The fourth installment of Artists Pick Em’ features a pair of my schoolmates, Green Paper’s front-man Tomm Hart, and solo artist Matt Huston. I’m a corny kind of mood, thus, these titles will be of the utmost corn filled.
5 Albums That Are Good For The Hart
(photo via Matthew Mance)
5) Of The Blue Color Of The Sky by OK Go
“I’ve been following OK Go since 2007 when they first came out with their self-titled debut. Since then the band has made the jump from off-kilter pop rock, to live take oriented classic-rocky sounding feel good jams, to the atmosphere of this album, which is a little hard to put a finger on. At some parts its Proggy and I’m visibly less enthused, but the use of oscillation and heavy fuzz is quite honestly the way to my heart. Oh, and if you dig hard enough, you may or may not be able to find videos of a younger self doing the “A Million Ways to Be Cruel” dance. Just sayin’.”
4) Perfume Singles (Natural Ni Koishite, Voice, Nee) by Perfume
“2010 was kind of a shitty year for me. With personal issues and deciding whether or not to drop out of college I was feeling like shit for a good part of the first half of this year. When recording Fire (Green Paper’s debut album), Evan Bernard (of Philly Area Dangerous Ponies) got me smitten with this Japanese technopop outfit headed by three of the most drop dead gorgeous girls on the face of the planet. The beats, samples and lyrics are all thanks to producer Nakata Yasutaka (of Capsule). Something about the way the songs swing from grinding pop-bass and the catchiest goddamn hooks (Natural ni Koishite) to what I’d venture to call break-neck-japanese rap breakdown (575) keeps me from falling into total and complete lunacy. There’s a good chance that if I’m trying to get my strut on with a cigarette in hand, I’m skipping like a school girl on the inside.”
3) Age Of Adz by Sufjan Ztevens
“Oh hey everybody, let’s put on our checkerboard vans and read pitchfork! Well, isn’t that how Sufjan Stevens was born? There are other sources than pitchfork for new music suggestions??? [W]ell, [T]here’s a [S]pecific [R]egion of this campus where such advice would be useful. Anyway, my basic theory is that poor Sufjan got a hold of some DOB and just went nuts in a studio. The album’s just so fucking psychedelic that it seems even the silence on it was run through delay loops. The way he croons on this one sounds so much more heartbroken and distraught to me. Also, a 25-minute end track with auto-tune? Christmas came early for me I guess. This is the end of my entry where I could find some way to put into more illuminating terminology the way this album makes me feel like I’m tripping balls. So once shrooms come back in season, make sure you keep this on your recently played lists. Who knows, you might actually discover something about yourself.”
2) My Name Is Skrillex by Skrillex
“Thank god this guy quit doing his hardcore shit and decided to start making some dance music. This EP is instant caffeination. The way bass grooves have no shame about swooping up to what always sounds like bones grinding to me. I listen to this one at least once a day and have no shame about nodding my head to it wherever I am. Just download the damn thing. Your welcome in advance.”
1) She & Him Vol. 2 by She & Him
“If we were to extend the metaphor, Perfume was my crutch for 2010, but in this case, Zooey was my Oxycontin. The first time I heard this album was on vinyl in the bedroom of some girl I had never met before. When side two hit the first piano notes of “Home” I remember why I had stopped using the word in the first place. Not neglecting M. Ward’s contributions to the songs in anyway, “Brand New Shoes” guitar picking is that one right time when it’s ok to use a ball point pen to write sonnets on napkins. It sways from sleepy and peaceful to upbeat and addictive. Beach Boys harmonies cut through on most tracks, especially “If You Can’t Sleep”. Although I was a little crestfallen when I saw She & Him on the 4th of July on Governor’s Island (Dedication: getting to Whitehall Street for the ferry by 9 a.m. for a 4 p.m. show) on account of Zooey’s general audience apathy (come on, I almost had a heatstroke, yacking into an extra large beverage cup in a Midtown Sbarros) this album is stuck in my mind as much as it is in my life. Outside my room in the townhouses is a collection of post-it notes in Chinese corresponding to the line
“I could be your state and I could be your nation, it doesn’t get better than home now does it?” Zooey will never stop being my phone background and “Home” will never stop reminding me of waking up on a foreign floor in South Jersey to an aging turntable spinning spools of golden Zooey sounds into a house I’d barely even known.”
