Follakzoid: III


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Follakzoid began seven years ago as a trance experience between childhood friends Diego Lorca, Juan Pablo Rodriguez and Domingo Garcia-Huidobro from Santiago, Chile. However, for most people it was perhaps 2013’s breakthrough album II that opened up their third eye to these intensely loop-heavy, psychedelic and groove-riddled sounds coming from South America. While ‘psych’ is increasingly becoming a term for any group who throws on a turtleneck and taps their foot on a wah-wah peddle, the origins of Follakzoid’s music are rooted in something much more substantial, meaningful and culturally significant. Their grooves are heavily informed by the heritage of the ancient music of the Andes and techno, amongst other influences, Garcia-Huidobro explains “our music has to do with very ancient Armonic and rhythm patterns that are used for ceremonial music across the Andes mountains, which go almost entirely across South America. It is hard to describe with words but it sort of resembles trance-like Tibetan sounds… we work from a organic electronic perspective with ancient rhythm patterns and Armonic sequences that were used in occultist happenings and rituals.” After recording and mixing the new album themselves at their own recording studio BYM Records, they partnered with German electronic master Atom TM, a musician and artist the group have a great deal of respect for. Unbeknown to Domingo, Atom was living just around the corner to him and it was a mutual friend who let on he was a fan of the band. The Korg synthesiser that Atom TM, plays on the record was used by Kraftwerk on tour during the 80’s. After the success of II the group toured more than ever, playing across the world and taking in festivals such as Primavera, ATP, Lollapalooza and SXSW. This time spent playing and experimenting solidified a deep-set musical bond that would ultimately act as the foundations for III. “We don’t really rehearse when we aren’t on tour, we just get together and have beers all the time – liquid rehearsals! All the songs on the new album were made while touring, coming out of open-air live medleys or very cold Russian basement soundcheck grooves.” These grooves found on III feel infinite in their construction, songs that are created to live on like an endless locked groove, “Songs can go on forever but are very easy to end as well because its constantly ending and beginning again, loops within loops. We work in a very similar structure to mantric songs or techno, we share a metric language there that coordinates the musical language. There are many layers in our music, most of them unknown even to us”.
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III is out 31/03 on Sacred Bones; listen to “Electric” below.
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Marching Church: This World Is Not Enough

This World Is Not Enough
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From Elias Bender Rønnenfelt:
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“Although I have done a few things under the Marching Church moniker since 2010, the project, as in the constellation on this album, was born in November 2013 with Kristian Emdal and Anton Rothstein (Lower), Cæcilie Trier (Choir of Young Believers), Bo H. Hansen (Hand of Dust, Sexdrome) and Frederikke Hoffmeier (Puce Mary). We had agreed to play with Pharmakon at Mayhem, our warehouse space in Copenhagen, even though I hadn’t done anything with the project for quite some time. With two months before the show, I threw together a few half-thought-out ideas and sketches, presented them to the new band, and was amazed to see how the songs took life in their hands. I had a picture in my head of me in a comfortable arm chair, adorned in a golden robe, leading a band while a girl kept pouring me champagne. “What would this picture sound like?” was the question. For some songs I was inspired by my friend Jamie Cripps, who unfortunately is no longer with us, and his project The Pale Horse, as well as a record by David Maranha called Antarctica that I was played one night at my favourite bar, The Nightingale in Tokyo. Those records made me want to create something that sounded half asleep and like it was being dragged across the ground, or smoldering in a bonfire, in order to keep on playing. At least that was the initial inspiration, in time it got a bit overtaken with an idea of being the leader of a soul group—people like James Brown, Young Americans-era David Bowie, and Sam Cooke were inspirations in this aspect. Improvisation, something I have never done before, was crucial in the making of this album. The album works because of the band’s incredible ability of breathing life into these loosely written and at times very simple ideas and experiments. Though Marching Church might be a dictatorship, This World is Not Enough was very much a collaborative effort. Everyone involved does other projects as well, but I wouldn’t want to see it as a “side project”. That term seems degrading. In conclusion, half-disgusted with talking about myself, I’m going to leave you with This World Is Not Enough—eight songs of nocturnal longing, preposterous self-obsession and cockeyed etiquette.”
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This World Is Not Enough is out March 31 on Sacred Bones; listen to “Hungry For Love” below.
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Thrill Jockey double: Liturgy and Lightning Bolt

