With their fourth album Queen of the Wave set to hit stores on January 31st, care of Asthmatic Kitty/Catskills, Pepe Deluxé invites you to experience one of the most brilliant pieces of genre-bending music ever created. “A Night and a Day” will be the album’s first official single, not counting the mailing list treat “The Storm” from late 2011, and they could not have picked a better track to lead with. It’s got a killer drum break and soulful vocals, right up there with the best work of mid-‘90s underground hip-hop, a bassline warp out of UK garage, guitar work that’s alternately funky and hardcore, Beach Boys vocal harmonies, and so much more. Plus, the sideshow spectacle of a video features the gorgeous Geisha Natalie Montes de Oca Robles, Miss Dominican Republic 2008, playing a witch named Anzimee as she presents sights and sounds to confound the senses, assisted by the Tibetan prophet Vol Gorro. Indubitably, “A Night and a Day” will be released along with the Bollywood surf-metal ditty “Hesperus Garden” on the B-Side, and several remixes of the title track, on January 17th. All proceeds from the album will go to a charity attempting to clean the Baltic Sea. Good vibes all around.
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Things are about to get trippy. This video for “Nothing Is the News” introduces us to the lo-fi expanse of Damien Jurado’s forthcoming album Maraqopa. Recently premiered on Alternative Press, it signals the development of an intriguing psychedelic bent in Jurado’s new work. Clean electric guitar riffs swirl as a narrative of two lovers in danger unfolds among muted vacant buildings. The video was directed by Nathan Vollmar and produced by William Winchester Claytor. Fans can catch Jurado live on an upcoming North American tour with Jagjaguwar’s Peter Wolf Crier.
Here’s to the New Year and the new music to be investigated as always. Many of the picks for this playlist were found by investigating annual lists of top songs from 2011, revisiting bands if needed. The end of the year brought new releases from the Black Keys and Florence + the Machine to explore along with many other diverse groups on the scene.
1. “Don’t Move”—Phantogram
2. “16 Years” – Phantogram
Phantogram hail from upstate New York, a band consisting of two friends since middle school in Saratoga Springs. Keyboardist Sarah Barthel’s vocals flow over electronic beats and guitar parts by Josh Carter. The band name, referring to psychedelic optical illusions, could also allude to the rich, multi-layered sound by this indie pop duo. These songs are off their EP, Nightlife.
“As a girl it was not really a given, it wasn’t easy to rap in Senegal because making music was not really for girls,” says Fatou Mandiang Diatta. But when she was a child, watching music videos on TV and composing her own songs, the hiphop artist now known as Sister Fa knew she would never be like the other girls, who were “supposed to stay home, cook, do dishes and laundry, and just wait at home with mom for a handsome husband.” In fact, as she narrates in the documentary Sarabah, Fatou does have a handsome husband, a filmmaker and social anthropologist named Lukas May. They live in his native country, Germany, and have a little girl who accompanies them as they work in the studio or tour with their band. Sister Fa has always made overtly political music, including songs about AIDS awareness, Islam, and women’s rights in Senegal. (She released her CD, Tales from the Flipside of Paradise, in 2009.) But it was only recently that Fatou began incorporating her personal story into her performances. Specifically, she began speaking and singing about her experience with Female Genital Cutting.
The London band Fanfarlo appeared on the music scene with their solid debut release, Reservoir, back in 2009. The quintet’s rich textures of instrumentation included trumpet, mandolin, clarinet and musical saw, offering a quirky spin on their indie pop vibe. There is a new video for a song off the upcoming sophomore release due out in February, Rooms Filled With Light. Director Tim Nackashi came up with the idea for “Shiny Things” with the group, but they are nowhere to be seen. Instead, three gymnasts are presenting a routine to a three judges panel in a cold, stark room before one of them falls and is hauled away. Singer Simon Balthazar told NPR that it’s a song about giving things up, and this young woman becomes a sacrifice in short order. The band will tour throughout the U.S. and Canada beginning in March and without experiencing even a quick appearance in the video, it’ll just make fans miss them more.