosing between these two acts is tougher than you’d think, but I have to vote for A Lull out of local devotion, and because I find their sound a little more interesting and energetic than Dirty Beaches.

Unknown Mortal Orchestra (Red Stage, 1:45)
**Milk Music (Blue Stage, 1:55)
Sunday afternoon really becomes a battle of the lo-fi bands, and it all starts with Unknown Mortal Orchestra vs. Milk Music. While both bands have a home recorded and somewhat degraded quality to their music, the songs they create are certainly distinctive. They’re also a bit old school and camera shy. Nobody even knew who or what Unknown Mortal Orchestra was at first, because all that existed was a Bandcamp page with a couple songs on it. We’ve learned only a little more about them since then, but that doesn’t seem to matter too much, so long as the music is good. Their self-titled album came out last year to much critical acclaim, and songs like “Ffunny Ffriends” and “How Can You Luv Me?” are bouncy earworms that are fun and quirky. Expect their live show to be described in a similar way. Milk Music have virtually no presence on the Internet. Their website lists only tour dates and ways to buy their music (they only have one EP out). They didn’t have a Facebook page until recently, and have admitted that technology isn’t really their thing. Their music suggests the same. The Washington quartet takes the ’80s DIY hardcore rock scene as inspiration for their music. They’ve drawn comparisons to Dinosaur, Meat Puppets and Husker Du, and all feel warranted. Their set will likely be a head-banging and energetic good time. The smart and safe call would be to go with Unknown Mortal Orchestra here, however sometimes you need to go stupid and unsafe for the sake of a good time. I think Milk Music will be best at providing that.

**Iceage (Green Stage, 2:30)
**Thee Oh Sees (Blue Stage, 2:50)
With these two bands, you can’t go wrong. Either one you choose, you’re guaranteed to have an out-of-control and wild experience. The real question will be: Can they get the crowd on board with their antics? For Iceage, it’d be surprising if their set lasted more than 20 minutes. Their 25-minute debut album New Brigade came out last year with high praise and people calling it a welcome revival of the punk genre. Still in their teens and early 20s, they’ve got plenty of energy to spare, and their live shows have become notorious for moshing and body surfing by band members. Photos of fans walking away bloody, but with smiles on their faces should tell you all you need to know. Thee Oh Sees have less of a punk edge to their sound, but they’ve got more than enough energy and back catalogue to keep things exciting. They’re best described as a psych-pop band, and their swirling melodies will likely blast out your eardrums if you’re close enough to the stage. They run around like chickens with their heads chopped off, and scream song titles before launching into them. If you can’t handle that heat, then stay out of the kitchen. If you’re afraid for your ears or your physical health, maybe this point in the afternoon is a good time to take a break and explore some the non-music options the festival has to offer. For the rest of us, you can probably catch all of Iceage then 90% of Thee Oh Sees if you move quickly. I’d recommend trying both.

**Ty Segall (Red Stage, 3:20)
The Men (Blue Stage, 3:45)
The lo-fi noise rock love fest officially wraps up in the 3pm hour on Sunday with Ty Segall and The Men. Ty Segall is quickly turning into the new Robert Pollard, cranking out multiple albums over the course of a single year. Segall will release 3 full lengths in 2012, but his latest with his band is called Slaughterhouse. It is a wild, fuzz-laden and ear-destroying ride through a house of horrors with Segall as your carnival barker guide. It’s the sort of madness that brings back memories of the earliest records released by The Stooges, but with less emphasis on establishing a groove and more on peeling back pop hooks. In a live setting, Segall and the band are punishingly loud. If you’re close enough to a speaker, your ears could be ringing for days. Knowing you’ve been thoroughly rocked though, it won’t matter nearly as much. The Men are a loud rock band, but in a more reasonable ’90s indie rock sort of way. Their latest album Open Your Heart has gotten great reviews and drawn comparisons to both Foo Fighters and MC5. You can actually hear bits of both in their sound. Mostly though, The Men are a fun band that makes energetic and often loud rock songs, with a few instrumentals and softer bits in between. In other words, they’re a little more balanced out and nuanced than what you’ll get from the hyper-punk of Ty Segall. Both sets will be good, but I think Segall’s will both kick ass and take names.

