Top 10: Pyramids, A-Trak, Curses! - XLR8R

Top 10: Pyramids, A-Trak, Curses!

Publish date:

Hydra Head
Release Date: Out Now

Image placeholder title

Whoever criticized the guitar as being an overly simple instrument clearly never listened to the music of Denton, TX four-piece Pyramids. The band’s self-titled release is, at heart, an experimental work–it just happens to have some very beautiful, melodic moments squeezed in between the more bizarre ones. For instance, the standout track, “The Echo of Something Lovely,” is a carefully crafted composition of sweeping guitars and velvety choruses, yet minor sevenths hover in the background, barely audible, and suggest something more ominous and chaotic is just around the corner (which it is). This is one of the few albums I’ve found recently where adding vocals would ruin the music. Thank God the band was smart enough to realize that as well.

Atlas Sound
Orange Ohms Glow EP

Image placeholder title

Keeping up with Bradford Cox’s seemingly endless musical output via his Deerhunter blog is a feat, and the inevitable fact is that even die-hard visitors to the site will miss something from time to time. Case in point: Cox posted the Orange Ohms Glow EP back in February, and we somehow only stumbled upon it the other day. Recorded in three days and posted immediately afterward, these six tracks find the Deerhunter and Atlas Sound frontman dabbling in a number of different styles. “Hunting Quail” is a minimal number featuring just a few guitar chords and some slowly sung lyrics, while “Coriander” is a complex arrangement of programmed beats and carefully placed feedback. If you prefer a more straightforward song, “Activation” is your tune.

Running Man: Nike+ Original Run
Nike Sport Music
Release Date: June 24

Image placeholder title

James Murphy’s installment of the Nike Run series sounded more apropos for a disco. And The Chemical Brothers’ edition, well, let’s not even go there. A-Trak, on the other hand, really does mimic the feel of a 45-minute spin through the gym on Running Man. The track holds more electro-house than anything, a fitting genre for the treadmill, but A-Trak doesn’t forget his hip-hop roots, adding several minutes of energy-packed rhymes around minute 17. The whole thing explodes into a synth storm near the end, and if Running Man made one of the West Coast’s most un-athletic people (me) nearly get up and do a lap around the block, Nike’s mission must, at last, be fulfilled.

Quantic Presenta Flowering Inferno
Death of the Revolution
Tru Thoughts
Release Date: July 14

Image placeholder title

Will Holland is a dub, reggae, and hip-hop master, but now he’s living in Colombia and proving his chops at Latin and tropical music too. These different sounds converge on this, his latest offering for Tru Thoughts, and it’s impossible to lock any one track on Death of the Revolution into a single genre. Rather, Holland pulls slivers from all of them into each number, so that reggae rhythms are accompanied by lyrics sung in Spanish and tropical accordions are played over crisp hip-hop beats. Then there’s the random saxophone solo in the middle of “Alegria En Bella Vista,” which Holland slides in with the same ease it takes to insert the disc into a computer (unless you’re working off an Intel iBook).

"What I Need (Sharkslayer Remix)"
Trouble and Bass
Release Date: July 1

Image placeholder title

Top Billin’ crew member Sharkslayer has gotten his hands on this track from Curses! (alias: Trouble and Bass member Drop the Lime), stripped it down to its bare essentials, and let it rip. It’s impressive how, in under six minutes, he gives us a primer on how the musical soundtrack to a good party should go: Start with electro-house, throw in a few old-school samples to bridge the transition into B-more breaks, kick up the bass until the speakers look like they’re going to blow, then swing back to a 4/4 beat for the finale.

Bird Show
Release Date: September 1

Image placeholder title

Ben Vida, under his Bird Show alias, fills this untitled disc with a heavy dose of exoticism and mystic origin. Playing a list of instruments a paragraph long (including a couple too obscure for even Wikipedia), Vida composes scintillating yet droning tracks that nod toward the early minimalist composers (Terry Riley, La Monte Young) with a savvy sense of electronic production. The result is a soundtrack best suited for an opium den. Oxbow member and noise-legend Greg Davis guests on a few tracks. Wyatt Williams

Sally Shapiro
Remix Romance Vol.
Paper Bag
Release Date: Out Now

Image placeholder title

Even if you've never heard Sally Shapiro's Disco Romance release, this is a remix album that stands on its own as a solid set of tracks. Shapiro and producer Johan Agebjörn selected a handful of artists to rework the disco-pop originals, and the results are impressively varied. Dntel splinters up the 4/4 rhythms on "Find My Ghost," while Solvent stamps his trademark electro sound on "In the Moonshine," which suits the minor-chord vocal melodies well. Even Agebjörn contributes a remix, turning "Find My Soul" into an electro/nu-jazz combo. While the musical composition on the release has been turned inside out, one common goal amongst all the producers was keeping Shapiro's voice intact–it still shines through as the strongest instrument on the album.

Tilly and the Wall
"Pot Kettle Black"
Team Love

Image placeholder title

Tilly and the Wall is a five-piece act from Omaha, NE, and was the very first band to ever be signed to Team Love. The band has put out consistently solid releases over the last few years, and this track is a good example of the crew’s trademark sound, a steady blend of fun-loving pop music paired with aggressive, sharp-witted lyrics. In this case, we’re reminded, through Kianna Alarid screaming down the mic, to be wary of excessive gossip, as it will, inevitably, come back to bite you in the ass.

Release Date: August 19

Image placeholder title

Whereas most post-rock outfits are all about heaping as many elongated guitar chords as possible on top of one another, APSE utilizes every instrument in its setup. The result is an album that sounds not like 11 separate tracks, but one single, transition-less entity (even during track five, which is titled “Transition”). The Connecticut-based band–which met and formed nearly a decade ago–also eschews the sentiments of “Another Mogwai Rip-Off” by taking musical risks that include random intervals of tribal drumming, abrupt shifts in the tempo, and impassioned singing done by people who sound like they’re gurgling with rocks in their throats.

Dubstep for Obama

Image placeholder title

I don't normally reference dubstep and politics in the same sentence, but thanks to this dude and his MySpace page, now you can show your support for our Democratic Presidential nominee by friending him and leaving comments like "Boh!" and "Ruude" on it.

Above: Some interpretation of the band Pyramids.