Spoon: They Want My Soul

Spoon - They Want My Soul
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Spoon don’t seem to be particularly big on surprises: let’s be honest, at this point – 20 years (!) and eight albums in – you pretty much know exactly what you’re going to get when Britt Daniel and friends decide to release a new record. Luckily, that just happens to be weapons grade indie rock, perfectly-formed alternative anthems so precise and powerful they could whip the tongues from the mouths of anyone dumb enough to question the relevance of the good old-fashioned guitar/ bass/ drums/ keyboard set up in today’s musical climate at fifty paces. Predictably then, They Want My Soul (out August 4 via Loma Vista) is another excellent offering, with all the band’s different sides – minimal hard rockers, shimmering ballads, taut funk and soulful, sugary pop – more than adequately represented and their straight-talking brand of gut-punch power pop in no danger whatsoever of getting old just yet. Check out 3/5 of the album’s A-side – opener “Rent I Pay”, “Inside Out” and “Do You” – below, and stream the whole thing in advance via iTunes Radio.
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Shabazz Palaces: Lese Majesty

If someday evidence is uncovered offering irrefutable proof that hip hop weirdos Shabazz Palaces were actually higher beings from an extraterrestrial civilization, sent back through time and space to bestow upon those humans clever enough to listen the wisdom to help them survive some unspecified forthcoming global catastrophe, it would not in all honesty come as a complete surprise. Listen to Ishmael “Palaceer Lazero” Butler’s sprawling, densely packed passages of bop poetry (“Sanity, a visage of my wealth/ Lost but always found before the idols that I’ve knelt/ Strategy, the only way to cry/ Keep it do or die and always think in terms of I”) and it’s not hard to picture the former Digable Planets MC in his mirror shades and armour-plated zebra-print shirt on the holodeck of some interplanetary craft serenely preaching the secrets of the universe to Earth’s expatriates whilst multi-instrumentalist partner Tendai Maraire cooks up a heady brew of sci-fi electro boogie in the background; similarly, you could put as much energy as you like into finding another record that sounds as otherworldly as new album Lese Majesty, but you’d be wasting your time: even next to the group’s extraordinary debut long-player Black Up – itself a work of often mind-boggling originality (and, lest we forget, Foam Hands’ album of 2011) – their sophomore release is a revelation, music that is at once as authoritative as some ancient rune-written text and as magical and out of reach as the stars themselves. It’s hip hop, Jim, but not as we know it. For the most part, Butler’s lyrics feel like cryptic steps to enlightenment (even when playing the playa with his “syndicates of girlfriends” on “#CAKE” he does so in such a graceful manner as to make himself sound less like a sleaze than a scholar) and whilst there are obvious nods to previous Daisy Age dabblings – in the lush textures as well as the trippy hippy vibes – the overall effect is decidedly futuristic, with production that fuses airy jazz and tech-savvy sonics to brain-bogglingly psychedelic effect. Tribal percussion collides with skittering processed beats, crooning soul divas chase chanting monks into African dance parties and doomy minimalist drones segue seamlessly into slinky lover-man R&B; even taking into account the late ‘90s/ early noughties avant-pop hybrids of Timbaland and the Neptunes, hip hop hasn’t sounded so much like an alien language since Public Enemy burst onto the scene in the ‘80s, and never has the idea of surrendering yourself to the mothership seemed so appealing.

Lese Majesty is out July 29 via Sub Pop; check out “They Come In Gold” and “#CAKE” below.

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Albums of the week: White Fence and Martyrdod

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Two very different records duke it out for the title of this week’s best album release: in the red corner we have White Fence, the once lo-fi solo project of former Darker My Love front-man and Strange Boy Tim Presley, whose full band assisted, Ty Segall produced To The Recently Found Innocent (Drag City) harkens back to an age of innocence (!) that most of us – including Presley himself – are far too young to recall, spiking ‘60s Brit-beat inspired paisley pop with twisted folk melodies and mind-bending psych-rock; wearing the (blackened) blue shorts, meanwhile, we have Swedish crust-punk warriors Martyrdod, whose new Southern Lord LP Elddop distills all the elements toyed with on previous efforts (sludgy doom, pummeling D–beat, hardcore howls, blistering thrash riffage) into an all-killer 45-minute metal master-class that blurs the lines between sub-genres and will surely have head-bangers of all ages throwing their horns up in unison. Neither band are too concerned with breaking old habits – this is album number five in ten years for Martyrdod, and the sixth since 2010 for Presley – but right now they both seem to have their shit together to the point where it feels like they are at the top of their respective games. It’s fair to assume that fans of one might not necessarily appreciate the other, but check out White Fence’s “Like That” above and Elddop’s title track below and prepare yourself for the possibility that both might just tickle your fancy.
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