Real Estate (Green Stage, 4:15)
**Kendrick Lamar (Blue Stage, 4:45)
If insane sets from Iceage, Thee Oh Sees, Ty Segall and The Men totally zapped you of your life force on a Sunday afternoon, there’s nothing better than finding a shady spot in the park and listening to some Real Estate. After two critically acclaimed full lengths and an EP, the band has established themselves as the perfect soundtrack band for a relaxing day at the beach. A shady grass oasis in Union Park runs relatively close to that setting, so try it out and see if it works. The last time Real Estate played the Pitchfork Music Festival, I liked their on stage vibe, but it was sleepy and not at all beneficial to the large crowd standing in the hot sun. Expect more of the same this year, so be smart and find a place for the drifting guitars to wash over your relaxed body. Kendrick Lamar earns my recommendation for this time slot not just because Real Estate’s set will be slow and drifting, but also because he’s a genuinely talented and formidable presence in hip hop. His 2011 album Section.80 was heralded by some as the “rebirth of West Coast rap,” and it came complete with some sort of secret connection to Dr. Dre. Whatever he’s up to and whoever he knows, Lamar holds his own by taking on introspective topics in his tracks and geeking out to things besides money and women. He’s absolutely an exciting new figure in hip hop, and with any luck he’ll be very popular very soon. Seeing him on the small Blue stage should be a treat.

**Chavez (Red Stage, 5:15)
Oneohtrix Point Never (Blue Stage, 5:45)
One of the things the talent bookers at Pitchfork Music Festival like to do is place a great reunited or “classic” indie band on the lineup. Typically, that band will play their set in the 5pm hour on Sunday. Superchunk did it last year. Actually, that doesn’t extend beyond last year, so I guess it can’t be called “typical.” I guess it was a poor train of thought. But for the second year in a row, a legendary indie band plays late Sunday afternoon. That honor goes to Chavez, and I guess a three year career with two great full lengths constitutes “legendary.” Gosh, I’m bad at this. But Chavez’s sound, in case you’re not familiar, is heavy on the guitar attacks, falling somewhere between post-punk and prog-metal. Comparisons to Guided By Voices and Shellac are pretty accurate, and via their very sporadic live shows since reuniting in 2006 have been pretty damn exciting. By comparison, Oneohtrix Point Never features zero guitars and his songs often glide along softly. Oneohtrix Point Never is the name under which Daniel Lopatin (of ’80s pop revivalists Ford & Lopatin) records solo. He takes in and repurposes old vocal recordings with fresh melodies and backing beats to accompany them. It makes for a fascinating listen, and earns its comparisons to things done by The Books. I’m not sure what he’ll do at Pitchfork, but if its anything like his albums there will be a creative ambience to it. It’s not so much dance music, but its beauty might just be the thing you need on a late Sunday afternoon.

**AraabMuzik (Green Stage, 6:15)
King Krule (Blue Stage, 6:45)
Similar to Clams Casino, AraabMuzik is another hip hop producer stepping out into the spotlight to showcase the many beats he’s created. So place another check mark in your instrumental electronica artist category. And while he has worked with A$AP Rocky and Cam’ron, many of the compositions that appeared on Electronic Dream weren’t exactly club bangers nor could you imagine somebody rapping over them. They were just a little too subdued and weird to make them seem mainstream, and that was actually a huge part of the charm. One of the most fascinating things about AraabMuzik is how he approaches his live performances, moving past simply pushing buttons and actually creating some beats and percussion work on stage. Very few electronica artists can operate with that sort of intensity and physical presence, and it’ll be something to behold at Union Park. For those wanting to hear a band play guitars, your option on the other side of the park is King Krule. Londoner Archy Marshall operates under the King Krule name, and to look at him you’d think the 18-year-old was actually even younger, what with his small frame and baby face. Yet listening to his deep crooner voice you’re almost instantly reminded of Leonard Cohen or Billy Bragg. Marshall also has a very distinctive sound, one which often merges jazz, rockabilly, electronica and hip hop. If you think that’s a weird description, try listening to some. It’s interesting stuff. Maybe not as interesting as what AraabMuzik is doing, but still interesting.