Green Paper just finished recording its debut album Fire. Stay tuned for an interview the band was gracious enough to do with me, where we discuss the record and other various topics.
Huston, We Have Your Top 6
(Answers courtesy of Huston’s blog The Barracuda Wire.)
6) Plastic Beach by Gorillaz
“Getting into “Plastic Beach” was taking a ride on the coolest party boat on the seven seas. Bruce Willis, who car-chased the animated Gorillaz gang in the video for bumping lead single “Stylo,” was the bouncer at the plank. Inside, we met up with alt-rapper Mos Def, soul-singer Bobby Womac, Lou Reed, Snoop Dog, half of The Clash, and ex-Blur head Damon Albarn, the navigator, helming the most blatant genre juicer to scale the charts this year. “Rhinestone Eyes,” “On Melancholy Hill” and the cartoony “Superfast Jellyfish” are color-blasted and sugarcoated, like the lining of so many candy wrappers.”
5) How I Got Over by The Roots
“After the sheer darkness of The Roots’ first two Def Jam records, “How I Got Over” is a fresh breath of air. Thick pianos and drumbeats are full of solemnity, but the overall mood rings with the spirit of rising-up that teased listeners on the tail end of “Rising Down” (2006). Don’t you know that things go in cycles? Though the times lead us to retreat to solitude, question God and generally not give a fuck, with the help of a few folksy friends and soul-partner John Legend, The Legendary Roots Crew is getting over it.“
4) Brothers by The Black Keys
“With a rumbling kicker, “Everlasting Light,” the most underappreciated blues-rock duo named after a colored stripe launches an album that’s bigger and more fleshed-out, but no less down-home-dusty, than any of its previous works. The light of Dan Auerbach’s no-nonsense vocals and guitar and drummer Patrick Carney’s tumbled grooves shines through every classic crevice: lovesickness (“Tighten Up”), loss (“Unknown Brother”), loneliness (“Too Afraid to Love You”), and of course, pure devilishness (“Sinister Kid”).”
3) This Is Happening by LCD Soundsystem
“One of the things that makes singer/musician/producer James Murphy so likable is that his music is so effortlessly human. His band’s third album is a naked testament to that. It’s highs are high (on “Dance Yrself Clean”), and its sobriety is sullen (“All I Want”), but ingrained in every track is the creeping sense that even in a crowd, we’re all sort of on our own. Yet, through all the bouncing, crashing and buzzing of Real Life, things are somehow going to turn out okay. “Home” ends the record with a charmingly awkward send-off: “This is the trick, forget a terrible year/ that we can break the laws / until it gets weird.”
2) Cosmogramma by Flying Lotus
““Clock Catcher” is the perfect name for a Flying Lotus song. That’s what Steven Ellison does: he catches clocks, rips them open and screws around with their insides until they sound deliriously out-of-step. On “Cosmogramma,” his Frankenstein timekeepers are more chock-full of hip-hop, dance, jazz and classical colors than ever before. “Pickled” and “Do The Astral Plane” pack big beats with down-to-the-floor grit, while “Galaxy In Janaki” sounds like hip-hop atop its highest peak. “MmmHmm,” with its airy refrain and jazz chords, is the closest thing to a traditional “song” on an album that’s so well-meshed it insists on being taken as a whole.
1) The Suburbs by Arcad Fire
“Ever wondered what a “suburban war” would look like? Neither have I. That’s the security of mind that comes with living in a man-made bubble. On “The Suburbs,” Arcade Fire ponders the cost of that security with an arsenal of tracks that lie low but dig deep. The chilly guzzle of “Ready to Start,” and “Empty Room,” with its exquisitely layered desperation, are the sounds of digging for answers. It’s not easy. Elsewhere — as on the title track and the dark-disco “Sprawl II” — the quest is reduced to a cloudy, beautiful dream shaded by time and doubt.”
Again, check out Huston’s blog The Barracuda Wire. It’s a great read.