    
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Liturgy are a band who truly divide opinion. Their two albums of brilliantly exhilarating “transcendental” black metal were well received by many of the industry’s most informed and influential critics, but the group are hated by hordes of “real” metallers who believe forward-thinking Brooklyn hipsters with double-barrelled surnames have no place playing “their” music, let alone publishing a manifesto recommending changes for the improvement of the genre as a whole. As far as baiting their audience goes, it would appear as though frontman Hunter Hunt-Hendrix has learned a lesson, of sorts: for The Ark Work, the follow-up to 2011’s polarising Aesthethica, the quarter have dropped the black metal tag and now style themselves – modestly – as a “21st Century total work of art”, which I guess should at least stop fans of any one kind of music taking particular umbrage. And, to be fair, it kind of fits. The Ark Work is definitely a conceptual piece, bearing scant overt resemblance to the Liturgy of old: Hunt-Hendrix has all but abandoned the Cookie Monster growl, instead crooning, speak-singing, shaman chanting and rapping his way across violently churning soundscapes created using synths, electronics, bells, horns (both live and MIDI) and even bagpipes. Guitarist Bernard Gann still shreds furiously, but his blitzkrieg squall feels more textural in this context. The biggest concessions to the old black metal sound are drummer Greg Fox’s signature “burst beats”, and here even those are digitally processed, in a similar fashion to his contributions to Zs and Guardian Alien, so that they often sound more like the rhythmic perversions of early-Noughties “glitchtronica” than any kind of metal I’m familiar with. Not all of it works – the rapping takes some getting used to, and the bagpipes… well, they’re bagpipes – but the fact that they can take so many disparate influences (post-rock, IDM, neo-classical, yadda yadda) and mesh them together into such a singular and cohesive statement, especially one that manages, despite the radically different component parts, to still sound like Liturgy, is worthy of applause; that they have the balls to defy all the negativity and even attempt such a drastic overhaul in the first place is even more impressive. Check out “Quetzalcoatl” below.
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If Liturgy demonstrate the good things that can happen when a band is willing to change its working methods, their new label-mates Lightning Bolt are a great example of a group who doggedly refuse to deviate from the script they have written for themselves, yet continually manage to come up with new ways to have fun with it. The duo of Brians Gibson (bass) and Chippendale (drums and vocals) have been making music together as Lightning Bolt for twenty years now, and – let’s be honest – their sixth album (and first in five years) Fantasy Empire sounds kind of the same as the ones that came before it; that’s not necessarily a bad thing, however, when said sound – the kind of seismic low-end rumble you’d expect from a bass-and-drums punk band, played at breakneck speed and with a masked maniac chanting over the top through a microphone held between his teeth – is so freaking awesome. Theirs is a seriously joyful noise, the type of racket kids delight in making with their first stick-and-tub toys and kazoos, taken up a gazillion notches. It’s Godzilla dancing to footwork. It’s a chainsaw and a pneumatic drill battling it out at a karaoke bar. It’s the sound made by the souped-up racing bike revving next to you at the lights. No, scratch that: it’s the sound that scares the bike revving next to you at the lights. As Gibson riffs into infinity and Chippendale pummels the living crap out of his kit as though he’s trying to generate enough man-made electricity to propel them both into hyperspace, it’s hard not to come back to the fact that each new Lightning Bolt song sounds like a slight variation on another, as if they were jamming an old favourite and dropped a note, or picked up a beat, and just decided to roll with it, but that’s ok: every genre – even noise-rock or avant-punk or whatever it is that Chippendale and Gibson are happy being pigeonholed as – needs its Grateful Dead or AC/DC, endlessly pushing for that perfect, magical musical moment – as if they hadn’t already hit on it years ago. Check out “The Metal East” below.
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The Ark Work and Fantasy Empire are out now on Thrill Jockey.