**Beach House (Red Stage, 7:25)
The Field (Blue Stage, 7:40)
Sunday will mark the third time Beach House have performed at the Pitchfork Music Festival, after sets in 2007 and 2010. It’s fascinating to think about how far they’ve come since then. both on their records and in their live performances. The early material was so soft, wispy and minimal, yet beautiful in the sort of way an antique gets when the light hits it just right. Nobody thought the duo would be able to top their last album Teen Dream from 2010, which wound up close to or at the top of many critics’ year-end lists. Shockingly, Bloom does reach a new peak for the band, giving their melodies more of a pulse and soaring skywards in ways that can actually connect with the larger and larger crowds they’ve been performing in front of. They may not be the most engaging live band, but they’ll make the most of their early evening time slot. The sun will be at just the right place in the sky to give everything that nostalgic glow present within the music. Axel Willner is otherwise known as The Field, and what he brings to the festival at such a late hour is some rather engaging experimental techno. He loves looping beats and other elements, going so far as to call his last record Looping State of Mind, and then throws actual instruments on top of them to give it more of a band feel. Being able to incorporate punk or shoegaze into an electronica track takes serious talent, which The Field has. You might not be able to dance to a lot of it, but it’s compelling, often beautiful stuff that in some ways is more effective on a crowd than Beach House’s calmer pastiche. This matchup is a tough call, but I think Beach House has the edge only because their material is slightly stronger.

**Vampire Weekend (Green Stage, 8:30)
As is custom on Sunday nights, the headlining act performs unopposed. Purity Ring plays against Feist on Friday night and Grimes plays against Godspeed You! Black Emperor on Saturday, but nobody plays against Vampire Weekend on Sunday. Of all the acts all weekend long, they’re probably the most popular anyways. I’m glad to see that Vampire Weekend frontman Ezra Koenig gave up a lucrative career in hip hop to start a band with his Ivy League friends that liberally draws on the Afropop stylings of Paul Simon. I hope that doesn’t come off as at all mean or menacing. Really I’m just joking around a little because there’s not a whole lot to say. Go see Vampire Weekend. Have lots of fun. Sing along to the songs you know. Get excited that they’ll probably play a few new ones too. It’ll be a nice and comfortable end to a nice and comfortable weekend. I’m happy to say that I’ll see you all on the other side.

Pitchfork Music Festival 2012: Day 2 Preview


How are you getting to this year’s Pitchfork Music Festival? There’s a whole world of options out there for you to explore beyond simply driving yourself. Take a train, bus, bike or even walk if you’re close enough. Union Park is easily accessible via whatever form of transportation you choose. If you bike there, make sure to lock it up inside the Chicago Reader Bike Village, or risk returning to a stolen or unrideable bike. The neighborhood around the park isn’t super dangerous, but it’s not the safest in the city either. If you absolutely feel like driving is your only way to get there, maybe try and carpool with people that live near you. Amovens Ridesharing is a viable option too if you don’t mind traveling with a stranger or two. I’m not saying you have to take these options, I just wanted to make sure you were aware of them as a way to reduce your carbon footprint. Doing that, along with dropping any aluminum and plastic you see into the designated recycle bins placed throughout the park can really help make the festival green. That little environmental piece out of the way, let’s talk about what’s going to be happening in Union Park on Saturday. Like yesterday, I’ve broken down the bands performing hour-by-hour and designated my own suggestions with the double star(**). It’s a great day with some tough choices, so make sure you see what you can when you can! For music selections not only from artists playing Saturday, but the entire weekend, be sure to look through this post or stream things via this Spotify playlist.

