Back in 2008, Christian John Wikane profiled innovative R&B songstress Janelle Monáe and called her “a freedom fighter, a daydreamer, a storyteller, and, above all, a fiercely independent artist whose music bridges the fringe with the mainstream.” She was a fairly off-the-radar performer then, but now she’s poised for major exposure with her new album The ArkAndroid releasing on Bad Boy Records this week. On her new video for “Tightrope”, she teams up with OutKast’s Big Boi and channels some fine Michael Jackson dance moves.
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There are many reasons to arrive at shows in time to see supporting acts. In addition to being treated to more entertainment for the price of admission, watching opening bands often lends much-needed support to acts that are still building an audience. Perhaps the best outcome is a mutual discovery, wherein the band finds that audience and the crowd is exposed to music that theretofore had been under the radar. This is the case with Laminated Cat, whose Umbrella Weather was released late last year. Opening for the Apples in Stereo on recent dates surrounding the release of that band’s excellent Travellers in Space and Time, Laminated Cat did not necessarily play to the full-capacity attendance enjoyed by the headliner, but the young band’s performance was revelatory.
On a superficial level, the Maine band’s “scruffy young brothers” vibe recalls the emergence of Kings of Leon years ago. Musically, however, Laminated Cat could not be further removed from the shiny product that Kings of Leon eventually became. Avowed admirers of Elephant Six releases and the Beatles, the members of Laminated Cat create a beguiling mixture of psychedelic folk/rock. Umbrella Weather—recorded by Craig Morris, Tanner Smith, and A.J. Griffin with supervision from the Apples in Stereo’s Robert Schneider—does bear the sonic influence of Elephant Six acts, but it also brings to mind the sorely missed Beachwood Sparks and early Sparklehorse. The album was released through Garden Gate Records, whose “mission is to release music that should not go unheard, that the world needs to hear… sounds for the ears of the future”.
Seattle Pop group, Math and Physics Club, has a new CD out on Matinee Recordings in June and a new single. The CD is called I Shouldn’t Look As Good As I Do and the single is “Jimmy Had a Polaroid”. More delicious guitars, melodies and sweet longing from this band which has cornered the market for shimmery pop music. The singer’s voice is just happy enough to take the edge off his unfulfilled desires and memories. We know he is sad but we still want to dance around a little bit.
Unless you get the honor and the privilege to live in the Land of the Rising Sun, you won’t be able to enjoy Shugo Tokumaru’s new album Port Entropy just yet. It is reserved for a Japan-only release at the moment for the 21st of May. You can, however, watch over and over again his latest video for “Rum Hee”, which sums up his deserved rise since 2008’s Exit nicely. It’s nostalgic, quirky, and overflows with a profoundly sophisticated and catchy pop arrangement.
Cold Cave’s “Life Magazine” was one of the best singles of 2009, and it’s a gift that keeps on giving with the release of a remix 12” EP by Matador on June 8. Eminent DJ-types like Pantha Du Prince and Optimo (Espacio) offer reduxes of “Life Magazine”, though it’s doubtful they’ll be able to top the blaring, anthemic electro-pop of the original. Some of the remixes are streaming at the Matador Matablog, as well as a bonus version by Optimo (Espacio)—the “Flexi Pop Mix”—that’s an online exclusive not available on the EP.
01 Life Magazine (The Arthur Baker’s Not Going Back Remix)
02 Life Magazine (An Optimo (Espacio) Remix)
03 Life Magazine (Pantha Du Prince First Flash Remix)
04 Life Magazine (Prurient Remix)
// Notes from the Road
"Cage the Elephant rocked two sold-out nights at Summerstage and return to NYC for a free show May 29th. Info on that and a preview of the full Summerstage schedule is here.READ the article