New This Week: The Velvet Underground, Flying Lotus, Caribou, Alex G, and Wampire

The Velvet Underground – The Velvet Underground & NicoFew albums if any can be considered more influential in shaping contemporary music. It may have been a flop upon its release in 1967, but as Brain Eno once remarked “everyone who bought one of those 30,000 copies started a band”. Record stores refused to carry it, radio stations declined to play it, and now it’s in the god damn Library of Congress. Lyrics about sadomasochism, death, and prostitution are delivered with a frivolous innocence in the form of glittering lullabies, rock n roll ballads, and scathing experimental assaults. Reed’s signature ostrich guitar is on display slowly altering the chemistry of your brain while John Cale’s electric viola splits the seams of your skull spilling your brains out through your ear holes. This is the epitome of beauty from chaos. What are you waiting for? Peel slowly and see. SHILL

Flying Lotus – You're Dead!Flying Lotus is renowned as the infamous supplier of beats for adult swim promos, but You’re Dead! feels almost like a show in and of itself. The album is certainly his most thematic—dare I say cartoony—release to date, taking his association with adult swim to a whole new level. And this association transcends more than the cover, which is literally a cartoon. The songs are a chaotic wash of brushed drums, speed-demon bass lines, and dissonant electric piano chords. Ladies and gents, this is jazz-fusion. Perhaps the most interesting texture on You’re Dead! is the questionably goofy metal guitar that surfaces periodically. It’s actually awesome, but I was definitely surprised to hear Flylo experimenting with such a distinctly prog rock sound. United by ominous lyrical motifs exploring the mysteries of death and human mortality, You’re Dead! is the closest Flylo has come to a concept album. Spooky stuff, guys. The album also boasts some huge names for features: Kendrick Lamar, Snoop Dogg, Angel Deradoorian of Dirty Projectors, Fkn Herbie Hancock?! Not to mention a handful of his regular collaborators, namely Thundercat and Niki Randa. No Laura Darlington this time though *shedding single tear*. While the features are all enjoyable, I would’ve thought Flylo could’ve found a lot more to do with such a fantastic line up of artists. Kendrick tears it up on “Never Catch Me” with a verse that’s a little too reminiscent of his flow on “Bitch, Don’t Kill My Vibe” for my taste. Likewise, while Herbie, Angel, and Niki sound great on their features, I don’t think they did anything that only they could’ve done. On “Tesla” and “Moment of Hesitation, “ Herbie’s piano playing is mostly present for ethereal effect, wrought with lots of fleeting and unrecognizable flourishes up and down the keys. Similarly, Angel and Niki had practically no lyrics to sing, their voices serve as brief effects, surfacing and then disappearing again almost immediately. Beautiful effects, mind you. And they did a good job; but I know Flylo could’ve given them bigger roles. Does that make sense? I found most of my enjoyment from some of the albums under-hyped tracks. On “Coronus, the Terminator”, the ghostly choral/posse vocals remind me of Parliament or even Outkast. The influence suits Flylo well. The song “The Boys Who Died In Their Sleep” quickly becomes a slimy-voiced drug lament that is both silly and a little worrisome (for the speaker’s sake). The whole track is absolutely dripping with character. Love It. Probably my favorite little gem is “Ready err Not”, a bloopy and refreshing tangent from the rest of the Charlie Parker heroine-crazed album. The simple tune jaunts along like Pink Floyd’s “Time”, wet with a synth that sends waves of color pulsating through my mind. Consistent with Flylo’s video game obsession, it would fit well in an underground level of Super Mario. I’ve always loved Flylo’s ability to make albums that are cohesive units where all the songs sound like they belong beside one another. It’s a lost art in today’s fast-moving culture where artists are just as inclined to post a track to Soundcloud from time to time. On You’re Dead! however, he may have reached his limit on that sense of album uniformity. This record is such a solitary chunk of music that it’s tough to single out songs to listen to by themselves. Without the context of the rest of the album, it can be a little… well, context-less. You wouldn’t pick up a random book and read a random chapter would you? So for maximum enjoyment, I recommend giving this thing a full listen from beginning to end. Shut your eyes, open your mind, and let the mayhem take you on a journey! AROG

Recommended Tracks: "Never Catch Me", "Coronus, The Terminator", "Ready Err Not", "Moment of Hesitation"

Caribou - Our Love: Yeah I know I offered you Our Love months ago, but this marks its official release. The tracks in the leak I gave you are out of order heh heh. Let’s all blame ANDY from ANNENBERG RADIO for ruining the experience of the album for us. K I’ve found a scapegoat, now the review:

Mr. Snaith puts down an album that’s warm, simple, emotive, euphoric, burning. Layered with melodic and sensitive electronica, the content surrounds love with track titles like “Can’t Do Without You” and “Your Love Will Set You Free.”  The album relays a clear message and Snaith has created something that will undoubtedly attain wider appeal. There’s no analysis necessary and we don’t need to unfold cerebral intentions. Our Love is about him and how he experiences love, communicated through a neat package of swelling, breathing synth. I think it’s really important to note that he released this album under the Caribou moniker. This isn’t meant to be as heavy and bumping as Daphni (but liiiike, he needs to please release another Daphni album). Oh hey, “Second Chance” features Jessy Lanza.  I don’t think it belongs in the album, but she has the voice of an angel so it’s chill. It’s aight. It’s coo. It’s solid. Can you pick up what I’m throwing down bud? Help, I’m addicted to watching Boiler Room sets and fucking over any chance I have of doing homework. Here’s Caribou and Jamie xx b2b YE YE YE YE

Bottom line: not as good as Swim, but it’s still Caribou so it’s better than many other things. THANKS CANADA. R.E.

Recommended Tracks: “Can't Do Without You –you will hear this during the intermission of every concert for the next month, “All I Ever Need”, “Our Love” ,“Julia Brightly”, “Back Home”, “Your Love Will Set You Free”

Alex G - DSUThe 21-year-old songwriter Alex Giannascoli who goes by Alex G still attends Temple University, but has been releasing music on the Internet for years. This album is a strong consistent set of melodic indie pop songs that sound like they came straight from your cousin’s basement. His soft crooning voice melts into the melodic guitar and drippy piano work. Alex G is able to compose a plethora of beautiful songs within his very simple musical format. Tracks “Harvey” and “Boy” are the strongest efforts on the album and show Alex G’s skill as a songwriter, but it is easy for some of the tracks to breeze by unnoticed. If like you like indie rock it’s worth listen but it end up falling a little short at points. WILL

Recommended Tracks: "Harvey", "Boy", "After Ur Gone", "Sorry", "Black Hair"

Wampire - BazaarWampire wants the millennial youth to hear the sound of times before the Internet Age: “Bill Clinton’s saxophone”. While Bazaar features tons of sounds from glowing and transforming synths and bright piano chords to distorted guitars rifts and fast bass lines, the consistent use of the sax brings the entire album together. One moment Wampire is playing fast paced bass guitar driven rock then they slow down to flowing synths that compliment the effects on the vocals that emulate fellow Portland band, STRFKR. Both songs, although different, have saxophone melodies that follow you throughout the entire journey of Bazaar. Wampire creates catchy melodies that fluctuate in color, emotion and sound as the band undergoes a reflection of the twenty first century. DYLAN            

Recommended Tracks: "Wizard Staff", "Millennials", "Sticking Out", "People of Earth"