**The Atlas Moth (Blue Stage, 1:00)
The Psychic Paramount (Green Stage, 1:00)
Saturday at Pitchfork Music Festival starts out HEAVY. By heavy, I mean LOUD. The Atlas Moth is a Chicago band that makes what’s consistently and accurately described as “doom metal.” Put a different way, it’s the soundtrack to your nightmares. Now just because nightmares have a negative reputation doesn’t mean The Atlas Moth should. These guys are more than just a metal band, because they do an excellent job trying to incorporate other elements from genres such as blues and psychedelia into their sound. You may want to bang your head and get inside of a mosh pit for their show, but if you can pay close attention to what’s happening on stage while you’re doing that, you’ll notice a band with a great ability to turn their guitars into an effective weapon. Similar things could be said about The Psychic Paramount, an instrumental trio out of New York. The sort of music they make is best described as experimental, but they certainly don’t know much about the word “silence.” There’s a ferocity to their songs that’s exciting and engaging, and even in the absence of lyrics there’s a sort of post-rock transcendence that shines through and can grab hold of your emotions. Their latest effort II is a very widescreen affair best experienced in an arena…or maybe even a music festival? The choice is tough between these two loud bands, but ultimately I think The Atlas Moth will put on the crazier show, giving your Saturday the wild start it deserves.

**Cloud Nothings (Red Stage, 1:45)
Lotus Plaza (Blue Stage, 1:55)
Choosing between Cloud Nothings and Lotus Plaza is the first of a few real challenges that Saturday presents in scheduling. Cloud Nothings are fresh off their critically acclaimed new album Attack on Memory, which is filled to the brim with fun, catchy and energetic punk tunes. Frontman Dylan Baldi may not seem like the type of guy who will tear his throat to shreds for a song, but he does it both on record and when performing with the utmost conviction. It’s definitely a site to behold, and also worth watching if you want to stay amped for the rest of the day. Lotus Plaza is the side project band of Deerhunter guitarist Lockett Pundt, and they carefully balance the genres of psychedelia, shoegaze and dream pop to the point where all of those descriptors fail to fully capture what the band actually sounds like. That’s a good problem to have, and one of the reasons why their latest album Spooky Action at a Distance earned quite a bit of praise from critics and fans alike. Listening to them perform such well-structured and breezy tracks might actually make it that much more enjoyable to be hanging out in the shade near the Blue stage. Still, I can’t help but think that since it’s not supposed to be blisteringly hot on Saturday, fun in the sun is where it’s going to be at. Keep some Atlas Moth energy going and jump around for Cloud Nothings.

**Atlas Sound (Green Stage, 2:30)
Liturgy (Blue Stage, 2:50)
It’s almost a sure thing that the Lotus Plaza and Atlas Sound sets will overlap. For those that don’t know, the irony is that both Lockett Pundt (Lotus Plaza) and Bradford Cox (Atlas Sound) are bandmates in Deerhunter. So it’ll kind of be battle of the side/solo projects. Atlas Sound made headlines last year for the drifting and beautiful record Parallax. Atlas Sound made headlines THIS year for agreeing to a fan request and performing “My Sharona”…for an hour. It was shocking, weird and kind of cool. Let’s hope he doesn’t repeat that though for his Pitchfork set, otherwise we’d miss such gems as the poppy “Mona Lisa” and the guitar rock of “My Angel is Broken.” Like The Atlas Moth earlier in the day, Liturgy is poised to deliver their own set of earth-scorching metal, though like most bands performing at the festival, that’s only part of their story. See, Liturgy is an anti-metal metal band. Translation: they make metal music, but everything about them suggests the opposite. They wear t-shirts and jeans instead of black leather get-ups and face paint. They sing about exploring religion instead of worshipping Satan. It still has all the heavy guitars and menace, just in a cleaner package. Liturgy may be outsiders to the metal community, but indie kids have a soft spot for them. So which of these two options is the better choice? Personal taste factors into it a little, but in terms of the overall quality of the music, I vote for Atlas Sound, even if his set might lack the energy and intensity Liturgy’s will definitely have.