Action Bronson: Mr. Wonderful


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From DJBooth.net:
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“After building his buzz with a slew of quality mixtapes, Flushing, Queens hip hop phenomenon Action Bronson is ready to take his career to the next level with the release of his debut studio album Mr. Wonderful. Heralded by singles “Easy Rider,” “Actin’ Crazy,” “Terry” and “Baby Blue,” the project features a total of 13 original tracks from hip-hop’s favourite gourmand. Big Body Bes, Chance the Rapper, Meyhem and more guest on the set, which features production by The Alchemist, Noah “40” Shebib, Omen, Party Supplies and more.”
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Mr. Wonderful is out now via Atlantic; check out “Easy Rider” below.
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Jimmy Whispers: Summer In Pain


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From the press release:
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““Who is this Jimmy Whispers,” you’ll ask yourself the first time you hear him, whether he’s leaping out at you metaphorically from your speakers or leaping out at you literally from the stage during a live performance fraught with physicality and emotion. It’s a good question, who this guy is, and there’s no easy answer. He’s been called Chicago’s “greatest new homegrown musical enigma” by Pitchfork’s Jessica Hopper in the Chicago Tribune, and a “weirdo loner” by himself. While both of those descriptions are correct, neither one’s complete. He’s an enigma, true, but one who sings directly from the heart about the broadest of human feelings: the need to love and be loved. Yes, he’s a loner, but one who spends his free time organizing basketball tournaments to raise money for community nonprofits, and ends his concerts by mashing audience members together to slow dance to Louis Armstrong’s “What A Wonderful World.” Jimmy Whispers is a walking, talking, singing, and dancing bundle of paradoxes. Greatest among them, perhaps, is his ability to transform the most seemingly basic melodies sketched out hastily with an electric organ on an iPhone voice message into such a profound racket, or how this dirty weirdo from Chicago managed to insinuate himself into the tradition of great American sentimental balladeers. His music will make you laugh and cry and dance and, unless you’re terminally jaded and hardhearted, it’ll make you genuinely feel something. And no matter how many times you listen you’ll keep asking yourself, for a multitude of reasons, “Who is this fucking guy?””
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Summer In Pain is out March 24 on Moniker Records; listen to the title track below.
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Them Are Us Too: Remain


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From the press release:
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“Emerging quietly from the California bay area through their limited edition demos and intimate performances over the last two years, Them Are Us Too have gained a cult following within independent music circles as a young, new take on the reverent “4AD-styled” dreamy goth-pop anthems with a nod to 80’s shoegaze sensibilities which create songs about tragedy and loves lost that draw devoted listeners to their nostalgic and innocent sound. Kennedy Ashlyn Wenning’s vocals have been repeatedly compared to Kate Bush, Harriet Wheeler, and Elizabeth Fraser. Wenning’s pitch perfect octave range carry songs gracefully between optimistic joy down to undisturbed melancholia, all within one moment of verse. Guitarist Cash Askew paints a layered and complex backdrop using signature reverberation and washes of stringed ambient tones, akin to Robin Guthrie, Ronny Moorings and Kevin Shields. Perfectly executed songwriting with effortless simplicity and vernal drive, Them Are Us Too’s debut album, Remain, recorded and produced by Joshua Eustis (Telefon Tel Aviv, Nine Inch Nails, Sons of Magdalene), rivals the comparative magic behind the early 4AD catalog and zeitgeist of early Creation Records. Massive, seraphic sound and heartbreaking nostalgia crafted into 8 songs of uncompromising and immaculately orchestrated beauty. At only 21 years of age for both members, Them Are Us Too mask their irrepressible youth underneath their limitless imagination and unparalleled talent, dedicating themselves fully to their uncanny musical creation.”
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Remain is out March 24 on Dais Records; listen to “Us Now” below.
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Zu: Cortar Todo


