It’s Friday and you’re gearing up for the weekend. Maybe you’ve got a roadtrip planned and you need some tunes for the journey. Or you’re just going to be hanging around the house, reading a book or catching up on housework, and you need something to fill the silence. Or maybe you’re planning to forget about the awful week you just had by burying under the sheets and dreaming that next week will be better. Whatever the case, here are some tunes from around the Interweb that might come in handy, whatever your weekend plans might be.
Solvent — “Wish“
I suppose some might attempt to lump Solvent in with that whole electroclash scene that was all the rage last year. Those people would be wrong. Sure, there’s an undeniable love of 80s synthpop pervading Jason Amm’s music, but there’s a complete lack of pretension and concern for hipster style in “Wish”. Considering the cold electronic source of Solvent’s sounds, there’s a surprising amount of wistfulness and warmth pervading “Wish”, due in large part to the vocoderized vocals, which sound like a heartbroken robot. Put this on a mixtape with My Favorite and Manual, and you’ve got all of the 80s new wave/synthpop revivalism you’ll ever need. And if you like this track, be sure to check out Epitonic’s Solvent page for more MP3s.
Asha Bhonsle — “Yeh Mera Dil Yaar Ka Diwana“
I sat down to watch the movie Don at around 1:00am, which was pretty studid considering it was a 3 hour Bollywood film. But 3 hours later, I was absolutely giddy with joy from the film. Sure, the flamboyant costumes and crazy, trampoline-enhanced martial arts were great, but in all seriousness, I was all about the musical numbers. Listen to this track and imagine it being sung by a slightly drunk femme fatale in a green dress with tassles a-flyin’ trying to seduce a ruthless crimelord, and you’ll understand why. If you can’t enough of that Bollywood flava, you can find more MP3s at this site. I also recommend “Jaan Pehechaan Ho” (which you might have heard in Ghost World.
Woven Hand — “Sparrow Falls“
I recently rediscovered Woven Hand’s amazing Consider The Birds album this week, and so it’s been in pretty constant rotation for the last few days. I’ve always been a fan of David Eugene Edwards’ powerful music, and Consider The Birds might be his most arresting work yet. Otherworldly drones and wheezing atmospherics, solemn piano, booming drums, skeletal guitars, and Edwards’ hoarse voice sounding like he just spent the past month wandering in the desert. And then there are the lyrics — cryptic and immediate, the howl of a penitent sinner crying out to God, and made all the more fierce for their desperation.
The Observatory — “The Absentee“
I wish I would’ve discovered The Observatory earlier this summer. “The Absentee“ ‘s reverbed guitars, faint glitchwork, and assorted other gentle sonics would work quite nicely for those lazy weekend afternoons where lying on the sofa and watching the shadows of the leaves play against the windowshades feels like the most important thing in the world. And if instrumentals aren’t exactly your thing, check out “Observations Of Human Failure”, which a bit less drifty, but still a nice lazy weekend track in its own right. Thanks to Atticus Foo for the 411.
Canyon Country — “Setting Sun“
I’ve been listening to Canyon Country’s There’s A Forest In The Fire for the last week or so, and “Setting Sun” is a perfect song titles given the group’s melancholy, atmospheric sounds. This is indeed perfect music for day’s end, when the western sky slowly moves through various shades of red, orange, and blue before finally settling on black. Perhaps the closest comparison I can think of is July Skies, but only if they were inspired more by long drives through the American Southwest than abandoned English airports.
Alarm Will Sound — “4“
One of my early exposures to the music of Richard D. James, better known as Aphex Twin, was “4”, the opening track on Richard D. James. Now along comes Alarm Will Sound, who seek to replicate James’ epileptic rhythms and insidious synth textures with analog instrumentation. And to that extent, they largely succeed, painstakingly replacing each of James’ unique sounds with a “real” instrumental counterpart, be it violin, trumpet, snare, vibe, flute, etc. The result is a song that stands up remarkably well to the original. A definite must-hear for fans of Aphex Twin (or Jaga Jazzist or Tortoise) for that matter.
Beth Kleist — “We Call The Shots“
I saw that Aaron Coleman reviewed Tujiko Noriko’s most recent album. Unfortunately, I was unable to turn up any MP3s to satisfy my curiosity. But that’s okay — I can just listen Beth Kleist’s “We Call The Shots” (taken from their most recent album, An Evening Return). Opening with soft electronic tones reminiscent of Last Life In The Universe’s sublime score, the song slowly becomes awash in soft, Tujiko-ish kaleidoscope glitchy textures, supple synth undercurrents, and quietly-plucked acoustic guitar. But even as the song increases in complexity, it never really loses the sleepy, intimate feel of its opening seconds. If this trips your trigger, the entire album is available for download from archive.org.
Off The Sky — “Her Soft Circumference“
At first, “Her Soft Circumference” (the opening track from the Caustic Light EP) doesn’t seem to work. Sure, its fragments of guitar, barely-there vocals, glitchy electronics, and drones sound lovely, each and every one of them. But they never quite seem to gel. Rather, it feels like you’re listening to someone quickly scan through the radio dial, picking up just bits and pieces of various sounds — David Sylvian, Labradford, Cocteau Twins, Susumu Yokota, lovesliescrushing, etc. That is, until you read Jason Corder’s explanation: “The constant random patterns of light at the bottom of a pool or from light cutting through crystals and dancing on a table in prismic fashion always caught my childhood imagination leaving a strange, sentimentaly charged residue. The memories of these caustics has been translated with guitar notes being chopped into granulated shards of sound.” If you keep that thought in mind, Off The Sky’s dizzying sonic mesh becomes a surreally nostalgic and completely illusory experience.
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I've also written for Christ and Pop Culture, ScreenAnarchy, Filmwell, and Christian Research Journal. I pay the bills by creating beautiful user interfaces and websites for Firespring and Red Bicycle.