**Cults (Red Stage, 3:20)
Youth Lagoon (Blue Stage, 3:45)
Cults are a fun band. They do indie pop right, and perhaps the best single of 2011 (or 2010 if you count the 7″ version) was their song “Go Outside.” It sparkled in all the right ways. Their self-titled debut album kept that train rolling and introduced new gems like the racing “Abducted” and the bouncy “Never Heal Myself.” They’ve been on tour for what seems like forever in support of that record, so it stands to argue that they’ve come up with a few new songs along the way. Perhaps they’ll introduce a few of them during their mid-afternoon set. Youth Lagoon also has a highly loved debut album that came out last year called The Year of Hibernation. Trevor Powers is the man behind the name, and he made a record of bedroom pop in his actual bedroom. There’s a hushed intimacy to his songs that evokes the mental image of sunlight streaming through the slats of some window blinds. Glorious and soaring as many of his songs may be, their subdued vibe might not fit well with the outdoor festival crowd. Still, playing on the Blue stage with some tree canopies can make for a nice break. I saw both Cults and Youth Lagoon perform in the same 24 hour period earlier this year, and while neither show was perfect, Cults were just a little bit better, which is why they earn my recommendation here.

Flying Lotus (Green Stage, 4:15)
**Nicolas Jaar (Blue Stage, 4:45)
If you really love experimental electronica, this point in your Saturday is going to be a tough one. Flying Lotus, also known as Steven Ellison, probably considers himself more of a producer than an actual musician. He takes sounds from various different music genres including jazz, hip hop and IDM, and swirls them all together to create something wholly unique and engaging. Sometimes that means songs are bouncy and upbeat and endlessly danceable, but other times a tangent will take over and you’ll be entranced by some slow motion saxophone or other disparate elements. By contrast, Nicolas Jaar plays sets that are a little more freeform. While he does have albums and mixtapes, which are collages of sounds and styles (very similar to Flying Lotus), he refuses to stick to a script. Depending on where and when he’s performing, he will customize that set with very little officially mapped out. He played a set in a church at SXSW this year and it was dark, respectful and introspective, with only brief flashes of danceable beats. In the space of an outdoor afternoon festival, he’s likely to go lighter, breezier and poppier. You still might not be able to dance to it, but there’s something exciting about the unpredictability of it all and the hope he might just stumble onto something truly transcendent.

**Wild Flag (Red Stage, 5:15)
Schoolboy Q (Blue Stage, 5:45)
Not many people, especially musicians, like to throw around the word “supergroup.” Yet when your band is formed out of members from other important bands, it becomes like the Avengers or Justice League, because with their powers combined shall come something greater than they can do on their own. With members Carrie Brownstein and Janet Weiss of Sleater-Kinney, Rebecca Cole of The Minders and Mary Timony of…Mary Timony, Wild Flag was born to rock. And they do, all over their self-titled debut album. Their songs are vigorous and punk-strewn, and it’s even more impressive to watch them perform. Sleater-Kinney obsessives may be just a little disappointed, as the wail of Corin Tucker is missed, but everything else about this band is spot-on and really what rock and roll should be. On the opposite end of the park and sonic spectrum, Schoolboy Q brings his dark tales of hip hop to a late afternoon set. The cover for his album Habits & Contradictions features a masked person licking his very serious face. It brings up the idea of having a “dark passenger” on your shoulder, tempting you and telling you what to do. Schoolboy Q is definitely in his own world, and in that sense it’s always exciting to hear what he’ll do or come up with next. Make your decision about which of these acts to see based on your own tastes.

**Sleigh Bells (Green Stage, 6:15)
**Chromatics (Blue Stage, 6:45)
The last time Sleigh Bells performed at the Pitchfork Music Festival, it was 2010 and they were up against Pavement’s headlining set and their first Chicago show in over a decade. In other words, it was tough to actively make the choice to see them. They were riding a huge wave of buzz too, thanks in no small part to their smashing debut Treats. The duo of Derek Miller and Alexis Krauss bring high octane energy to their shows, as he plays heavy riffs backed with electro beats and she bounces and sings along in her schoolgirl-like voice. That combination of hardcore and sugary sweet elements was bound to fizzle out sometime, but they proved resilient on their sophomore album Reign of Terror earlier this year by going deeper and more refined. The hype may have died down a bit, but Sleigh Bells’ live show is more engaging and dynamic than ever. And hey, they’re not playing against Pavement this time. They are playing against Chromatics though, an electro-pop group built by dynamo producer Johnny Jewel. Here’s an act that has the sort of buzz Sleigh Bells did 2 years ago. That’s mostly bolstered by the long-awaited release of their 90-minute opus known as Kill for Love earlier this year. It’s a glorious patchwork of dark alley instrumental electronica and synth-pop of the highest and catchiest order. While they lack the fire of Sleigh Bells, Chromatics make up for it with intensity. I’m calling this 6pm face-off a toss-up, and thanks to their sets starting 30 minutes apart from one another, you can see most of both. I recommend that you do.