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From Noisey:
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Here is a new album from Zu, the weird-as-fuck Italian noise-metal that fit somewhere between Sleep/ High On Fire, the sludgier moments of Iron Lung, and Japanese tripcore heroes Paintbox, all swimming through moments of noise, ambience, and saxophones. Sometimes it builds to minimalism, sometimes it builds to chaos, and sometime it leads to traditional song structures. This album takes you on a wild disorienting journey, leaving you jumbled but not necessarily disjointed on the other side. Cortar Todo was recorded in the countryside outside of Bologna, Italy, and is the band’s fifteenth album in as many years. Known for their prolific musical experimentation, Zu has played over a thousand shows in their career, and has collaborated with artists including The Melvins, Mike Patton and Thurston Moore. If you are interested in having your mind stretched to far out and confusing places, listen to this.”
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Cortar Todo is out March 24 on Ipecac Recordings; listen to the title track below.
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Courtney Barnett: Sometimes I Sit And Think, And Sometimes I Just Sit


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Sometimes I Sit And Think, And Sometimes I Just Sit is Courtney Barnett‘s first full-length offering, but it follows a pair of EPs (later repackaged as the compilation A Sea Of Split Peas) that have already established the 27 year old Melburnian as a spokesperson for a new wave of kids who – as if guided by the invisible inevitability of the 20 year revival cycle – have decided to style themselves as “Generation X: The Sequel”. Yes, it is once again cool to be a slacker, and if today’s model doesn’t so much “hate itself and want to die” as “feel slightly confused about things and want to share photos of its lunch on its social network of choice”, songs like “History Eraser” and “Avant Gardener” could serve as its anthems. On those tracks, and across both EPs, Barnett set out her stall as a sort of postmodern beatnik punk-pop poet, cleverly – and often hilariously – detailing the minutiae of modern life’s most mundane moments over charmingly ramshackle garage rockers; the former song barrelled through a dozen or so tiny glimpses of a blossoming relationship (“We caught the river boat downstream and ended up beside a team of angry footballers/ I fed the ducks some krill then we were sucked against our will into the welcome doors of the casino“) whilst the latter recounted the time out heroine suffered some sort of allergic reaction/ anxiety attack hybrid whilst pulling up weeds, resulting in an ambulance trip (“The paramedic thinks i’m clever cos i play guitar/ I think she’s clever cos she stops people dying“) and a slightly bruised ego: “I take a hit from an asthma puffer/ I do it wrong/ I was never good at smoking bongs/ I’m not that good at breathing in.”
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Whilst much of the Split Peas material effectively constituted a big, ambivalent shoulder shrug, Barnett’s debut proper finds her taking on bigger issues, and she handles the upward step like a seasoned pro. It would be wrong to suggest that her lyrics are the only thing to get excited about – the tunes here are top-notch, ranging from chugging Modern Lovers-esque singalongs to sugar-coated In Utero homages and blistering psych-blues freak-outs, and credit is due to her wonderfully named and extremely able backing band The Courtney Barnetts – but they are undeniably the big draw; each song is packed full of words, which sound like an obvious thing to say but it is meant in the most literal sense, motormouth Barnett excitedly spewing forth so much prose that one feels breathless just trying to take it all in. On first single “Pedestrian At Best” she flies out of the gate with a barrage that is part mission statement and part confessional (“I love you, I hate you, I’m on the fence, it all depends/ Whether I’m up or down, I’m on the mend, transcending all reality/ I like you, despise you, admire you/ What are we gonna do when everything all falls through?/ I must confess, I’ve made a mess of what should be a small success/ But I digress, at least I’ve tried my very best, I guess“) before imploring admirers and potential benefactors not to put too much faith in her lest she disappoint them and turns their folding money into origami. As befits a superstar slacker, the reluctance to offer her self up for scrutiny is there for all to see, but Barnett has a lot to say, and she’s going to say it regardless of who is or isn’t listening.
