“Gooey” – Glass Animals

Jams

Glass Animals are a band very much like alt-J in that both are English, both have complex musical arrangements, and both have lyrics that are almost unintelligible, making it nearly impossible for anyone to sing along to. Every one of their songs reminds me of R.E.M.’s “It’s The End Of The World” only because I can sing maybe four or five lines of each and the rest just confuses the hell out of me.

This is less a post about a single song and more about a whole album, as it would be a disservice to feature one without its proper context. Glass Animals’ debut album, “Zaba,” was released June 2014 and I’m kinda sorta pissed that it took me this long to listen.

It’s dishonest to say that I’m addicted to this album. Addiction suggests an abnormal appetite that needs to be sustained. Something that has a clear beginning, middle and end. “I was hooked on painkillers for two years before I went to rehab.” “Zaba” is the opposite of this. It’s beginning, middle, and end all at once. It’s the hypnosis wheel of albums, spinning in that never-ending circularity, drawing the listener in deeper so that you’re fixated, stuck in unblinking catatonia.

The fun part about “Zaba” is that you might not like it at first. I was unimpressed myself. But after a few listens, it worked its way into my consciousness. It was all over after that. I’ve logged 8 full listen-thrus and I haven’t wanted to listen to anything else. Much like a Quentin Tarantino movie, there’s plenty to uncover within each song.

Jungle sounds blend with spacey tones to create an otherworldly, out-of-body listening experience. All of this becomes actualized with the first single, “Gooey.” This song demands your full attention. But that doesn’t mean that it’s difficult. It opens with sleepy reverberations that transport you into another dimension. Bubbles of sound pop around you as whispery vocals lull you into a trance.

Each successive verse adds another layer of sound, which creates an immersive listening experience that makes Phil Spector’s Wall of Sound seem like a production style for ants. Instead, “Gooey” brings the listener into a 3-D sphere, a fully realized world of sound that’s hard to leave once you arrive.

Other artists with dense production (like Sufjan Stevens or MGMT) have similar styles, but where they’re overwrought and pretentious, “Zaba” is the opposite.

There’s not much else I can say about “Zaba” or “Gooey” without seeming like I’m being paid to promote the band. Listen to it, embrace it, love it. It’s infectious and brilliant and stop reading this sentence so you can go listen to it.

“Talk Is Cheap” – Chet Faker

Jams

I have the tendency to judge a book by its cover. I mean this both literally and figuratively, as I’m only interested in reading books with sweet covers and, in the broader sense, I prefer things that sound right, look right or feel right. Which is exactly why I didn’t want to listen to Chet Faker, because it’s a stupid stupid name.

Chet Faker is an Australian electronica musician who does have a pretty cool beard and a plethora of headshots on the Internet. When I first heard his name, I assumed he was some kind of Timeflies/Hoodie Allen/Jackass Jones artist who relied solely on a semi-unique, tongue-in-cheek name and rearranged covers of 90s R&B songs to get white college kids to play his music during pregames. His fourth most popular song on Spotify is currently a cover of Blackstreet’s “No Diggity.” (It’s very good but you get the idea).

I recently rediscovered Chet Faker on the New Music Tuesday Spotify playlist and was blown away by how stupid my initial gut reaction had been. “Talk Is Cheap” is a single from the 2013 album “Built On Glass” that Chet Faker released earlier this year and it’s the perfect early winter song.

The intro features a saxophone that guides you naked into an icy pool of water somewhere deep in the middle of the woods, so deep that the animals are unbothered by your presence. You wade into the water, expecting tendrils of ice to shoot up your leg, but somehow it’s warm.

The beat fades in, simple and relaxed. There’s a yearning in his voice that warns you of pain but doesn’t push you away. It’s not a sad song, I don’t think. It’s just a song that makes you feel. I imagine that this would be the kind of song I’d listen to sitting by my fireplace, warm drink in hand, toking on a bubble pipe (because I don’t smoke, it’s bad for you silly!) and reading my former roommate’s most recent copy of GQ because he hasn’t changed the address yet.

I was silly to assume that Chet Faker was nothing more than a YouTube artist with a fun name. He’s got a great sound, a cool beard, and he’s got cool album artwork, which makes it even easier to like him, because I still judge books by their cover. Until I’m proven wrong.

“Boom Clap” – Charli XCX

Jams

First thing’s first: this song ain’t the realest.

It’s terrible. It’s crap. It sounds like a song that failed out of the 80s and then just sort of drifted until it settled down upon us, like musical mustard gas choking your throat and nose and lungs. It falls upon the land during a time period when music charts are big red exclamation marks with a frowny face drawn beneath them on a U.N. weapon’s inspector’s clipboard.

“Don’t You Love” – Lil Silva

Jams

It’s not quite the British Invasion of the 60’s but UK acts are still making waves in the states from The Arctic Monkeys and Charli XCX to Hudson Mohawke, James Blake, and SBTRKT. Lil Silva may soon be in the mix. The Bedford-born producer just released his EP, Mabel which brought him from behind the boards and into the spotlight as a vocalist as he continued to show off his brooding and immersive sound. On “Don’t You Love” Silva teams up with frequent collaborator Banks. Both singers gently croon over the wobbly bass as it slowly intensifies. Their voices and earnest but short lyrics make for an ambiguous emotive impact that can easily be labeled as contemporary RnB…or whatever you want to call it.

Hunger of the Pine – alt-j (∆)

Jams


After the release of 2001: A Space Odyssey, Stanley Kubrick famously said that if you understood the film completely, then he failed.

So, with that in mind, here’s the thing about Alt-j: even if you get it, you feel like there’s something you’re not getting. You have to suspend disbelief a little bit, like you’re watching New Girl. A key difference: Alt-j doesn’t suck. Seriously, I hate that show. You have to swallow the vomit and suspend disbelief that Zooey Dickchannel hasn’t been slapped.

“The World Is Ours”- Rick Ross, Pharrell, Meek Mill, Stalley

Jams

This track, the 17th on Ross’ excellent Rich Forever mixtape, features a clever, snare-heavy, drum section and bright horn sounds. As the title suggests, this is one of those songs meant to be thrown on when you’re feeling on top of the world.

Ross’ first verse features a line where he raps that he’s “the Geechee Liberace/ I put diamonds on everything,” which is one of those lines that you have to smile at because it’s clever and ridiculous at the same time, shrug, and just kinda accept.

“Dope”- Jeremih & Shlohmo

Jams

I’m pretty sure Jeremih is still best known for his birthday presents, but over the last year couple of years he’s been making a quiet resurgence by popping up on the radio hits here and there while releasing mixtapes. “Dope” comes from the collaborative EP No More with L.A. producer Shlohmo behind the soundscapes. The concept of a lover being addictive like a drug you need a needle for isn’t new but it’s usually effective. This is another one of those cases. Distorted background vocals follow Jeremih’s yearning lyrics across the sparse beat for a little under three minutes. By the end of the song it sounds like a lonely creepy obsession but the guy happens to have a sly voice with a falsetto hook. An unsuspecting victim of when the good good is too good.