**Hot Chip (Red Stage, 7:25)
Danny Brown (Blue Stage, 7:40)
On Sunday of last year’s Pitchfork Music Festival, dance band Cut Copy had the privilege of performing right before that night’s headliners TV on the Radio. With the sun starting to set and the crowd surprisingly riled up (maybe they were all at just the right level of drunk), Union Park became a massive dance party. Right around the same time but on Saturday instead, Hot Chip will take the stage. I expect an almost identical result. While the band’s previous album One Life Stand was a bit mellower and more serious than anything they’d done previously, Hot Chip’s latest record In Our Heads feels like a course correction with more mature songs you can dance to. Bring your green hat and we’ll get the party started. Danny Brown, meanwhile, is like many of the hip hop acts on this year’s lineup: operating on his own plane of existence. His screechy and weird vocals are unlike anything else in hip hop, to the point where many people turn his tracks off without giving him half a chance. They’re missing out though, because Brown’s words tend to tell of his own hardships in life (of which there are MANY), while also peppering in plenty of humor. Not many rappers are able to pull off that delicate balance, but Brown does it while wearing skinny jeans and a haircut best described as “distinctive.” He’s not exactly for me, which is why I’m handing this match-up to Hot Chip.

**Godspeed You! Black Emperor (Green Stage, 8:30)
**Grimes (Blue Stage, 8:40)
When you think about some of the polar opposite acts playing against one another in the same time slot, there’s probably none that sticks out more than Godspeed You! Black Emperor vs. Grimes. Here’s how it breaks down. Godspeed makes post-rock. It’s less the Sigur Ros or Explosions in the Sky sort of post-rock and more the art movie soundtrack sort of post-rock. Single tracks can go on for 20 or 30 minutes and roll over you like waves of emotion as violins mourn one minute and guitars rage the next. They project films onto a screen during their performances, functioning as visual aids to help pull you further into their progressive and oft-heartbreaking melodies. If people can actually shut up and pay attention to the music, GY!BE’s performance could be the weekend’s most revelatory and powerful set. The problem is you’re outside in the grass with your friends, one of whom is likely to say they’re “bored” before starting up a conversation. If it doesn’t happen to you it’ll happen to somebody near you, and the meaning of it all will likely be ruined. So maybe you take note and go see Grimes’ set, Her latest album Visions is futuristic pop of the highest order. Her entire goal when performing live is to get you to dance. She’ll be dancing while twisting knobs, playing keyboards and building vocal loops, and if she can do 5 things at once, you can do that one thing with her. The two times I’ve seen Grimes perform this year contained some of the best and worst moments I’ve ever seen at a live show. One of those times she was really sick though, so hopefully her health will be fine on Saturday night and things will proceed brilliantly. Coming off the dance party high Hot Chip will likely provide, Grimes will be the exceptional cap to what could be a very fun Saturday.

TOMORROW: PITCHFORK MUSIC FESTIVAL 2012 COVERAGE CONTINUES WITH A DAY 3 PREVIEW!

Pitchfork Music Festival 2012: Day 1 Preview


Okay, so you’re headed to Union Park this weekend for the Pitchfork Music Festival, but are either confused or conflicted about who or what to see during your time there. Don’t worry, it happens to the best of us, even those that are familiar with 95% of the artists performing. Don’t fear, however. I’m here to help. Starting today and wrapping up on Thursday, we’ll take a day-by-day look at the “essesntial acts to see” at this year’s Pitchfork Fest. If you’re looking for some additional music education on these artists, make sure you have a look at this post, in which you can download or stream a song from every single artist on the lineup. Take a taste, and if you like what you hear, you can invest in a full album or maybe just go see that particular artist perform at the festival. That said, let’s get started with a look at your best bets for Friday. My personal picks are affixed with stars (**).