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The unstoppable verbal torrent is enough to sandblast a permanent smile onto the face of anyone with even the slightest appreciation for the joys of language, so much so that it takes a while to realise Barnett isn’t always being funny. “Small Poppies” is an apparent appeal for less bitchiness among her peers (“An eye for an eye for an eye for an eye for an eye/ I don’t believe in that/ Why can’t we just talk nice?”) whilst “Elevator Operator” finds her trying to cheer up a suicidal teen (“I would kill to have skin like yours”); on “Dead Fox” she threads a line from chaos on the motorway to overworked delivery truck drivers to supermarkets selling genetically modified food (“A friend told me they put nicotine in the apples“) using the kind of Technicolor descriptions (“Taxidermy kangaroos are littered in the shoulders/ A possum Jackson Pollock is painted on the tar”) you might expect from the writers of The Itchy & Scratchy Show. Later we find her viewing a potential property purchase in a dour, crime-ridden suburb she’s nicknamed “Depreston”; having stopped visiting coffee shops (“I’m saving twenty three dollars a week“), she’s ready to buy a bungalow and settle down, but her ability to concentrate on floorboards and south-facing windows fails her when she spots “the handrail in the shower/ A collection of those canisters for coffee tea and flour/ And a photo of a young man in a van in Vietnam” – the remnants of the recently deceased previous occupant.
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Without wanting to venture into the murky realms of psychoanalysis, it’s interesting to observe that whilst Barnett is more than happy to talk (and talk, and talk) about pretty much any subject that pops into her head, she rarely addresses her own emotions in any great detail. The aforementioned ephemera at the “Depreston” house is noted, for example, but any feelings it might stir up go unmentioned. On “An Illustration Of Loneliness (Sleepless In New York)” she lays awake on her own, far from her partner, but although the chorus consists of the simple admission “I’m thinking of you too“, the verses find Barnett counting the cracks in the wall, which remind her of the lines on her palm, which makes her think of fortune telling, which makes her ponder her destiny, which brings her to thoughts of death. Is she just easily distracted, or is it an avoidance tactic, a way of boxing up her feelings and hiding them under the bed? Certainly, she never resorts to anything as explicit as “I miss you” or “I wish you were here”, and each time she cycles back to the chorus it feels as though she’s having to drag herself back to the point; even towards the song’s end, when she allows herself to wonder which corner of the moon her other half is seeing, the (one-way) conversation quickly turns to the things they might be doing – swimming, watching a movie – that Barnett would normally be doing too.
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And yet, rather than creating an emotional void, Barnett’s refusal to drill too deeply into her own personal well actually opens Sometimes I Sit up, making it more relatable and a whole lot more enjoyable than your standard, overwrought first-person songwriter fare. In presenting her observations and recollections as matter-of-factly as she does, it’s as if Barnett is viewing herself through a camera lens, like Larry David in Curb Your Enthusiasm; warts and all, without any kind of filter, from an onlooker’s perspective, giving minimal time to inner turmoil and simplifying thought processes so that she can concentrate on deeds and conversations and the consequences of her actions. It’s the musical equivalent of car crash TV, with all of the awkwardness replaced with laughs, and it’s utterly compelling. If I really wracked my brain I might be able to produce a list of a dozen names – out of the thousands and thousands from the last sixty-plus years of popular music – of artists who have displayed such fierce intelligence and wit in their lyrics and actually made us want to smile, rather than squirm in awkward, embarrassed discomfort: Dylan, Costello, Morrissey, Cocker – an exclusive club indeed, but Barnett belongs in it without a doubt. It would seem that writing smart songs with a sense of humour is a seriously tricky business, but Courtney Barnett makes it look like the easiest thing in the world.
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Sometimes I Sit And Think, And Sometimes I Just Sit is out March 23/ 24 via Marathon Artists/ Mom + Pop Music; check out “Pedestrian At Best” and “Depreston” below.
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Kendrick Lamar: To Pimp A Butterfly


