The Danish pop collective, the Asteroids Galaxy Tour, specialize in a super poppy and dancey form of simultaneously retro and futuristic soul. You can hear the Stax (check the glorious horns on “Major” below) , Motown and ‘70s funk DNA in their tunes, but those remain influences and reference points while the band takes soul pop forward with electronic flourishes and contemporary dance beats. The Asteroids Galaxy Tour returns with their latest album Out of Frequency this week and today we present the Cosmic Kids remix of album tune “Heart Attack”, following a previous remix by CSS. The Cosmic Kids version is mellower than the original tune, with a muted spacey vibe and early Depeche Mode-esque synth beats. Great stuff that should light up the hipper dance floors this year.
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SPIN Magazine‘s “First Listen” program is featuring the upcoming release from Of Montreal, Paralytic Stalks, due out February 7th. This is Kevin Barnes’ eleventh collection of musical visions since 1997 and he is still clearly at full command of his band. SPIN provides notes from the frontman for each song, making it not only a welcome listening session but a complete artistic immersion with this intimate, behind the scenes read as well.
The album kicks off with the percussive blast of “Gelid Ascent” that is both alarming and intriguing, much like Barnes himself. It opens up to a classic rock feel with echoing vocals saying, “Speak to me”. Music at once experimental and catchy for the next tune,“Spiteful Intervention”, is classic Of Montreal. The soulful singing and funky beat of “Dour Percentage” and “We Will Commit Wolf Murder” expands to the sound explored in more recent albums. A softer approach is found in “Malefic Dowery”, a “troubled love song” explains Barnes. Buzzy blips and electronic dance grooves return for “Ye, Renew the Plaintiff”, with experimental forays to keep the eight minute song interesting. (Indeed, this is one of Barnes’ favorite on the entire record). The next track, “Wintered Debts” begins with an acoustic guitar yet quickly expands into “a country shuffle”, according to Barnes. The experimental focus returns through the final song, “Authentic Pyrrhic Remission”, 13 minutes of euphoric psych pop with Barnes singing, “I love how we’re learning from each other.”
Listen and read about Paralytic Stalks here.
Portland’s psych rock trio Unknown Mortal Orchestra recently released a video for “Thought Ballune”, co-directed by Jordan Blady and Ryan Knowles. This laid-back dance track gets a creepy house party treatment, which brings an added element to the song amidst a dingy setting. The song off a self-titled debut may have been created by New Zealand native Ruban Nielson’s home studio, but he told Rolling Stone that he didn’t want to go out on the road with a “totally substandard” live show. “I wanted people to be surprised at how good we were, not how bad we were.”
Nielson begins a tour next month with local producer Jake Portrait on bass and drummer Julien Ehrich. They will be headlining at a few venues before joining in support of Girls through the month of March. Plans also include the requisite stop at SXSW for any buzz-worthy band.
Two Dark Birds frontman Steve Koester left the 24/7 lights of New York City well behind him and forged a new life deep in the Catskills recently. The move has given him a fresh musical lease on life and infused the band’s latest album, Songs For The New, with a new vibrancy. Or as Koester says, “this whole album is, in a sense, about being born… or being reborn.” The music draws from a vast wellspring of influences and sounds, including folk, Americana, R&B, and pysch rock, as well as employing a broad range of instrumentation, of which horns and strings are prominent.
Keeping with that theme, the new Scott Kawczynski-directed video for “Black Blessed Night” depicts the flight of a bird from the confines of the city to the freedom of nature in the mountains. Obviously, Koester is super pleased with his new residence. The song itself is described as being “about freedom and about how nature or music can pull you out of yourself.”
I went to Disney World for the first time in my life in November 2011. At that time, I saw, in person, the Joy Division Mickey Mouse T-Shirt. Since I spent the days after the trip attempting to suppress all memories of dancing and singing animals, copious amounts of fried food, and dancing and singing animals eating copious amounts of fried food, I never wrote anything about the truly bizarre nature of this souvenir. So, of course, Pitchfork scooped me.
No matter. The more press this story gets, the better.
All I can add is that the thought of every roller coaster in the park playing Joy Division music—“It’s getting faster moving faster now… Lights are flashing, cars are crashing…”—is either one of the most horrible or most awesome thoughts ever. As they say in an election year, you decide. Cast your votes in the comments section.