Outer Minds (Blue Stage, 3:20)
**Lower Dens (Red Stage, 3:30)
This year’s Pitchfork Music Festival starts off local. Chicago’s own Outer Minds have the designation of playing the first set of the weekend, and if you’re fortunate enough to get there early, there’s plenty to love about these guys. Their core sound is garage rock, but thanks to some fun harmonies and a few blistering guitar passages you could say there’s a psychedelic influence in there too. The band’s self-titled debut album came out in March, and you can stream or buy it digitally here. If their live show is anything like their record, it should be a really fun and energetic time. Facing off against Outer Minds will be Lower Dens, the Baltimore soft pop band whose latest record Nootropics is one of 2012’s finest offerings so far. Excellent as these songs may be, and as engaging of a frontwoman as Jana Hunter is, Lower Dens might best be described as “sleepy.” In other words, with the summer afternoon sun beating down on your face, it could be tough to enjoy the band’s darker yet slowly gorgeous melodies. You might be best off with the cutting energy of Outer Minds to start things right, however I’m giving the official recommendation to Lower Dens based solely on the strength of their material.

Willis Earl Beal (Blue Stage, 4:15)
**The Olivia Tremor Control (Green Stage, 4:35)
Willis Earl Beal’s debut album Acousmatic Sorcery is a thing of raw beauty. Another artist with strong ties to Chicago, his life story is as fascinating as his music. He’s been homeless, joined the Army, left CD-Rs of his music in random places, busked on the street, auditioned for The X Factor and posted flyers with his phone number on them encouraging people to call and he’d play a song for them. What do all these things say about the man? Well, in his 27 years you’d say he’s LIVED. The pain and hardship comes through in his powerful singing voice, which goes from a whisper to a gruff howl with very little effort. His set should be one of the most fascinating of the entire festival, and any fan of the blues and soul music should make an appointment to see it. On the other side of the park will be Olivia Tremor Control, and fans of the Elephant 6 collective of the ’90s will have plenty to get excited about. The band released two effortlessly catchy and classic indie pop records in the form of 1996’s Music from the Unrealized Film Script, Dusk at Cubist Castle and 1999’s Black Foliage: Animation Music Volume One before breaking up. Their much heralded reunion in 2009 hasn’t resulted in a lot of large scale touring, so when they do play shows some excitement comes along with it. Also it’s not impossible to think that former band member and close friend Jeff Mangum might drop in for a song or two, simply because he can.

Tim Hecker (Blue Stage, 5:15)
**A$AP Rocky (Red Stage, 5:30)
The five o’clock hour on Friday brings together an interesting paradox of talent. Tim Hecker is a great Canadian producer and electronica composer whose last couple records have been deep and gorgeous soundscapes worthy of the critical acclaim they’ve received. You could also describe them as very serious and often intense examinations of the way technology and digital elements have overtaken traditional and organic instrumentation. What this really amounts to is that if you’re hoping to get some shade by the smaller Blue stage and just sort of relax for a bit on a blanket, listening to Tim Hecker will provide you with a cool breeze, even if nature doesn’t hand you one. As for A$AP Rocky, his star has been on the rise all year long. Fresh off the his LiveLoveA$AP mixtape, he and the A$AP Mob have courted controversy and violence in a way not all that dissimilar from the way Odd Future was doing last year. Of course Rocky has a reportedly three million dollar record deal, which also puts the stakes pretty high for his official debut album LongLiveA$AP when it comes out in September. Expect to hear him perform a bunch of that new stuff while the A$AP Mob riles up the crowd in between tracks. It could be a total disaster ending in some crowd insanity, or it could just be a whole lot of fun to watch. Either way, the guy might be the next Jay-Z or Kanye West, so best to see him now before the rest of the world sinks their teeth into him.