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From Noisey:
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“If you go to the Wikipedia page for Marvin Gaye’s 1971 album What’s Going On, you’ll learn that it is a nine-song concept album, “told from the point of view of a Vietnam War veteran returning to the country he had been fighting for, and seeing nothing but injustice, suffering and hatred.” That summary might offer some sense of why the album is special, but, ultimately, it could also be a description of Sylvester Stallone’s character Rambo. What’s Going On is one of the greatest albums of all time not because Wikipedia says so but because it is suffused with emotion. It is an album that you become immersed in, that you feel deeply, that you experience in ways that are far more tied to your life than the Vietnam War ever will be. The real world political backdrop is almost incidental; the ingrained political feeling is timeless.
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Kendrick Lamar‘s third long-player To Pimp A Butterfly is an album full of funk and soul that is rooted in emotion, and, like all emotion and all funk and all soul, it’s best approached by simply giving in to it. The inevitable Genius diatribes and Reddit conspiracy theories and Wikipedia summaries will be, to a large extent, missing the point. The point isn’t trying to figure out what Kendrick means on his gradually unfolding monologue about screaming in a hotel room. The point is that Kendrick Lamar is screaming in a hotel room.
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Let’s backtrack: Tying the album together is a monologue that Kendrick Lamar repeats at the end of many of the songs, adding lines on each successive repetition. Contextually, it’s delivered to Tupac. To me, the key phrase is Kendrick’s concern about “misusing your influence.” The obvious pressure on Kendrick Lamar — compounded by the chatter about Good Kid M.A.A.D. City as a classic album and his verse on “Control” as a game-changing hip-hop event and the backlash within the hip-hop community against high-profile rappers as public figures in the wake of events like Ferguson — was to not only deliver another “classic” album but to speak to the broader condition of being black in America and, if there was time, to maybe save hip-hop from the creeping spectre of songs about turning up in the process. Anyone, with those kinds of expectations placed upon them, would probably lose it. That Kendrick managed to make an album that not only lives up to those expectations but discusses the pressure of fulfilling them — while also finding a way to sidestep dealing with them directly — is a miracle.
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To Pimp A Butterfly, whether you believe it’s premature to say so or not, pulls the same trick as What’s Going On, in that it sublimates all its complex themes into a direct emotional appeal. It invites you, before anything else, to get lost in its sonic world. Its lessons are meant to be as easily appreciated with a joint in your hand on your couch as they are in the classroom. You’re supposed to let them grow with you and sink into your life. Just look, already, at how much more sense the snippets that had previously emerged make in the context of the album, at how much cooler they feel.
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If GKMC was an album about Compton, To Pimp A Butterfly is an album about America. That’s clear when Kendrick addresses being black in America on songs like “The Blacker the Berry” with lyrics like “I know you hate me, don’t you?/ You hate my people, I can tell cause it’s threats when I see you.” It’s clear given the album cover showing a range of black faces in front of the White House. But it’s also buried in the album’s DNA, the same way that D’Angelo’s Black Messiah or Flying Lotus’s You’re Dead presented themselves as political even when the lyrics were not: It assumes funk, soul, and jazz as a sonic default, and it explicitly places hip-hop within that lineage of canonical American music, which is also inextricably black music.
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It is full of vibes. It is funky. It is not, like GKMC, a depiction of a place as it is (Compton) but an imagining of one (America) as it could be. Kendrick Lamar’s dick, once as big as the Eiffel Tower, engorged with hip-hop bravado, is back in simple, human, base, sexual terms, measuring in on “For Free? (Interlude)” at nine inches. This album’s scale is similarly more approachable, even if it might ultimately be harder to wrap your head around. The key to understanding it is to stop trying so hard to understand it. Stop worrying that there are too many layers or too many threads to follow or too much to decode. To Pimp A Butterfly is immediate. Its sound is instantly timeless. Everything here is straightforwardly human, self-evidently black, implicitly American, transparently important, inevitably imperfect, and reassuringly, critically, meant to be felt.”
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To Pimp A Butterfly is out now via Aftermath/ Interscope/ Top Dawg Entertainment; check out “i” and “The Blacker The Berry” below.
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Jeff Zagers: Still Alive


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From the press release:
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“The element of surprise must be present more than what is illustrated, let your fingers lead the way. Save this for strangers, they’ll appreciate you more. If you face the direction of the sun and close your eyes, the light grows darker into a burning red blanket. When you are wearing a raincoat, windbreaker, sweater, sweatshirt, macintosh, wedding gown, overalls or any other heavy garment – it can & will be used against you. You can escape, you can unwind, or even start over again – if you don’t get too excited you can do all of these things at once. Still/ Alive was recorded in Savannah, Georgia. Voice & melody monitor this recording of rural pop. Jeff Zagers plays drums, keys, guitar, bass, alto saxophone, drum machines (programming), and voice for your listening pleasure.”
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Still/ Alive is out now on Wharf Cat Records; check out the video for the title track below.
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