**Japandroids (Blue Stage, 6:15)
Big K.R.I.T. (Green Stage, 6:25)
Have you heard Celebration Rock yet? It is a triumph of an album for Japandroids, and one of 2012’s best rock records. If you like your guitars loud, your drums pounding, and anthems you can shout along with, Japandroids are not only the best thing happening in this time slot, but perhaps for all of Friday. Expect plenty of fists in the air, mosh pits and crowd surfing too. This is a high energy, high octane show, and these sorts of bands don’t come around as often anymore. Not only that, but Brian King and David Prowse are serious about their craft and play as if their lives depended on it. Celebrate life, celebrate rock and try not to get hurt while doing so. It’s quite likely that Big K.R.I.T. will bring a lot of energy and celebration to his set too, though his version of hip hop is a bit more conscientious and introspective than many others. Don’t worry though, that makes him one of the more unique voices in the genre these days, and his talent has been very apparent over his last couple records and mixtapes, most notably Return of 4Eva. You’re not going to get the style and flash of an A$AP Rocky, but he mines the nostalgia of the mid-’90s era of rap when the genre was so much more than that. If the idea sounds appealing to you, his set might have that same effect.

Clams Casino (Blue Stage, 7:15)
**Dirty Projectors (Red Stage, 7:20)
Clams Casino is the second instrumental act performing on Friday. Unlike Tim Hecker though, Clams Casino has made a name for himself by rather brilliantly producing a bunch of hip hop. Everyone from Soulja Boy to Lil B to A$AP Rocky (of course) have used his beats and instrumentals as backing for their own rhymes. Instead of letting those compositions sit behind vocals, Clams Casino has released a pair of free mixtapes and an EP containing pieces he’s worked on for others or just himself, all of it sans vocals (but not necessarily vocal samples). These things stand up so well on their own, he can play live shows with them and get people moving and/or shouting along if they happen to know some of the hip hop tracks the beats originally appeared on. Count on his set to be a good, danceable time. Then there’s Dirty Projectors, a band that has scooped up quite a bit of critical acclaim these last few years for their wildly inventive songs. My thoughts on the band’s latest opus Swing Lo Magellan can be found here, but in a nutshell it’s their most accessible and effortlessly enjoyable record to date. If you’ve heard Dirty Projectors before and didn’t like it, their live show surely won’t do anything to change your mind. What it will showcase are the impressive talents of Amber Coffman, Haley Dekle and Olga Bell, whose vocal ping-ponging must be seen to be believed. Frontman Dave Longstreth is the mastermind behind it all, and though he’s not the warmest or most personable guy in the world, he lets the music speak for him. You should be paying close attention.

**Purity Ring (Blue Stage, 8:20)
Feist (Green Stage, 8:20)
Purity Ring don’t have an album out yet. Their debut, Shrines, is set for release at the end of this month. In the meantime, there have been a few singles that have caught the ears of many a tastemaker. What makes this duo so unique is their ability to turn hip hop and electronica elements into compelling pop music. They actually like to describe it as “future pop,” and given the glitchy samples and fun other little tweaks they throw in against Megan James’ smooth vocals, that’s not far from the truth. Perhaps the main reason why they’re “headlining” the small Blue stage on Friday night has less to do with popularity (as that’s still steadily building) and more to do with how their live show is structured. At 8:20pm there will still be a bit of sunlight left, but Purity Ring prefer to perform in total darkness. Their stage setup includes multi-colored lightbulbs that pulsate and pound with the beats. So not only do the songs draw you in and stick with you, but you’ll likely remember the visual elements as well for quite some time. As for Feist, well, she’s simply a delight. Her records Let It Die and The Reminder were strong representations of female singer-songwriter pop. People fell in love with her thanks to cute songs like “Mushaboom” and “1,2,3,4”. Goofy choreographed music videos and a few acting appearances on comedy shows have only made her that much more endearing, which is why it was such a disappointment when her new album Metals didn’t fully follow in those footsteps. No worries though, because her headlining set at this year’s festival has every indication of being highly enjoyable and entertaining. She may even bring a few people from the crowd up on stage to spice things up a bit. She’s great like that. If you watch her set, there’s a high likelihood you’ll end the night smiling, and there’s nothing wrong with that.

TOMORROW: PITCHFORK MUSIC FESTIVAL 2012 COVERAGE CONTINUES WITH A DAY 2 PREVIEW!

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